According to Ask4beauty, Tampa, located on Tampa Bay, is unfortunately often skipped during a Florida tour. And that’s a shame, because this fast-growing city is definitely worth a visit! Together with the nearby towns of St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Largo, the city forms the Tampa Bay Area conurbation. And unlike most Florida cities , where it’s mostly about the beach, Tampa also has a vibrant city life. The Spanish and Cuban historical influences can still be found here in the modern landscape: this makes Tampa an interesting mix of cultures. From theme parks to zoos, Tampa has something for every age! You can also visit the city with a fly drive Tampa trip.
6 Best Attractions in Tampa
Whether you are a true thrill-seeker; or rather take a (beach) walk: in Tampa you can do both. Tampa is best known for its aquariums and amusement parks, but you can shop extensively, dine or visit museums here. Below you can read about the most famous attractions of Tampa.
1. Big Cat Rescue
Fans of the Netflix show Tiger King can indulge themselves here. Big Cat Rescue, an organization that helps abused felines, is about a twenty-minute drive from Tampa. Although things are a bit different here: Big Cat Rescue is a ‘sanctuary’ for abused and abandoned felines, such as tigers, lions, leopards, lynxes and pumas. Different tours are given, where you can get very close to the animals (but always at a safe distance). A special tour is given on weekends for smaller children. Part of the proceeds from the tickets is used to support their mission: to stop (illegal) circuses in Asia. A fun and educational outing for young and old!
2. Manatee Viewing Center
Florida is a haven for manatees (family of the manatee) in the winter months. They flee the cold waters of the Gulf of Mexico and head into the bays. You can view them from November to April at the Manatee Viewing Center, located in Apollo Beach, south of Tampa. Entrance is free. Via a platform you walk from the parking lot, through a mangrove forest, to a watchtower where you have a view over the water. With a bit of luck you will have a view of the entire Tampa Bay in clear weather!
If you haven’t gotten enough of the sea creatures yet, you can visit Florida Aquarium. A lot smaller than SeaWorld, but fortunately the prices are accordingly. Here you will not find all kinds of different fish species, but also otters and alligators. Very popular is the dolphin cruise organized by the museum. This is a boat trip of about an hour and a half through Tampa Bay, where you will look for dolphins under the guidance of a guide. But if you like to look up the action, you’re in the right place too. You can also scuba dive with sharks or pet stingrays here. There is also plenty to do for children: the Splash Pad water park provides plenty of water fun!
4. Tampa Bay History Center
If you would like to learn more about the history of Tampa and the surrounding area, you should visit Tampa Bay History Center. Located on Riverwalk in the Channel District, this museum features multiple exhibits about the area’s rich history. You can find exhibits about the Seminoles Indians, Teddy Roosevelt and the Cuban influences, among other things. The museum also organizes guided walking tours through downtown Tampa. Tampa Bay History Center is located near Amelie Arena (formerly Tampa Bay Times Forum). Concerts and football matches are regularly held here.
5. Bush Gardens
The ideal family getaway: Busch Gardens. Busch Gardens, part of SeaWorld, is every child’s dream: it’s an amusement park and a zoo in one. Decorated primarily in an African theme, the park is about a 15-minute drive from downtown Tampa. From rollercoasters with multiple loops to smaller trains, the rides are suitable for children of all ages. Tired of all the rollercoasters? Then you can go on safari in the park. Who knows, you might spot a giraffe, elephant or rhinoceros. End your day with dinner at one of the park’s many themed restaurants. Whether you like burgers or spare ribs, it’s all possible!
6. Lettuce Lake Park & Hillsborough River
Even if you are looking for peace and quiet, you are in the right place in Tampa. Lettuce Lake Park is located in the north of Tampa, where you can enjoy nature. The park owes its name to the water lettuce that grows here. Via a platform you walk to an observation tower, where you have a view over the area. A little further down the road is Hillsborough River State Park, one of Florida’s oldest state parks. You can rent canoes here to sail on the river, but you can also walk here. During your trip you have the chance to spot different species of birds, turtles or even alligators.
Tampa Frequently Asked Questions
What are the top attractions to visit in Tampa?
There are a lot of fun things to do in Tampa, but the most famous attractions are Tampa Riverwalk, Busch Gardens and Florida Aquarium.
What are the best outdoor activities in Tampa?
If you want to enjoy the outdoors, Tampa is the perfect place. There are plenty of parks around Tampa where you can enjoy the tranquility of nature, or canoe or kayak on the rivers. Lettuce Lake and Hillsborough River are highly recommended for this!
What are the best day trips from Tampa?
Tampa’s ideal central location in the Tampa Bay Area makes the city a perfect base for trips. With children you can go to Busch Gardens for example. But also towns such as St. Petersburg (with the beach St. Petersburg Beach as a recommendation) and Clearwater are about an hour’s drive away.
What are the most popular things to do in Tampa with kids?
Tampa is the ideal destination for a family vacation. The aforementioned Busch Gardens are extremely popular, but you can also take the kids to Adventure Island (a water park) or to Glazier’s Children Museum (an interactive museum).