Ron and I just got back from a long weekend in Tampa for the Bob Seger concert and St. Patrick’s Day festivities at the Tampa Riverwalk We’ve never stayed in the Riverwalk area and have never seen the River O’ Green which was an awesome experience! If you have never been to the Riverwalk during St. Patrick’s Day, it is worth the trip for sure. I’ve posted the map below.
We left our house around 10:30am to trek out to Tampa. The drive there from our house is about 2 ½ – 3 hours depending on traffic on the Interstate 4 FROM HELL! Normally when we visit the Tampa area there is bumper to bumper traffic around the Disney World area, then it clears up for a while until you hit the Tampa area around Interstate 75.
We stopped at Seminole Hard Rock Tampa because I have an obsession with slot machines. Even though I am on a mission to live a frugal life, save money and pay our debt off, I have a weakness for slots and some sports betting on occasion. Some people have shopping weaknesses, I have a slot machine weakness (I think I may be one of the small group of women who honestly HATE shopping!)
SLOT MACHINE SIDENOTE: My advice to people who are on a budget and like to gamble every once and a while, DO NOT go into the casino with a credit or debit card and only play penny slots! I’ve won over $200 a few times on penny slots so it’s not impossible to risk small and hit big once and a while. Now that doesn’t mean that I ONLY play penny slots but if you are on a budget, penny slots allow you to play longer with less money.
Now back to the trip….
The casino gave me $15 of free play which I lost super fast and then we lost what we had budgeted for the day too! It was frustrating but at least we were able to see all the new renovations that they’ve made with the money that they have taken from us for the last decade! Ha! It is very easy to get lost in this place now. It went from a small, cozy casino to approximately 4 more casino areas with one being a non-smoking casino. They are also adding more hotel space in addition to the hotel space that was already there and a much needed parking area (maybe they’ll send me a free room one of these days..I won’t hold my breath). There were also more restaurants and bars too. It was nice to get my gambling fix for a while…well, until Sunday!
We left the casino and were on our way to the Westin hotel to check in. Since I work for local government, we get a discount on hotels as a perk. We were able to score the hotel for HALF OFF! Thank God for that because everything else was so damn expensive! I can’t remember the last time I stayed at a hotel and the breakfast wasn’t free but more on that later. The hotel was absolutely beautiful and it was a requirement to valet park (which was $28 a day). See where I’m going with this? Every where I turned I was either swiping or dishing out cash. I know, we’re on vacation but I was getting tired of having mini strokes every time people asked me for money! I blame this on not preparing ahead of time to find cheaper prices. I’ll never do that again!
We had tickets for Bob Seger and were really excited to see him since both of us have never seen him live. We purchased floor seats (which was my first time on the floor) and had seats on the end of the row which Ron and I prefer. Everything was going great. He sounded amazing! We had comfortable seats and were enjoying some great rock and roll until I started to feel really sick. I hadn’t been feeling too well for the last week or so to begin with but the combination of a few beers, two really tall and bulky guys in front of me and the body heat making it feel like I couldn’t breathe really got to me. I felt like I was going to have a panic attack and all of a sudden my stomach started to churn. I had to get out of there and fast! Ron followed me out to the hallway and I told him I wasn’t sure if I can go back in there. Fortunately I didn’t puke, unfortunately we had to leave early. We were able to see a little over an hour of the show which was good though. I told Ron to stay but he wanted to make sure I got home okay. I’ve got a good egg!
When I woke up in the morning I was feeling sooooo much better and craving a nice, big cup of coffee! Ron and I went downstairs to the breakfast buffet, piled our plates with food and just as we were digesting, along comes a bill to our table. We both looked at each other and thought…hmmm..this is odd, we don’t pay for breakfast when we stay at a hotel, this has to be a mistake. As I looked at the bill, I thought I was going to have a stroke! $43 for a mediocre breakfast buffet?!?!? WTF! As I was catching my breath, I thought, if I would have done my homework on the Westin I would have known that breakfast is not in fact FREE and checked out where we could get a cheap breakfast elsewhere. What a bummer and it could have been totally avoided if I would have been proactive. Take note peeps!
We usually stay at the Hampton Inn and they provide a free and much more appetizing breakfast in their room rate. The closest Hampton Inn to where we were was about 15-20 minutes away and we really wanted to be within walking distance to everything at the Riverwalk and did not want to get into a car to go anywhere so we chose the Westin. Granted, I’m not badmouthing the Westin because their rooms were super clean, we had a nice view and the staff were very helpful and sweet, but, charging people for breakfast and mandatory valet parking is not my style. IM ON A BUDGET!
We met up with Gina and my niece Ava for the day (You may have seen them in some of my previous posts). We walked, talked and had a delicious lunch together. It was great to see them and catch up! After they left we made our way back to the hotel to take a snooze, shower, and decide what we were going to do for the night.
I was browsing on my phone and saw that the Tampa Bay Lightning were playing so we decided to go to the Amalie Arena and see if maybe we could get tickets to see the game. When we got there we found fans sitting in their chairs outside the arena watching the Lightning on a huge screen! We didn’t have to go any further. We grabbed a drink from the outside bar, found a bench to sit on and watched the Lightning win. Go Bolts!
On our way back to the hotel we found a Starbucks that was actually right next to our hotel that we decided would be our breakfast destination in the morning before we checked out.
The Westin provides free coffee (probably the only thing that is free in this hotel) so we grabbed our coffee and walked to Starbucks. Ron had an everything bagel with butter and I had a plain bagel with cream cheese. Total spent: $4.50! Now THAT’S what I’m talking about!
We went back up to the hotel after breakfast and grabbed our things and waited for our car to be valeted to us. Honestly, the whole valet thing was a big downer for me. I don’t like other people driving my car, RON doesn’t even drive my car! And to require me to not only turn my key over to some stranger, pay for it, not be able to get to it if I forgot something, sucked. On the brighter side, we didn’t use our car the whole time we were there so it was safe and sound in an underground parking lot.
Before we left the Tampa area we took a chance at Seminole Hard Rock Casino again. Total spent: ENOUGH!
I have to say that Tampa did it absolutely right with this Riverwalk creation. I believe it is close to 2 miles worth of parks, restaurants, museums and beautiful breezes off the river. We will definitely go back !
And that’s all folks! I’ve posted a video from the River O’ Green below for you to enjoy!
Till next time, I’ll see ya soon!
Armature Works – Cool warehouse kind of vibe with food, bars and shopping.
B&B. Butcher n BBQ – One of the best chicken phillys I’ve ever had!
The Sail – Cool bar with beautiful views of the river