There’s a reason why Tampa is one of the fastest growing cities in the country, and it’s not just the beaches and cool bay breezes. Come along as we explore the unique neighborhoods and housing options of the Downtown Tampa area. Along the way we’ll cover the most popular amenities, the best schools in the area, and a few hidden gems only a local would know about.
Covered in this guide:
Tampa Heights (Armature Works Area)
Downtown and Channelside
Tampa Heights (Armature Works Area)
Tampa Heights continues to attract new homeowners with new construction and renovations of its historic homes. The up-and-coming area is just north of Downtown and connects with the new Tampa Riverwalk, a 2.4-mile-long waterfront path.
Armature Works has breathed new life into historic Tampa Heights. The former streetcar warehouse now houses Heights Public Market, which offers a dizzying array of food, drink, and dessert options. Some of our faves include Ulele, an approachable rustic-chic space offering native Floridian fare, with barbacoa grilling and house-brewed beers. After dinner, enjoy a rooftop cocktail and take in the awesome views.
Armature Works is a popular spot to book an event or a co-working space. The site also plays host to regular events like yoga on the lawn. Waterworks Park is another great spot for outdoor fun.
Schools in the neighborhood include the recently renovated Tampa Heights Elementary. Residents also enjoy access to Downtown and the Interstate. That, along with the great amenities and its lovely perch on the Hillsborough, makes Tampa Heights one of the hottest real estate markets in town.
Seminole Heights is a diverse community where hipsters and long-term stalwarts mingle over beers at the local watering hole. Relatively affordable and close to Downtown, the neighborhood has caught on with younger families and first-time homebuyers who love the renovated bungalows, eclectic shops, and sense of community. New restaurants and brewpubs dot Florida and Nebraska avenues. To really appreciate the local flavor, stop by the Independent, a dive bar that has been attracting folks from all over Tampa for years.
Outdoor recreational spaces are a big draw to this community of dog lovers. Nearby oak-forested Lowry Park offers hiking trails and riverside picnic spots.
Old Seminole Heights takes its holiday decorating seriously. The micro-hood was named Tampa’s Most Spirited neighborhood by Trulia in 2018.
Now that the secret is out, property values are rising in Seminole Heights, so you may want to act fast while Seminole Heights is still somewhat affordable.
Hyde Park is home to some of the most charming historic houses and estates in Tampa. The streets are shaded by huge oaks and paved with brick. Bayshore Boulevard, the longest sidewalk in the world, cuts through Hyde Park as it hugs Hillsborough Bay. Residents have easy access to Hyde Park Village, the Univerity of Tampa, the Soho nightlife scene, and Downtown Tampa is a stone’s throw away.
Hyde Park Village is the heart and soul of the neighborhood. The mixed-use shopping district is great for grabbing a coffee from Buddy Brew and people-watch. Great restaurants are in abundance here. A few of our favorites are Haven and On Swan for modern American fare, Koya for Japanese, and Chanta for Mediterranean delights.
Walkability is one of Hyde Park’s biggest draws. You’ll constantly see families outside strolling. In the evening, the west side of Hyde Park, known as Soho (South of Howard), comes alive with revelers.
Schools are one of the reasons families love Hyde Park. There are about ten schools nearby, including Woodrow Wilson Middle School and Gorey Elementary. Between the great schools, shopping, dining, outdoor amenities, and easy access to the Interstates, Hyde Park is right up there in our list of top Tampa neighborhoods.
Downtown and Channelside
If you’re looking for the iconic big city experience, the Downtown area should be at the top of your list. Once a ghost town after business hours, the downtown area now bustles with restaurants, bars, and things to do. Tampa’s downtown is super up-and-coming but still cheaper than other comparable city centers.
A ton of events take place in the Downtown/Channelside area, giving the district a lively vibe. Downtown residents are spoiled with entertainment destinations, including the Florida Aquarium, Glazer Children’s Museum, the Amalie Arena (where the Tampa Bay Lightning play), the Florida Aquarium, and the Tampa Theater. Curtis Hickson Park hosts events year-round. The Tampa Theatre, an incredible restored Jazz Age movie palace adorned with gargoyles and Greek statues, hosts as many as 600 events a year, from first-run films to cult classics and a summer filmmaking camp.
Sparkman Wharf is a recent addition. The outdoor food hall features a beer garden and lots of food options, from fresh-shucked oysters to French-Vietnamese.
Condos are the main housing option here, with many buildings including rooftop pools, fitness centers, and incredible views.
The area attracts young professionals and even some young families. There are local grocery stores, pharmacies, salons, and pretty much everything you need.
Major development is on the way in Downtown Tampa. When completed, Water Street Tampa will feature sustainably built high-rise residential towers, offices, restaurants, and retail offerings all linked by walkable streets with plenty of green space. We expect the dust to settle on the downtown building boom within the next five years, so if a little construction mess is a pet peeve, you may want to look to more established neighborhoods.
Just down the way from Hyde Park, Bayshore Beautiful is one of the most distinguished neighborhoods in South Tampa. Tree-lined streets open onto panoramic waterfront views. As the neighborhood’s name suggests, you have access to Bayshore Boulevard and all that it entails. Residents also have front-row seats in the famous Gasparilla pirate parade in January.
The homes of Bayshore are architecturally consistent, with a mix of Historic Tudors, Spanish bungalows, and traditional homes.
Families love Bayshore for the schools. Plant High School is one of the highest-rated schools in Tampa.
Ybor City has long been known as a nightlife destination, but the neighborhood is also an interesting place to live. Recent housing options include modern renovated condos, townhomes, and lofts. You might also find new construction homes scattered among the historic homes.
By day the Ybor City attracts foodies looking for authentic Cuban eats and history buffs drawn to the neighborhood’s rich history as a cigar-producing hub. By night Ybor City transforms into one of Tampa’s most happening nightlife districts.
Local tip: Hop on the Tampa trolley/streetcar and catch a free roundtrip ride into Downtown or Channelside.
Another South Tampa stalwart, Palma Ceia is a gorgeous neighborhood with brick-paved streets shaded by huge oak trees. There’s a great stretch of restaurants and boutiques off MacDill Boulevard, and the famous Bayshore sidewalk is a few blocks away, making it a great place to walk, bike, and get outdoors.
Palma Ceia is home to many of Tampa’s more established families. The esteemed Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club is the neighborhood's social center.
Plant High School, Tampa’s top-rated public high school, is another reason why the neighborhood is one of the most desirable in Tampa.
If you’re as obsessed with avocados as we are, you’ll love Barvocado. Florida’s first avocado bar is located inside Swami Juice off MacDill Ave near Bayshore Boulevard. Every dish here features avocado. Be sure to try the avocado toast topped with prosciutto, poached egg, heirloom tomato, and a balsamic glaze.
West Tampa is one of Tampa’s older neighborhoods and retains its old Spanish, Cuban, Italian, and African-American influences. West Tampa had more cigar factories in its heyday than its more famous cousin, Ybor City.
Locals enjoy their cafe con leche at West Tampa Sandwich Shop. And don’t forget to check out the Boozy Pig for their locally sourced meats and seafood.
Residents of West Tampa enjoy proximity to all of the amenities of South Tampa without the high home prices and the noise, making it a desirable neighborhood for first-time homebuyers.
The housing stock is mostly smaller midcentury block homes that are affordable to most. But prices are on the rise. Midtown Tampa, billed as a city within a city, broke ground this year. The development features 1.8 million square feet of retail, apartments, and office space anchored by Whole Foods.
Ballast Point is another South Tampa charmer on the southern end of Bayshore Boulevard near MacDill Airforce Base. It attracts families and active military. It’s not the most expensive neighborhood in Tampa, but it’s not the cheapest either.
Ballast Point, also known as Jules Verne Park, is right on gorgeous Tampa Bay and boasts amazing views of the city. Families enjoy fishing off the pier. There’s also a playground for the kids.
Proximity to MacDill Airforce Base means convenience for military families, but it also means noisy planes. Fortunately, most homes in Ballast Point are equipped with double- or triple-paned windows.
Schools in the area include the highly-rated Robinson High School.
Last but not least, we came to Davis Island. The neighborhood is a walker’s paradise. There are no traffic lights on the entire island. Though super close to the city, the place has a village vibe, with a quaint Main Street offering almost everything you need.
Being surrounded by water, you have no shortage of amazing views, and some homes even back onto the water. As you can imagine, flooding is almost inevitable with heavy rains, but the local authorities are addressing the problem through better drainage.
Davis Island Seaplane Basin Park is a great place to watch the boats — and pelicans — plying the glittering waters. You can also see small planes practicing their take-offs and landings. The island also has its own dog park right on the beach.
You might run into the occasional super-famous athlete in Davis Island. Tom Brady owns a home in the neighborhood. Yankees baseball legend Derek Jeter’s Davis Island home was recently listed for $29 million. Occasionally homes do come on the market that are priced for mere mortals. With the right real estate agent, you too can find a home on the island.
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At Rabell Realty Group, we believe that each and every home purchase, sale, and lease is unique and deserves a skilled touch. Located in Haile Plantation’s Haile Village Center, we’re a small, local real estate firm focused on providing our customers with consistent and outstanding real estate service.
We’re honored to be recognized as the Best Real Estate Agency in Gainesville in 2022 by the Gainesville Award Program. Each year, the awards go to small businesses that have achieved exceptional success in their local community and business category and are helping make the Gainesville area a great place to live, work, and play.