Tampa Trip

As sad as it can be not living near my family, it’s pretty great they live somewhere fun like Tampa. It’s hard to believe that I’m coming up on my ten year anniversary of moving away after high school. Obviously, I was there during summers and on the occasional break when crew practice didn’t get in the way throughout college. But once I had one foot out the door, it started to feel less like home. Or maybe it wasn’t that it felt less like home, it was that other places started to feel like home, too. We moved to Tampa in 1998 and I went to college in 2008, so it’s weird that I’m super close to the point where I will have lived “not in Tampa” longer than I did live there.

In the ten years that I’ve been gone, Tampa has undergone a huge transformation. And it’s nowhere near the peak, I think. So many cool things to do and new developments popping up left and right. It makes it that much more fun to visit because there’s always new places to discover while also going back to my favorite old haunts.

This might have been my favorite trip down there of all time. It was a full week that felt like an entire month! A big reason why it felt like I was there for so long was that my trip was broken up a bit into different chunks. The first leg was introducing my boyfriend to Tampa. Then spending Mother’s Day with my mom (he left early Sunday). Driving down to Boca Grande to stay at Gasparilla Inn with my sister (and Carter!). Then back to Tampa to hang out with my fam a bit more. It was such a fulfilling week.

Just wanted to share some fun snaps I have from my phone. I didn’t take too many iPhone pictures (except for the 300 I took at Oxford Exchange haha) and felt pretty present all week long.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

It wouldn’t be a trip to my parents’ house without chocolate chip cookies. I lost track of how many I ate. My mom almost made another batch to send me back to NJ with, and I begged her not to. Sitting on the plane with a bag of cookies would be just plain dangerous.


On Friday night, the five of us went to Ulele for dinner and caught a gorgeous sunset. If you find yourself in Tampa, you have to go Ulele! Every single thing on the menu is delicious. (Put the fried okra at the top of your list.) When it opened it was kind of the only thing over there, but now the entire Riverwalk is developing into a huge destination. (I actually did a little internship with the Riverwalk back when I was in college, so it’s crazy to see how far it’s come!) There’s so much going on and if the weather is nice, you can sit outside, play cornhole, and walk down to Armature Works, which is like a giant food hall. You can even rent these little electric boats to zip around the river; I’m dying to try it.


My dad and boyfriend golfed together on Saturday morning, so my mom and I went to Emerson’s tee-ball game. I can’t believe how much they grow between my visits. Emerson is as sweet as ever and gave me the world’s best hugs after his game.

We spotted Posies Flower Truck in Hyde Park on Saturday afternoon. It’s literally the cutest thing you’ve ever seen. (And also a brilliant business model because how could I resist putting together a bouquet despite each stem nearly an arm and leg?!)

Posies Flower Truck

Lobster Dinner

My BF is an amazing cook and we wanted to cook dinner for my family. By “we,” I mean, I went along to the grocery store and contributed dessert. He did literally everything and it was so, so good. I made these funfetti macaroons from Molly Yeh’s blog and they were divine, even though I burnt them a little. Seriously delicious. They’re super, super sweet so I’m glad I used dark chocolate for the dipping instead of milk chocolate, just as an FYI if you decide to make them yourself.

Funfetti Macaroons

I’m realizing now that I don’t have pictures from Mother’s Day (other than the one I took with my mom in our matching dresses). My mom, sister, and I went out to lunch and surprised her with her gift. Then we did a little shopping together and had dinner with my grandma that night. Very low key but a lot of together time, which is what it’s all about!!

Gasparilla Inn Boca Grande

My sister Stacy and I made our way down to Boca Grande to stay at the Gasparilla Inn. It’s one of my top three “Happy Places” in the world. If you haven’t’ been, put it on your list. I have a much longer post about my stay coming up, so, for now, I’ll just leave you with these two pictures. 1) I was so happy and relaxed and 2) It’s the cutest hotel ever with its pink, green, and seashells.

Gasparilla Inn  Oxford Exchange Tastemakers

We got on the road relatively early Wednesday to head back to Tampa. Even typing this all out, it seems crazy with how much I squeezed in. I thought it might feel a little hectic with having to pack and repack and bouncing around so much, but nope. It was perfect.

Oxford Exchange, my favorite storefront in the world, hosted an event for some local influencers. My mom and I had the best time together. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but it was above and beyond my expectations. So cool to be in one of my favorite places “after hours.” We got to tour the offices upstairs, went behind the scenes in the kitchen, picked up goodies, and tried some delicious treats (like a decadent affogato).

Diamond Ring

My last day ended up being one of the best. My mom and I grabbed breakfast together at Goody Goody– they have the best cafe con leche and Cuban toast! I did a little damage at Mavilo’s. I have been wanting another band to go with my sapphire/diamond one. Ended up with a simple diamond one and love that I can wear it on its own too. I got my haircut and had lunch with my mom before returning home to pack for my flight. I started getting notifications that my flight was delayed… then more delayed… then even more delayed… then canceled! I got booked on the first flight out the next morning, but was grateful for the bonus night! I’m sure most canceled flights aren’t met with as much excitement, ha!

Ugh, it really was the best week!! So happy I was able to fit so much in.

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I’m going to Tampa for a wedding in a few months and I can’t wait to check out Oxford Exchange, it always looks so wonderful in all your photos. I’mmglad you had such a fun trip! It’s always great to pal around with people we love. xAllie


Can you share what your mom is wearing? Love both of her shirts and the sandals in the first picture. Thanks!!

Lauren Brousseau

Your trip sounds like it was a blast! My mom is from Tampa, and I am heading down there next week. I will definitely have to check out Ulele, it’s just down the river from my grandparents. I can tell that my week will be full of good food! I will say that when I go down, the Columbia in Ybor is a must for me.


Looks like such a fun and relaxing trip Carly! What are your other two “happy places?” I’m guessing one of them is Nantucket!

yancey williams

Carly, That last photo of you is the loveliest I’ve seen. You look stunning! I know, and understand, that you are keeping your BF to yourself, for now, but, you’ve mentioned a couple times that he is a wonderful cook. I wonder, is he a professional chef? Just curious, because… great would that be?!


Wow sounds awesome. I totally respect your privacy and all but am I the only one who hopes for boyfriend pictures every post haha?


My brother briefly lived in Tampa after college (had to move back home after he couldn’t find a real job!) and has always wanted to move back there. This post makes me wish he would move so I can visit!


Thank you for sharing the Oxford Exchange a while back! After your recommendation, my parents stopped by a couple years ago when they were in Tampa and brought me back their house blend. I adore it, and my mom phoned them up and ordered another batch of it for my Christmas stocking last year (they don’t normally deliver!). It was one of my favourite presents ever 🙂


Both are half- I find it so much more comfortable than having stones all the way around!