Florida’s fastest growing Gulf Coast city and one of the state’s most popular holiday destinations, the area attracts a number of different kinds of vacationers – from those searching for a relaxing week in the sunshine to individuals who enjoy a vacation full of history and sightseeing to the sports fanatic who comes to the area in search of a good game or two. As cliché as it may sound, Tampa literally has something for everyone. And though the ideal itinerary may include a little of all the city’s best offerings, many visitors come to the area with specific goals in mind.
Fun in the Sun
Those who head here to enjoy the outdoors have any number of options to fill up their days. If you prefer to just relax on the beach, there’s plenty of opportunity for that, but if you’re ready to get the adrenaline pumping, you’ll find lots of activities to keep you moving as well.
- Just wanna get a tan? Head to one of the nearby beaches in the Greater Tampa Bay area, including St. Pete Beach, Clearwater Beach, Siesta Key, Longboat Key, Caladesi Island State Park, or Fort deSoto Park, just to name a few.
- Wanna get moving? Choose from any number of watersports typically found in the area. They include snorkeling, scuba diving, jet skiing, boating, or just swimming in the warm, calm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
- How about a different kind of fun on the water? Tampa Bay, the Gulf of Mexico, and a number of area rivers and streams are great for fishing. Hire a fishing charter for you and your friends or find your own private fishing hole and search for tarpon, grouper, snook, and all sorts of other fish.
Arts and Culture Lover
Tampa offers vacationers much more than just beach time. A city rich in arts and culture, its many museums and historic attractions can fill up several days. Consider some of these top-notch attractions for inclusion on your vacation itinerary.
- Tampa Museum of Art – Start your visit to the city with a stop at this excellent museum. Featuring works of art ranging from Greek and Roman antiquities to contemporary works by a wide range of artists, this museum also offers a variety of classes, lectures, and special events.
- Tampa Bay History Center – Learn lots about the history at this small but excellent museum that profiles five centuries of regional history.
- Ybor City State Museum – This museum largely focuses on the cigar industry, which put Tampa on the map. Ybor City Museum also offers information on the ethnic groups that settled in the area and are still an important part of the tapestry of Tampa. Don’t miss the daily cigar rolling demonstrations!
- The Performing Arts Center – One of the largest performing arts venues in the country, Tampa Bay PAC offers a huge variety of shows ranging from Broadway-style productions to concerts by the top names in rock, pop, country, and more. The venue also presents great children’s shows and is the home base for The Florida Orchestra.
Eco-Traveler and Animal Enthusiast
The eco-tourism industry is alive and well in Florida, including in this area. If you’re interested in eco-travel, there are plenty of options here to keep you busy.
- Take a dolphin watching cruise – These fun boat rides not only provide some relaxing time on the water but expert naturalists will provide you with info about the area’s dolphin population and how you can help maintain it.
- Enjoy a multi-day canoe trip on the Hillsborough River – Paddle along the area’s largest river through tens of thousands of acres of wildlife preserve. View hundreds of species of native birds and a variety of wildlife, many particular to the region. Look out for the gators!
- Head to Big Cat Rescue – This non-profit educational sanctuary rescues abandoned exotic cats that were formerly pets or have been retired from circuses or other performing acts. Here you’ll find the most diverse populations of exotic cats in the world and you’ll learn what you can do to help these orphaned cats.
- Florida Aquarium – One of the best aquariums on the East Coast, Florida Aquarium not only features tanks full of regional sea creatures but also species from around the world. Guests can also sign up for the Wild Dophin Ecotours sponsored by the aquarium.
No matter what time of year you visit, you’ll find a variety of professional sports you can sink your teeth into and some of the nation’s best venues for watching pro sports.
- Spring Training – An abundance of MLB teams gather in the Tampa area for spring training and pre-season games, including the New York Yankees, Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Toronto Blue Jays, and of course, the home team favorite, the Tampa Bay Rays. You can watch a different team every day!
- Major League Baseball – During the regular season, you’ll want to take some time to watch the young but enthusiastic local team, affectionately known as the D-Rays. They play at Tropicana Field, located in nearby St. Petersburg.
- NFL Football – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers thrill millions of football enthusiasts each season. Games are located at Raymond James Stadium, where visitors also enjoy an authentic replica of a 19th century pirate ship, the only one of its kind at a sports stadium.
- NHL Hockey – Tampa’s ice hockey team, the Lightning, provides plenty of excitement for hockey fans. The team plays at the state-of-the-art St. Pete Times Forum, located in St. Petersburg.