Things to do in Tampa

Things to do in  Tampa

Hot weather, hotter nightlife

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 and warm, turquoise waters, Florida's Clearwater Beach, a waterfront community on the Gulf of Mexico, 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

Sunshine Skyway Bridge

The Bob Graham Sunshine Skyway Bridge, locally called the “Skyway,” is a cable-stayed concrete bridge stretching across Lower Tampa Bay, connecting St. Petersburg and Bradenton. It was the world’s longest bridge when it was completed in 1987. Its 21 bright yellow cables mimic rays of sunshine.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

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

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

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

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

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

Caladesi Island

Caladesi Island State Park floats just off the shores of Dunedin and is only 2 nautical miles (3.7 kilometers) from Clearwater Beach. Palm trees, sand dunes, and mangroves lend it a wild feel, while elevated boardwalks, picnic facilities, restrooms with showers, and a café make it an inclusive spot for family-friendly relaxation.More

Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI)

The Museum of Science and Industry, known as MOSI, is an imaginative space designed for curiosity and interaction. Opened in 1982, it’s about 10 miles (16 kilometers) outside of Tampa and two blocks from Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. Its IMAX center was removed recently, but the museum still boasts hundreds of immersive permanent exhibits.More

Tampa Museum of Art

The Tampa Museum of Art is a century-old museum housing one of the southeast’s most extensive collections of Roman and Greek antiquities. Moved to its current location in the early 2000s, the renovated space now features polished stone flooring and translucent ceilings, making the building as aesthetically pleasing as its modern and classical art. The museum also hosts special events and classes that take place weekly throughout the year.More

Honeymoon Island

With 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) of pristine beaches, 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) of trails through virgin slash pine forests, and plentiful wildlife, Honeymoon Island State Park is a quintessential tropical paradise. Once a popular honeymoon destination, today the barrier island is a beloved Florida state park located in Tampa Bay off the coast of Dunedin.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

Downtown Tampa

The central business district of this popular Florida destination is rife with a diverse arts and culture scene, as well as lively nightlife, dozens of museums, and a handful of historic performance spaces. A stroll along the scenic riverwalk showcases striking views of the Tampa city skyline.More

Hyde Park

Just south of Downtown Tampa you’ll find Hyde Park, a historic neighborhood that evokes the ambiance of old Florida with its collection of homes dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Today, it’s not only a desirable residential neighborhood, but also home to Hyde Park Village, lined with upscale boutiques and restaurants.More

Top activities in 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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