Hockey is a cold weather sport; right? My thought is this: if you’re considering getting tickets for your favorite NHL team on the road, why not enjoy the warm weather as well. If you love hockey but paradoxically love sunny weather, a Tampa Bay Lightning game is a good excuse for a winter get-away from the frigid hockey season of the north.
Tampa International Airport (TPA) is easily accessible to downtown Tampa and Amalie Arena, home of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Check out my Tampa Transportation Guide for more details on getting around Tampa as well as to and from TPA airport. No need for a rental car if you’re vacation is only for 2 or 3 days and you plan on booking a hotel in downtown Tampa. From Tampa Airport to downtown Tampa, you can grab a taxi for a flat rate of $25, a Supershuttle for $12.50, or a HART bus for $2.50.
It could be worth it to get a hotel in downtown Tampa like the Marriott or Embassy Suites Downtown Tampa near Amalie Arena. However, you might get a better value by booking a hotel near the Riverwalk and museums which is just north of Amalie Arena and close to plenty of things to do in downtown Tampa including the best bars and restaurants. I also recommend an Ybor City hotel. Centro Ybor also has some of the best bars and restaurants in Tampa besides being easily accessible to Amalie Arena via the TECO Line Streetcar System.
While not necessarily the best option for food and drink in downtown Tampa, Channelside Bay Plaza has a few bars and restaurants near Amalie Arena such as Hooters and Precinct Pizza. A couple other Bar – Restaurants close to Amalie arena are Ferg’s Live, a pre-game party spot and Columbia Café, a pre-game dinner spot. As far as things to do near Amalie Arena, the Florida Aquarium is a 5 minute walk from the arena and a cool place to go before the Tampa Bay Lightning game.
The best places to eat and drink near Amalie Arena before or after a Tampa Bay Lightning game are between 5 and 10 blocks north of Amalie Arena. Hattricks caters to hockey fans with decent bar fare, a few local beers on tap, and a daily happy hour from 4PM to 8PM & 10PM to close. Yeoman’s Cask & Lion is an English style tavern with upscale “Pub Grub,” cask ales, and decent daily specials and happy hour. The District Tavern features handcrafted cocktails, wine, happy hour, and a creative food menu. For a more detailed list of bars and restaurants near Amalie Arena check out Downtown Tampa Bars in my Tampa Dining & Drinking Guide.
If you have a free evening or a little extra time before going to a Tampa Bay Lightning game, I highly recommend taking a short ride on the 800 TECO Streetcar to Ybor City. Centro Ybor gives you a feel of the history of Tampa while offering the best variety of drinking and dining options in Tampa. Ybor City has 5 breweries, cocktail bars, beer bars, wine bars, cigar bars, and a few good restaurants. Check out Tampa Bay Brewing or The Bricks for a beer and something to eat. For dinner, La Terazza is voted one of the best restaurants in Tampa and it’s not at all expensive. For a more detailed list of bars and restaurants check out Ybor City Bars in my Tampa Dining & Drinking Guide.
For the sports fans who like baseball, keep a lookout for the Tampa Baseball Museum at the Al Lopez House which will hopefully be open sometime in 2019 in Centro Ybor.
For a more complete list of things to do in Tampa, check out my Tampa Bay City Guide