Whether for fitness or sight-seeing, the Riverwalk offers something for everyone

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Maybe you felt that brief change in the temperature as Florida entered October. Yes, it's finally that time of year when you can actually enjoy being outside again and take in the sights and sounds of the City of Tampa.

Whether it's a day trip or a daily workout, the Riverwalk offers a little more than 2 miles (one way it's 2.4) of uninterrupted space to walk, run, bike or take Fido out for some exercise. There are mile markers every 10th of a mile to track your progress. So you can do 4.8 miles with a walk to the end and back again.

To help you plan your trip here are some tips and ground rules. If you start at Amalie Arena, you'll have to pay to park in either the parking garage or one of the City pay lots nearby, but Parking is FREE at Water Works Park.

For this article, we parked there, at Water Works, for free, in street side parking and began the walk towards the City.

Remember to bring water to stay hydrated. As you walk you'll find several water fountains with access for you, your child and/or your dog.

While staying hydrated is necessary, it also brings about some basic needs. There are three public bathrooms along the route; those are located at Water Works Park, Curtis Hixon Park and the Sail Pavilion by the Convention Center.

As you go, look for iconic sites along the way. The University of Tampa's Plant Hotel is a beautiful site across the river. There's public Art outside of the Straz Center, the Tampa Museum of Art, and there's a special art display under the Laurel Street bridge that's visually appealing from either direction.

There's some history of Tampa to be learned along the way. Bronze busts of different historical figures who helped shape Tampa are scattered up and down the Riverwalk from start to finish. You can learn about the namesake of Ybor City, Armwood High School, Peter O Knight airport, and more.

When you hit the Convention Center area, there are multiple sets of stairs to help increase your cardio workout or help burn youthful energy for the kids. Multiple outdoor staircases are on the north and south ends of the facility as well as across the entire southern end.

You might need a pit stop after that, and the Sail Pavilion is right there with outdoor seating, public bathrooms and, since you're being health conscious, a menu with the calorie count laid out next to each item. See that here: https://www.tampaconventioncenter.com/includes/content/docs/media/Sail-Menu-7-17-17.pdf

Don't rest too long, because this isn't quite half way yet. Around the bend you will follow the Riverwalk towards the Channelside area. There's a playground for the kids, Heroes Plaza for the patriotic and Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park for the history buff. All of these are nestled in the shadow of Amalie Arena and the Tampa Bay History Center.

If you skipped a snack at the Sail Pavilion, the History Museum offers access to the Columbia Cafe for all of the best that your favorite Ybor City restaurant has to offer in an outdoor setting. Their menu is here: http://www.columbiarestaurant.com/Menus-By-Location/Locations/Tampa-Bay-History-Center

Once you make the turn past the History Center, you'll stride another . 2 miles to the official starting point.  There, you will see the Riverwall. This collection of 550 photographs assembled by artist Bruce Marsh introduces you to everything you can look forward to along a Florida waterway.

We made the turn to head back with an eye out for some of those images. Maps along the way show opportunities to see different waterfront sites.  There are signs describing Pelicans and Seagrasses, but mostly you see the river. This isn't the isolated nature preserve river, it's the river delta into the bay in the center of the city. Most of the wildlife is pedestrian just like you with the occasional boater and water bike rider.

Should you get tired of walking, there are plenty of Coast Bike Share stops along the way. You need to download the app to use them, but the two wheeled freedom may allow you to explore more of the downtown area. The app information is here: http://coastbikeshare.com/app/

Curtis Hixon Park offers a cool off mist area adjacent to the Riverwalk if the weather is very hot for you or your pet. There's a playground for the kids too. Make a note that it is the beginning of festival season so different outdoor events are coming to the park each weekend. Oktoberfest will begin Oct. 13, 14 and 15th, but that's just one of many fun events the city will have there, find more here: https://www.tampagov.net/calendar and here: https://www.tampasdowntown.com/

As you walk past Curtis Hixon and head back towards Water Works Park you'll find three "porch swings" just before the Laurel Street Bridge. There are three of them facing the river. They are suspended by poles and will allow you to rock gently swing in the breezes to rest tired feet.

If you're biking, just adjacent to those swings is a bicycle repair station. Need air? There is a hand pump. Need a wrench? There's a wrench on a cable there too. You'll find a selection of tools on the cables there.

As you navigate your way back around to the Straz, take a look at the CSX Train Trestle bridge. It's upright more often than not and creates a visually appealing set of parallel and converging lines... whoa, a little photography geek speak there. It's just cool to look at down the tracks.

If, like us, you are ending your stroll where you started at Water Works Park, you can celebrate the end of a almost five-mile walk while taking in a beautiful outdoor setting with a rewarding beverage and some alligator hush puppies at Ulele.

Ulele features some sites of its own with Humpty Dumpty, the Three Little Pigs and Jack and the Beanstalk displayed on the property. The bronze statue of the Ulele, the chief's daughter stands in the center of the outdoor seating area.

 

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