Tampa reinvents itself to show off its shores

Much of Tampa feels in the midst of a major makeover, with condos and apartments, and retail and other businesses, sprouting up seemingly weekly. Better yet, many of these renovations include shade trees and other play- and lounge-worthy green spaces.

The most dramatic (and welcome to me) transformations are happening along the Hillsborough River, flowing through the heart of the city, and on the city-side shore of its channel that runs east of its mouth.

Where to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner in Tampa

Until a few years ago, the river wasnt so much a destination as something to cross on the way from one part of town to the other. If you were headed toward the channel, you probably wanted to see a hockey game, visit the aquarium or board a cruise ship.

My family has typically sampled bits and pieces of downtowns evolving waterfront, by car, bike and occasionally on foot. Not content to play touristic Whac-a-Mole, I decided we should more fully experience the area from a first-time visitors point of view. So I booked a weekend stay for me, my wife Gail and our teenage son Ewan at the recently renovated Tampa Marriott Water Street hotel.

Here, where river becomes estuary, is the southern tip of the Tampa Riverwalk, a multiuse path that curves upstream along the river for nearly three miles. This is also the western edge of the newly dubbed Water Street Tampa neighborhood, and an ideal base for our weekend explorations.

If not for the loud clanging sounds of an even snazzier hotel be....

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