15 Best Things To Do in Tampa, Florida

Tampa city by the Tampa Bay on the Mexican Gulf’s coast, was once upon a time the sole domain of Seminole Indians. It combines history and contemporary Floridian culture in the right proportions. Its northern part is marked by alligator-peppered waterways and the Hillsborough River’s wild bayous, adding to its natural beauty. Enjoy its Riverwalk downtown and savor some classic street food. Spend your evenings at the city’s happening eateries, famous for their gulf seafood, watch dolphins in the bay, or visit some of its enthralling museums. Rest assured, you will never find a dull moment when traveling in this part of the sunshine state! So the following are the best places to visit in Tampa.

Tampa, FloridaImage Source: wikimedia.org

Let's explore Tampa points of interest and 15 best things to do in Tampa:

1. Experience some exotic marine life at Florida Aquarium

Florida Aquarium, TampaImage Source: wikipedia.org

A must visit for marine life lovers, the Florida Aquarium hosts exhibitions on Florida’s wetland habitats that include live alligators, otters and Burmese pythons. There are also separate sections on shoreline ecosystems. Exploring the wonders of the ocean by taking a walk in the 60-foot-long coral garden with its mind-boggling collection of colorful underwater plants and tropical fish; and participate in the ‘Swim with Fish’ excursions in the Dry Tortugas reefs as also in shark dives that happen regularly here. Most thrilling! 

2. Go wild at the Busch Gardens

One of America’s iconic theme parks, the Busch Gardens was commissioned in 1959 and covers over 136 hectares of land in Tampa’s northern fringes. Known for its wildlife exhibitions and rollercoaster rides, the park is unique because here, animals roam about freely in a mocked-up environment of their actual habitat. You get to see everything from giraffes, rhinos, hippos and elephants to the bright Caribbean flamingos. Kids would simply enjoy the Moroccan-themed Gwazi ride, loop-de-loops and jungle zip lines.

3. Study Tampa’s history at the Tampa Bay History Center

Located in Channelside District, this institution would certainly charm any history lover. Its permanent exhibits showcase the early exploration of the country by Europeans as also relics of the Spanish conquistadores’ arrival in Florida. Relics of the Seminole tribe and numerous historical documents are to be seen here. 

4. Sip away at the Tampa Bay Brewing Company

This brewer is known for its craft ale since 1995 and is one of Tampa’s most commercially successful microbrews. It has 8 regular labels to its credit as also numerous seasonal tipples on offer. Gulp its Iron Rat Imperial Stout and hop-based beers like Old Elephant Foot IPA and feel the difference. It runs two houses in Westchase and Ybor City. Not to be missed. 

5. Cool off at Adventure Island

Adjacent to Busch Gardens is Adventure Island, a water park that helps you cool off when the sun gets hot. Its tropical ambience includes lagoons that resemble the Deep South bayous, water slides, artificial beaches with sands from the Gulf of Mexico. The Caribbean-style Calypso Coaster flume with its numerous turns is another great attraction. The place is also known for its Surfside Café that serves some great cocktails and beers.

6. Walk on the wild side at Big Cat Rescue

tourist attractions in TampaImage Source: wikimedia.org

This is a rescue facility that conserves and cares for all the big cats. Its current population is over 80 tigers, leopards and lions which have been rescued from circuses, game hunters or neglectful owners. Take the sanctuary’s full day tour to see the big cats roaming freely in their natural habitat. You can also opt for a night safari as also a guided photo tour. 

7. Walk down the Tampa Riverwalk

Curving through Tampa downtown’s heart where the Hillsborough River meets the Garrison Channel, Tampa Riverwalk is a lively promenade and the nerve center of Cigar City’s cultural and local action. Studded with fountains and play pools, this sunny strip is ideal for picnicking or enjoying some great Tex-Mex food or typically American macaroni & cheese. Visit its numerous museums or shop at the Channelside Bay Plaza. The choice is entirely yours. 

8. Visit Lowry Park Zoo

Ideal for family outings, the Lowry Park Zoo showcases exotic critters as also other animals. Its Asian Gardens with their collection of the rare Komodo dragon, white tigers and sloth bears is a sure hit with the kids. The enclosure called Safari Africa has meerkats and African penguins while Primate World has you in splits with lemurs swinging from tree to tree, colobuses and lion tamarins. Get close to endangered turtles or enjoy the feeding programs and rides. 

9. Stroll down the streets of Ybor City

Steeped in history, Ybor City was once America’s cigar factory. It was crowded with immigrants who flocked here during the late 19th century to make cigars in the area’s famous red-brick houses. These cigar mills have now been converted into swanky nightclubs, cocktail joints, bars, microbreweries and classy restaurants. Visit its numerous art galleries and industrial-chic builds on 7th Avenue. Definitely the area for a night out on the town. 

10. Marvel at the sheer expanse of University of South Florida’s Tampa campus

This is currently home to over 30,000 students and has to its credit more than 160 buildings. Some buildings are also home to some of the most famous research institutions in Florida, particularly in the sphere of architecture. You can take a daily tour where student guides take you around or just stroll around the beautiful, fountain-dotted campus with its racquetball courts. The Hillsborough River meandering through it is yet another sight to behold. 

11. Experience the natural beauty of Hillsborough River State Park

Hillsborough River State Park - ImageImage Source: wikimedia.org

Located on Tampa’s northern edge, this State Park comprises numerous wetlands and vine-draped bayous, thick mangrove vegetation and gigantic oak trees. You will simply be charmed at the sight of so many tropical birds and might even get to see a real river alligator hitting the water. Ideal for canoeing, biking, hiking on its Wetlands Restoration Trail and seeing relics of Seminole Wars at its on-site center. 

12. Taste some delectable Peruvian cuisine

Visiting Tampa and not trying some authentic Peruvian cuisine at Happy Fish Tampa Authentic Peruvian Cuisine is sheer sacrilege. Its chuletas fritas of grilled pork, potato and chicken stew, fresh ensaladas, and thick Palomilla steaks are to die for. As you dine, sip on some great Latin American that complement the mind-blowing food on offer. 

13. Go oyster shucking at Oystercatchers

Seafood lovers would do well to pay a visit here. Located on the edge of the Old Tampa Bay, this upscale seafood bistro gives you a grand view of the city. Must eats include hollandaise-doused oysters, scallop and shrimp fritters, coconut-flavored key lime mussels, yellowfin tuna, mahi-mahi cuts and the lobster mac & cheese. 

14. Watch the bewitching designs of the Henry B. Plant Museum

It’s a typically grand Victorian mansion with old English, Oriental and Baroque motifs and houses a fascinating collection that chronicles the city’s rise as one of Florida’s top tourist destinations over the past two centuries. You will find its manicured gardens, carved fountains and honorific statues most enchanting. A colossal canon dating back to the Spanish-American War adds to its historical charm. 

15. Watch dolphins play at Tampa Bay

If you’re into watching wild dolphins frolicking around, here’s where you belong. Even though Tampa Bay bustles with commercial shipping activities, it is also a veritable storehouse of marine wildlife, particularly dolphins. You can take tours on charming two-tiered catamarans that take you to the bay’s coastal contours. Delight at the dolphins frolicking in the waters, watch the seagulls soar and cry while also breathing in some fresh salt air. Truly rejuvenating.

Author
Author: Bhoomi Shah
If life is a journey, let me capture its every frame. This line aptly describes my dreams and aspirations. An ardent traveller, a foodie by birth, a lover of life and a simple person at heart.My dream is to travel every corner of the world and my jo...

Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Tampa, Florida

Must see places in Tampa ranked on popularity. Here is the complete list of Tampa tourist attractions & points of interest.

  1. # 1 of 2363 Things To Do in Tampa | Added 3231 times in trip plans
    Busch Gardens

    Tags: Trail, Garden, Park, Wildlife Park

    Address: 10165 North Malcolm McKinley Drive, Tampa, FL 33612, United States

    Timings: 10:00 am - 06:00 pm Details

    Tampa’s rightly famous for as a theme park destination, and this is one of the two main reasons (the other is Adventure Park). With about 4.5 million visitors every year, this Africa themed park...Read more

  2. # 2 of 2363 Things To Do in Tampa | Added 1592 times in trip plans
    Florida Aquarium

    Tags: Beach, Garden, Aquarium, Play

    Address: 701 Channelside Drive, Tampa, FL 33602, United States

    Timings: 09:30 am - 05:00 pm Details

    The second non-profit wonderworld that is Tampa’s claim to fun fame, the Aquarium is home to about 20,000 plants and animals, most of which are from around Florida, but quite a few also from the...Read more

  3. # 3 of 2363 Things To Do in Tampa | Added 1023 times in trip plans
    Lowry Park Zoo

    Tags: Wildlife Sanctuary , Park, Zoo, Educational Site

    Address: 1101 West Sligh Avenue, Tampa, FL 33604, United States

    Timings: 09:30 am - 05:00 pm Details

    63 acres of family friendly, educational non-profit goodness that allows you to get up close and personal with the animals this is one of the best zoos in the country. Focused on education, recreation...Read more

  4. # 4 of 2363 Things To Do in Tampa | Added 1555 times in trip plans
    Sunshine Skyway Bridge

    Tags: View Point, River, Bridge

    Address: Sunshine Skyway Bridge, Tampa, FL

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    There’s something about bridges that captures the imagination. It’s probably the whole “connecting borders and ending separations thing”. The Skyway Bridge’s own arrestin...Read more

  5. # 5 of 2363 Things To Do in Tampa | Added 959 times in trip plans
    Tampa Electric Manatee Viewing Center

    Tags: Beach, Garden, Wildlife Park, Exhibition

    Address: 6990 Dickman Road, Apollo Beach, FL 33572, United States

    Timings: 10:00 am - 05:00 pm Details

    This attraction developed as a nice bit of serendipity. In 1986, when the Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach began delivering power to Tampa, it began to take in water from Tampa Bay to keep cool....Read more

  6. # 6 of 2363 Things To Do in Tampa | Added 1346 times in trip plans
    Ybor City

    Tags: Bar, Museum, Walking Area, Historical Site

    Address: Ybor, Tampa, FL

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    Today it’s an entertainment and nightlife neighbourhood, but the Ybor’s origins lie in the cigar factories here that once produced millions of cigarettes, and the immigrant labourers who m...Read more

  7. # 7 of 2363 Things To Do in Tampa | Added 700 times in trip plans
    Adventure Island

    Tags: Beach, Island, Water Body, Park

    Address: 10001 North Malcolm McKinley Drive, Tampa, FL 33612, United States

    Timings: 10:00 am - 07:00 pm Details

    Adventure island is  30 acres of seasona water park in Tampa, located next to Busch Gardens Tampa. Adventure island tampa water speed and sun through thrilling corkscrews, slides, wavepools ...Read more

  8. # 8 of 2363 Things To Do in Tampa | Added 653 times in trip plans
    Lettuce Lake Park

    Tags: Park, Landmark, Observatory, Entertainment

    Address: 6920 East Fletcher Avenue, Tampa, FL 33637, United States

    Timings: 08:00 am - 08:00 pm Details

    Tampa’s favourite weekend nature and recreation getaway destination does not pull any punches! Firstly, it is quintessentially Floridian. It’s 240 acres of natural lands run through a fres...Read more

  9. # 9 of 2363 Things To Do in Tampa | Added 766 times in trip plans
    Bayshore Boulevard

    Tags: View Point, Biking Trail, Walking Area, Historical Site

    Address: Bayshore Boulevard, Tampa, FL

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    This simple and unassuming looking walk will surprise you with all the pleasures it has in store. It’s actually a great way to get to know Tampa. At 7.2 km long, it’s the longest continuou...Read more

  10. # 10 of 2363 Things To Do in Tampa | Added 422 times in trip plans
    Plant Hall

    Tags: History Museum, Outdoors, Observatory, Educational Site

    Address: 401 West Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33606, United States

    Timings: 10:00 am - 05:00 pm Details

    In the south wing of Plant Hall (itself a U.S. National Historic Landmark), this the Henry B Plant museum covers several interesting aspects of the erstwhile 500 room Tampa Bay Hotel (which was hosted...Read more

  11. # 11 of 2363 Things To Do in Tampa | Added 589 times in trip plans
    International Plaza And Bay Street

    Tags: Hotel, Outdoors, Observatory, Food And Drinks

    Address: 2223 North Westshore Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33607, United States

    Timings: 10:00 am - 09:00 pm Details

    The mall, which borders the airport, was opened in 2001 to provide tourists and locals with an upscale dining and shopping location. It’s 200 specialty stores and 15 restaurants quickly made it ...Read more

  12. # 12 of 2363 Things To Do in Tampa | Added 704 times in trip plans
    Tampa Museum Of Art

    Tags: Art Museum, Museum, Observatory, Educational Site

    Address: 120 West GasparillaPlaza, Tampa, FL 33602, United States

    Timings: 11:00 am - 07:00 pm Details

    "An electronic jewelbox box sitting on a glass pedestal" – that’s what the museum is supposed to look like. Its clean and minimalist interior, beautifully organised, keeps the visitor&rsqu...Read more

  13. # 13 of 2363 Things To Do in Tampa | Added 371 times in trip plans
    Ss American Victory Mariners' Memorial And Museum Ship

    Tags: Museum, Observatory, Educational Site

    Address: 705 Channelside Drive, Tampa, FL 33602, United States

    Timings: 10:00 am - 05:00 pm Details

    The only floating maritime museum in Florida is also one of the only four fully operational American WWII ships. Frequently touted as a national treasure, the self-guided tour of the ship will lead yo...Read more

  14. # 14 of 2363 Things To Do in Tampa | Added 364 times in trip plans
    Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park

    Tags: Outdoors, Waterfront, Garden, Park

    Address: East Zack Street Tampa, FL 33602

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    The park is one of the most exciting places in Tampa! It’s not anyone stand out feature, but a host little pleasures that make it an absolute delight to visit. 8 acres and eco friendly, the park...Read more

  15. # 15 of 2363 Things To Do in Tampa | Added 543 times in trip plans
    Ybor City State Museum

    Tags: Museum, Observatory, Educational Site

    Address: 1818 East 9th Avenue, Tampa, FL 33605, United States

    Timings: 09:00 am - 05:00 pm Details

    Part of the essential TampaNational Historic Landmark District, this converted state museum has one especially famous legacy – the Cuban bread. While Tampa contests’ Miami as the true sour...Read more

Activities And Tours

Explore these activities and tours for awesome experiences in Tampa:

  • Save 4% Sunset Cruise from Clearwater
    Sunset Cruise from Clearwater55 Reviews

    Duration: 1 Hrs 45 Mins

    On this 1 hour and 45 minute sunset cruise from Clearwater, explore the beautiful waters of the Gulf of Mexico while soaking ...

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  • Save 4% Clearwater Dolphin-Watching Tour
    Clearwater Dolphin-Watching Tour54 Reviews

    Duration: 1 Hrs 45 Mins

    Go in search of bottlenose dolphins on this 2-hour cruise from Floridas Clearwater Bay to the beautiful, emerald-green waters...

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  • Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
    Busch Gardens Tampa Bay25 Reviews

    Duration: Flexible

    Busch Gardens Africa in Tampa is the ultimate family adventure park, featuring an unparalleled combination of animal encounte...

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  • The Florida Aquarium in Tampa Bay
    The Florida Aquarium in Tampa Bay14 Reviews

    Duration: 1 Days

    Explore and learn about more than 20,000 sea creatures at the Florida Aquarium in downtown Tampa. Touch a bamboo shark or a s...

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