Located on an inlet that extends far into Florida’s west coast, the city of Tampa is the economic center of West Florida. Tampa is best known for its tourist attractions, especially Busch Gardens, where families get the thrills of an amusement park and the fun of a zoo all in one place. There are several other popular places in the area dedicated to animals and wildlife, including a zoo, an aquarium, a big cat sanctuary, and a public guillemot viewing area. With all this, plus an excellent science museum and children’s museum, Tampa is an ideal place for families on a vacation. Downtown Tampa is an area of high-rise office buildings, but Tampa also has historic old neighborhoods, such as Ybor City and Old Hyde Park. Franklin Street is the pedestrian zone of downtown Tampa,
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1 Busch Gardens
Busch Gardens is a 335-acre African-themed family entertainment and adventure park featuring thrilling rides, live music, performances and a host of exotic animals in natural settings. Visitors can take a safari to see animals grazing on the plains with reproductions of African villages and camps, and the Serengeti Night Safari is one of the most popular options. Several special animal encounters are available, including the opportunity to hand-feed kangaroos and giraffes; watch park staff tend to their patients at the Animal Care Center; and get up close to some of the favorite residents, including sloths and flamingos. There is a wide variety of exciting things to do in the park, including kiddie rides and water rides, but Busch Gardens is best known for its rollercoasters that are an extreme thrill ride. There are several ticket options for Busch Gardens, including multi-park passes and in-park dining packages.
Adres: 10165 North McKinley Drive, Tampa, Florida
Official Site: https://buschgardens.com/tampa/
Flights for everyone SwatiTravel– cheap flights
2 Museum of Science and Industry
The Museum of Science and Industry invites visitors to explore, learn, imagine and immerse themselves in every aspect of science and technology. Starting with the basics of physics, math, and other scientific principles, exhibits exhibits in a variety of subject areas. Kids will love playing a giant game of ‘control’ as they learn how the human body works and how technology helps people live longer and better lives. The Idea Zone has hands-on projects and the Connectus exhibition gives visitors the chance to use cutting-edge technology before it is unveiled to the general public. Other exhibits include the opportunity to interact with extreme weather and explore a model of NASA’s view of human life off-Earth. The museum also has many other things to do, such as a thrilling adventure course, a life-size model of the Mercury spacecraft, and an IMAX theater.
Address: 4801 E. Fowler Avenue, Tampa, Florida
Official site: www.mosi.org
3 Tampa Zoo in Lowry Park
Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo features more than 2,000 animals in natural habitats, including animals from Africa, Asia, and Australia, as well as native Florida habitats, a primate area, and an aviary. There is also a large aquarium and three pools used to treat local manatees who are injured or sick. Visitors can get up close to some of the zoo’s residents, including “backstage” opportunities with penguins and turtles, as well as the chance to feed an Indian rhinoceros. Popular zoo residents include the African elephants, African penguins, Florida panthers, and the Bornean orangutan. The park also has some rides, including a safari tour through the African habitat, a mini train ride, and a family-friendly roller coaster.
Address: 1101 West Sligh Avenue, Tampa, Florida
Official site: https://www.lowryparkzoo.org/
4 Henry B Plant Museum
Part of the former Tampa Bay Hotel, once owned by railroad magnate Henry Plant, was turned into a museum in 1933. It is a luxurious Victorian palace with distinctive Moorish features. The Henry B. Plant Museum traces the hotel’s history and Plant’s contribution to the development of Tampa and Florida. The various rooms, such as the Grand Hall, the reading and writing room and the garden room, are decorated with fine antique furniture and offer a glimpse into the lifestyle of Henry B. Plant.
An avid gardener, Plant hired a leading landscape architect to design the grounds, which are known for their beautiful tropical gardens. The rest of the building now houses the University of Tampa.
Address: 401 West Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa, Florida
Official Site: https://www.ut.edu/plantmuseum/
5 Florida Aquarium
Tampa’s Florida Aquarium has an exciting variety of animal habitats, exhibits, and activities to educate and entertain all ages. The habitats are arranged to accurately represent a watershed similar to Tampa, allowing visitors to see the wide variety of fish and ocean life. Visitors will have the chance to see invertebrates such as starfish and anemones and even visit some of the land’s residents such as the lemurs. Admission to Florida Aquarium also includes the outdoor Splash Pad, where kids can cool off, as well as shows in the 4- D Theater, where sensory elements are added to a three-dimensional movie for a fully immersive experience.
Adres: 701 Channelside Drive, Tampa, Florida
Official site: www.flaquarium.org
6 Big Cat Rescue
Big Cat Rescue is a wildlife sanctuary for abused and abandoned big cats. It is a non-profit organization with more than 60 animals including tigers, lions, leopards, servals, caracals, bobcats, jaguar, lynx and other species. At the sanctuary, visitors learn about the care and rehabilitation of these animals. The ultimate mission of the rescue group is to stop the big cat trade, which leads so many of these graceful cats to live in terrible conditions. Unlike a zoo, tourists are only allowed to visit the reserve on a guided tour, which must be booked in advance, and it is recommended to book your reservation well in advance due to popularity. If you are visiting with a child under the age of 10, you must take the “Kids Tour”,
Address: 12802 Easy Street, Tampa, Florida
Official site: https://bigcatrescue.org/
7 Glazer Children’s Museum
Glaz Children’s Museum Athena Iluz / fotomodia
The Glazer Children’s Museum focuses on giving children a fully interactive experience, allowing them to learn and explore through play, using their imaginations to bring the many small artifacts to life. Kids can learn about saving money and trading at the bank, slide down a burning pole on their way to save lives at the fire station, and try their hand at design and carpentry to repair an old house. Prospective veterinarians can check x-rays and plan patient treatment, and would-be captains can navigate a shipping vessel through a channel. In addition to many more mature jobs for them to explore, there are exhibits on robotics, engineering, oceanography, and world cultures.
Address: 110 W Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa, Florida
Official site: www.glazermuseum.org
8 Tampa Theater
Built in 1926, the Tampa Theater is a luxurious movie palace featuring a unique blend of architectural styles, including Italian Renaissance, Byzantine, and Greek Revival. It regularly presents foreign and classic films along with special concerts and other programs. While you can see both new and old movies here, watching one of the classics in this building is a great way to feel like you’ve stepped back into another time period.
Address: 711 Franklin Street, Tampa, Florida
Official Site: https://tampatheatre.org/
9 Tampa Electric Manatee Viewing Centre at Apollo Beach
Although it may seem like a strange place, this manatee sanctuary is located across from a Tampa Electric power plant. The manatees here are drawn by the warm water produced by the power plant and can sometimes be seen in very large numbers. They are most common when the surrounding water temperatures are cold, dipping below 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Visitors will find a tidal corridor with a variety of Florida plants and birds, butterfly gardens, and an observation deck for the manatees. The Manatee Viewing Center is also home to an educational building that houses the power station and manatees.
Address: 6990 Dickman Road, Tampa, Florida
Official Site: https://www.tampaelectric.com/company/mvc/
10 Tampa Bay History Center
The exhibits in the Tampa Bay Historic Center trace the rich history of the Tampa Bay area, dating back 12,000 years. The region’s early inhabitants, such as the Seminoles, the multicultural influences of the last five centuries, the railroad and shipping era, and the regional geography are highlights of Tampa Bay’s historic downtown. In addition to the permanent collection, the center has a temporary gallery with changing exhibitions. This is a 60,000 sq ft glass fronted facility located in the Channelside neighborhood.
Adres: 801 Old Water Street, Tampa, Florida
Official Site: https://tampabayhistorycenter.org/
11 Ybor City
The center of Tampa’s Latino community, Ybor City is a National Historic Landmark District. It is named after its founder, cigar baron Vicente Martinez Ybor. He came to the region in the mid-1880s after workers at his Key West factory threatened unions. At one point, the Ybor cigar factory was the largest in the world with over 4,000 people hand-rolling more than 900,000 cigars a month. However, the Great Depression and machine rolling ended the boom and most of the factories were closed and demolished. In more recent years, the area has experienced a revival and is home to many shops, galleries, restaurants and cafes. Seventh Avenue in Ybor City, known in Spanish as “La Septima”, has some of the neighborhood’s most historic buildings,
Ybor City’s Columbia Restaurant is the state’s oldest and largest Spanish restaurant. This historic institution was founded in 1905 by Cuban immigrant Casimiro Hernández, Sr. The Columbia is famous for its Spanish cuisine, dinner shows, and old-time architectural charm. Live entertainment includes flamenco and jazz in the café.
Official site: https://ybor.org/
12 Sunshine Skyway
Sunshine Skyway is a toll bridge located on I 275/US 19. This multi-lane “highway on stilts” is 12 miles long and gracefully crosses the entrance to Tampa Bay. Its most impressive feature is a 4.25-mile high-level bridge, the center section of which is suspended from two giant pylons, allowing large ocean-going ships to pass underneath. The previous bridge was rammed by a freighter in 1980 and partially collapsed, and parts of the old bridge now serve as piers for fishermen.
There are beautiful views of the ocean from the drive across the new bridge, and the bridge itself is also an impressive sight and often photographed by tourists.
Where to Stay in Tampa for Sightseeing
There are several good areas to stay in Tampa depending on your reason for visiting. Staying downtown is a good option for sightseeing and entertainment. You may want to stay closer to Busch Gardens if this is the main reason for your visit or to the stadium if you are going to see a football game. Below are some highly rated hotels in these top areas.
- Luxury Hotels : In a prime downtown location, Le Meridien is a top hotel in a former courthouse and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A little removed from the action of downtown, but in a nice neighborhood is the contemporary Epicurean Hotel. If you’re coming to Tampa to see a game, the Renaissance, near Raymond James Stadium, is a great option.
- Mid-Range Hotels : In the heart of downtown is the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel and Marina, overlooking the water; nice outdoor patio; and large, comfortable rooms. In the same category is the Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk, also with a nice location and scenic views. Both have pools and are conveniently located for visiting Ybor City or the Florida Aquarium. The Hilton Garden Inn is in a fantastic location in the historic district of Ybor, featuring an outdoor pool and hot tub. The Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Tampa N, near Busch Gardens, is a good option for families.
- Budget Hotels : A short drive from Ybor City is the Quality Inn and Suites, with a great location for this price range. Near the Raymond James Stadium, you will find the reasonably priced Comfort Suites. Also good value and near the stadium is the Clarion. Both are a bit far from the city center but a fair distance if you have a vehicle and perfectly located if you’re here to see a game.
Tips and Tours: How to Make the Most of Your Visit to Tampa
- Save Money: If you plan to visit some of Tampa’s top attractions, the Tampa TRIO pass will save you money. This great-value pass gives you access to three Tampa attractions at a great price, including the Florida Aquarium, the Museum of Science & Industry, and the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa. Best of all, the pass has no expiration date, giving you maximum flexibility to visit the attractions on your own time.