10 Fun Things To Do in Tampa Florida

10 Fun Things To Do in Tampa Florida
Located on Florida’s Gulf coast, the greater Tampa Bay area offers attractions for all ages and interests including theme parks, beautiful beaches, historic areas, superb museums and an attractive waterfront. The area comprises three popular vacation destinations – Tampa, Clearwater and St. Petersburg. While Tampa is a popular cruise port, visitors also come to the area in planes and on road trips to enjoy all the region has to offer.

Tampa is a convenient embarkation port of choice for many vacationers planning to drive to their vacation destination from U.S. cities in the South. Covering over 5,000 acres, Port Tampa Bay is just a short 15-20 minute drive from Tampa’s airport as well.

Here are ten fun things to do in the greater Tampa Bay area on your next trip:

1. Head To The Beach. Some vacationers choose to spend several days at the Gulf of Mexico beaches around Tampa before heading off on their cruise – and they have plenty of options from which to choose. Some of the most beautiful beaches in the country are just a short drive from downtown Tampa, featuring white sand and calm waters. Ben T. Davis Beach is one of the closest, but others include Fred Howard Park, Indian Rocks Beach, Honeymoon Island State Park and Sand Key Park. Another popular option is enjoying several nights at a resort in St. Pete Beach, picked as “One of America’s Top 10 Best Beach Towns” by Parents magazine. Clearwater Beach, another choice beach spot, is also located close by.

2. Play At Busch Gardens. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay has been ranked as one of the top 10 amusement parks in the United States by both TripAdvisor and USA Today. Featuring a wealth of exciting coasters and thrilling rides, the park is a great choice for those seeking an adrenaline rush. This year marks the launch of Iron Gwazi, the fastest and steepest hybrid coaster on the planet. There are also nine additional heart-pumping coasters along with water rides, a drop tower, cable car and train rides, a Sesame Street play area for kids, shows and much more. In addition, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is home to over 200 species of animals as well. If you’re looking to cool off, head over to the Adventure Island waterpark. For those who have more time, Walt Disney World is just a little over an hour’s drive away.

3. Stroll Along The Riverwalk. Tampa’s 2.4-mile Riverwalk is a great spot for walking, jogging, biking, and simply taking in the views. Along the Tampa Riverwalk, you’ll find artwork, waterfront parks, playgrounds and splash parks for kids, food vendors, lots of museums and galleries, Tampa’s Center for the Performing Arts, restaurants, shops and so much more. The Port Tampa Bay cruise ship terminal is right there as well, making exploring the Riverwalk easy before your cruise if you’re sailing away from Tampa. If you'd prefer biking to strolling along the Riverwalk, look for a Coast Bike Share station and rent a bike by the minute or for the day.

4. Explore Ybor City. Founded in 1886, historic Ybor City was once filled with cigar factories and known as the “Cigar Capital of the World.” Today, Ybor City’s Seventh Street is a National Historic Landmark District and has only one surviving cigar factory – the J.C. Newman Cigar Company. Visitors interested in this heritage can take the J.C. Newman Cigar Co. Museum tour, visit the Ybor City Museum, take a free ride on the TECO Line Streetcar, and enjoy a traditional Cuban sandwich at one of the many eateries along Seventh Avenue. The Tampa Bay Brewing Company’s craft beer microbrewery is also located in Ybor City, as is the Tampa Baseball Museum.

5. Sample Amazing Food. The Tampa Bay area is known for its outstanding cuisine including its authentic Cuban sandwiches. Known for its Cuban heritage, Tampa has some of the best Cuban sandwiches found in Florida. Visit La Sagunda Bakery or Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City or La Teresita in Tampa to try out their fare. While strolling Tampa’s famed Riverwalk, stop in at Sparkman Wharf or Ulele to taste some of the best the Tampa region has to offer. Armature Works is another great spot where you can sample multiple different dining options as well. If you’re in the mood for Tampa Bay’s finest, head to Rooster & The Till – named Tampa Bay’s top restaurant for the past two years in a row.

6. Visit The Florida Aquarium. Easily accessible from Tampa’s Riverwalk, the Florida Aquarium is home to approximately 9,000 animals and has been ranked as one of the top 10 aquariums by USA Today, Parents magazine, TripAdvisor and others. There’s so much to see at this attraction, so plan to spend at least 3-4 hours here. Guests can dive with sharks, swim with the fishes, interact with African penguins, get close up with friendly critters, and more. As visitors stroll through the aquarium, they’ll journey through a number of different habitats filled with fish, turtles, lemurs, alligators, otters, pythons, and other creatures. The Florida Aquarium also features the 4-D Theater and The Splash Pad water play area for kids.

7. Talk To The Animals. Tampa is a great destination for animal lovers. Visitors can choose from zoos, sanctuaries and unique places to see wildlife. ZooTampa’s habitats are home to African elephants, tigers, koalas, penguins and more. There’s an acute care manatee hospital there as well. Those interested in manatees should also check out Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center, which is free of charge and open from November 1 through April 15.

8. Check Out Tampa’s Museums. The greater Tampa area has a wealth of museums for all interests. Those interested in history and antiques may enjoy a visit to the Henry B. Plant Museum located in the stunning Tampa Bay Hotel, a National Historic Landmark. History buffs will appreciate the Tampa Bay History Center’s exhibits highlighting thousands of years of Florida history and families with kids ages 12 and younger may want to check out Tampa’s Glazer Children’s Museum. Other notable spots include the Tampa Museum of Art and the Museum of Science and Industry.

9. Let The Dogs Out To Play. Tampa is a dog-friendly city, so bring along your favorite four-legged friends when you visit the region. Popular dog parks include Fort De Soto Park located south of St. Petersburg Beach, the dog-friendly beach on Davis Islands and Hair of the Dog Park in Seminole Heights. Certain hotels and resorts in the area welcome dogs as well. These include The Don CeSar on St. Petersburg Beach, Sandpearl Resort on Clearwater Beach, Le Meridien Tampa and the Hotel Haya in downtown Tampa, and the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay.

10. Kayak On The River. Tampa’s Hillsborough River is a wonderful place for kayaking, particularly for nature lovers. The river stretches from urban Tampa all the way up to Crystal Springs. While paddling along the river, kayakers can spot alligators, turtles, hawks and much more. Kayaking along the Hillsborough River is fun for beginners and experienced paddlers alike. Just make sure to research your path before starting out. The scenic three-mile north section from Hillsborough River State Park to Dead River Park is particularly good for novice paddlers. Check out the Hillsborough River Paddling Trail Map for more information.

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