The city of Tampa, Florida, offers a great mix of culture, arts, entertainment, sports, and eclectic cuisines to satisfy travelers of all ages and interests. Many attractions are within a short walk of each other and the city is also relatively close to the popular beaches of Clearwater and St. Petersburg.
Must-See in Tampa
Get your full dose of marine life at The Florida Aquarium, with both inside and outside exhibits to delight visitors of all ages no matter what Mother Nature has in store. Next, continue the animal parade at Lowry Park Zoo, voted no. 1 in the country by Parents Magazine. If you are looking for a little more excitement and adventure, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay offers thrills great and small spread across a 335-acre African-themed animal theme park.
Where to Stay in Tampa
If cost is a concern, check hotel prices downtown or near the airport. Travelers of all ages, from singles to families with children, will enjoy all that downtown Tampa has to offer. Hotels in this area provide convenient access to the aquarium and Channelside Bay Plaza, which often boasts live music in the central courtyard. Countless restaurants and watering holes make it easy to grab a good meal or quench your thirst, and there's always something to do no matter what the weather is like.
Best and Worst Time to Go to Tampa
Florida can be extremely hot in the summer, so keep this in mind if you have any health conditions or strong preference for climate. The best and most affordable time to visit Tampa tends to be from September through December. January through April can also be a good time to visit, but expect to pay more.
Where to Get Lost in Tampa
The Tampa Riverwalk is a fun place to spend a few hours just strolling, browsing, and noshing. The Riverwalk is a hub bringing together Tampa's cultural attractions as well as serene parks and the city's business community. Here you will find numerous boats and boating attractions, sports arenas, museums, restaurants, playgrounds, and splash zones.
The Best Deal in Tampa
A tour of Tampa's Yuengling Brewery is a must for anyone who enjoys lager and free tours. The best value may be the beer samples after the tour.
Transportation in Tampa
The city of Tampa is very well connected with public transportation, with options ranging from buses, historic TECO Line Streetcars, and Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority's Intown Trolley Line to cabs and even water taxis and open-air, electric vehicles offering eco-friendly transportation services. Many areas are also safe for biking and walking to gain a little exercise between attractions.
Getting in from Tampa International Airport
Several charter bus companies operate from the airport, and the public Hillsborough Area Regional Transit bus stop is located at the Red Baggage Claim. HART Route 30 provides access between the airport and downtown Tampa at Kennedy Boulevard, Whiting Street (connection to TECO Line Streetcar System) and Marion Transit Center. You can also make reservations with shared passenger van services to many of the area's hotels and stops within Pinellas County, Hillsborough County, and Pasco/Hernando Counties, or simply hail a taxi. A wide variety of rental car companies are also ready and waiting to get to your destination conveniently and independently of the public transportation system.
Local Tip for Visitors to Tampa
Use caution if you decide to check out the nightlife in Ybor City, one of Tampa's earliest neighborhoods with a rich history in the cigar manufacturing trade. This neighborhood has a lot to offer in bars, clubs, food, and fun, but it's also best enjoyed as part of a larger group and with a wary eye. Crime does tend to occur here more than other parts of Tampa from time to time.
Author's bio: Kathryn M. Van Druff is a freelance writer, marketing specialist, and owner of the company Dances with Words. She enjoys traveling with her family and exploring new cities and locations.