1. Things to Do

From Hamilton to Datz, Tampa Bay looks ahead to 2018

Published Dec. 27, 2017

You don't have to look far to find a grievance to log with 2017.

From national tragedies to deaths of some favorite celebrities to an increasingly bitter political divide, it was a year fraught with change and pain. But how about our own backyard? Let's find things to look forward to in Tampa Bay in 2018.


Well, maybe. The box office-busting Broadway musical about the life and times of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr is stopping in Tampa for the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts' 2018-19 season. We've yet to get an exact date. But we do know season ticket holders for the current Straz season are guaranteed seats to Hamilton when they renew for the 2018-19 season. Now, how to convince creator Lin-Manuel Miranda to stop by?

Venue makeovers

Speaking of performing arts. Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater is in the midst of a giant renovation, with plans for a 6,000-square-foot lobby, a 250-seat cabaret theater and traffic and parking improvements. In November, the theater received a $1.5 million donation, which is sure to help. Tampa Theatre just reopened after a facelift that will continue through 2018, meant to restore its historic 1926 glory. And over at the Straz, more seats are slated to be replaced in the summer, among other improvements. We'll also be watching continuing discussions about easing that parking jam.

New museums

We're awaiting two major additions to the art scene in St. Petersburg, the Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement and the Tom and Mary James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art, both in heavy construction right now. I got a peek at the site of the latter, and I can already tell it's going to be a hot spot for weddings and events.

Restaurant explosion

The food scene keeps growing and growing, and while some contraction this year is inevitable, it's fun to watch (and indulge). St. Petersburg's Il Ritorno is reopening after some freshening up. We're awaiting a Datz outpost in the spring in St. Petersburg and a project from Food Network personality Dr. BBQ, a.k.a. Ray Lampe. And the Armature Works in Tampa is expected to have an in-house market (including a version of Ichicoro, the popular ramen empire), two restaurants and an event hall. Hungry yet?


  1. MICHELE MILLER | Times 2018
Thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts will roll into downtown New Port Richey for the Cotee River Bike Fest held Oct. 11-13. Times (2018)
    The weekend event brings thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts to town while benefiting local charities.
  2. Bigger. Taller. Glitzier. A $720 million expansion of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa has added a 14-story hotel, right, next to the casino's original hotel on the left. Richard Danielson
    Nicole Kidman and Christie Brinkley walked the red carpet, and two members of the Wallenda family walked a high wire strung between the casino’s two hotel towers.
  3. The Cotee River Bike Fest will be held Oct. 11-13 in downtown New Port Richey. Times
    Local offerings abound for those wanting to get out and about.
  4. The African American Heritage Trail in St. Petersburg begins at the Carter G. Woodson African American Museum. MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Tampa Bay Times
    It has been five years since the historic trail celebrated its grand opening, but many still don’t know it’s there.
  5. The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride combines dapper duds and vintage-inspired bikes on a ride to raise money for men's health charities. Mari Sabra
    The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride returns to Tampa Bay as local motorcyclists join a worldwide run to raise money for men’s health charities.
  6. Natalie D'Alessandro and Izaac Deal break out into dance during the inaugural Pride Festival in 2018 in downtown New Port Richey. MICHELE MILLER  |  Times (2018)
    New Port Richey gathering will feature a week of lead-up events.
  7. Suzanne Natzke, an artist and teacher with the Pasco Fine Arts Council, arranges her watercolor paintings for an upcoming exhibit, 'Moments in Time.' The exhibit will be held through Oct. 21 at the council's new gallery at Avalon Park West in Wesley Chapel. MICHELE MILLER  |  Michele Miller
    The countywide Council will exhibit work at the Avalon Park West community.
  8. The Tampa Bay Lightning has tapped Cigar City Brewing to bring its Jai Alai, Guayabera, and Florida Cracker beers to Amalie Arena as the team’s official craft beer partner. (Photo via Tampa Bay Lightning) Tampa Bay Lightning
    Cigar City also will move its popular annual Hunahpu’s Beer Festival to Amalie Arena starting next March.
  9. Pinellas County resident and bestselling author Lisa Unger. Courtesy of Jay Nolan
    Plus, Tampa’s Sulphur Springs Museum will host Raymond Arsenault for a discussion about ‘Arthur Ashe: A Life.’
  10. Cyclists make their way north at Main Street in Dunedin along the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail Tuesday, July 23, 2019. The trail runs from St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs. There are several options for food and drinks along the trail. CHRIS URSO   |   TIMES  |  Tampa Bay Times
    From the breweries of Dunedin to the Tampa Riverwalk, these rides show off Tampa Bay’s character