Tampa Riverwalk up for 2023 Best Riverwalk in U.S.
USA Today 10Best is taking on the task of gathering votes and here is what they have to say about this award:
“Cities across the United States have transformed their riverfront areas into multi-use spaces for recreational purposes, cultural activities, dining and nightlife. Help us find the best riverwalk by voting for your favorite once per day until polls close on Monday, February 6 at noon ET. The 10 winning riverwalks, determined by your vote, will be announced on Friday, February 17. Read the official Readers’ Choice rules here.”
The Tampa Riverwalk is a 2.6 mile long trail along the Hillsborough River. This trail connects a massive network of museums, shops, restaurants, parks, hotels and public spaces. Some of the most popular attractions along the trail are the Henry Plant Museum, Amalie Arena, Tampa Museum of Art, Curtis Hixon Park, Tampa Bay Convention Center and Straz Center for the Performing Arts. You can take a look at the interactive map here to get a full view of the area.
The Riverwalk got it’s start in the 1970’s. At that time the area was mostly industrial, over the years the area began to develop and as it did so the Riverwalk began to expand. In the 80’s the downtown area was no where near as popular as it is now. In fact the city specifically focused its sights on bringing new life to the area during that time. That is when they began construction of buildings such as Amalie Arena and the Florida Aquarium in proximity to the Riverwalk.
Half a century of development later and the population of the area has gone from 874,000 in 1970 to 2,977,000 at the beginning of 2023. Through those years the Riverwalk project has almost always been ongoing. The project plans and proposals have changed hands quite a few times through new mayors but the goal has always remained the same – “connect the downtown riverfront parks, museums, attractions and businesses while supporting further expansion and development of the Riverwalk, creating an inviting outdoor destination and building a stronger sense of community.”
It has not always been easy to keep the project alive. Infrastructure was arguably one of the most difficult demands to meet as the area began to see more and more foot traffic. But, thanks to continuous the ingenuity of those involved, solutions to these dilemmas have resulted in numerous pedestrian and bike paths, motorized scooter rentals, water taxi’s and more.
In order to incorporate more beauty and community into the Riverwalk, the Riverwalk has welcomed many artists to contribute to the trail. Presently, visitors can enjoy numerous murals, sculptures and other art installations while taking a stroll. There are also thirty bronze busts available for view as part of the Historical Monument Trail, a sub-trail of the Riverwalk.
The section of the Hillsborough River that Riverwalk accompanies is also the host location for some of the biggest Holidays and events of the year such as, Gasparilla, the 4th of July parade and the Christmas Lighted Boat Parade. It also serves as the parade route of champions. Tampa Bay sports teams use the river to celebrate their victories with the community.
Since inception, the Riverwalk has been such a staple component of the city of Tampa, connecting the heart of the community to the businesses, attractions and waterfront that make the city what it is. And the future of the Riverwalk continues to be bright – the Tampa Bay Times reported that “in 2022, the city announced plans to develop new segments of the Riverwalk along the west side of the Hillsborough River, across from the existing path. The west bank addition would stretch north into the neighborhood of West Tampa and would be connected to a ‘Green Spine’ of pedestrian and bike-friendly greenways and protected lanes that extend into areas well away from the river, adding an additional 6 miles to the combined project and creating a large loop.”
The Riverwalk has come so far since its start in the 70’s, continues to grow, and we are excited to see what the future holds. It comes as no surprise that it’s up for Best Riverwalk in the United States!