The New Jersey Devils will face the Tampa Bay Lightning in round one of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ve got your series preview ready for you here, but this article will help those Devils fans that are looking to come support Jersey’s team on the road. The Devils will be in the Tampa Bay area for at least two games, and could be back in Tampa for two more. New Jersey will likely arrive in the early evening hours of Wednesday, April 11, with Game One slated to begin at 7pm on Thursday at Amalie Arena, and Game Two set for Saturday at 3pm. Many Devils fans will consider escaping the cold and coming to the warm subtropical city by the Bay, so we’ve prepared everything you need to know about the Tampa Bay area, if you choose to spend your weekend with the palm trees and sunshine.
Since Amalie Arena is in the heart of Downtown Tampa, there are a number of hotels within walking distance to the arena or a short drive from Tampa’s Downtown. If you don’t mind spending more on hotels, I would recommend staying Downtown at anywhere along Ashley Drive. Establishments such as the Tampa Marriott Waterside (which is directly across from the Arena), Embassy Suites by Hilton – Downtown Convention Center, and the Westin Tampa Waterside are all less than a 10 minute walk from the arena, but will charge top dollar for that convenience. The cheapest hotel along Ashley Drive in Downtown Tampa is likely the Barrymore Hotel, which is the other end of Ashley Drive and about a 20-25 minute walk. You can check out TripAdvisor‘s best hotels to stay in Tampa.
If you’re looking to save money on a hotel stay, there are plenty of hotels within a 15 minute drive to Downtown. You can look closer to Rocky Point, which is near the airport and a 15 minute drive from Amalie Arena.
There are also more than ample Airbnb options in Downtown Tampa and the surrounding areas if you’re looking to save some more money and meet some of the locals while you’re here.
Tampa is no stranger to delicious foods. The area features a lot of the big chains that you can get in any major area, but we won’t worry so much about those. Instead, we will focus on the local favorites and small businesses that have earned the foot traffic that comes along with the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
- Eddie & Sam’s New York Pizza – This pizzeria is reminiscent of a typical New York City pizzeria, and the closest to real New York/New Jersey pizza in Tampa. They import water and ingredients from New York, the slices are huge, and it’s delicious. This is one of those very rare “good pizza” places that exist outside of New Jersey. They also offer gelato, cheesecake, calzones, and other great dishes.
- Carmine’s – Located in Ybor and just a few blocks from the Streetcar station, Carmine’s makes a delicious and authentic Cuban sandwich for lunch, and great Florida seafood for dinner. They specialize in Cuban, Italian and Spanish cuisines.
- Oxford Exchange – This location features a restaurant, coffee and tea bar, bookstore and “library” while providing one of the best ambiances I’ve ever experienced in this kind of setting. I’d highly recommend checking it out if you like coffee, tea, or great food. It’s near the University of Tampa’s campus, just across the river from downtown, which is a short five-minute walk up Kennedy Blvd.
- Miguel’s and Miguelito’s – A Mexican Seafood & Grill restaurant that’s got a great combination of surf and turf. Miguelito’s is owned by Miguel’s, but offers different seafood selections and is also a tequila bar featuring both reverse and regular happy hours.
- Fresh Kitchen – If you’re more health conscious, this is the place for you. They offer a quick-service meal where you can make your own bowl.
- DoughNation – This location offers edible cookie dough that comes in different flavors, and they have vegan options. All profits are donated to feeding the hungry around the City of Tampa.
- Four Green Fields – Do you prefer Irish food? Four Green Fields is the best Irish restaurant in Tampa, with locations in a few different areas around downtown. The Guinness stew is delicious, as is the corned beef and cabbage.
Bars & Nightlife
If you love nightlife, Tampa is the perfect place to visit for a Devils vs Lightning playoff game. There’s a number of great bars that offer stellar deals and great places to party it up on a Friday night. All of the major nightlife in Tampa is either on SoHo – South Howard Ave – or in Ybor.
- MacDinton’s Irish Pub – From dollar beers on Thursday nights to a 6-8pm happy hour on Friday, MacDinton’s is one of the go-to pubs in the Tampa Area.
- Hattricks Tavern – The ultimate tavern for the ultimate hockey fan. Great food, local drink choices, awesome specials, and a hockey-friendly atmosphere.
- Club Prana – Located in Ybor, Prana is a five-story club that plays different music on each floor and has a bar on each level as well. My favorite is the rooftop bar and dance floor, which offers breathtaking views of Ybor and the Tampa skyline.
- HPC – The Hyde Park Cafe is another popular nightclub located in Tampa’s Hyde Park, and popular among local college students. The club is flanked by dance floors, and features an uncovered bar and gathering area in the center.
Fun Things To Do
- Beaches – This goes without saying. It is Florida after all. Clearwater and the St. Pete beaches are all less than an hour drive from Tampa. If you’re looking for less touristy beaches, check out Madeira Beach or Fort De Soto Beach while you hang out in the gentle waves of the Gulf of Mexico.
- The Tampa Riverwalk – Take in all of the sites and sounds of Tampa by walking along the scenic Hillsborough River. There’s a few dog parks along the Riverwalk, along with free WiFi and a couple of parks along the way. This is great for the aforementioned bike rentals as well.
- Explore Ybor – 7th Ave in Ybor is one of the most unique cultural experiences in the Southeast. It’s the Cuban and Spanish district in Tampa, and the culture of those heritages are present still today. Stop by one of the many cigar shops (I recommend King Carona’s Cigars), visit the museums, explore the local shops, or pop in for a bite to eat at one of the local restaurants. Ybor has it all, just try not to stray too far from 7th Ave.
- Visit the Museums – There are so many museums in Downtown Tampa. You can visit the Henry B. Plant Museum on the University of Tampa campus, or cross the river and visit the Glazer Children’s Museum or the Florida Museum of the Photographic Arts. If you’re near the Amalie Arena, you could also swing by the Tampa Bay History Center, located just next to the Arena. If you’re more into science, you could stop in at the Museum of Science and Industry.
- The Local Attractions – Stop in at the Florida Aquarium in Channelside, or the Lowry Park Zoo. You could also visit Busch Gardens Tampa, or make the drive over to Orlando for Disney, Universal and the likes.
Will you be at one of the games in Tampa? We will have a team member in the area that would love to meet up with you! Let’s invade Amalie Arena, and LET’S GO DEVILS!