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Things to do in Tampa

Things to do in  Tampa

Welcome to Tampa

Sunshine is a near constant in Florida’s coastal city of Tampa, which offers a range of fun-in-the-sun activities, from big amusement parks to boat tours. As a bonus for families, many of Tampa’s offerings are kid-friendly, including Busch Gardens Tampa Bay amusement park, the Lowry Park Zoo, and Big Cat Rescue animal sanctuary. Of course, the water is a key attraction, and a kayaking tour, a stand-up paddleboard excursion, or cruising out on the Tampa Bay—or through the network of inland waterways—should be on your agenda. As you take to the water, be on the lookout for manatees, fish, dolphins, and birds. For a more beachy experience, take a guided day trip from Tampa to nearby Clearwater Beach, or head to St. Petersburg beach for a chance to sink your toes into white, sugar-like sand. Beat the heat in the Florida Aquarium, filled with 20,000 plants and animals, and know that you can pre-book tickets to scuba dive in its coral reef gallery. Dive deeper into biology, geology, and astrology at the Museum of Science and Industry, which includes 450 hands-on activities for kids that are both educational and entertaining, in addition to an IMAX theater, ropes course, and planetarium. Plan ahead and get a pass that allows entry into multiple attractions for one low price. To learn more about downtown Tampa’s beginnings, take a Ybor City food tour of the historic neighborhood, which pays homage to the city’s Spanish and Cuban roots.

Top 15 attractions in Tampa

Clearwater Beach

With expansive white sand beaches on the Gulf of Mexico, Clearwater Beach is a waterfront Florida community known for its aquatic activities and warm, turquoise waters. Clearwater Beach is an ideal launching pad for kayaking, parasailing, boating, and biking. It’s known as being more low-key than its southern neighbor, the bustling St. Pete Beach, and many consider Clearwater Beach to be among the best beaches in America.More

ZooTampa at Lowry Park

Home to an array of animals ranging from native Florida species to African wildlife, ZooTampa at Lowry Park is a top family attraction in the Tampa Bay area. In addition to the animals, the zoo features a train and other kid-friendly rides.More

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Tampa’s Busch Gardens combines the thrills of a theme park—replete with myriad roller coasters, ziplines, a white rapids ride, and other rides—with the wonder of a zoo, including more than 12,000 animals from 300 different species. Across its 335 acres (136 hectares), the Africa-themed park also hosts live performances for the whole family.More

The Florida Aquarium

Located in downtown Tampa between 2 cruise ship terminals and along the free streetcar route, The Florida Aquarium houses more than 9,000 animals within a 200,000-square-foot (18,500-square-meter) facility in Tampa Bay. The entire family will enjoy this aquarium, which offers 9 unique habitats, an outside water adventure zone for children, and on-site café with indoor and outdoor seating.More

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

More than just an aquarium, Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a marine life rescue and rehabilitation center. Set on Florida’s Gulf Coast, the center gained fame when it rescued Winter, a baby dolphin that later starred in theDolphin Tale movies. You can visit Winter and other dolphins, sharks, stingrays, and such at the aquarium.More

Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI)

The ideal destination for curious people of all ages, the Museum of Science and Industry offers numerous exhibits and attractions designed to pique one's scientific interest.With over 450 hands-on attractions, MOSI offers a unique interactive experience to its visitors. Feel free to lie down on a "bed of nails," allow a butterfly to land on your shoulder in the "Bioworks Butterfly Garden," enjoy an astronomy show in the Saunders Planetarium, or take a ride on the famous "High Wire Bike," suspended on a cable 30 feet (9 meters) above the ground. No matter how daring you are or how interested in science, the museum offers engaging opportunities designed to draw in visitors of all ages."Kids in Charge!,"the largest children's science center in the United States, is the perfect place to bring those in the 12-and-under crowd. The attractions there emphasize the value of learning through play by bringing together science and creative thinking, and inspiring the imagination.MOSI is also home to Flordia's only IMAX Dome theater. The Dome regularly shows both educational and popular commercial films.More

Sunshine Skyway Bridge

This iconic Florida bridge is a testament to humankind’s architectural prowess and mother nature’s sheer beauty. Officially known as the Bob Graham Sunshine Skyway Bridge (named after the former Florida governor), it was built in 1954 and spans Tampa Bay with a 1,500-foot cable-stayed main span. The bridge’s height, expansive views of the surrounding bay and modern design landed it the No. 3 spot on the Travel Channel’s list of top bridges in the world. Those traveling to Tampa shouldn’t miss the chance to be impressed by this architectural wonder and the amazing views of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico it provides.More

Fort De Soto Park

Located off the coast of St. Petersburg, Fort De Soto Park is not your average ‘park.’ It’s actually 1,136 acres made up of five interconnected islands (keys) and is the largest park in the Pinellas County park system. With seven miles of waterfront, including almost three miles of beautiful, white sand beaches, Fort De Soto is a popular destination for both visitors and guests to the St. Petersburg area.There’s plenty to do in Fort De Soto Park. History buffs can explore the historic fort while cyclists and walkers can enjoy seven miles of paved trails that run through the park. For nature lovers, it’s worth noting that the park is the start of the Great Florida Birding Trail (328 species of birds have been documented over 60 years and new species are being added every year) and offers the one of the greatest diversities of bird, sea life, plant and wild life in Florida. The beach is also a nesting ground for the loggerhead sea turtle between April and September. Add in the picnic area, kayak trail, camping areas, dog park and the ferry to Egmont Key State Park and there is plenty to see and explore during a visit to Fort De Soto.More

Caladesi Island

Picture a pristine island beach complete with mangroves, sand dunes, palm trees and—most remarkably—no development. Such a place exists off of Florida’s Gulf Coast, just west of the town of Dunedin and near the city of Clearwater: it’s Caladesi Island. One of the few completely natural islands on the Gulf Coast, Caladesi Island is part of Florida’s park system and is home to a wide variety of activities.Bask in the sun on the white sand beaches, or search for shells along the water’s edge. Fishing is plentiful, either by boat or off of the shore. Explore the three mile nature trail across the interior and keep an eye out for some of the island’s aviary denizens like sandpipers, blue herons and black skimmers. Paddlers will enjoy the three mile kayak trail through the mangroves and the bay. There is a snack bar and gift shop, plus a few picnic tables and shelters, but despite the modern conveniences, Caladesi Island retains its wild and unspoiled allure.More

Ybor City

Ybor City has been known for over a century as Tampa's Latin Quarter. Founded in the 1880s by Vicente Martinez-Ybor as a cigar-manufacturing center, the neighborhood is now one of Florida's most distinct areas, thanks to its diverse immigrant communities and vibrant culture.More

Honeymoon Island

Honeymoon Island: the name conjures up images of long, romantic strolls down white sand beaches, the sun setting on the water in a pool of melting orange. The island’s original name, Hog Island, doesn’t have the same ring to it! However, thanks for a developer in the late 1930s, the island received a name overhaul when he built 50 thatch-roofed bungalows for honeymooners. The bungalows fell into disuse after World War II, but the name remains, as does Honeymoon Island’s reputation for romance.Now part of the Florida State Parks system, Honeymoon Island welcomes nature lovers, active adventurers and those simply looking to soak up the sun. Rent a bike or a kayak and traverse the nature trails across the island or paddle through the mangroves. Bird lovers will enjoy watching osprey, terns and plovers while animal enthusiasts can keep an eye out for the gopher tortoise, armadillo and raccoons. Or, simply put down a blanket or beach chair and enjoy the view.More

Gizella Kopsick Palm Arboretum

Spanning 2 acres (0.8 hectares, the Gizella Kopsick Palm Arboretum is home to more than 500 palms and cycads from around the world, representing more than 150 different species. Featuring paved walkways, a shaded gazebo, and wooden benches; this hidden gem allows visitors to study and enjoy palms in a beautiful and tranquil setting.More

Sunken Gardens

Sunken Gardens is a four-acre botanical garden located in the heart of St. Petersburg, Florida. At more than 100 years old, it’s recognized as St. Petersburg’s oldest living museum and is home to over 50,000 tropical plants, representing more than 500 species, along with flamingos and other exotic birds.Look for various areas like a Japanese garden, cactus garden, butterfly garden, and the Chilean flamingo garden. Stop at scenic points like the Wishing Well, Photo Ring, waterfall, and the Wedding Lawn. Don’t miss the Growing Stone, a fossilized limestone rock has a sign that says: “Legend has it that ‘he who sits upon the ancient stone shall be granted tranquility, inner harmony and the talent to make things grow.’”Sadly, the flamingo population at Sunken Gardens has dwindled. There is a non-profit fundraising campaign currently underway to raise money in order to bring 20 more flamingos to Sunken Gardens. Flamingos thrive (and breed) in flocks; therefore breeders typically only sell them in lots of 20 or more. The city has already agreed to design and finance new housing for the flamingos as well.More

Tampa Adventure Island

A family-friendly way to beat the heat in Tampa, Adventure Island water park is home to a variety of waterslides, pools, and other splashy attractions for all ages. It’s a great alternative to the beach for those looking to cool off without making the drive out to the coast.More

Tampa Museum of Art

No trip is complete without a little bit of culture, so while you're in Tampa head over to the Tampa Museum of Art. The museum offers a mixture of 20th century fine art as well as Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities. After a remodel and expansion project, the new museum held its grand opening on February 6, 2010, making it one of downtown Tampa's must see new buildings.Whether you are a modernist who enjoys photography and experimental new techniques, or a history buff who loves looking at ancient Etruscan coins, Roman pottery, and Greek statues , the Tampa Museum of Art has a wide array of exhibits designed to appeal to one's senses.More

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Top activities in Tampa

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Recent reviews from experiences in Tampa

Yes, book it!
Margaret_O, Mar 2023
Tiki Boat - Downtown Tampa - The Only Authentic Floating Tiki Bar
Great way to see the city of Tampa.
We didn’t see dolphins...
Frank_H, Mar 2023
1.5-hour Dolphin Sightseeing Cruise from Tampa
We didn’t see dolphins but got to see a couple of Manatee and Port Tampa and Captain Larry was great!!
Join the adventure!!
Karen_M, Mar 2023
2 Hour Guided Segway Tour
This segway tour is run by experienced people and is an amazing way to see sites in Tampa.
Moya_K, Mar 2023
Tampa Celebrity Homes Boat Tour
Good to see Tampa from the water .
Fun with Chas
Ken_C, Mar 2023
Guided Tampa Tour in a Deluxe Street Legal Golf Cart
Chas was a great guide and provided an excellent overview of the many sites to see around Tampa.
Tiki cruise
Craig_M, Mar 2023
Tiki Boat - Downtown Tampa - The Only Authentic Floating Tiki Bar
Kaylee was great and very knowledgeable of the tour we will be returning to see her again.
This was a great...
REBECCA_J, Mar 2023
1.5-hour Dolphin Sightseeing Cruise from Tampa
We got to see a few dolphins and learned about the Tampa Bay.
A unique and fun way to...
Susan_S, Mar 2023
Guided Tampa Tour in a Deluxe Street Legal Golf Cart
A unique and fun way to see Tampa.
Traveling Virginians
Kenneth_R, Feb 2023
2 Hour Guided Segway Tour
Would highly recommend to anyone wanting to see a little of Tampa and have fun at the same time!
This is fun!
Valerie_L, Jan 2023
Tampa History Cruise
This is a great way to see Tampa!
Casey and Tristan did a...
dcfmbr56pj, Dec 2022
Zip Line Adventure over Tampa Bay
It was great to see the beautiful views of Tampa Bay while flying through the air like an osprey.
Great tour! Well worth the $.
LynnMarie_L, Feb 2023
Tampa History Cruise
Was pleasantly surprised to see a different view and hear some more facts just by having a different guide.
Awesome Experience
Jennifer_H, Sep 2022
Tampa Terrors Ghost Tour
It was a great treat to see additional sites.
Fun tour
Greg_H, Mar 2023
Guided Tampa Tour in a Deluxe Street Legal Golf Cart
Our tour guides Max and Bobby gave personal recommendations on places to see and go to eat.
Dolphin seeing boat ride
Deone_J, Feb 2023
1.5-hour Dolphin Sightseeing Cruise from Tampa
He made the trip feel special and I really loved to see dolphins at play.
Awesome experience
Dmitriy_K, Jul 2022
Tiki Boat Tour on Hillsborough River. 12 person capacity, Bathroom aboard, BYOB
Takes you down the Hillsborough river to see Tampa Bay from a different angle.
Great tour guide. Lots of...
April_L, Jun 2022
Tampa Celebrity Homes Boat Tour
The breeze on a hot summer day on the water is very relaxing.
Great deal!
MILAGROS_R, Jun 2022
Tampa Bay CityPASS
In 4 days we got to experience 4 of the attractions included, and it was so worth it!
Fun day!
Donald_N, Mar 2022
Tampa Bay CityPASS
We were with family visiting from New England and it was great to see them enjoy the zoo.
Perfect personalized tour of Tampa!
Karen_I, Feb 2023
Guided Tampa Tour in a Deluxe Street Legal Golf Cart
What a fun way to see Tampa!!
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All about Tampa

When to visit

Raise a sail and chart a course for Tampa in the winter. Gasparilla Pirate Fest brings family-friendly revelry to the city every year. A boat full of buccaneers invades the Bay, taking over the city for a day of pirate-themed parties and parades. Gasparilla events actually take place for months, so visiting in spring means you can still experience the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts. March also hosts the Tampa Pride festival and parade, as well as the Mayor’s River O’Green Fest.

Getting around

If you’ve brought your car—or even your bike, boat, or kayak—then you already have everything you need to explore Tampa’s beautiful city and surroundings. Visitors who arrived with nothing more than a suitcase and a smile are covered, too. Water taxis, Zipcar car shares, Coast Bike Share, and multiple bus routes are affordable, accessible, and reliable. A ride on the historic TECO Line from downtown’s Channel District to Ybor City is a must—especially if happen to be fond of mojitos and cigars.

Traveler tips

From NHL games at Amalie Arena to stingray encounters at the Florida Aquarium, downtown Tampa has a handful of amazing attractions. The hallmark sites, though, aren’t in the center of the city: Busch Gardens and ZooTampa at Lowry Park are in the north while the NFL stadium is west of downtown. MLB games throw out pitches in nearby St. Petersburg, but the short drive is worth it. St. Pete also is also home to the Salvador Dalí Museum and access to famous Clearwater Beach.

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People Also Ask

What is Tampa known for?

Tampa is known for its championship sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays (baseball), Lightning (ice hockey), and Buccaneers (football); Busch Gardens theme park; and the cigar factories of Ybor City. Visitors often choose Tampa for its proximity to Orlando and Clearwater, as well as its own attractions like the Florida Aquarium.

Is there anything to do in Tampa?

Whether you have a full week or a single day to spend in Tampa, you’ll find plenty to do. Major attractions such as the Florida Aquarium, ZooTampa, and Busch Gardens will fill a day. Exploring Ybor City and Downtown, and taking a trip to the Gulf beaches are also must-dos.

How do I spend a weekend in Tampa?

Spend a weekend in Tampa exploring more than just downtown. Sports fans shouldn’t miss a Tampa Bay Lightning game, especially given the arena’s location in the Channel District. A visit to nearby Clearwater Beach is a must; a trip to Busch Gardens is a popular local activity, too.

What should I not miss in Tampa?

If there’s one thing you shouldn’t miss during your visit to Tampa, it’s a day exploring the Ybor City neighborhood. This compact area is a National Historic Landmark District and is accessible via a paid trolley from downtown Tampa. International cultures, especially Cuban, take center stage here.

What food should I try in Tampa?

Foodies who flock to Tampa will be rewarded with a variety of tasty treats. The bay surrounding the city, coupled with the nearby Gulf of Mexico, brings fresh seafood to the table. International cuisine can be found throughout downtown, but foodies must try the original Cuban sandwich in Ybor City.

Is it worth visiting Tampa?

Tampa should absolutely be on your travel list. This large Central Florida city has something for everyone, from theme parks like Busch Gardens and championship sports teams to bayside dining and easy access to Gulf beaches. Ybor City, one of Tampa’s lively neighborhoods, embraces Cuban culture and its famous cigars.


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