Moving To Downtown Tampa: The Dog Scene

So you have a dog and you're looking for things to do with him or her?

83 Degrees Media takes a look at the array of dog friendly services in downtown Tampa, including  parks, cafes, coffee shops and bars, veterinarians and apartments that give two paws up for pooches. Consider this your canine guide for the places to frequent with your best friend by your side.

A Walk In The (Dog) Park
Downtown Tampa offers several options for dogs that need to unleash energy and socialize with other dogs.

Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park is a go-to spot for Tampa residents, whether or not they own a dog. The view of the University of Tampa and the welcoming fountains on a warm day provide tranquil scenery while Fido socializes with other dogs.

Washington Street Park is an award-winning (Hillsborough County Planning Commission and Florida Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects) play space for Channel District canines. The half-acre space features a play area and dog run on artificial turf, water fixtures and seats underneath a canvas-shaded structure.

Davis Islands Dog Park features a "dry'' park for turf-oriented dogs, and a "wet'' park for those who prefer to doggie paddle. Its proximity to the Crosstown Expressway makes it accessible to dog owners residing in points east, such as Brandon. "Since I moved to Brandon (from Tampa), I've been bringing my dog here every couple of weeks. It's a great chance for dogs to exercise and socialize,'' says Sean Dhoostelaere of Brandon during a recent visit.

For information on rules and regulations to abide by at each park, visit the City of Tampa website.

Food, Drinks and Dogs
Who says you need to leave your dog home while grabbing a bite or a brew? These dog-friendly establishments welcome both you and your canine companion, and give two paws up for spending quality time with your dog.

Cafe Dufrain: This destination waterfront cafe on Harbour Island serves seasonal, sustainable fare and offers two climate-controlled patios for the comfort of you and your pooch. Boats are accessible from the cafe as well.

Columbia Cafe Riverwalk: A riverside version of Ybor City's original Columbia Restaurant, the cafe situated inside and outside the Tampa Bay History Center serves favorite dishes from the premier location. Stop in after taking your dog for a stroll on the Tampa Riverwalk, or enjoy live music on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Fly Bar and Restaurant: You and your canine companion can enjoy grooving to the local music and checking out the inspiring works by local artists at this sexy bar on the north end of Franklin Street.

Jackson's Bistro: Bring your dog on to the dining patio and enjoy a waterfront view of the downtown skyline looking north from Harbour Island. Jackson's serves lunch, dinner, brunch, an impressive selection of sushi, and imported and domestic wines.

Pour House: If after a long day at work, the thought of a cool craft brew causes you to salivate as much as your dog, Pour House will quench your thirst for a brew and bonding. "Owners bring dogs after work or gym to blow off steam and socialize after being cooped up all day. Water bowls are set up, treats are on the counter, and the dogs love our popcorn. Dogs are in here at all hours, so you wouldn't feel weird bringing your dog in at midnight on a Friday,'' says co-owner Peter Nietzel.

Rick's Italian Cafe: Wander over to Davis Islands to give your canine companion a taste of Italy with Italian classics such as chicken or veal parmigiana, pasta, pizza and tiramisu.

Sail Pavilion: Next to the Tampa Convention Center, the water is just steps away, which means sailboats and sunsets for you and your four-legged friend. Sail often has events listed on their Facebook page.

Sono Cafe: Tampa Museum of Art's walk-up cafe lets your dog experience the artistic atmosphere of the museum on the Tampa Riverwalk. Afterward, take a stroll through the adjacent Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.

Yeoman's Road Pub: Back on Davis Islands with your pooch by your side, try the Wall of Foam Challenge (drink 90 different beers in 90 days). Or jam to live blues, funk, acoustic, jazz and alternative music (Tuesday, Friday and Saturday nights).

Dog Treats
Your dog is your best friend, so he or she deserves the best. Whether it's gourmet pet food, boot camp, grooming, training, or an exclusive dog club, downtown Tampa offers several options to pamper your pooch.

Channeldistrict Kennel Club: This "premier members only dog club'' ensures your canine will socialize with other top dogs. Non-vaccinated dogs need not apply; they'll be checked for up-to-date vaccinations before a membership is granted. Small and large dog runs and a common area with agility equipment are available for the canine members.

Davis Islands Pet Care: Owner Carolyn Bigley has been in the dog business since 1996, and is a pet technician, dog obedience instructor, and is certified in pet first aid. Services include pet sitting, dog walking, group and private obedience training, boot camp and maintenance program.

Wag Natural Pet Market and Bathhouse: Between a wellness center (natural and holistic food, supplements and hygiene items), bathhouse (self-serve) and school of etiquette, Wag offers enough options to make even the most unhappy pup’s tail wag. "Grooming may be available in the near future, which I'm super excited about,'' says Jennifer Fadal, owner and "Pack Mom'' of Wag. "You'll see us more often at the South Tampa area dog parks, handing out treats and info. And, we look forward to engaging folks in new and different ways through Facebook and Twitter.''

Dog Treatments  

When your dog is feeling under the weather, relief and comfort may be found from the veterinarians in one of these facilities:

Davis Island Animal Clinic: Dr. Steven Lewis has 35 years of experience in just about anything a dog could need. Appointments are available six days per week, and urgent care and walk-ins are accepted as well.

Harbourside Animal Hospital: This hospital is in Channelside in the Channel District (not on Harbour Island) and treats dog patients from downtown Tampa and beyond.

Dog-Friendly Dwellings
  • Bell Channelside offers one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments and penthouses. Its Walk Score of 82 means many walking distance options for you and your pooch.
  • Davis Island Apartments offers one- and two-bedroom apartments throughout Davis Islands.
  • Element offers apartments right downtown with one and two bedrooms, and penthouses.
  • Post Harbour Place offers one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments (including dual-level) on Harbour Island.
  • Slade Apartments in the Channel District offers one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments.
  • The Place at Channelside offers one- and two-bedroom apartments.
Juliette Cassistre is a Boston area native who loves sunny Florida, fitness and health-conscious cooking and baking. She is a freelance writer and earned her BA in Communications at Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts. Comments? Contact 83 Degrees.
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