Going to Florida soon and want to discover the best things to do in Tampa? You’ve come to the right place!
Tampa is located on the western side of Florida. Often overlooked by visitors, it is the 3rd biggest city in Florida and has so much to offer.
Unlike most places in Florida, Tampa Bay Area is young and dynamic. It’s a very lively place to enjoy your holidays. There are many beaches nearby too and of course, the weather is amazing!
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Things to do in Downtown Tampa
If you are going on a holiday in Tampa, it’s very likely that you will want to explore the whole bay and go to the wonderful beaches in St Petersburg or Clearwater however there is also plenty to do in Downtown Tampa.
Here is a selection of the best things to do in Downtown Tampa.
Located in downtown Tampa, the river walk is one of the best things to do in Tampa.
This 2.6 miles walk along the Hillsborough River is a great thing to do if you want to discover the city or just have a nice walk out with friends. It starts at the convention centre and you will get to see beautiful views of the city.
You will also find many restaurants and bars along the way. I particularly recommend going there in the evening as it’s a great place to get a drink!
Go paddleboarding or kayaking on the Hillsborough River
Who said we couldn’t do these things in the city? One of the most popular things to do is exploring Tampa from the water.
You can rent a paddleboard or a kayak for 1 hour and go on a little adventure on the Hillsborough River. It’s quite a cool thing to do and you will probably get to see manatees!
If you are into history and want to know more about Tampa while enjoying the water, a history cruise will be perfect for you! What a better to get the best of both worlds!
The cruise lasts 1 hour and a half. You will leave from Downtown and sail down the Hillsborough while getting live on-board commentary.
Ybor is by far my favourite place in Tampa. It was founded by Vincente Martinez Ybor and quickly became the cigar capital of the world.
It was one of the first Cuban settlements in Florida and this why you will find so many handrail cigar shops there. This alongside Cuban cafes and bakeries.
Through the years, it grew to become Tampa’s entertainment district. You will find many bars, music venues and restaurants.
One of the best places to eat and drink is Bernini’s. This Italian restaurant has a happy hour every day until 7pm. This includes 50% off the food and $3 martinis!
If you love history, Ybor is the perfect place for you. You can go on a walking tour there and discover everything about the cigars, ghost stories and plenty more!
If you are a foodie, you should definitely go on a Food Tour. Again, the guide will give you plenty of information about Ybor and you will get to taste plenty of different food!
Please note that Ybor is not considered as the safest district by locals. You can go there without any problems but make sure you stay on the main streets and between the arches.
I personally never had any problems in Ybor but those are the recommendations I had from the locals.
Museums in Tampa
Who said that Florida was only for the beaches? Tampa is home to some amazing museums! Whether you are into art or history, you will find something to satisfy your thirst of culture in Tampa!
Museum of Science and Industry
If you want to discover a fun museum in Tampa, the Museum of Science and Industry will be perfect for you.
It’s particularly good if you are travelling with kids. There are many activities that help you understand how technology and science work.
Tampa Museum of Art
The museum of art one of the best-rated attractions in Tampa. It offers beautiful collections of contemporary and modern art.
Located by the river, it’s a good thing to do after the riverwalk. It’s open every day of the week.
Henry B. Plant Museum
If there is one building you can’t miss in Tampa it’s the Henry B. Plant Museum. This beautiful building is almost out of place!
It was originally built as a hotel and is now owned by the University of Tampa. If you love European architecture, it’s the place for you! This amazing mansion is a mix of Victorian and baroque architecture. A must-see in Tampa!
Tampa Bay History Center
If you want to learn more about the history of Tampa, this is the place for you!
Tampa Bay History Center gives a wonderful insight into the history of central Florida. From the Spanish conquistador to what it is today, you will discover it all!
Fun things to do in Tampa
When it comes to entertainment, Tampa has a lot to offer! There are many fun things to do in Tampa and here is a taste of it!
Top Golf is a huge entertainment complex in Tampa where you can play golf indoors (not mini-golf, actual golf!). But also enjoy a meal and drink. It is so much fun! It’s a great thing to do on a rainy day or just to have fun with friends.
The Straz Center for the performing arts is an big art complex located in Downtown Tampa, by the Hillsborough River. It’s one of the biggest in the Southern United States and is a great place to go if you want to see amazing performances and shows.
Go see a show at Amalie Arena
The Amelie Arena is located in downtown Tampa. It hosts many events including ice-hockey, basketball and concerts! While you are in Tampa, you should definitely check out what’s on and go see a show. It’s super cool!
Some of the most famous artists have performed there and the schedule is always amazing. Cher, Justin Bieber, Harry Styles… you name them!
Theme parks in Tampa
Florida is the theme parks capital of the world. The most famous parks are located in Orlando but Tampa has also a few to offer!
Located about 10 miles away from downtown Tampa, Busch Gardens is the perfect place to go to if you love both animals and roller coasters!
This African themed entertainment park has loads to offer.
Firstly, you will find a safari park with many African animals. You can visit it by either hopping on the train or on a jeep. It is a very unique experience. You can even hand-feed the giraffes!
Secondly, you will find some of the best roller coasters in Florida (and we all know that when it comes to roller coasters, Florida sets the standard). Thrill-seekers are going to love it!
The best rides are cheetah’s hunt, cobra’s curse and Congo river rapids.
Busch Gardens is open every day of the year and is one of the best theme parks in Florida. It’s less crowded than the other parks in Orlando which makes it more pleasant.
They also organise festivals and concerts so make sure to check their event schedule so you can make the best of your visit.
PRO TIP: If you are planning on doing several of the following activities, you may want to consider buying the Tampa City Pass. It will work out much cheaper all together! Click here for more info and prices.
If you are looking for a family-friendly activity in Tampa, the zoo will be perfect. You will get to see all sorts of animals from all over the world!
There are a few aquariums in Florida but the one in Tampa is undoubtedly the best one. You will find all sorts of sea animals.
The Florida Aquarium is also known for its conservation focus on sharks and sea turtles. You can roam around the aquarium and also participate in the interactive activities.
It’s a great thing to do in Tampa with kids.
Sport in Tampa
If you love sports, Tampa will be your paradise! Tampa is home to not one, not two but 3 famous teams!
So if you are into Ice-hockey, basketball or American football, this section is for you!
Go to a Tampa Bay Lightning Ice hockey game
You may not expect Florida to be famous for ice-hockey but yet it is! Tampa Bay Lightning is a very good and famous ice-hockey team in the United States. If there is one thing you must do during your time in Tampa it’s going to a Lightning game.
If you love ice-hockey, you are in for a treat! If you don’t know anything about it, you should still go! It’s a very cool thing to do in Tampa. If it’s your first time in the USA, that’s perfect! It’s a very American experience!
There are games every week, usually on Tuesday, at the Amalie Arena in Downtown Tampa.
You can get tickets online or through the In We Go app.
Pro tip: make sure you are wearing blue. It’s the official colour of the Tampa Lightnings. You wouldn’t want to be out of place by wearing another colour.
Breweries in Tampa
There are 16 breweries in Tampa so if you love your drinks, you are in for a treat!
You can visit most of these breweries. You will go on a tour and get a free drink!
One of the most popular is Tampa Bay Brewery Company.
If you are looking for a smaller one, you can head to the Copper Tail Brewery.
Shopping in Tampa
The best places to go shopping in Tampa are:
- Hyde Park Village
- International Plaza
You will find all sorts of shops there!
If you are after vintage shops, Ybor City would be a good place.
Accommodation in Tampa
Tampa is a big city so you will find plenty of places to stay. Ideally, you will want to stay Downtown, as close to the riverwalk as possible. Here are some amazing options for places to stay in Tampa.
Budget Accommodation in Tampa: It’s pretty much impossible to find cheap accommodation in Downtown Tampa. There is only one hostel in all of Tampa. Thankfully though, it’s a great one! Gram’s Place Hostel is a lovely place and offers amazing facilities. You will also get free breakfast! Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
Mid-range accommodation in Tampa: Modern Channelside is a great apartment located in a nice area by downtown. It’s a good option if you want to have the whole place to yourself. Information and prices are available here.
Luxury accommodation in Tampa: This one is definitely the best place to stay in Tampa! Mariott Water Street is a luxury hotel located right by the riverwalk. Everything you may want, they will have it! Information and prices are available here.
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