Channelside Tampa, effectively an extension of Downtown, takes its name from the two waterways - the Ybor and Garrison Channels - that squeeze it from the east and south. The area has undergone something of a transformation over the last five years or so and development still continues. Being one of the fastest-growing places in Tampa, this development may last a while, which can cause inconvenience at times. However, when the work is complete it will surely be an even more amazing place to live in or visit.
As would be expected, the waterside location plays a large part in Channelside's past and present. Huge cargo ships drift by to dock at the storage depots and terminals across Ybor Channel, and commercial cruise liners dock at the ports, their impressive bulks dwarfing the surrounding buildings.
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The Florida Aquarium is housed here, adding to the area's connection with water. Likewise, for a real slice of maritime history, you can visit the merchant marine ship American Victory. This floating museum offers a chance to see what life was like for sailors in WWII.
The former Channelside Bay Plaza reopened in November 2018, greatly improved and remodeled as Sparkman Wharf. This brilliant new complex offers a whole range of experiences in dining, recreation, and entertainment and is named for one of the region's most important figures. Stephen Sparkman was the region's first congressman, securing the funds needed to excavate the deepwater channels that have shaped both the landscape and history of Downtown Tampa and Channelside. His legacy lives on in Sparkman Wharf, where the developers use 'disruptive', modern innovative ideas to push the city towards a brighter future. Inside the complex, various eating places are housed within shipping containers - yet another nod to the industrial maritime past, as well as an excellent reuse of old materials.
Good Connections, great attractions
Channelside is serviced by trolley transportation, which connects it to Downtown immediately to the west and Ybor City to the north. For the energetic, there are spectacular views to be enjoyed by walking or cycling along the Tampa Riverwalk. Close by the start of this route, you will find the Tampa Bay History Center and the Amelie Arena. The latter is an impressive venue, hosting indoor sports matches as well as music concerts.
The 'vibe' here, as you may expect, is youthful, attracting mostly young families and professionals, contributing to a bustling night-life scene with plenty of live music on offer. The cost of living can be a little on the steep side but compared to most other major US cities it really isn't too expensive.
The attractions, while great, can mean that it gets really busy - especially at weekends, which can present problems with congestion and finding a parking space.
All in all, though, it's an exciting place to visit, with plenty to see and do. Channelside Tampa cherishes its heritage and is making a great job of improving and developing the area in keeping with this ideal.
Be sure to represent your neighborhood pride around Tampa with our collection of Channelside t-shirts, tank tops, hats, and more! And to ensure your neighborhood apparel holds up in the washing machine, be sure to check out Appliance Accreditor for the most accurate appliance reviews.
If you'd like to learn more about other neighborhoods around Tampa, check out our guide to the best neighborhoods in Tampa.
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