TAMPA — The team that worked to bring the College Football Playoff National Championship to Tampa hit a bullseye with Ryan Christian.
Christian thought of Tampa as a "dirty, rundown city," but after a weekend visit to see her beloved Clemson University football team play in the championship, Christian and her family are tentatively planning a return trip.
"We are seriously so impressed with it," she said.
The family drove about six hours from their home in Beaufort, S.C., and arrived in Tampa on Saturday. They ate at Jackson's Bistro on Harbor Island, walked around the Tampa Convention Center and Curtis Hixon Park for playoff events, and hit up Ybor City for sushi and drinks. They booked three nights at the Homewood Suites by Hilton near Tampa International Airport.
The family typically stays on the South Carolina coast or travels to the tropics for vacation, but now, she said, "we're talking about coming back."
They'll stay downtown next time, and drive out to Clearwater so her three kids can see the famous captive dolphins — Winter and Hope.
Her father, Doug Walker, who lives in Clemson, S.C., also came to like the Tampa area.
"I'm not just saying this because you're a reporter," he said during a hotel breakfast Monday morning. "I've traveled North America very much and (Tampa) has character. ... Not like Houston — that's a real concrete jungle."
The family loved the public art displays and complimented Tampa's overall layout, which he called well-planned and aesthetically pleasing with its water and green space.
"It has a nice feel to it," he said. "Tampa's got it going on. I would vacation here."
Contact Alli Knothe at email@example.com. Follow @KnotheA.