Downtown Staycation: Gasparilla Day Parade and Marriott Waterside Hotel Recap and Camera Roll

If you live in Tampa or one of our adjacent cities you should at least go to Gasparilla once in your time here. I actually know people who have never been to Gasparilla and have been in Tampa their entire life and its shocking to me. My husband- was one of them. This year I made it my sole mission to take him to the day parade. We always go to the night parade because it is my favorite, but I wanted him to experience the day parade at least once. Because hubs is so loving he did not care if I turned it into a whole aircation and just did the whole thing the way I wanted so I booked us a room at the Marriott Waterside Hotel and the adventure ensued. One might think why book a room at a hotel only 3 miles from your home? Well, you haven't been to Gasparilla!

 Every year thousands of people flood the downtown Tampa area and Bayshore blvd all in the name of Gasparilla. Roads are closed, parking is 20 to 30$ per lot. I believe even Captain Morgan (the company) evern donated 20,000$ in free Uber rides this same day and they were sold out by ten am. In my mind... I don't have time for that! Lots of restaurants sale tickets and brunch packages for Gasparilla offering the best views, honestly, its about the same price as a hotel room if you are a couple. So, we went on and started our adventure! 

 I have never stayed downtown before. Coincidentally, the last time I was at the day parade I was about 19 years old and I ended up at this very hotel and was interviewed for the local news. Its always funny to me to think about where I was years ago vis now in retrospect. I would have never foreseen a situation where I was staying in a hotel downtown at a hotel. Anyhow, this hotel is nice, like really nice. The views of downtown alone are worth the stay to me! Its 24 stories and I was hoping to get a room on a high floor, but we were on the 8th floor which to me was like meh- because it was no different than in my condo. Anyhow, this hotel was super busy because of Gasparilla and the energy was crazy. Everyone was walking around in their pirate outfits and having a good time. It pretty much seemed like a lot of people had the same idea as me and they booked a room specifically for the Gasparilla weekend.

This is random, but that on the right will be the new Marriott hotel when it is finished.


So, on the day of the Gasparilla day parade the weather was pretty crappy. You can see it- you see how it looks lol, but we went out and had some fun. I forgot how insane the day parade is. The night parade is a whole other animal and its also insane, but something about the day parade is just not my cup of tea. That's probably why I stopped going to it to be honest. There are a lot of drunk people, almost naked people, wild people, people that are high on whatever... I am gonna be honest I was on the parade line for all of 45 minutes and I almost went off on someone for pushing me down trying to get beads- a grown man! People basically go crazy for beads. Anyhow, I had fun, but being able to to just walk back to the hotel made it a lot less stressful for me.

I have never seen the pirate invasion. It happens at ten am on the day of the parade. Hundreds of boats and yachts all form a flotilla escorting the ship of Jose Gaspar (nickname Gasparilla). All of these boats cruise down the channel where they will dock at Harbor Island. This is so cool. I have never witnessed a flotilla and not only that you can see it from the hotel! So, after the pirate invasion ends the party ensues and the key is demanded from the Mayor of Tampa (cool right?). At this point you have a few hours until the parade starts and basically everyone is drinking and eating.

OUT ON THE TOWN: So, after the parade ends there is more partying. Yes MORE PARTYING. We went out to try a restaurant that has been on my radar for years, but we have never been. I figured this would be the perfect time to try it out since we were already staying down there. Also, I figured it would be the last place tons of parade goers would be and I was wrong! But the vibe was just right.

I had a great experience at Malio's prime. I already want to return there on a more low key night. The prime steak was easily within the best that I have had.

Gluten Free Cioppino soup

Gluten Free escargot

Nursing our party high- the weather on Sunday was INSANE. It was dark, windy, raining, and 45 degrees. We headed over to my favorite stomping grounds Soho to enjoy a champagne brunch and luxuriate.

Elevage-Epicurean Hotel



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