15 Best Tampa Tourist Attractions
At the first look Tampa is nothing more than a business center with hundreds of corporate headquarters lining up its busy downtown streets. Look deeper and you will discover one of the best places to visit in Florida with great Tampa tourist attractions, Latin American influence, great beaches and buzzing nightlife.
1. Bush Gardens Tampa Bay – City’s signature attraction presents itself as a top rated amusement park, zoological gardens and safari tours all in one. Bush Gardens is frequented by over 4 million visitors annually to rides its six mega rollercoasters, a myriad of thrill rides and marvel at Florida native wildlife and animals from Africa and Asia. In addition, daily ice, dance, animal and theatrical shows are available for no extra charge besides regular admission price.
2. Adventure Island Tampa – Bush Garden’s own premier water park located next door to its famous cousin. Adventure Island is nothing to sneeze at encompassing a lazy river, a wavepool, 10 thrilling water slides, a plethora of activities for the entire family such as Splash Attack play zone, Paradise Lagoon activity area, Fabian’s Fun Port kiddie area and so much more.
3. Lowry Park Zoo – Award winning attraction to see if you have little ones curious to learn about various animals from all parts of the world. Almost 1500 animals from different world habitats are comfortably located at lush and picturesque Zoo grounds. The park is very safe and allows for upclose exploration of even of the most dangerous animals like tigers and lions. Explore Safari Africa animals, Australian continent represented by cute koalas, playful kangaroos and wallaby, apes at the Primate World exhibit and so much more. Lowry Zoo is also an amusement park offering great family ride and entertainment. On typically hot Florida days, your little ones can cool off in the water play area enjoying Manatee and Billabong Fountains.
4. Florida Aquarium – Among premiere Tampa tourist attractions located in a gorgeous Channelside district. Rated among the top 10 Aquariums in the United States, it features several marine wildlife exhibits, including Coral Reef, Wetlands, Shores and Beaches and others. It’s not your regular Aquarium you can find anywhere in America, this one has an outdoor Water Fun Zone for kids to splash around on stifling Florida summer days while parents enjoy themselves in a nearby Cantina. Over 500 wild dolphins reside in the warm waters of Tampa Bay, see these amazing creatures and cute manatees as you take 90 minute long high speed catamaran tours. How about diving with the sharks at the Coral Reef exhibit? If you are at least 15 years old and have a scuba diving certificate, you can come up close with Ocean’s most ferocious predators. You can also swim with the fish and experience behind the scenes penguin tour to delight your kids or out of town guests.
5. Tampa Bay History Center – First class history museum focuses its exhibits on the heritage of Native American Tribes, South American settlers and early colonists that helped shape the present of Tampa. One of the signature areas of the museum is the history of mapmaking that spans almost 400 years back providing a nice insight of what our predecessors thought of the world. Columbia Café is a branch of highly acclaimed Columbia Restaurant in Tampa Ybor district serves authentic Spanish cuisine right at the museum.
6. Ybor City – There are plenty of free things to do in Tampa including walking tours and certain museums around historical Ybor City founded by immigrants from Cuba, Italy and Spain involved in trade of rolling cigars. Today Ybor City is a National Historic Landmark District that has received a lot of recognition all over the world. Dine at the authentic Latin American restaurants, dance till the morning at one of the hip nightclubs and shop till you drop at various retail stores and boutiques. Ybor City Museum holds a lovely selection of exhibits including a recreated home of a cigar worker. Cigar Museum has a nice collection of cigar manufacturing tools and memorabilia from the days long gone and a really expansive cigar shop.
7. Tampa Beaches – Definitely one of the top Tampa tourist attractions, a wide selection of Tampa Bay beaches are available not only in Tampa itself but along its neighboring cities, Clearwater and St Petersburg creating a natural problem of choice. Among area’s best beaches are Fort de Soto, Caladesi Island State Park and Clearwater beach regarded for their versatility, cleanliness and amenities.
8. Tampa Museum of Art – Located in the downtown waterfront area of Tampa, the cube shaped building of the museum is hard to miss. For your attention you will find a plethora of modern art pieces from the 20th century as well as artwork from Greek and Roman era. Tampa Museum of Art has incredible architectural design combining aluminum, glass and lights to create an illusion of a jewel box.
9. Museum of Science and Industry – This museum could become a great past time for visitors with children on a rainy or especially warm Tampa day. Lots of educational hands on exhibits are sure to evoke desire to learn principles of physics, biology, chemistry and more. IMAX educational movies and occasional blockbuster flicks are a welcoming addition to a day well spent in Tampa.
10. Glazer Children’s Museum – One of the top Tampa tourist attractions for kids proving once again that learning through play is the best way to introduce your child to the basics of science, history and art. Through over 170 interactive and fun exhibits your kids will learn how our bodies look on the inside at the Health Clinic, play firefighters at the Firehouse, brush up on their finance knowledge at the Central Bank exhibit and go “grocery shopping” at the Publix exhibit. Scheduling a birthday party or a special occasion is especially fun at the Glazer Children’s Museum in Tampa.
11. Tampa Restaurants – Tampa’s history and geographical location contributed to an overabundance of restaurants serving freshest seafood and Latin American flare dishes. Some of the best South American dishes could be tried at the historical Colombia Restaurant offering a menu full of authentic Latin entrees and tapas, wines, beers and scrumptious desserts. Columbia Restaurant’s ambiance, live flamenco shows and unsurpassed atmosphere have been making this place unique for over 100 years. If Italian food is your favorite, do not miss the taste of Bernini’s cooking up mouthwatering veal lasagna, Osso Buco and great fire grilled pizzas all in a gorgeous marble column interior. Ceviche Tapas Bar & Restaurant offers a myriad of Spanish tapas and appetizers using the freshest local seafood accompanied by live entertainment.
12. Tampa Nightlife – As any major resort in Florida, Tampa boasts a bustling nightlife scene. It’s heavily influenced by Latin American culture offering its sizzling music at a variety of clubs and dance joints around Ybor City and 7th Avenue. For happy hour choose nothing but Blue Martini place serving a sexy combination of eats, drinks and sultry music. Four Green Fields is your party destination if you love Irish pub culture, food and music. Hyde Park Café located in the hip SoHo area is a versatile place with great music ranging from Latin, hip hop and rock genres, tasty burgers and wings and unforgettable ambiance.
13. Weeki Wachee Springs State Park – If you are in search of unique Tampa tourists attractions, this is the one, though it will take a little bit of a drive getting to from downtown Tampa. Kids, adults and even teens will be mesmerized as they watch “real” mermaids perform underwater dances, tricks and swirls. One of the few mermaid theatres in the country offers seating for 400 guests at its state of the art submerged underwater stage. In addition to mermaid fun, guests love trying out various water sports activities like canoeing, kayaking, tranquil boat tours on the Weeki Wachee River, swimming and even scuba diving.
14. Yuengling Brewery – Learn how local beer is brewed by taking a tour guided by professional tour guides. At the end of the tour visitors get a chance to sample beer products for free, soft beverages are also provided to non-drinkers.
15. Hillsborough River State Park – For true nature lovers, there’s nothing better than a day or two spent camping or canoeing at Florida’s top State Park. An extensive system of trails presents endless opportunities for hiking or mountain biking.