Introduction

Are you ready to explore the vibrant heart of Florida’s Gulf Coast? In Tampa, there’s no shortage of excitement, culture, and natural beauty waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re a local looking for new adventures or a visitor planning a trip, you won’t want to miss out on the best things to do in Tampa.

Now, if you’re wondering, “Where to stay in Tampa, Florida?”—fear not because this city boasts a wide range of accommodation options to suit every taste and budget, from luxurious waterfront resorts to cozy boutique hotels and everything in between, you’ll find the perfect place to rest your head after a day of exploring.

So, pack your sense of adventure and get ready to uncover the best Tampa offers. Whether you’re strolling along the Riverwalk, exploring the historic Ybor City, or immersing yourself in the city’s thriving arts scene, Tampa promises to deliver an unforgettable experience. Let’s embark on this journey together and create memories that will last a lifetime!

10 Best Things to Do in Tampa

Tampa Bay is a treasure trove of unforgettable experiences. Let’s dive into the 10 Best Things to Do in Tampa, starting with these two fantastic attractions.

1. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

This is a world-renowned theme park and animal sanctuary that offers something for everyone. Busch Gardens is where memories are made, from thrilling rides and roller coasters to exotic animals and educational exhibits.

Highlight 

  • World-class roller coasters and thrill rides, such as Cheetah Hunt, Montu, and Kumba
  • Up-close encounters with exotic animals, including giraffes, lions, tigers, and gorillas
  • Educational exhibits on African culture and wildlife
  • Live shows and entertainment for all ages
  • A variety of dining and shopping options

Things to Do

  • Ride the Cheetah Hunt, the fastest triple-launch roller coaster in the world.
  • Visit the Myombe Reserve to see gorillas, chimpanzees, and other primates in their natural habitat.
  • Get up close and personal with African animals on a Serengeti Safari.
  • Watch a live show, such as the Turn It Up! ice skating extravaganza or the Cirque Electric show.
  • Enjoy a delicious meal at one of the many restaurants in the park, such as the Zambia Smokehouse or the Pantopia Pizza Kitchen.

2. The Florida Aquarium

The Florida Aquarium is a world-class aquarium that showcases the diverse marine life of Florida and the Gulf Coast. With over 7,000 animals and plants on display, the aquarium is a great place to learn about the underwater world and see some amazing creatures up close.

Highlight

  • Over 7,000 animals and plants on display, including sharks, penguins, sea turtles, and manatees
  • Interactive exhibits that allow visitors to learn about marine life and the environment
  • Behind-the-scenes tours that offer a glimpse into the aquarium’s operations
  • Educational programs for all ages
  • A variety of dining and shopping options

Things to Do

  • Visit the Wetlands Gallery to see Florida’s diverse wetland ecosystems, including mangroves, marshes, and cypress swamps.
  • Watch the sharks swim by in the Coral Reef Gallery, home to over 500 species of fish and coral.
  • Touch a stingray or sea star at the Discovery Zone, an interactive exhibit for all ages.
  • Take a behind-the-scenes tour to learn about the aquarium’s operations and see how the animals are cared for.
  • Enjoy a delicious lunch at the Waves Cafe, which offers stunning views of Tampa Bay.

3. ZooTampa at Lowry Park

ZooTampa at Lowry Park is a 63-acre zoo that is home to over 1,300 animals from around the world. The zoo is divided into five realms: Africa, Asia, Australia, Florida, and Primates. Visitors can see animals such as lions, tigers, gorillas, penguins, and manatees up close. ZooTampa also offers a variety of educational programs and activities for all ages.

Highlight

  • Over 1,300 animals from around the world
  • Five realms: Africa, Asia, Australia, Florida, and Primates
  • Up-close encounters with lions, tigers, gorillas, penguins, and manatees
  • Educational programs and activities for all ages
  • A variety of dining and shopping options

Things to Do 

  • Visit the Primate World to see gorillas, chimpanzees, and other primates in their natural habitat.
  • Get up close and personal with African animals on a savanna safari.
  • Watch the penguins swim and play at the Penguin Encounter.
  • Visit the Florida Wildlife Center to learn about native Florida animals and their habitats.
  • Take a behind-the-scenes tour to learn more about the zoo’s operations and how the animals are cared for.

4. Sunshine Skyway Bridge

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge is a cable-stayed bridge that spans Tampa Bay. The bridge is over four miles long and offers stunning views of the bay and the surrounding area. The Skyway is a popular tourist destination and is also a major transportation link between Tampa and St. Petersburg.

Highlight

  • Stunning views of Tampa Bay and the surrounding area
  • Popular tourist destination
  • Major transportation link between Tampa and St. Petersburg
  • Fishing piers on either side of the bridge
  • Rest areas with picnic tables and restrooms

Things to Do 

  • Drive across the bridge and enjoy the views.
  • Stop at one of the fishing piers to try your luck at catching a fish.
  • Have a picnic at one of the rest areas.
  • Take a walk or bike ride across the bridge.
  • Visit the Skyway Fishing Pier State Park, which offers stunning views of the bridge and the bay.

5. Tampa Riverwalk

The Tampa Riverwalk is a 2.6-mile pedestrian trail that runs along the Hillsborough River. The Riverwalk is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike to enjoy the outdoors, take in the city skyline, and visit various attractions.

Highlight

  • Stunning views of the Hillsborough River and the It’s skyline
  • A variety of attractions, including parks, museums, restaurants, and shops
  • Popular spot for walking, biking, and running
  • Free events and concerts throughout the year
  • Easy access to many of Tampa’s other top attractions

Things to Do 

  • Take a walk or bike ride along the Riverwalk and enjoy the views.
  • Visit one of the many parks along the Riverwalk, such as Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park or Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park.
  • Explore the Tampa Museum of Art or the Glazer Children’s Museum.
  • Have lunch or dinner at one of the many restaurants along the Riverwalk.
  • Attend a free event or concert at one of the many stages along the Riverwalk.

6. Ybor City

This historic neighborhood in this city is known for its Cuban culture, cigar factories, and lively nightlife. Ybor City is a popular tourist destination and is also home to a thriving arts and culture scene.

Highlight

  • Historic neighborhood with a rich Cuban heritage
  • Home to cigar factories, lively bars and restaurants, and a thriving arts and culture scene
  • Popular tourist destination with a variety of attractions, including museums, shops, and galleries
  • Easy access to downtown of this city

Things to Do 

  • Visit the Ybor City Museum State Park to learn about the history of Ybor City and its Cuban heritage.
  • Take a walk down Seventh Avenue and explore the many shops, restaurants, and bars.
  • Visit the Columbia Restaurant, the oldest restaurant in Florida.
  • Catch a show at the Centro Ybor Performing Arts Center.
  • Visit the Ybor City Saturday Market, which features a variety of food vendors, artisans, and live music.

7. Tampa Theatre

The Tampa Theatre is a historic movie palace that was built in 1926. The theater is known for its stunning Spanish Mediterranean Revival architecture and its opulent interior. The Tampa Theatre hosts a variety of films, concerts, and other events throughout the year.

Highlight 

  • Historic movie palace with stunning Spanish Mediterranean Revival architecture
  • Opulent interior with a Wurlitzer pipe organ
  • Hosts a variety of films, concerts, and other events throughout the year
  • Guided tours available

Things to Do 

  • See a movie or concert at this Theatre.
  • Take a guided theater tour to learn about its history and architecture.
  • Visit the Theatre Gift Shop for unique souvenirs.
  • Have a drink or snack at the Tampa Theatre Bar.

8. Henry B. Plant Museum

The Henry B. Plant Museum is a museum housed in the former Tampa Bay Hotel, built in 1891 by railroad magnate Henry B. Plant. The museum features exhibits on the hotel’s history, Florida, and the railroad industry. The Henry B. Plant Museum hosts various events throughout the year, including concerts, festivals, and educational programs.

Highlight

  • The museum is housed in the former Tampa Bay Hotel, a stunning example of Moorish Revival architecture
  • Exhibits on the history of the hotel, Florida, and the railroad industry
  • Hosts a variety of events throughout the year
  • Beautiful gardens and grounds

Things to Do

  • Visit the Henry B. Plant Museum to learn about the hotel’s history, Florida, and the railroad industry.
  • Take a walk through the museum’s gardens and grounds.
  • Attend an event at the museum, such as a concert, festival, or educational program.
  • Have lunch or dinner at one of the museum’s restaurants.

9. Bayshore Boulevard

Bayshore Boulevard is a scenic waterfront boulevard that runs along the eastern shore of Tampa Bay. The boulevard is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike to enjoy the outdoors, take in the city skyline, and people-watch.

Highlight

  • Scenic waterfront boulevard with stunning views of Tampa Bay
  • Popular spot for walking, biking, and running
  • A variety of restaurants and shops along the boulevard
  • Easy access to many of Tampa’s other top attractions

Things to Do 

  • Take a walk or bike ride along Bayshore Boulevard and enjoy the views.
  • Stop at one of the many restaurants along Bayshore Boulevard for a meal or drink.
  • Visit the Bayshore Boulevard Playground, which features a variety of play equipment for children of all ages.
  • Rent a kayak or paddleboard from one of the many vendors along the boulevard and explore Tampa Bay.
  • Attend a free event or concert at one of the many stages along Bayshore Boulevard.

10. Catch a sporting event

Tampa Bay is home to a variety of professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFL), the Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL), and the Tampa Bay Rays (MLB). The city also hosts a variety of college sporting events, including football games at the University of South Florida and the University of Tampa.

Highlight 

  • This city is home to a variety of professional and college sports teams
  • There are a variety of sporting events to choose from, including football, hockey, baseball, and more
  • An exciting atmosphere and a great way to experience Tampa’s culture

Things to Do

  • Catch a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game at Raymond James Stadium.
  • Cheer on the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena.
  • Watch a Tampa Bay Rays game at Tropicana Field.
  • Attend a football game at the University of South Florida or the University of Tampa.
  • Catch a spring training game at one of the many ballparks in Tampa.

Unique things to do in Tampa, Florida

Tampa is a vibrant city with many to offer visitors, from its world-class attractions to stunning natural scenery. But if you’re looking for something truly unique, here are 10 ideas:

Take a cigar tour.

Tampa was once known as the “Cigar City” of the world, and several cigar factories are still operating today. Take a tour to learn about the history of cigar-making in Tampa and how these iconic cigars are made.

Visit the Dali Museum.

The Dali Museum is home to the largest collection of Salvador Dali’s work outside of Spain. With over 2,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, and other works of art, the museum is a must-see for any fan of Dali’s work.

Take a manatee tour.

Tampa Bay is home to many manatees, and several companies offer boat tours to see these gentle giants up close.

Visit Ybor City.

Ybor City is a historic neighborhood in Tampa known for its Cuban culture and vibrant nightlife. Take a walk down 7th Avenue to browse the shops and restaurants, and stop by the Columbia Restaurant, the oldest restaurant in Florida.

Visit the Florida Aquarium.

The Florida Aquarium is a great place to learn about the marine life of Florida. With exhibits on everything from coral reefs to sharks, the aquarium is sure to entertain and educate visitors of all ages.

Visit the Henry B. Plant Museum.

The Henry B. Plant Museum is a beautifully restored hotel built by railroad magnate Henry B. Plant in the late 19th century. The museum offers a tour of the hotel and exhibits on the history of Tampa and Florida.

Visit the Tampa Museum of Art.

The Tampa Museum of Art is a world-class museum with a collection of over 3,000 years of art history. The museum offers a variety of exhibitions throughout the year, as well as educational programs for all ages.

Visit ZooTampa at Lowry Park.

ZooTampa at Lowry Park is a 63-acre zoo home to over 1,300 animals from all over the world. The zoo offers a variety of exhibits, including a Florida wildlife exhibit, an African savanna exhibit, and an Asian domain exhibit.

Take a pirate cruise.

Tampa is home to the Gasparilla Pirate Festival, the largest pirate festival in the world. If you’re visiting Tampa outside of the festival, you can still take a pirate cruise to learn about the history of piracy in Tampa Bay and to see some of the city’s most famous pirate landmarks.

Take a food tour.

Tampa has a diverse culinary scene, and several companies offer food tours to help you sample some of the city’s best food. From Cuban cuisine to seafood to Southern comfort food, there’s something for everyone to enjoy on a Tampa food tour.

Things to do in Tampa for free

Tampa is a great city to visit on a budget, with many free things to see and do. Here are a few ideas:

Take a walk along the Tampa Riverwalk.

The Tampa Riverwalk is a 2.6-mile scenic walkway that winds along the Hillsborough River. It’s a great place to take a walk, run, or bike ride and enjoy the views of the city skyline and the river.

Visit Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.

Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park is an 8-acre park in downtown Tampa’s heart. The park offers a variety of free activities, including concerts, movies, and festivals. There’s also a playground, splash pad, and dog park.

Visit the Tampa Museum of Art.

The Tampa Museum of Art offers free admission on the first Thursday of every month. The museum has a collection of over 3,000 works of art, including paintings, sculptures, and photographs.

Visit the Henry B. Plant Museum.

The Henry B. Plant Museum offers free admission on the second Tuesday of every month. The museum is housed in a beautifully restored hotel built in the late 19th century.

Visit the Florida Aquarium.

The Florida Aquarium offers free admission on the third Tuesday of every month. The aquarium has exhibits on all aspects of Florida’s marine life.

Take a walk through Ybor City.

Ybor City is a historic neighborhood in Tampa known for its Cuban culture and vibrant nightlife. Ybor City has many shops and restaurants, and you can often find free live music.

Visit the Tampa Public Library.

The Tampa Public Library has a variety of free programs and events for all ages. You can also check out books, movies, and music for free.

Visit a local park.

This city has many beautiful parks, including Bayshore Boulevard, Lettuce Lake Park, and Lowry Park Zoo. You can enjoy a picnic, play frisbee, or relax and enjoy the scenery.

Things to do in Tampa at night

This city is a vibrant one with a lot to offer at night. Here are a few ideas for things to do:

Catch a show at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts.

The Straz Center is a world-class performing arts center that hosts a variety of shows throughout the year, including Broadway musicals, concerts, and dance performances.

See a game at Amalie Arena.

Amalie Arena is home to the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team. It’s also a popular venue for concerts and other events.

Visit Ybor City.

Ybor City is a historic neighborhood in Tampa known for its Cuban culture and vibrant nightlife. Ybor City has many bars, clubs, and restaurants; you can often find live music.

Take a walk along the Tampa Riverwalk.

The Tampa Riverwalk is a 2.6-mile scenic walkway that winds along the Hillsborough River. It’s a great place to take a walk, run, or bike ride and enjoy the views of the city skyline and the river.

Visit a rooftop bar.

Tampa has several rooftop bars that offer stunning views of the city. Some popular rooftop bars include Topgolf Tampa, Ulele, and The Birchwood.

Go to a concert or comedy show.

Tampa is a popular destination for concerts and comedy shows. Several venues in the city host these events, including the Amalie Arena, the Florida Theatre, and the Tampa Improv.

Try your luck at the casino.

Tampa has several casinos, including the Hard Rock Casino Tampa and the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa.

Go to a sporting event.

Tampa has several professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Tampa Bay Rays. You can catch a game at a city’s stadiums or arenas.

Fun things to do in Tampa, Florida

Tampa, Florida, is a vibrant city with something to offer everyone. Whether you’re looking for thrills, culture, or a relaxing getaway, you will surely find it in Tampa. Here are a few of the top things to do in this exciting city:

Visit Busch Gardens Tampa Bay:

Busch Gardens is a world-class theme park with thrilling rides, animal encounters, and live shows. It’s the perfect place for a family adventure or a fun day with friends.

Explore the Florida Aquarium:

The Florida Aquarium is a great place to learn about the marine life of Florida and the world. It features a variety of exhibits, including a coral reef tank, a shark tunnel, and an interactive touch tank.

Take a walk along the Tampa Riverwalk:

The Tampa Riverwalk is a scenic 2.6-mile path that winds along the Hillsborough River. It’s a great place to take a walk, bike, or rollerblade, and it offers stunning views of the city skyline and the river.

Visit Ybor City:

This City is a historic neighborhood in Tampa that’s known for its Cuban culture, lively nightlife, and delicious food. Be sure to try a Cuban sandwich while you’re there!

Catch a baseball game at Tropicana Field:

Tropicana Field is home to the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team. It’s a great place to catch a game and cheer on the home team.

Tips for traveling to Tampa

This city is a popular tourist destination, and for good reason. It has something to offer everyone, from world-class theme parks to stunning beaches to vibrant nightlife. If you’re planning a trip to Tampa, here are a few tips to help you make the most of your visit:

Choose the right time to visit:

Tampa has a subtropical climate, with hot and humid summers and mild winters. The best time to visit is during the shoulder seasons (spring and fall), when the weather is pleasant and the crowds are smaller.

Book your accommodations in advance:

Tampa is a popular tourist destination, so it’s important to book your accommodations in advance, especially if you’re traveling during peak season. There are a variety of hotels and resorts to choose from, so you’re sure to find something to fit your budget and needs.

Purchase a Tampa CityPASS:

If you plan on visiting multiple attractions in Tampa, consider purchasing a Tampa CityPASS. It offers discounted admission to some of the city’s top attractions, including Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, the Florida Aquarium, and ZooTampa at Lowry Park.

Get around:

Tampa is a relatively easy city to get around. A variety of transportation options are available, including public buses, taxis, and ride-sharing services. If you’re planning on renting a car, book it in advance, especially if you’re traveling during peak season.

Pack for the weather:

Tampa has a subtropical climate, so be sure to pack for hot and humid weather. Bring light clothing, sunscreen, and a hat to protect yourself from the sun. If you’re planning on swimming, be sure to bring a swimsuit and towel.

Try the local cuisine:

This city is known for its diverse cuisine, which includes Cuban, Spanish, and American influences. Be sure to try some local favorites, such as the Cuban sandwich, deviled crab, and Gasparilla cake.

Have fun!:

This is a vibrant and exciting city with something to offer everyone. Be sure to relax and enjoy your time in this beautiful city.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Tampa offers a diverse array of experiences, from scenic waterfronts to rich cultural activities. Whether you’re into relaxation or adventure, Tampa’s historical sites, dining options, and various activities cater to all interests. Seize the opportunity to explore this coastal gem, make lasting memories, and engage in the best things to do in Tampa. Plan your trip now for an unforgettable journey!

FAQ

Q1. What is Tampa famous for?

Tampa is famous for its beautiful beaches, rich Cuban and Latin culture, and the annual Gasparilla Pirate Festival.

Q2. How can I spend 3 days in Tampa?

You can explore Tampa’s museums, enjoy water activities at the bay, and visit historic Ybor City during a 3-day trip to Bay City.

Q3. How do you spend a day in Tampa?

A day in Tampa can include visiting Busch Gardens, the Florida Aquarium, and enjoying Cuban sandwiches in Ybor City.

Q4. How expensive is Tampa?

Tampa’s cost of living is moderate, with affordable housing and reasonable prices for dining and entertainment.

Q5. How many cities are in Tampa?

Tampa is a single city located in Hillsborough County, Florida. There are no separate cities within this city.