Some of the best things to do in Tampa, FL starts and ends with family and friends. Then there are the occasion when one simply wants to be alone and do things on their own. For those looking for fun in the sun Tampa is surely the place to be. So many things to do and places to see. Located in one of the perfect spots the city is close to wonderful beaches, has a great history, and lots of culture. From Busch Gardens to the Florida aquarium there is no short on fun things to do.
Many of the locals tend to just want to relax and hang out while others enjoy the downtown action. You have the all-new Riverwalk, plenty of new parks, weekend events, cafes, and plenty more. If you love food the Seminole Heights area is a perfect place to start. If you are visiting you want to mix in the tourist stuff to do but don’t forget that some of the best things to do in Tampa are those most people don’t even talk about. Here’s our list of 21 things to do while visiting Tampa.
The Florida Aquarium is a must
If you visit the Bay Area one of the must things to put on your to do list is visiting the aquarium. Sure you hear it all the time, checkout the aquarium, but this one is really nice. From otters to Burmese pythons you will simply fall in love with this place. If you want to explore all the sea has to offer without getting on a boat the Florida Aquarium is your best bet. As they say you can go from tree level to sea level while being entertained and educated. There are over a thousand animals and plants. Though small is very nicely organized and gives a nice cross section of sea life and it’s definitely worth seeing with kids.
Take a Stroll on Tampa Riverwalk
If you want to do something free while getting your steps in the Tampa Riverwalk is your place. The Riverwalk is just over 2.5 miles long and runs adjacent to the Hillsborough River. You can walk, bike, rollerblade, or rent a scooter to travel up and down the trail. There is an abundant amount of things one can do while on Riverwalk. Enjoy public art, stores, shops, parks, and so much more. The trail runs into places like the Glazer Children’s Museum, Waterworks Park, the Florida Aquarium and more. The Riverwalk is known as a gem to the downtown Tampa area and hosts Winterfest, concerts, and exhibitions.
A Ride on the Wild Side at Busch Gardens
Busch Gardens spans 297 acres and is home to more than 12,000 animals, live shows, roller coasters, games, shops, and restaurants. When the weather is calm and you need something to keep you or the family busy for hours on end, this is the place to be. While Disney World is about an hour away Busch Gardens is actually cheaper! From rides to entertainment this is a place you will want to spend time at. Located just about 20 minutes from the downtown area it is open every day of the year though hours may vary. Remember that Busch Gardens is NOT Disney and offers a completely different type of experience.
Be Mesmerized at the Tampa Theatre
When it comes to making a grand entrance nothing does it quite as well as the Tampa Theatre. For those in town thinking this is not how I want to spend my time, please reconsider. The theatre is just an amazing place to see and walk through. The theater was built in the early 1900’s and has been considered one of the world’s more elaborate theaters. It still has the 1,400 Wurlitzer organ and on the ceiling you’ll find over ninety-nine bulbs. These bulbs were meant to represent the stars in the sky at night. Even if you can’t attend a show they offer a tour the we recommend also.
Drinks on us at the Tampa Bay Brewing Company
Ok not really! But the Tampa Bay Brewing Company is a place you should visit, if you are of age of course. The company first began creating craft ale in the early 1990’s. What started as a demand from locals wanting bespoke beers quickly turned into a successful microbrewery. Now they offer eight regular labels and numerous seasonal ales. If you are close to downtown checkout the Ybor City location. They have another tap house open in Westchase. Great atmosphere and there are plenty of tv’s if you want to catch a game. Be sure the sample the beer as well.
Armature Works and the Heights Public Market
Come one come all to the 22,000 square industrial market that has become one of Tampa’s go-to-spot for foodies and those looking for something to do. Formerly a storage facility its now a staple of the Heights area. With a booming real estate market times are changing and the Armature Works Height Market is setting the trend. There are a lot of dining options and in addition to all the eateries you will find a rooftop bar, retail shops and close access to Riverwalk.
Tampa Boat Tours for Water Lovers
If you are visiting Tampa one of the things you must do is take a boat tour around the bay. There just so many options to choose from that you can easily pencil something in. From half-day trips to dolphin cruises Tampa has it all. Honestly one of the best things to do in Tampa if you are visiting is to take a boat tour. The Wild Dolphin tour is amazing but departs from the Florida Aquarium. If you are going to be visiting the aquarium it is worth planning one of two 75 minute ride on the catamaran. There are plenty of other boat tours located throughout the area including the Tampa Fun Boat and Olde World Sailing Line for a more traditional sailing tour.
View Manatees in Apollo Beach
TECO offers a free viewing center for those interested in checking out the manatee. There is a 50-foot viewing tower that is located on the loop trail. Though there are plenty of places to go for animal lovers throughout Tampa this is probably one of the few that is FREE. The Tampa Electric Manatee Viewing Center is at the water plant where the manatees seek refuge from the cold waters. The warm water attracts the manatees and they are there for your viewing pleasure. Besides the manatees and viewing tower there is a mangrove exhibit as well as a butterfly garden.
A Day of Golf Never Hurt Anyone
Let’s face it, if you are going to be visiting Tampa chances are these are the ideal weather conditions for a round or two of golf. Tampa is one of the best places for golfing and one of the best courses around is TPC Tampa Bay. The 18-hole course seems to always get praised by golfers for the staff and the challenging course. A few other courses to consider are Saddlebrook Resort and Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Golf Resort.
For the Love of Big Cats
Big Cat Rescue should be on your list of things to do if you love cats and nature. This sanctuary allows you the time to get educated about tigers, cougars bobcats, house cats, lynx and more. There are more than 100 animals setting on the 67 acre complex. Home to more than 14 different species the Big Cat Rescue is a great place for those who just have a love for cats. They offer feeding and night tours if you want to see the cats while they are active, as most rest during the day. Big Cat Rescue is located about 15 miles northwest of downtown Tampa and great place to visit. However, please be aware that it can get a little pricey as entrance and costs range from $29 to $125 per person depending on what you want to do.
Blast into the Past at Tampa Bay History Center
Located in the wonderful and lively Channelside District the Tampa Bay History Center is the place for visitors and locals to go to learn the history of Tampa. Here you will find wonderful exhibits that talk about everything from the early days of Tampa including European exploration, past military conflicts, and even well preserved historical documents. Located on the Tampa Riverwalk the Tampa Bay History Center features interactive exhibits, theaters, and displays located on three floors. There is also a museum store and the Columbia Cafe that offers up waterfront dining.
Cool Times at Adventure Island Water Park
Located just a few steps away from Busch Gardens Tampa is the amazing Adventure Island Water Park. This is one great place to visit if you want to enjoy time out in the sun while staying cool. The tropical theme park has lagoons, slides, beaches and more. Trust us not only will you have fun but you will get your fill with all the amazing food options as well. This is a place where you can expect to spend at least 3-4 hours. This is a 30 acre park that offers a combination of high-speed thrills and a soothing Key West atmosphere. You can choose to race down rapids, or dig your feet into the sand and just relax all day.
Need More Things to Do in Tampa?
We know our list is short! But we also think that giving you too many things will lead you to spending more time figuring out where you want to go verses enjoying your time. Remember you are on vacation to have fun, have an adventure and relax when you can. There are more things to do while you are in Tampa but this list is sure to get you started off right.