Tampa is a vibrant city on Florida’s Gulf Coast with a rich history and diverse cultural attractions. It offers family-friendly activities, outdoor adventures, and an art scene for visitors to explore.
From the world-renowned Busch Gardens to the tranquil Hillsborough River State Park, Tampa offers tourists ample opportunities to create memorable experiences. This article explores 10 outstanding tourist spots in Tampa for travelers to enjoy.
These selected destinations in Tampa offer thrilling roller coaster rides, serene nature reserves, and more. This article provides insights into each attraction’s unique features and practical information such as location details and visiting hours for smooth travel planning.
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
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Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, managed by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, is a hallmark of adventure in Tampa, Florida. Spread across 335 acres, this amusement park is famous for its thrilling roller coasters, including SheiKra, Tigris, Montu, and Kumba, and wildlife exhibits that provide a unique safari experience. The park is segmented into themed areas such as Egypt, Congo, and Pantopia, each offering various attractions. For family-friendly entertainment, the Sesame Street Safari of Fun is a perfect choice. The Serengeti Plain exhibit allows visitors on guided tours to observe giraffes, zebras, rhinos, and more. A range of dining options is available, serving diverse cuisines. Seasonal events like Howl-O-Scream and Christmas Town add a festive spirit to the park’s lively atmosphere.
ZooTampa At Lowry Park
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ZooTampa at Lowry Park, accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), is a 63-acre wildlife sanctuary in Tampa, Florida. Home to over 1,300 animals from more than 330 species, the zoo is a haven for endangered or threatened species. Thematic exhibits such as Safari Africa, Wallaroo Station, Asian Gardens, Florida Wildlife Center, and Primate World transport visitors to different continents, each with indigenous wildlife. The zoo offers a variety of educational programs, events, camps, classes, and workshops for visitors of all ages.
A unique feature is the Florida Manatee and Aquatic Center, dedicated to the observation and learning of gentle sea cows. Dining options include cafes, snack stands, and a full-service restaurant. Behind-the-scenes tours unveil the daily routines of expert caretakers, providing a holistic and enlightening zoo experience.
The Florida Aquarium
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Located in downtown Tampa, The Florida Aquarium is a marine spectacle offering interactive and educational experiences. Housing a captivating variety of marine life from diverse global ecosystems, the aquarium allows visitors to explore coral reefs, watch playful river otters, and see sea turtles glide in pristine waters. Interactive exhibits extend beyond mere observation; touch tanks, behind-the-scenes tours, and animal encounters allow for a closer communion with marine life. The 4-D theater enhances the visit with a multisensory experience, enveloping guests with special effects. The Florida Aquarium advocates for conservation and environmental stewardship, inspiring visitors to cherish and protect the marine ecosystem. Dining options ensure a refreshing pause between the marine explorations, making The Florida Aquarium a well-rounded attraction for individuals and families alike.
Glazer Children’s Museum
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Glazer Children’s Museum, located downtown, spans 53,000 square feet filled with interactive exhibits crafted to ignite young minds. With over 170 hands-on activities across two floors, this museum is a haven for curious young learners. Exhibits such as ‘Engineers’ Workshop,’ ‘KidsPort,’ and ‘Water’s Journey’ blend fun with science, nurturing creativity and problem-solving skills. Throughout the year, the museum hosts various special events, workshops, and camps, offering enriched learning experiences beyond regular visits. This museum is an essential stop for families visiting Tampa, promoting a lifelong love of learning in children.
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Adjacent to Busch Gardens, the 30-acre Adventure Island water park offers a mix of exhilarating rides and aquatic fun. Guests can opt for heart-pounding slides like Colossal Curl, Vanish Point, and Aruba Tuba or a serene float along Rambling Bayou. Young adventurers have Splash Attack and Fabian’s FunPort to look forward to, designed for safe, age-appropriate fun. With a range of dining options and locker rentals available onsite, this waterpark guarantees a day full of enjoyment for tourists.
For younger guests, Splash Attack and Fabian’s FunPort offer age-appropriate excitement within safe environments.
With ample dining options and locker rentals available onsite, this premier waterpark ensures a seamless day full of enjoyment for tourists visiting Tampa.
Tampa Bay History Center
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Situated along the scenic Riverwalk, the Tampa Bay History Center unveils the layered history of Florida’s west coast across 60,000 square feet and three floors. Permanent galleries explore many themes, from indigenous cultures to pirate legends and immigrant communities. The center features a replica of a 1920s-era cigar store and hosts rotating temporary exhibitions, keeping the narrative fresh and engaging. With various educational workshops for all ages and an extensive library resource in the Touchton Map Library/Florida Center for Cartographic Education, this museum is a treasure trove for history enthusiasts.
Lettuce Lake Regional Park
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The 240-acre Lettuce Lake Regional Park in northeastern Tampa is a refuge for nature enthusiasts. Established in 1982, it offers a range of outdoor recreation and relaxation opportunities. Over three miles of nature trails beckon hikers and joggers, while a 3,500-foot boardwalk with an observation tower is a haven for birdwatchers. Canoe rentals are available for those keen on water activities, and picnic shelters provide a spot for outdoor meals. Playgrounds ensure children have a memorable adventure amidst Florida’s natural beauty. This park, surrounded by lush greenery, is an idyllic retreat for locals and tourists.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium
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Situated in Florida, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a hub for marine life education and interaction. Established in 1972, its mission revolves around rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing distressed marine animals. The aquarium gained worldwide recognition through Winter the Dolphin, known for her prosthetic tail, showcased in the ‘Dolphin Tale’ movies. Winter’s story of resilience continues to inspire countless individuals across the globe. Visitors have the opportunity to engage with a variety of marine species, including sea turtles and otters. Unique experiences such as dolphin encounters and trainer-for-a-day programs are available, blending education with entertainment, making it a cherished destination for those keen on marine conservation.
Big Cat Rescue
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Located in Tampa, Big Cat Rescue stands as a refuge for abused and abandoned big cats. This accredited sanctuary is home to over 50 majestic felines of diverse species, including lions, tigers, and leopards. Dedicated to the well-being of these magnificent creatures, the sanctuary also educates visitors on the challenges big cats face in captivity. Guided tours are available, providing a closer look at the animals while sharing information about their rescue, rehabilitation, and conservation. A visit to Big Cat Rescue not only supports the welfare of endangered species but also offers an enriching educational adventure amidst Florida’s lush landscape.
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Sunken Gardens, a historic botanical haven in Tampa, invites guests to a serene retreat adorned with lush landscapes and a tranquil ambiance. Boasting over a century of history, it is one of Florida’s oldest living museums. Across the four-acre sanctuary, visitors can wander along winding paths amidst vibrant tropical plants, cascading waterfalls, and sparkling pools.
The gardens are home to over 50 bird species and rare plant specimens, serving as a vibrant display for birdwatchers and plant enthusiasts. Educational and conservation programs are conducted within this natural splendor, aiming to inspire and engage future generations in environmental stewardship.
Situated at Tampa’s Riverwalk’s northern end, Ulele celebrates the region’s indigenous influences through its culinary offerings. The menu marries modern fare with traditional flavors native to the area, presenting a one-of-a-kind dining experience. The setting at Ulele combines modern elegance with rustic charm, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere for diners. A dedication to sourcing fresh, local ingredients is a hallmark of Ulele, ensuring a delightful authenticity in every dish. Ulele extends beyond mere dining, offering patrons a flavorful voyage through Tampa’s rich culinary heritage.
An enduring emblem of Tampa’s Ybor City, Columbia Restaurant, established in 1905, holds the distinction of being Florida’s oldest restaurant. It serves a broad spectrum of dishes deeply rooted in Spanish and Cuban culinary traditions in an ambiance that echoes charming old-world aesthetics. Flamenco dance performances augment the lively atmosphere, transporting diners to a quaint, nostalgic epoch while they savor exquisite meals. The amalgamation of culture, history, and delectable cuisine renders Columbia Restaurant a cherished landmark in Tampa’s gastronomic scene.
Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe
Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe is a creative enclave in Tampa where culinary imagination meets folk art, offering a distinctive dining venue. With a diverse menu appealing to various tastes, it’s set in a cozy, art-infused ambiance. The cafe’s walls, adorned with eclectic folk art, provide a visually engaging narrative that enhances the dining experience. The menu at Ella’s offers a fusion of comfort food with a creative flair, promising a delightful culinary adventure. Live music performances further enrich the ambiance, making Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe a favored spot for both art enthusiasts and food lovers seeking a distinctive dining atmosphere.
Frequently Asked Questions
Tampa is famous for its beautiful beaches, sunny weather, and cultural attractions, including the Tampa Bay History Center and the Florida Aquarium.
Yes, there are plenty of things to do in Tampa, such as visiting Busch Gardens, exploring the Riverwalk, and taking a day trip to the nearby beaches.
Yes, Tampa is a great destination for tourists, with a wide range of attractions, museums, and outdoor activities, as well as a vibrant nightlife scene and diverse dining options.
Tampa has a unique blend of historical and cultural influences, from its Spanish and Cuban heritage to its modern, cosmopolitan vibe. The city also boasts a thriving arts and music scene and is home to several major sports teams.
Tampa is home to many highly-rated tourist destinations, encompassing Busch Gardens, The Florida Aquarium, and ZooTampa at Lowry Park, among others.
Families with young children can create lasting memories in Tampa with visits to attractions like Busch Gardens, The Florida Aquarium, and ZooTampa at Lowry Park, each offering unique experiences for youthful curiosity.
Indeed, Tampa offers a variety of complimentary attractions for visitors, including the scenic Tampa Riverwalk, the nature-rich Lettuce Lake Regional Park, and the informative Tampa Bay History Center.
Tampa beckons outdoor enthusiasts with its pristine beaches, expansive parks, and the picturesque Tampa Riverwalk for those keen on exploring the city’s natural and urban landscapes.
Museum enthusiasts can satiate their thirst for knowledge and culture in Tampa with visits to The Florida Aquarium, the Museum of Science & Industry, and the historically significant Henry B. Plant Museum.