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Updated: 10/10/2021 | Tampa Bay Travel Guide

 

About Tampa Bay

Tampa is situated at the Gulf Coast of Florida and is often overlooked by most people who typically come to Florida to visit Orlando and Miami. But in recent years, Tampa has become a major business center of America as well as a cultural landmark consisting of historic neighborhoods and the country’s longest continuous sidewalk.

What to Do and See in Tampa Bay

Here are our top things to do in Tampa Bay, Florida.

#1 Visit Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens is an African-themed amusement park which consists of eight roller coasters, two large water rides, and the biggest zoo in North America with over 12,000 animals.

You can choose from a variety of rides including the Serengeti train express, SheiKra, Jungala, Cobra’s curse and sesame street safari of fun. A visitor can also experience zip lining, live shows and exciting games.

Three minutes. Seventy miles per hour. A 200-foot drop. If you can stomach dizzying heights, exhilarating twists and turns and a few hard plunges, ShieKra is one of the most fun things to do in Tampa and will not disappoint even the most jaded of thrill ride connoisseurs. North America’s first “dive coaster” once held world records in speed and length (faster and longer dive coasters have since been built), and it’s still considered one of the top coasters in the U.S. The line to get on is usually the longest at the park, but it’s worth it, and the pause at the top gives you the best view in town. Just make sure to keep your eyes open.

This safari takes the tourists on a 30 minute ride across the Serengeti Plain covering an area of 65 acre where you’ll find all sorts of American and African animals roaming freely.

You’ll enjoy close-up views of many exotic animals like species of zebras, antelopes, ostriches, rhinoceros and many more.

You’ll also get the opportunity to feed giraffes with your own hands. Photography is allowed here so be ready to capture these intimate moments with these animals.

The tickets will cost between $40 and $60 and you can book your tickets in advance.

#2 Siesta Beach

#3 Dali Museum

#4 Chihuly 

#5 Dive Deep at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium

The Clearwater marine aquarium is a non-profit facility which is doing the noble work of rehabilitating and releasing marine life.

The facility may not be very large but they provide educational and interactive programs about sea life including otters, stingrays, sea turtles, pelicans and sharks.

You can also have a special meet and greet with two Dolphins- Hope and winter that are the stars of the popular dolphin tales movies.

Witness Stunning Views at Bayshore Boulevard

The Bayshore Boulevard runs from the MacDill air force base all the way to the Hillsborough bay and is America’s longest continuous side walk.

Along the way, you will encounter numerous people jogging, walking, biking, rollerblading and exercising which is sure to bring out your inner health nut.

This is no ordinary boulevard as you will witness some of the most beautiful skyline views of downtown Tampa.

Watch the Sunset at Clearwater Beach

Explore Nature at De Soto National Memorial

The De Soto national memorial park preserves the memories of those native people who were imprisoned, tortured and killed by Hernando De Soto and his army in the year 1539.

There is a nature trail which is guided by park rangers as well as the camp Uzita where volunteers tell hair raising historical tales related to the De Soto expedition.

A visitor can also cool off at the De Soto point beach and go swimming or boating.

Admire Creativity at Morean Arts Center

The Morean arts center was started as an art club in the year 1917 but today, it has an impressive collection of artworks by many international and national artists including Jasper Johns, Peter Max, Jun Kaneko and Babs Reingold.

The arts center holds multiple art classes where you can hone your skills. The most famous artworks housed here include the ruby red icicle chandelier and the tumbleweeds.

Visit a Greek Neighborhood at Tarpon Springs

Tarpon springs is the result of a booming sponge industry which helped set up an effervescent Greek community.

This area contains numerous Greek restaurants, bakeries and shops which a visitor can choose from as well as experience the calmness of the Sunset beach, pray at St. Nicholas Greek orthodox cathedral, take a walk at the Fred Howard Park and spend some time at the legendary sponge docks.

Visit the Tampa Museum of Art

The museum of art was founded in the year 1979 and since then, it has cemented its place as the landmark for antiques, modern and contemporary artworks. It also holds educational programs for young and upcoming artists.

The most important exhibitions housed here include Robert Rauschenberg’s photographs, the work of the self-taught artist Purvis Young and Jean-Michael Basquiat’s famous works including Yellow door.

Enjoy a Day of Fun at the Riverwalk

The Tampa riverwalk requires a commitment of an entire day to see and enjoy the many restaurants, shops and recreational centers which it passes through.

In the morning, you can take a walk alongside the river and afterward, visit the Tampa Bay history center and a visitor can rent a human-powered water bike from the Tampa Bay water bike company.

As the fatigue sets in, you can eat at the iconic Ulele restaurant which was opened in the year 1903. If you happen to be traveling with children, don’t miss the fun at Glazer children’s museum.

Watch a Movie at Tampa Theatre

The Tampa Theatre is a legendary building as it was opened in the year 1926 and was the first commercial building in the city to have air conditioning.

This is a theatre-style movie place that showcases classic and independent feature films as well as documentaries on a daily basis.

If you’re lucky, you can also catch a music concert here and some of the previous performers in the theatre have been Miranda Cosgrove, Blondie, Ray Charles, Colbie Caillat, John Legend, Iggy Pop and the police.

Trail the Waters at Urban Kai

Urban Kai is a stand-up paddleboard shop which not only sells these boards but also provides multiple classes for fitness.

If you’re bored of exercising in traditional gyms then, this may be a great option to change things up.

Urban Kai is also known for providing private paddleboard lessons and adventure tours across the mighty Hillsborough River.

Learn a Skill at Armature Works

Armature works is a multi-purpose industrial complex based in the culturally vibrant heights neighborhood and includes 14 bars and restaurants, exhibitions, co-shared working spaces and shops.

The building used to be the storage facility for Tampa’s electric company but has evolved into an epicenter of culture, art and recreation for the community.

The heights public market situated within the armature works building has a ‘show+tell’ workshop which hosts cooking classes, pop-up dinners, wine tasting sessions and other special events.

Take a Walk at the Little Manatee River Park
The stunning park is one of Tampa’s most pristine areas and is situated alongside the little Manatee River.

The park is home to extremely rare plants and wildlife such as the oxbow wetlands, sand pine and oak scrub.

There are numerous hiking trails inside the park which provide an open space for exercise and quiet peacefulness such as the nature trail and the Oxbow nature trail.

Visitors can also choose to go canoeing, horseback riding or biking as well as take rest under the shade of the trees while enjoying a picnic with your loved ones.

Feel Your Adrenaline Rush at Amalie Arena

If you’re a hardcore sports enthusiast and especially a fan of ice hockey, basketball and arena football then, the Amalie arena is going to be on the top of your list.

The majestic stadium has played host for the Stanley cup finals and is home to the national hockey league.

This place also hosts its fair share of concerts including the who, Phil Collins, twenty one pilot, post Malone and the chainsmokers.

Honor History at the J.C Newman Cigar Factory

The J.C Newman cigar factory was established in the year 1895 and is a premium family-owned cigar making company in the United States.

It is also the oldest cigar factory in the country and is situated in the Ybor neighborhood of Tampa.

The brands of the cigar factory include the diamond crown, maximus and brick house. The factory has a small museum showcasing the history of the J.C Newman family as well as a cigar shop attached to it.

You’re Never Too Old to Shuffle

The shuffle is the only indoor shuffleboard arena in the country and if you’re a millennial like me then, you too must be clueless as to what shuffleboard is.

Well, a traditional game of shuffleboard is played on a table with a disc which has to be thrown in the hopes of landing in a high-scoring area.

Two determined single mothers took this historic idea and magnified it onto the floor of a hall where visitors can hold a glass of wine in one hand while throwing a large disc onto a triangular indoor shuffleboard.

Visit the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts

The Florida museum of photographic arts is situated in downtown Tampa area and houses a collection of permanent works.

These works include the strobe light invented by Harold Edgerton, the celebrity portraits taken by Len Prince, the transformative work by Dorothea Lange and the photographs of male nude models by Dianora Niccolini.

You will also be transported back to the hypnotic ‘hippie’ era of the 1960’s and 1970’s by the works of Bud Lee and the photos of the iconic Woodstock festival by Burk Uzzle.

The museum also has temporary photographic exhibitions and the most recent ones include lost and found in America and day by day: 1968.

Eat a Cuban Sandwich at Columbia Restaurant

The Columbia restaurant is the oldest family-owned eatery in the state of Florida and has been satiating taste buds since 115 years.

The interior of the restaurant has an old world charm to it and serves the most authentic Spanish food in the entire city.

The legendary place is also known for its fiery red flamenco dance performances as well as a lively ambience.

Some of the best dishes that you should try here are Mahi Mahi, the Cuban bread, Ropa Vieja and a chilled glass of Sangria.

Cool Off at the Hillsborough River State Park

The Hillsborough river state park is one of the best places in the city to relax and cool off by enjoying a number of water activities such as canoeing and kayaking as well as taking a dive in their swimming pool.

This state park is also known for its interactive history lessons where you can learn about the courageous Indians who had to fight for their land against the greedy invaders.

If you’re looking to get a bit of exercise then, you must take a hike around the seven mile long nature trail while surveying the innumerous plants and flowers.

Forget Your Fears at the Big Cat Rescue

The big cat rescue facility at Tampa is a not-for-profit organization which is home to 80 wild cats including tigers, leopards, bobcats and lions.

These regal animals have been generously rescued from unruly circus acts, ignorant owners and unsympathetic hunters.

This facility not only cares for these splendid big cats but also provides them with a safe environment and a natural habitat which mimics their own.

Here, a visitor can have a unique and grandiose experience of going on a night safari and a guided photo tour or become a part of their exciting volunteer program and help take care of these furry creatures.

Don’t come here looking for Joe Exotic!

This colossal sanctuary prides itself on caring for big cats by rescuing the orphaned and mistreated.

The upshot for travelers is that they can come to support the excellent cause while meeting the lions, tigers, cougars, jaguars, and other exotic beasts living happily in its care.

Feel Fancy at the Oystercatchers

The oystercatchers restaurant is situated inside the suave Hyatt hotel at Tampa where a visitor can enjoy the authentic seafood flavors of the city while witnessing the most gorgeous views of the Florida coast.

The architecture of the restaurant is to be marveled at for its modernistic and contemporary style as well as the unmatched beauty of the al fresco deck.

Some of the best dishes for you to try here include mahi mahi cuts, Lobster mac and cheese, shrimp and scallop fritters, lime mussels and their famous hollandaise-doused oysters.

Here, you can experience American seafood flavors while spending a lovely evening with your loved ones.

Too Much to See at the Ybor City

The Ybor city isn’t actually a city in the literal sense but it might as well have been considering the numerous activities and events a visitor can experience here.

The historic neighborhood is situated in downtown Tampa and if you’re a history buff, you can visit the Tampa baseball museum and learn about a famous Spanish immigrant at Ybor city museum.

You can have a jolly time surveying the art gallery at Hoffman Porges gallery and get inked at the Ybor city tattoo company.

Later, you can hear serene tunes at the Orpheum or Ritz Ybor where they have live musical performances in the evenings.

 

Have fun at Adventure Island

Bathed in tropical tranquillity is an amazing aquatic park located very close to Busch Gardens and that is Adventure Island.

Presenting a wide range of high speed water rides and attractions, this park consists of 30 acres of water. You can float on the giant wave pool or get wet by the cascading waterfalls.

This place is all about lazing around. This park offers a wide variety of extremely amusing high-speed rides like corkscrew and twisted slides. So get ready for some thrilling twists and turns!

You just have to experience Adventure Island’s new Colossal Curl. This thrilling ride is going to make you feel crazily light.

Also, don’t forget to explore this park’s new family thrill slide. If you go there during early morning you don’t have to wait in long queues for your turn to experience the rides.

As the sun’s heat increases you may rest or relax in the private cabanas or you can enjoy sunbathing while digging your feet into the sand.

You can also dine at some really well-themed restaurants and shop from the trendy stores, all situated inside the premises of the park.

Get to know about Florida’s marine wildlife at the Florida Aquarium

No matter how much you love shopping and dining, you can never not have fun watching the intriguing aquatic world and Florida Aquarium is a great place to observe Florida’s wildlife.

Dedicated to the task of protecting wildlife and promoting education and awareness regarding terrestrial ecosystems, it is a leading conservation centre with a space as large as 200,000 sq. ft accommodating about 14000 animals from different types of vegetation.

This non-profit organization supports research and rescue works for the restoration of Florida’s corals, sharks and sea turtles.

It features marine creatures like eels, sharks, leafy sea dragons, alligators, river otters, stingrays and moon jellies as well as unique Madagascar animals like hissing cockroaches and ring tailed lemurs. It also has on display a coral reef habitat of about 500,000-gallon.

Waves of Wonder is another attractive gallery of this aquarium that presents a story of a conservation and there is the much delightful Penguin Meet & Greet. 4-D theatres and splash pads for children are the park’s additional features.

And guess what? All these facilities are guaranteed only by the general admission. However, if you want to explore some special facilities like Dive with the Sharks, Penguin Backstage Pass, Swim with the Fishes, Behind the Scenes Tour, Wild Dolphin Cruise, and many more, you’ll have to pay extra. It’s definitely worth a visit.

Admire wildlife ZooTampa at Lowry Park

Voted by Parents Magazine as the USA’s number one family friendly zoo, ZooTampa is a conservation centre that preserves endangered animals of Florida and from all over the world.

Being a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), the zoo homes about 1300 animals and offers the visitors an intimate encounter with wildlife.

Be ready for a close-up view of an Indian rhinoceros and feel the stingrays slipping through your hands, feed a giraffe, spot manatees or pat a giant tortoise.

Having won many awards for commendable contribution in animal preservation and rehabilitation, the zoo has multiple exhibitory sections.

The Asian Gardens is home to Malayan tigers, sloth bears, Indonesian birds, clouded leopards, babirusa and Komodo dragon and more.

The Safari Africa provides an authentic African wildlife experience with native African species like Martial eagles, Aldabra tortoises, Patas monkeys, greater flamingos, saddle-billed storks, African bush elephants, African penguins, southern white rhinoceroses and many more.

Florida Wildlife Centre exhibits North American and Central American animals like red wolves, Orinoco crocodiles, North American black bears, West Indian manatees, seahorses, and various kinds of snakes.

You’ll get to see koalas and yellow-footed rock wallabies also ride a family roller coaster at the zoo’s Wallaroo Station.

This zoo also hosts the most famous family Halloween event of the bay featuring spooky displays for 11 nights in the month of October.

Visit the Tampa Postcard Mural

A quintessential Tampa landmark, the Tampa Postcard mural depicts a different Tampa landmark on each letter such as the University of Tampa and the Gasparilla Pirate Ship. Completed by artist Carl Cowden III, the mural was first commissioned in 2003 and was subsequently repainted in 2012 by the artist.

Find the mural at 101 Royal St.

tampa mural schimiggy
Tampa Mural

Stay at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa is a hotel and gaming complex that rocks in entertainment 24/7. Located to the east of Tampa, it houses the sixth largest casino in the world with a space of about 190,000 square foot.

Having sleeping rooms, bars, salons, garages, smoking rooms and an observatory tower, it is a top notch all in one staying facility. It also offers impressive live entertainment like rock and roll memorabilia.

Several screens display rock music and its general features include clothing, musical instruments and song lyrics portrayed on the walls.

It’s especially famous for its international food court/that hosts live entertainment scenes. Widely acclaimed restaurants like Council JuBao Noodle Palace, Oak Steak House, Hard Rock Café, and Fresh Harvest buffet and Rock and Raw sushi bar draws many visitors.

You may also enjoy live performances in the bars around the casino floor. To sum up it’s quite a happening place to stay or pay a casual visit.

Explore Florida’s rich history at Tampa Bay History Center

Tampa Bay History Centre is a prime cultural venue in Tampa’s Riverwalk reflecting Florida’s history of 12000 years.

It runs educational programs for both locals and visitors and features hands-on exhibits as well as theatre shows to display the history of Tampa Bay.

Begin with Florida’s First People exhibit which has on its display both real and duplicate artefacts dating from 12000 BC to 1,600 A.D as well as tools and weapons used by Florida’s ancient people.

Besides these you’ll also find artworks by eminent artists like Christopher Still, Theodore Morris and Mike Reagan in this section.

The next section namely the European Exploration Story features a huge map of the Atlantic Ocean and artefacts, weapons, tools and clothes which represent the history of the French and Spanish explorers’ arrival in Florida in the early 16th century.

Another remarkable section is the Charles L. Knight Gallery exhibiting a vast range of collection of Seminole and Miccosukee artefacts, ornaments, clothing and weaponries. You can go on exploring more as this history centre is really huge.

After finishing your explorations, you can dine at Columbia Cafe on the waterfront and shop local craftworks from the museum store.

Watch manatees or swim with them at Manatee Viewing Center
One of the best things to do in Florida is undoubtedly visiting its Manatee Viewing Center. It is a great place to learn about the habitat of Florida’s Manatee.

This centre remains open from November to mid-April and hosts a number of interactive programmes including swimming sessions and exhibitions that tell a lot about manatees’ life cycle and nature.

Manatees swim in this area all through the year but your chances of spotting them are less in the off season. The whole area is a feast to the eye.

Climb up to the top of the 50-foot viewing tower to get a panoramic view of the area. You may also explore the centre’s mangrove exhibit and butterfly garden.

Drool over huge replicas of dinosaurs at Dinosaur World
Florida’s Dinosaur World is an outside attraction that you shouldn’t miss visiting. Containing more than 150 life-size sculptures of dinosaurs made up of polystyrene foam and constructed by Christer Svensson.

Witness the Exploration Cave Show and the Triviasaurus Rex Game Show to know what palaeontologists do and discover a huge stegosaurus skeleton hidden under the sand.

You’ve to guess which dinosaurs are there behind the holes in the Touch-and-Tell section. You’ll also get to see primitive woolly mammoths at Mammoths: Giants of the Ice Age.

For kids there is a playground area and the Fossil Dig where they can dig real fossils from under the sand.

This is an ideal place to come with your family. You may consider spending an entire day here picnicking while watching massive replicas of historic dinosaurs.

Explore different kinds of fossils at Florida Fossil Museum
The internationally acclaimed Florida Fossil Museum, popularly known as the Florida Museum of Natural History, boasts of fossil collections representing 65 million years of Earth’s natural history.

This museum has two kinds of exhibits, permanent exhibits and rotating exhibits. The former presents the history of the first inhabitants of South Florida and the history of fossils and wildlife of the entire area that Florida occupies.

It’s most attractive exhibit is the Butterfly Rainforest. Except this all other sections of the permanent exhibit are absolutely free.

The latter hosts special exhibitions on chosen topics. Overall this museum accounts for quite an enriching experience.

Wander amidst the wonders of Lettuce Lake Park

Just outside the city of Tampa lies a beautiful park namely Lettuce Lake Park. Covering an area of 240 acres, the park consists of boardwalks surrounded by cypress swamps, wetlands, open grounds, Lettuce Lake, flood plains, oak forests and the Hillsborough River flows amidst these. Boardwalk here

It also has a fine observation tower which overlooks the entire park. Its Audubon Resource Center enables visitors to know thoroughly about the wildlife and natural history of Hillsborough River watershed.

You can walk through the nature trails while admiring the wonderful surroundings or chill inside the restrooms or indulge in some delicacies at the park’s barbecue pits.

Relax at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park
Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park
VIAVAL TOURS / Shutterstock.com
Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, located along the Hillsborough River, manifests an urban design with LED lighting.

It consists of a huge sloping lawn with flexible seating arrangement known as Great Lawn which hosts live performances, a dog run, a kiosk and a pavilion and multiple buildings with restrooms, sculptures and park offices.

The park’s two innovatively designed fountains known as the Mist fountain and the Louver fountain are spectacular.

Events like food fests, craft and art displays, music concerts, yoga sessions, seasonal ice skating, and many other similar activities are hosted in this park.

Cruise around the Weedon Island Preserve
Weedon Island Preserve
Christopher P / Shutterstock.com
Weedon Island Preserve is an interesting natural landscape feature of Tampa Bay.

Located along the bay’s western coast and spread across an area of about 3,190-acre, this coastal system is composed of upland and marine ecosystems sheltering innumerable species of native flora, fauna and wild animals.

Originally occupied by Indigenous people for many years this land bears a rich cultural history.

At present, this site is preserved and protected as it is home to mangrove forests, pine woods, and maritime hammock and it is also a popular fishing site and a great bird watching spot.

You can explore this wetland area through kayaking and take part in the various educational programmes that this place hosts such as Archaeology Lectures Series, Archaeology Academy, etc.

Enjoy yourself at Ben T Davis Beach
Ben T Davis Beach
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Tampa’s Ben T Davis Beach is a close-by beach where you can lounge on smooth white sand and cool off in the tranquil sea water throughout the day and depart only after watching the sunset.

It is checked for safety by the Florida Department of Health as recreational activities such as swimming and volleyball matches are common here. You can also choose to have a picnic here.

Stroll in Sparkman Wharf
Sparkman Wharf
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Sparkman Wharf is quite a popular recreation spot. It’s a highly modernised waterfront area harbouring street food stalls, beer gardens and hip restaurants.

Comprising a dinning garden and lawns, it presents amazing waterfront views, live music and an incredible dining scene.

Don’t forget to try craft beer here. You can chill here all day and taste some good dishes at some of the well-known eateries which will not let you forget this place easily.

See horse racing at Tampa Bay Downs
Just outside Tampa is a massive horse riding facility known as Tampa Bay Downs where spectacular track racing of Thoroughbred horses are held every weekend or on Wednesdays and Fridays from November to May.

Being the oldest of all America’s race tracks, it is equipped with multiple amenities. To be specific, there’s Downs Golf Practice Facility, which enables the patrons to view the racing and practicing swinging simultaneously and the Silks Poker Room which serves as the card room and one of the hottest places in town.

These facilities are open every day. It is also known for hosting the renowned Cotillion Festival Day in collaboration with Lambholm South.

Laze around in Cypress Point Park
Cypress Point Park
Ric Schafer / Shutterstock.com
Located near the airport, Cypress Point Park is an ideal place to spend a lazy afternoon. It’s a serene sandy beach with patches of green grasses and wildflowers where you can sit and gaze at the calm sea water till sunset.

There’s a 44 metre long nature trail which will present quite a remote scenario contrasted to the urbane setting of Tampa. Walkers, joggers and bikers can also take the 9 metre long trail that this beach has.

There are shaded pavilions where you can cool off or picnic. While many people flock here for a lunch break, it is a favourite spot for those who play volleyball and golf.

Click amazing photos at Ballast Point Park

If you want to visit a dream-like photogenic place, head to Tampa’s award-winning Ballast Point Park which is located inside Ballast Point neighbourhood.

Historically this land belonged to the indigenous people and thereafter it became a quarry for ships during colonial times. At present it exists as a sustainable park which does much in the field of waste recycling.

The waterfront park has numerous shelters where visitors party and do picnics, a playground where kids have fun and young adults play volleyball and similar sports and an amusing water play area and a separate one for children, all of which remain open from dawn to dusk.

The park’s pier can be accessed anytime though. Go for a walk on the picturesque boat ramp for getting an amazing background for photos.

You can taste delicious ice-cream and American seafood at the Taste of Boston, an eatery situated close to the pier.

Shop and dine at International Plaza and Bay Street
Located pretty close to the airport is an amazing shopping and dining destination namely International Plaza and Bay Street.

International Plaza is a shopping mall and Bay Street is an open-air shopping complex where you’ll find all the renowned brand stores ranging from Dillard’s, Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton and Gucci to Apple, Crate & Barrel and others.

It consists of about 200 stores and 15 restaurants. You can dine at the Capital Grille, the Cheesecake Factory, or Bar Louie or some other eateries of your choice. You should definitely try some American cuisines and drinks.

This shopping centre is also famous for selling unique Restoration hardware. It’s the go-to place for doing some shopping and gaining a unique eating experience.

Visit the Grand Henry B. Plant Museum
The Henry B. Plant museum is remarkable for a number of things but the most notable is its revival architecture which looks straight out of a Wes Anderson movie.

The museum was formerly a wealthy and ambitious hotel which was opened up in 1891. The hotel instantly became a favorite of the elites, who enjoyed its many facilities including gardens, tennis courts, dining halls, golf course, a grand salon, a music room and a hunting ground.

The hotel was turned into a museum in 1974 and showcases some of the most ethereal and fascinating elements of the legendary hotel as well as the early history of this city.

Enjoy Live Music at Skipper’s Smokehouse
Skipper’s smokehouse is a must-visit spot on any travel list for it showcases some of the best elements of Southern hospitality which include heart dishes and rogue live music.

The iconic space has live concerts of local, national and international artists as well as a full liquor bar.

They also house an award-winning restaurant which serves the unique combination of Florida dishes with flavors from Louisiana and the Caribbean.

The smokehouse apparently serves the ‘best sandwich in America’ which is an overzealous claim and needs to be tested in person.

Learning is Easy at the Museum of Science and Industry
The museum of science and industry is a great place for you to take your kids but it is also for those adults who were backbenchers during science lectures or were inept with the complex formulas and concepts of science and math.

This museum adds fun to the process of learning by showing interactive exhibits such as the idea zone and the Connectus exhibit as well as an exciting game of operation where you get to learn about the functions of the human body as well as explore life off-earth at a model designed by NASA.

Strawberries Galore at the Parkesdale Market
The Parkesdale market was set up by a family of Irish immigrants and has evolved into a landmark fresh produce market which sells fresh citrus, vegetables and strawberries that are grown at their farm.

It is situated in Plant city and has an ice cream shop where it sells its world famous strawberry shortcake with a dollop of whipped cream as garnish.

In fact, their love for strawberries is so immense that they host an annual strawberry festival!

Shop Till You Drop at Hyde Park Village

The Hyde Park village is an outdoor shopping arena where you can enjoy a day out with your loved ones by visiting one of their many shops including the jewelry store Kendra Scott, Anthropologie and Pottery barn as well as eat at one of the many high quality restaurants such as the Oxford Exchange, Cine Bistro and Buddy Brew Coffee.

Feel Unique at Brocante Vintage Market
If you’re visiting Tampa any time soon especially during the first weekend of any month then don’t miss out on the Brocante vintage market which is supposed to hold its last sale in the month of December.

This market is situated in a former piano factory and over 50 vendors from the Southeast salvage some of the most unique and quirky items they can find.

The Brocante vintage market is a one-of-a-kind experience and will help add an eccentric peculiarity to your trip.

Pack an extra pair of shoes because this striking city is best explored on foot as well as a family sized bottle of sunscreen to keep you protected considering the vast amount of hours you will be spending in the sun.

Tampa is a family-friendly place with an unexpected surprise at every corner. This city is riddled with museums, gardens and amusement parks and you can tell why it is so hard to dislike this place.

fun things to do in Tampa – Skippers
The “Skipperdome” at Skipper’s Smokehouse, where visitors can hear a variety of musical genres, including rock, blues, funk, bluegrass, worldbeat, Americana, rockabilly or swing.

Sam Aden, of Tampa, carries a tray of food from the restaurant at Skipper’s Smokehouse Restaurant & Oyster Bar. Popular items on the menu at Skipper’s include conch fritters and crispy hush puppies, and several distinctly bayou-based offerings, such as crawfish and a Cajun po’ boy sandwich.

3. Catch a band at Skipper’s Smokehouse
Off the beaten path and tucked away from most of the city’s nightlife action, Skipper’s has been attracting the best blues, rock, reggae, bluegrass and folk music acts since 1980. Throw back a Red Stripe and catch a Grateful Dead cover band, or just enjoy the “cracker-style” wooden plank décor and order some fried gator tail and Key lime pie. This is a family-friendly place with a great vibe, which has earned it a reputation as one of the best concert venues in Florida.

4. Go for a jog along Bayshore Boulevard
This 4.5-mile Bayshore Boulevard sidewalk and road provides the best view of the sparkling Hillsborough Bay while flanked on the other side by multi-million-dollar, historic south Tampa homes. It’s a popular spot for runners, skaters, cyclists, strollers, dog-walkers and anyone else looking for some fresh air, and its iconic decorative concrete balustrade is one of the most recognizable architectural features in Tampa. It’s hard not to whip out your phone and take a photo of the elegant sunrises that happen here.

Built in 1926, Tampa Theatre is a passionately protected landmark, a member of the League of Historic American Theatres and one of America’s best-preserved movie palaces.

The Tampa Theatre plays art house, indepedent and foreign films, along with classic favorites. It also hosts a number of community events, including a summer camp for kids.

5. See a movie at Tampa Theatre
As one of the most beloved and gorgeous landmarks in Tampa, the carefully preserved “TAMPA” sign and old-time marquis out front reels you in, but it’s the inside that takes your breath away. Sit in the Tampa Theatre and be entertained by the Mighty Wurlitzer organ pipes while you gaze around at the flamboyantly decorate interior of statues, flowers, stars, gargoyles and other touches that seem to draw from every architectural period in history. The theatre opened with a silent movie in 1926 and was named to the National Register of Historic Places in the ‘70s.

6. Stop for a strawberry milkshake (or strawberry anything) in Plant City
Known as the “winter strawberry capital of the world,” more than three-quarters of the nation’s midwinter strawberries come from Plant City. Sweet and delicious, the berries make their way into everything from cobblers to muffins to martinis, but one of the more popular ways to consume them is via milkshake. Jump off Interstate 4 to stretch your legs and grab a shake from the Parkesdale Farm Market, or pick your own berries during u-pick season, which usually begins in April.

7. Go shopping in Hyde Park Village
For how lovely Tampa’s weather is for most of the year, it’s surprising how few outdoor shopping spots there are. Hyde Park is a must-visit for those who like to browse popular retail chains such as West Elm, Anthropologie and Sur La Table, but don’t want to feel overwhelmed by a mall. The small, few-block district also has a chocolate shop, elegant but not overly expensive restaurants and bars, a dog boutique and other unique shops that make for a nice girls’ day out or a fun stroll with the family.

9. Feed a giraffe at ZooTampa
Every weekend at 1 p.m., folks have the opportunity to stand eye-to-eye with the long-necked gentle beasts and feed them lettuce from a “feeding plateau.” It’s perhaps the most exotic of the zoo’s interactive animal exhibits, but if you’re not into getting that close to animals’ teeth, ZooTampa at Lowry Park gets you up close and personal (behind glass) with manatees, tigers and other wild creatures. The zoo has a surprisingly vast and varied array of animals for its small-ish size. Kids vote this park one of the most fun things to do in Tampa.

Ride the trolley in Ybor City

Streetcars were an important part of Ybor history, transporting cigar factory workers to and from their workplace and outlying neighborhoods. The cars came to a halt in the 1940s following World War II, but were revived in 2002 to bring nostalgic color and life back to the historic district. It’s a fun way to get from Ybor to downtown, Channelside and Harbour Island, and whole day passes are only $5.

11. Try your luck at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
After Indian remains were found during some construction downtown, the remains were moved to a nearby location off Interstate 4 and the spot was granted Seminole Tribe reservation status. Today, the largest casino in Florida, the Seminole Hard Rock, sits on the property, where visitors can play Vegas-style slots, poker and blackjack. Retirees come in busses and bachelor and bachelorette parties come in droves, but it’s also a cool place to visit if you’re into rock n’ roll memorabilia and live music.

12. Have a picnic at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park
One of downtown Tampa’s biggest criticisms is how the layout of the buildings obstruct the view of the river. Not so at Curtis Hixon, which provides a beautiful view of the water and University of Tampa minarets during the day and an even more beautiful sight at night. Pick up some Publix subs, lay a blanket down in the grass and relax. The fountain splash park makes it a favorite for families, and there are often concerts and “Rock the Park” events at night that make it a lovely stop for couples as well.

13. Travel through time at the Henry B. Plant Museum
Were it not for Henry B. Plant’s visionary railway system in the late 1800s, Tampa would not have attracted the cigar factories and other industries that helped grow little port town into a bustling metropolis. Plant was also able to attract tourists and dignitaries to the Tampa Bay Hotel, a luxurious and opulent 511-room building that was tastefully decorated with fine furnishings, European statues, Venetian-style mirrors and other grandeurs. The hotel is now the University of Tampa’s Plant Hall, where the Henry B. Plant Museum is housed. The museum restored several of the rooms to replicate its glory days and honor its use during the Spanish-American War. The best time to visit is around the holidays, when the museum hosts its gorgeous Victorian Christmas Stroll.

15. Paddle the Hillsborough River
For a river that connects to such an urban area, the Hillsborough River is rife with totally unfazed wildlife as you paddle through the quieter, more serene outlying spots. Check out the bored and lazy-looking alligators, who will all but ignore you even if you accidentally skim across their snouts. Turtles, ibis, deer, hawks, hogs – all have been spotted in the wooded areas lining the designated paddling trail. The river attracts both beginners and advanced paddlers alike, as the river stretches all the way up to Crystal Springs in Pasco County. Just be sure to research which trail or area of the river suits your experience level, as there can be swampy portions that could leave you lost and confused.

The Tampa Riverwalk is a 2.6-mile-long paved trail following the Hillsborough River through downtown. Most of the trail runs through the arts district, providing easy access to the Tampa Museum of Art, Glazer Children’s Museum, and Curtis Hixon Park. While the Riverwalk is a great way to get to some of the city’s best attractions, it’s also an experience in its own right. It’s lined with trees, cafes and restaurants, water bikes and taxis access, and bronze busts of more than a dozen influential figures from the city’s history.

What to Eat in Tampa

Here are our favorite places to dine in Tampa.

  • Hemingway’s: Hemingway’s is a restaurant serving classic Cuban dishes and is housed inside Armature work’s heights public market. The place is open daily and is known for its mix of Cuban comfort food with authentic flavors which include the famous chicharones, the palomilla steak sandwich as well as the legendary Hemingway’s Cuban sandwich that contains pork, salami, cheese and homemade pickles.
  • Get dessert at Bern’s Steak House: Although best known for aged steaks and extensive wine list, locals know a great treat is to swing by for a visit to the Harry Waugh Dessert Room, made up of many little intimate rooms for parties to enjoy a unique end to dinner. Like everything else at Bern’s, the dessert list is lengthy and over the top, offering Baked Alaska, all variations of chocolate pies, cakes and mousses, ice creams and sorbets, as well as dessert wines and coffee with spirits. Guests are encouraged to take their time, and even get to choose their own music via private speakers and a push-button selection of tunes.
  • Order a Cuban sandwich at the Columbia Restaurant: As the debate roars on over which Florida city is the true birthplace of the Cuban sandwich (Miami or Tampa?), a consensus has been reached over what makes a real Tampa Cuban: ham, pork, salami, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard on high quality, fresh Cuban bread. Then hot press it until toasty and juicy. Eat it with a Cuban coffee at the Columbia, touted as Florida’s oldest restaurant, with Ybor City roots dating back to 1905.

What to Drink in Tampa

  • Cigar City Brewing: The Tampa Bay area’s craft beer and microbrew scene has quickly grown, but few are able to replicate the tasty and popular varieties at Cigar City. The cigar city brewing is the oldest brewery in Tampa and is most notable for its annual Tampa beer week which has stalls of 140 breweries from across the city. For $5, you can get a tour at the Spruce Street brewery and restaurant and sample the Florida Crack Wit, the Northdale Pale Ale and the ever-popular Jai Alai IPA, which is so sought after, the brewery has a hard time keeping up with demand. If you can’t make it to the main location, you might be lucky enough to be stuck in Tampa International Airport’s C Terminal (Southwest Airlines’ hub), where you can buy a six-pack of Jai Alai to go. The Cigar City tour takes 30-45 minutes and ends back in the tasting room with a souvenir glass and a beer of your choice.
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Author

Alex Tran AKA Schimiggy is a fitness fashion, travel, justice, and food-obsessed raconteuse. She currently resides in Seattle and teaches yoga while writing her heart out. Schimiggy Reviews is a lifestyle blog where Alex shares her passions and interests with the world!

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