ACPA Convention 2015 – Tampa Travel Tips (on a Budget)

TAMPA Travel Tips

I cannot wait to attend my third ACPA Convention. I have all the service-learning and social justice sessions marked on my CrowdCompass app, can’t wait to see friends and make new ones, and really am looking forward to the sun after Indiana weather!

What I’m not looking forward to? Depleting my bank account and figuring all the ‘life’ things, like eating.

Fortunately, I’m a deviously thrifty soul and am here to share some tips and information around downtown Tampa – including information on local places to visit if you do have money!


Lodging and Airfare: At this point, I’m sure you already have your lodging settled. But if you’re already thinking about your next conference, analyze the different conference approved hotels, ammenities, and costs (included accounting for possible roommates – such as this GoogleDoc!). I always recommend the Embassy Suites if you’ll have roommates because they provide a $2 coin laundry, free breakfast, free cocktails, and a mini-fridge and microwave!

Meals on a Budget

food smuggleSnack Attack: First, pack some snacks! Granola bars, cereal, etc. Anything that will make it through TSA and your luggage safely.

Publix: If you’re familiar with south, then you know Publix is an immensely popular grocery store – an it is ONLY .3 MILES FROM THE CONVENTION CENTER. Buzzfeed reviewed the best parts of Publix and their subs are delicious and affordable with Boar’s Head deli meat and prices around Subway-level.You can even order them online so they’re ready for you!

Check out the Publix #628 website information. It’s open 7/8am-10pm and their weekly ad can be found here. Pick up fresh fruit, wine, deli deliciousness, bread and peanut butter, etc!

Free Meals: Attend all the socials you are invited to! There’s nothing like a dinner of assorted hors d’oeuvres.

Restaurants within a .5 mile radius of the Tampa Convention Center

Starbucks (Embassy Suites Tampa – Downtown Convention Center): One thing you can always count on when it comes to conferences – the Starbucks line will take 3 hours on average.

Zudar’s Deli (201 W Platt St): Known for sandwiches, salads, soups, and wonderful sounding dinner platters. Moderately priced items with platters at $12-ish. [Yelp Reviews]

Four Green Fields (205 W Platt St): An IRISH restaurant (!!!!!) with sandwiches and burgers about $9 and classic dishes like Shepherd’s Pie at $14. MMM. Live music is featured March 5-7. Time to get our jig on, eh? (<—I love my Irish side). [Yelp Reviews]

Nayaka Japanese Noodles (301 West Platt Street): Their ramen is supposed to be great and it’s right next to Walgreens if you need any ibruprofren from long days of sessions. [Yelp Reviews]

Franchise Restaurants: Need a quick bite? About .5 miles north there’s Pita Pit, Jimmy Johns, and also a host of local spots with Thai, Jamaican, pizza, Spanish, coffee, and sandwiches

The Sail Pavilion (333 S Franklin St): Located right next to the convention center (across from the Mariott) and on the riverwalk, this bar opens at 2pm weekdays and 11am weekends, closing at 2am. Perhaps this is the perfect spot after late night events like the Standing Committee for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Awareness (SCLGBTA) 30th Anniversary Social on Friday or their Cabaret on Saturday (ps: tickets are still on sale!!) [Yelp Reviews].

Columbia Restaurant (801 Old Water St #1905) – one of the largest and oldest Spanish restaurants (and Florida’s oldest restaurant), this is a Tampa staple. I’m not 100% sure if I want to support since this family also owns the “Native American” inspired place Ulele (see cultural appropriation in their menu) but it’s only .3 miles away. It’s fairly pricey for a person like myself, with a lunch menu featuring $8-$12 salads, $8-$13 tapas, and entrees $10-$15. The dinner menu has $33 filet mignon and a host of other SAAO-style priced meals. [Yelp Reviews]Cafe Dufrain (707 Harbour Post Dr): Enjoy waterfront restaurants and really really fancy food, plus you haz monies? This place is for you. ++

Nearby Attractions

The Florida Aquarium (701 Channelside Dr) is a .7 mile walk from the Convention Center. Eek, tickets are $22 online/$24 in-person so this isn’t budget-friendly. For an additional $30 you can pet penguins or participate in other attractions, which is cool for you SSAO types out there 😉 [Yelp Reviews]

NHL Hockey: Tampa Bay Lightning (Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Dr): Did you know there is a professional hockey team in FLORIDA? If for any reason you’re from the north and you miss ice during ACPA, there are games 3/3/, 3/5, 3/7. Prices start at $24. If you don’t like hockey, the Harlem Globetrotters are also performing on 3/6 at the Arena!

Channelside Bay Plaza (  : This shopping center includes different retail and dining options, and is just a .5 mile walk.

University of Tampa (401 W Kennedy Blvd): Who doesn’t want to check out a college campus whilst at a higher education conference?! 🙂 Only .5 mile walk!

Tampa Museum of Art (120 W Gasparilla Plaza):Over 500 ancient Greek and Roman art pieces plus a focus on contemporary art, the 1.3 mile walk may be worth it. $10 or Fridays ‘pay-as-you-will’. [Yelp Reviews]

John F Germany Public Library (900 N Ashley Dr): Hey fellow nerds! This .8 mile walk could be fun if it means having an introvert moment to hug books!

spn - dean - i regret nothing - eating

My plan for attending my IU and BGSU socials on Friday night!!! 😉


Feel free to share your own travel tips! Tweet me @NikiMessmore with the #ACPA15 hashtag! Also, I’ll be presenting at the Genius Lab on “Surveys: Wufoo, Zoomerang, Survey Monkey & Google Forms” Saturday at 10:00am in the Convention Center-First Level West!



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