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Situated on Florida’s west coast, Tampa invites visitors to experience its rich cultural attractions. The waterfront features stunning views, marvelous beaches and excellent museums. Tampa was transformed from a sleepy fishing village to a major tourist destination with the construction of Henry Plant’s railroad in the late 1800s. The city is now home to skyscrapers and professional sports teams. When planning your visit, consider this list of things to do in Tampa.
Going to the beach is one of the most popular Tampa activities. The area has more than 25 miles of sun-drenched, sandy beaches that are often ranked as some of the best in the country. Relax on the beach while listening to tropical rhythms or try your hand at a variety of adrenaline-pumping water sports, such as parasailing, jet skiing and scuba diving.
Busch Gardens is Tampa’s top family attraction. The 335-acre adventure park includes top entertainment, extreme thrill rides and a dazzling array of fascinating creatures from around the world. The zoo contains more than 2,000 animals, including several exotic and endangered species. View tigers, giraffes, white rhinos and zebras. The steel and wooden roller coasters provide an exhilarating mix of speed, dips and hairpin turns. There is a five-acre Sesame Street-themed playground with an assortment of rides and games for younger guests.
Northeast of downtown, historic Ybor City with a significant Cuban influence is Tampa’s lively Latin Quarter. This landmark district features antique brick sidewalks and wrought-iron balconies. Still filled with the aroma of its famous hand-rolled cigars and Cuban coffee, Ybor City is also home to trendy boutiques, ethnic eateries and a vibrant nightlife. The exhibits inside the Ybor City State Museum chronicle the history of this fascinating area and its influence on Tampa.
Adventure Island Water Park is another one of the family friendly things to do in Tampa. It is 30 fun-filled acres of twisting water slides, thrill rides and splash pools. Enjoy the platform jumps, cable drops and waterfalls of the 9,000-square-foot Paradise Lagoon as well as the Endless Surf wave pool. Get your adrenaline pumping on water slides like the Calypso Coaster, Caribbean Corkscrew and Riptide or relax in the Splash Attack play area.
Featuring an assortment of educational and entertaining shows, the Florida Aquarium is home to more than 20,000 aquatic plants and animals. Feel the commotion of the ocean as you journey to Madagascar and Caribbean coral reefs and come face to face with penguins, sharks and colorful fish from around the world. Older children can cool off in the Explore a Shore outdoor water fun park while toddlers enjoy the slides and mythical sea creature figures in the Shipwreck Shore play area.
Encompassing more than 56 acres of lush natural habitats, the Lowry Park Zoo houses a diverse collection of more than 2,000 animals from Africa, Asia, Australia and the United States. View koalas, African penguins, leopards and manatees. In addition to numerous interactive exhibits, you will have the opportunity to get up-close with several gentle animals at the touch pool and petting zoo as well as during special feedings.
Home to a Sauropod dinosaur skeleton, the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) is filled with interactive exhibits and displays. The largest museum of its kind in the southeast, MOSI invites visitors to explore the ocean, earth and outer space as they learn about the properties of physics and chemistry. Save on general admission to the museum and many other popular Tampa activities with a Tampa CityPASS discount coupon booklet.
Housed in the former Moorish Revival style Tampa Bay Hotel, the exhibits and displays of the Henry B. Plant Museum enable visitors to step back in time to America’s Gilded Age. Get a glimpse of the art, architecture and daily living prevalent at the turn-of-the-century. The museum also chronicles the life and work of railroad magnate Henry Bradley Plant as well as the history of the hotel and Tampa that includes Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders.
Running along the shore of Hillsborough Bay from MacDill Air Force Base to downtown Tampa, Bayshore Boulevard is the longest continuous sidewalk in the United States. The walkway is flanked by marvelous views of the water on one side and some of the city’s most luxurious homes on the other. The nearly flat pavement is ideal for walking, jogging, bicycling and rollerblading. Bayshore Boulevard is also the setting for the annual Gasparilla Parade each January.
While aboard a Calypso Queen Dinner Cruise, get a panoramic view of the city skyline from the water as it basks in the glow of a breathtaking sunset. As you sail on the tranquil waters of Clearwater Bay, enjoy a tropical dinner buffet and Caribbean-themed entertainment beneath the stars of the southern sky in a casual island atmosphere.