So, you’re heading to Tampa Bay for the Badgers season opener against USF? I bet you haven’t done any research at all, you irresponsi...I’m sorry. That’s rude. And probably not true! If you are reading this blog you are, no doubt, very smart. Either way, we at B5Q wanted to make sure that if you are going to the game on Friday you had some ideas about what else to do in Tampa!
We enlisted the help of Robert Steeg at The Daily Stampede, SB Nation’s USF blog, and he kindly answered a bunch of our questions about things to do, places to go and whether or not Florida Man is real.
1) Say we had never heard of Tampa before. What are the touristy things to do in Tampa that shouldn’t be missed for Wisconsinites coming to town for the first time?
Welcome to sunny Tampa Bay! It’s hurricane season, congratulations! When it’s not pouring down rain in the afternoons, there’s an endless amount of entertainment for all walks of life. Anything from bars and restaurants, to zoos and Busch Gardens, you can even explore surrounding areas such as St. Petersburg or Clearwater!
The beaches aren’t too terribly crowded this time of year. For people coming for the first time to Tampa, I’d always recommend doing something extra touristy, such as going to Busch Gardens, and then doing something the locals would do, like visit Sparkman Wharf or Armature Works.
2) What are some good bars and restaurants to check out?
The previously mentioned Sparkman Wharf and Armature Works are fantastic choices for a variety of reasons. Both are more of a collection of smaller restaurants and bars all in one convenient location. Armature Works is a stone’s throw from Raymond James Stadium and is indoor to keep you away from the rain and/or heat. Sparkman Wharf is along the Hillsborough River and during the nights, is one of the better places to visit.
Visiting Ybor City can be quite a culture shock during the day but especially at night, but restaurants such as Columbia or Carmine’s will give you a diverse food option. Columbia is a Spanish (NOT CUBAN) restaurant that is arguably the most famous restaurant in Tampa. Carmine’s IS Cuban and is one of the most authentic places to get Cuban food.
3) What are some local breweries or distilleries that Badger fans should go to?
One of the well known breweries in Tampa is definitely Cigar City, the beers are unique tasting and offer a wide range of samples, but if you’re looking for something a little more off the map, Tampa Bay Brewing Company is an excellent option, as well as Coppertail Brewery.
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If you’re looking for even MORE off the map, drive on down to St. Petersburg (only 25 minutes from Downtown Tampa) and visit Big Storm Brewery, Three Daughters Brewery, or Green Bench Brewery, these are three of Tampa Bay’s staple breweries located on the other side of the Howard Frankland Bridge.
There aren’t too many distilleries, but Tampa Bay Rum Company is one that I can recommend, if you’re going to be in Buccaneer country, might as well have rum right?
4) Where should Badger fans tailgate on Friday? Are there different rules since the game isn’t on Saturday? What are the open intoxicant laws, because Lord knows Badger fans like to walk and drink? Any local delicacies that should be thrown on the grill?
Tailgating is pretty open around Raymond James Stadium, there’s plenty of parking on the North and South lots, and some local residential area parking on the east side of the stadium. Stay away from the west side. Generally, Bull’s fans are pretty welcoming, but I’d recommend the North and South lots to avoid most of the fraternities lots.
Be careful about drinking, there’s usually plenty of undercover cops checking for MIPs (Editor’s note: “minors in possession”, for those of you who’ve never been in trouble), but for the masses you can walk around pretty openly with no issues (at least in my experience), just don’t go Bill’s Mafia style and you’ll be fine.
For food, traditional tailgating food like burgers and hotdogs are what you’ll mostly fine, we don’t really have a local delicacy that can be thrown on the grill. Is beer food? I’d go with beer.
5) How hot is it going to be? Keep in mind, upper midwesterners will complain if it gets to be over 80.
Really, really f*cking hot if it doesn’t rain. I’m not joking when I say this, please for whatever you believe in, bring sunscreen, bring plenty of water and then pack more water. The LAST thing you want to do is become dehydrated and go to the hospital. It happens every year, but August and September are the hottest months for Florida, and it’s been even hotter this year.
6) Can you bring water into the stadium? Do they sell beer since it’s an NFL stadium? Any other quirks about Raymond James Stadium that visiting fans should know?
They do sell beer and some liquor drinks at Raymond James Stadium! It’s one of the best perks of utilizing it for home games, but unfortunately you cannot bring water in, and although we all realize how hot it is, some places in the stadium sell them for $5. It’s an investment, but if you hydrate properly before the game and utilize the water fountains around the stadium, you’ll be able to beat the prices.
Other things to note is that there is in fact a pirate ship in the stadium, it’s behind our student section and there’s a chance a cannon will go off if we score (it happens sometimes).
(Editor’s note: Robert tried to backtrack on his claim that the cannons go off after scores in a private message to me, but I told him I want to believe that the cannons fire so I was leaving it in. FIRE THOSE CANNONS!)
Generally, don’t be rude around our student section and near the pirate ship and you’ll be fine. There’s also rumors that Raymond James has upgraded its food selection to more eclectic options, so a Cuban sandwich will be a “must have” during the game.
7) How does one protect oneself from Florida Man? Is there a spray or can you only pray to your God and hope for the best?
You don’t, you only hope you can run fast enough or that he gets distracted.