TAMPA BAY, Fla. — Who doesn't love a good excuse to pile your besties in a car and have a day full of fun? We've rounded up a guide based on your friends' personalities to guarantee a fabulous day together. Whether they're artsy, a foodie or a dog lover, they'll love these suggestions:
You know that bestie that's always living life on the edge? The one that's first in line for roller coasters, the one that claims to be an adrenaline junkie? To spend an eventful day with them, consider an adventure park, zip lining or hiking through a forest to a vandalized cave together.
The Canyons Zip Line and Adventure Park
Location: 8045 N.W. Gainesville Rd. (CR 25A), Ocala
Cost: Zip line tours start at $44.99
Take your friendship to new heights by hopping on a zip line together! The Canyons Zip Line and Adventure Park is Florida’s “only true canopy tour” with zip lines that take you over two canyons and four lakes. A highlight is the Big Cliff Canyon tour, which offers a 1,100-foot zip all the way across Lost Spring Lake. The adventure park also offers horseback riding, gem mining and kayaking!
Dames Cave in Withlacoochee State Forest
Location: 15003 N. Broad St., Brooksville
Turns out you don’t have to leave the state of Florida to go adventuring through some hidden caves. In Withlacoochee State Forest there are 37 caves to explore, but Dames Cave is a stand-out. It’s about a 1.2-mile hike to reach the entrance of the cave, but when you get there it’ll be well worth it. It’s the biggest publicly accessible cave in the forest and is also known as “Vandal Cave” due to the graffiti that is plastered on the walls. Imagine posting a picture inside a cave with your bestie—no other BFF pic will be able to compare!
TreeHoppers Aerial Adventure Park
Location: 27839 Saint Joe Rd., Dade City
Cost: A 3-hour climb ticket is $58.95
If you and your pal aren’t scared of a little competition, consider racing each other on an obstacle course! TreeHoppers Aerial Adventure Park has nine different courses with more than 100 special elements. Each course is color-coded, giving you the option to stick with one course or climb a different one each time. There are also upgrades available like unlimited bottled water and climbing gloves.
Ah yes, the foodie friend. The one who always knows the best places to eat, has a dedicated "foodie" Instagram page and is probably always in the kitchen testing out new recipes. Now's your chance to impress them with some delicious food spots they haven't heard of before!
Location: 208 S. Howard Ave., Tampa
Best friends at brunch is a must. After all, what could be better than delicious food and mimosas? At Cask Social, they’re known for their brunch, which includes goodies like chicken and waffles with honey cinnamon compound butter, bacon jam, orange maple syrup and vanilla cream; and deep fried french toast, which comes corn flake-crusted with vanilla bean custard, mixed berries and maple syrup. They also serve up bottomless mimosas for $20, sangria pitchers for $25 and plenty more.
Location: 516 S. Howard Ave., Tampa
Luv Child is a beautiful backdrop for a besties dinner date. The restaurant has a Latin and 70s theme that results in funky decor like indoor artificial palm trees, all pink everything, strings of Christmas lights and tropical wallpaper. The menu offers modern Cuban cuisine with vegan and vegetarian options. Some highlights include The Big Papi, a highly recommended sandwich, made with crispy mojo pork, yellow peppers, garlic aioli and poblano queso. There are also shareable plates such as crispy tostones, yucca fries and plant-based nachos. Plus, selections of housemade sangria, frozen drinks, margaritas and boozy coffee creations, to name a few.
Beans & Barlour
Location: 407 Central Ave., St. Petersburg
Beans & Barlour knows how to do dessert. If you and your bud have a sweet tooth, you’ll be impressed with this craft coffee and dessert bar. Their menu spans boozy ice cream sandwiches, alcoholic ice cream flavors such as almond joy and chocolate Oreo, boozy cakes and their specialty: alcoholic dessert drinks like the Pina Colada Dole Whip Float and Espresso Martini Float. Perhaps their most popular offering though, is their boozy milkshakes, which come in downright Instagrammable presentations!
Life of the Party Friend
This BFF is loud, they love a good cocktail and will dance to just about anything. They likely know every Tik Tok dance that's popular right now and are always down to check out that hot new bar that just opened up. Well, call that ride sharing service and mark these locations in your GPS. It's going to be a long night!
Gigglewaters Social Club and Screening Room
Location: 737 Main St., Safety Harbor
Looking to have a GNO (Girls/Guys Night Out) in Tampa Bay? Try Gigglewaters, a speakeasy, restaurant and mini-movie theater all rolled into one. The speakeasy honors the prohibition era with Edison lighting, tin ceilings and a custom bar built from Biltmore doors & wood, circa 1897. Here you can order some signature cocktails, like Cake Eater (Camerena Reposado tequila with lime, honey, cucumber and a salted cookie butter rim) or their flashy 1919, an Old Fashioned that arrives with a Luxardo cherry and flamed orange, all sitting atop a big rock. The theater also plays classic movies like Breakfast Club and Goodfellas, if you’re looking for more of a calm night.
Location: 103 E. Jackson St., Tampa
GenX Tavern is the best place to “pump up the jam” with your friends. It’s a bar that’s 80s and 90s themed, with tons of allusions to the era throughout. Expect references to Friends, Ghostbusters, Jurassic Park and even food from the time period such as Pop Rocks, SpaghettiOs and more. The cocktails aren’t left out of the fun either with witty names such as the Cheech and Chong-a-’Rita and Loaded Sunny D. There’s also an Adult Capri-Sun and cheap beer ($2.50) from “your dad’s garage fridge.”
Location: 937 Central Ave., St. Petersburg
No Vacancy allows you to go back in time to experience some Old Florida vibes. Think neon signs, plastic flamingos and palm trees. The color scheme is purple and pink, making for some great photo opportunities. Plus, the cocktails are tropical and tasty with creations like A Shore Thing (Grey Goose vodka, tangerine, passion fruit and bitters) and Feeling Nauti (frozen drink with Espolon Blanco tequila, Campari, orgeat syrup, fresh lime, grapefruit and pineapple). To get more bang for your buck there are also punch bowls, which serve four people and come in a variety of flavors!
Location: 1613 E. 7th Ave., Tampa
It doesn't get more lively than Showbar Ybor, a dueling piano bar that opened near the end of 2020. This nightlife hot spot makes for the perfect night out with the gals or guys; you can request songs to be played by the pianists and sing along with them! Even the staff gets in on the action by dancing on tables and bars. It's not just about the pianos though—other instruments such as guitars, drums, trumpets and more add to the musical fun. There's also a patio where you can play lawn games, sip on a cocktail and enjoy the live DJ. If you get hungry, Showbar offers yummy carnival food like funnel cakes, churros and even table nachos, which are drizzled with cheese table-side.
Art is this person's passion and on the weekends, they can be spotted at an unknown gallery or a local museum, taking it all in. They see deeper meaning in things and are perhaps harboring a more sensitive side. Allow yourself to enjoy a day of the arts with your pal as you peruse these museums.
Location: 1 Dali Blvd, St. Petersburg
Cost: Adult tickets are $25
For the art lovers, why not check out one of Tampa Bay’s biggest attractions? The Dalí Museum is known as one of the best art museums in all of Florida. It incorporates architecture with artistic elements that Salvador Dalí was known for, like a helical staircase — which recalls Dalí’s obsession with spirals and the “world beyond.” As for the actual art, there are over 2,400 Salvador Dalí works, including nearly 300 oil paintings, watercolors and drawings as well as more than 2,100 prints, photographs, posters, textiles and sculptures. You could spend all day here!
The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art
Location: 5401 Bay Shore Rd., Sarasota
Cost: Adult tickets are $25
This cool museum in Sarasota was founded by one of the owners of the famous Ringling Bros. Circus and his wife. The couple had a love for Florida, Italy and art and decided to begin their art collection together. The result was this huge museum, which spans 66 acres and includes the Museum of Art, Circus Museum, Ca’ d’Zan mansion, Historic Asolo Theater, Art Library and Bayfront Gardens. This place has a lot of ground to cover, so you and your friend should set aside a few hours to explore. You might also want to refer to one of the audio guides on the website to provide some context to the art.
The Imagine Museum
Location: 1901 Central Ave., St. Petersburg
Cost: Adult tickets are $15, but $5 for Hillsborough & Pasco County residents during July
The Imagine Museum is a unique museum that showcases contemporary glass art. Here you can check out some shiny and unbelievable art such as their collection of studio glass, rotating exhibitions and a growing collection of premiere International Studio Glass. The museum also currently has an outer space exhibit on display, with glass sculptures by multiple artists, augmented reality vignettes and even the opportunity to take a selfie with a virtual alien. Now that’s out of this world!
Location: 250 Westshore Plaza, Tampa
When it comes to glam Instagram pics, Selfie WRLD is it. Their interactive installations full of different colors and backdrops invite you and your friends to come up with poses and work the camera! There are 12 8x8 themed rooms, plus 12 additional signs and scenes for all your photo shoot needs. Some of the backdrops even have fake food and other props to pose with! Explore themes such as "Fashion Jail," a cafe and a shiny background that says "#TampaBae." What better way to commemorate your friendship than with some creative pics?
The DIY lover is a good person to have around; they will offer to fix something for you using a "hack" they learned on Tik Tok and they're extremely creative. You love receiving gifts from them because they're usually handmade with lots of love. To make this friend's day, take them to do what they do best: making something themselves!
The Candle Pour
Location: 734 S. Village Cir., Tampa
Cost: Prices start at $25 for an 8-oz. candle; plus a $10 refundable reservation fee
Do you live at The White Barn? Do friends always gift you candles for your birthday? Well, now it's time to round up your pals and make your own! The Candle Pour is a custom experience that allows you to mix and match scents to create your own personalized candle. There are more than 120 scents to choose from, making the possibilities endless! You can also choose from three different types of candles: 8-oz. soy, 12-oz. soy or a 3-wick soy. There are also non-candle options like room spray, fragrance oil, reed diffuser and others if that's more your vibe.
The Cake Drip
Location: 1625 W. Snow Cir., Tampa
Cost: Cake decorating starts at $75, chocolate tastings are $55
Combine dessert and DIY and you have one heck of a night ahead of you! The Cake Drip is a DIY dessert boutique that provides a fun and tasty experience for couples and groups of friends. Here you can decorate your own 6-inch, three layer cake. You can choose to replicate a cake design or create your own with the fondant, frosting, sprinkles and candy that are provided. Or, if chocolate is more your thing, make your own chocolate bar by selecting your base (milk, white or dark) and ingredients (40+ options). Once you've done that, pour the smooth chocolate into the mold, pile on your ingredients and wait for it to chill! Did we mention you can sip on complementary champagne too?
Dark Door Spirits
Location: 6608 Anderson Rd., Tampa
Cost: $150 for Bottle-Your-Own-Whiskey (includes a tour of the distillery)
Dessert and candles are fun, but how many people can say they've created their own custom blend of whiskey? Gather your cocktail-loving and bartender friends and reserve a spot at Dark Door Spirits. This distillery offers cocktail classes, tours, hospitality-driven experiences and more, but the highlight is Bottle-Your-Own-Whiskey (or, Bottle-Your-Own-Gin, if that's what you prefer). Over the course of two hours, you'll get to sample different bourbons and rye whiskeys out of the barrel. Then it's up to you to combine two or more whiskeys to create your own unique blend. You'll then be able to take it home in a 1-liter bottle. How cool would it be to take it home afterwards to celebrate your friendship? Shots, anyone?
Pet Lover Friend
When you visit this buddy's house, you already know you're in for an earful of barking. But how could you be mad when they're so doggone cute? Pack your BFF and all of their furry friends in the car for a trip to one of these pet-friendly spots. It's going to be a pawsitively good time!
The Dog Bar
Location: 2300 Central Ave., St. Petersburg
If petting dogs sounds like your idea of a good time, try The Dog Bar! Here you can bring your pooch to enjoy the off-leash dog park while you enjoy the full-service bar. The dog park has over 4,500 square feet of fenced, off-leash fun and is designed with Astroturf, making for a comfortable experience for your dog. There’s also a supervisor at the park at all times, so you can do your thing while letting your dog do theirs. They also have food trucks on deck in case you or your pup get hungry. As for drinks, enjoy 31 rotating draft beers, cocktails, 40+ choices of canned brews and more.
Pinellas Ale Works Brewery (PAW)
Location: 1962 1st Ave. S., St. Petersburg
If you can’t seem to go anywhere without your dog, grab a brew or two at Pinellas Ale Works Brewery. The PAW in their name isn’t for nothing—they love their dog customers as much as their human ones! So much so that they host monthly events that benefit Pinellas County animal-related charities. They have a permanent food truck on-site called Jim’s Eats and Treats that serves up sandwiches, vegetarian options and treats like Smoke Dog Nachos. Their beers are award-winning, with more than 30 taps in their tasting room—now that’s something to bark about!
Fort De Soto Dog Beach
Location: 3500 Pinellas Bayway S., Tierra Verde
Cost: $5 for parking
The only thing that could make a beach day better, is a beach day with your dog! At Fort De Soto, dogs have the whole beach in their paws. There are also two fenced-in areas near the beach for large and small dogs with water stations and dog showers. Plus, if you get bored and want to do your own exploring, in a separate area there is an old Spanish fort to discover, the Fort De Soto park and lots of picnic areas.
Sunshine Kitty Catfe
Location: 1669 1st Ave. S., St. Petersburg
Cost: $15 on weekdays, $17 on weekends
Sunshine Kitty Catfe is a cat lover's dream! This catfe has partnered with Friends of Strays, a no-kill animal shelter in St. Petersburg, so all of the cats there are adoptable. Through the partnership, these cats are able to enjoy a cage-free foster home while they wait to be adopted. If you're looking to take one of the kitties home, that's great! But if not, you and your friends can still reserve an appointment to play with the cats while enjoying the cafe. Besides just getting in those kitty cuddles, you and your group will be able to relieve some stress; it's been scientifically proven that "spending time with cats reduces stress, decreases blood pressure and promotes the release of endorphins in the brain," according to Sunshine Kitty Catfe.