Things to Do in Tampa
The Big Guava
Tampa is the largest city in Western-Central Florida and traces its roots to the mining and shipping boom of the 1880s, when phosphate was discovered in this area. The city’s diverse history is linked to its varied demography, which includes Seminoles, Cubans, Spaniards, Italians, transplants from the Midwest and a sizeable immigrant population. Today, Tampa boasts of several museums, parks, restaurants and other points of interest, making the city an increasingly popular tourist destination. The ‘Riverwalk’ along the Hillsborough River is especially scenic with beautiful architecture and ample green spaces. The city is also known to contribute significantly to Southwest Florida’s nightlife, making Tampa one of the trendiest cities to visit for a buzzing holiday. To know more about the most exciting things to do in Tampa, do check out our list below.
Tampa’s aquarium is the best in the state and occupies an impressive area of 250,000 sq ft. The zoo is home to more than 20,000 aquatic plants and animals. The aquarium’s exhibits are designed to showcase the journey of a drop of water from Florida’s fresh water springs that makes its way to the Gulf of Mexico. Accordingly, expect to see large wetlands, a beach and a coral reef – the latter is built within a 500,000 US gallon-tank. The aquarium also conducts interactive touch experiences, where you can learn all about ocean animals and even pet them from a safe distance. Daredevil visitors are invited to dive with the sharks and swim with the fishes.
Roller coasters, animal encounters and various performances come together at this Africa-themed park. Climb aboard the Serengeti Railway – a replica steam engine that chugs through the park’s various themed zones. From visiting a palace and experiencing outdoor theatre at the ‘Marrakesh Zone’ to splashing through Stanleyville’s dive coaster (one of only two in America), to interacting with gorillas, alligators and chimpanzees in the Nairobi area, there’s something here for everyone! Don’t forget to stop by the ‘Cheetah Run’ or interact with orangutans on treetop adventure platforms, to add a dash of adrenaline-pumping excitement to your visit. The sheer diversity of experience at Busch Gardens, makes a visit here, as one of the best things to do in Tampa.
Tampa Museum of Art
The museum’s building is a stunning work of art as its exhibits – a dramatic cantilevered structure that appears to float above the ‘Curtis Hixon Park’. The award-winning building was designed by the famed architect- Stanley Saitowitz. Six galleries hold a stunning collection of Greek and Roman antiquities, in addition to contemporary photographs and new media exhibitions. Before you leave, do visit the ‘Sono Café’ for a delicious brunch and cocktails, as you gaze at the beautiful Hillsborough River.
Henry B Plant Museum
Named after Henry B Plant, who first brought the railroad to Tampa, the museum was originally built as a hotel by Mr. Plant himself. At the time, the hotel boasted of never-seen-before-luxuries, including private baths, telephones and electricity, while the European décor comprising of Venetian mirrors, French porcelain and exotic furnishings became the talk of the town. Today, you can view the hotel’s original splendor through the themed exhibits and recreated areas that offer a unique insight into the elite lifestyle of the hotel’s guests. Also learn about the hotel’s role in the Spanish-American War, when the building served as a base of operations for the US military.
Manatee Viewing Center
Manatees were first spotted in Tampa when the warm water from the city’s coal-fired power plant was discharged back into the bay. The warm water attracted a number of manatees, who flocked here when the bay’s temperature dipped below 68 degrees. Manatees can be spotted here from November through April, and visitors can also spot the occasional sighting of tarpons, rays and sharks. The center has a small snack-bar and picnic tables where you can catch your breath and refuel.
Museum of Science and Industry
This interactive museum has a wealth of hands-on exhibits for visitors of all ages. The ‘Imagination Playground’ area allows children to understand scientific concepts through play, as they engineer robots, cities and everything else in between with cubes, bricks and cogs. The 3D ‘Printing the Future’ exhibit is also another popular draw that shows visitors how this technology can be used to create a variety of objects. In addition to viewing the 3D printing process in person, you will also have the chance to draw with the world’s first 3D pen, build 3D printed Minecraft blocks and participate in an interactive story with 3D printed models. Step into the future at the ‘Mission: Moonbase’ exhibition, where you can explore a lunar base in the year 2070.
If you’re eager to explore Tampa’s many attractions and experiences, do take a look at Lookupfare’s OTA to find the best and cheapest flights to Tampa. You’ll be surprised at how painless and cost-effective planning your Tampa getaway can be.