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My time in Tampa is winding down for the season and Chicago will be home until next winter. I realized that I had not yet shared some of my favorite things to do there. Tampa is a vibrant and growing city that has lots to keep you busy. Whether you are a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, or just looking for some fun in the sun, Tampa has a lot going for it.
Here are five things you can’t miss on your visit.
5. Visit the Tampa Riverwalk
The 2.4-mile pedestrian trail runs along the Hillsborough River and offers stunning views of the city skyline. The Tampa Riverwalk is home to several attractions, including the Tampa Museum of Art and the Florida Aquarium.
Can’t Miss: Stay for the evening to see the “Lights on Tampa 2012.” Five of the eleven downtown bridges were lit up then and they now provide beautiful colors over the water.
Address: The Tampa Riverwalk begins at the corner of Beneficial Drive and Channelside Drive.
4. Spend a day at Busch Gardens
This popular theme park is home to a variety of roller coasters and a zoo with over 2,700 animals. Visitors can also enjoy Busch Gardens‘ live entertainment, food, and shopping in this theme park. Parts are showing its age, but it’s cheaper and closer than Disney World.
Can’t Miss: Check out the 335 acres that house Busch Gardens’ vast collection of animals. The lorikeets are my favorite (but the nectar the park sells for you to feed them is way overpriced).
Address: 10165 McKinley Drive, Tampa, FL 33612
3. Explore the Ybor City Historic District
This historic district is known for its rich cultural heritage and vibrant nightlife. Visitors can explore the many restaurants, bars, and shops that line the streets, and learn about the area’s history at the Ybor City State Museum. If you’re into cigars, this is the place for you. The former “Cigar Capital of the World” has many shops selling them here. There is also a thriving LGBTQ+ community here in the GaYBOR district around 7th Avenue and 15th Street.
Can’t Miss: Hit up the shops on 7th Avenue for unique gifts.
Address: 1600 East 8th Avenue, Suite E-109, Tampa, FL 33605 (this is the address for the visitor’s center)
2. Dine in Hyde Park
I’m a little biased because I live in this neighborhood, but you’ll find some of the best meals here. My picks include Timpano (review here), Babushka’s (review here), Forbici Modern Italian (review here), and Chanta (review here). When you’re done eating, the neighborhood offers lots of shopping and places for a cocktail.
Can’t Miss: Grab a cupcake from the ATM at Sprinkles and people watch from one of the nearby tables.
1. Hit the Beach
You need to leave city limits for the best beaches, but it’s worth the drive with some of the country’s best a short distance away. My favorites include Fort De Soto Park, Honeymoon Island State Park, and Sunset Beach. Clearwater Beach is also hugely popular with families and 20-somethings (it’s a bit too crowded and boisterous for my taste).
Can’t Miss: Linger once the crowds die down for spectacular sunsets.
Address: The beaches above can be found in St. Petersburg, Dunedin, and Clearwater Beach.
Tampa offers a diverse range of activities and attractions for visitors of all ages and interests. From thrill rides to shopping to fun in the sun, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant Gulf Coast city.
Bonus Hotel Pick: The Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay is located on a 35-acre nature preserve overlooking the beautiful waters of Tampa Bay. This stunning property offers guests tons of amenities and breathtaking views, including a multiple swimming pools, a boardwalk through the mangroves, and several dining options. The spacious casitas are my favorite and they’re tucked away from the main hotel with koi ponds and tennis courts nearby. It’s just minutes from downtown Tampa and Tampa International Airport, the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay is the perfect destination for business travelers, families, and anyone looking for a luxurious getaway. (My full review can be found here.)
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