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30 Best Attractions & Things to Do in Tampa

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Are you looking for the best Tampa Bay area attractions for family vacations, romantic getaways, or group adventures? With a mix of urban aesthetics and coastal inspiration, there’s plenty to love about Tampa.

Gorgeous Gulf Coast beaches, top-notch theme parks, unique natural attractions, and year-round sunshine make this Florida region one of the best locations for travelers looking for diverse activities and attractions. 

From downtown Tampa to the sugar white sand of Clearwater Beach and St. Petersburg, the Tampa area of Hillsborough County overflows with Gulf Coast charm, a distinct Cuban heritage, stunning emerald green waterways, and a mind-blowing array of golf courses.

My first introduction to Florida’s west coast was on a trip to Tampa many moons (and suns) ago. As an East Coast beach-goer, the area’s soft white sand and gently flowing waves were a treat for the eyes and the feet.

It’s still a thrill to pull out of Tampa International Airport and head for the scenic views of the Courtney Campbell Causeway.

Whether it’s a stroll along the revitalized Tampa Riverwalk, dining and dancing in a historic cigar manufacturing district, roller-coaster riding at Busch Gardens, interacting with marine animals and wildlife at zoos and aquariums, watching sporting events, or relaxing along white sand beaches, you’ll find plenty to keep your crew entertained.

Let’s get started with some of the best Tampa attractions to add to your itinerary.

TL;DR

  • Most significant landmark – Courtney Campbell Causeway
  • Park to visit – Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
  • Free activity – Clearwater Beach
  • Activity for kids – Clearwater Marine Aquarium
  • Activity for adultsYbor City Food Walking Tour
  • Place to eat – Frenchy’s Rockaway Grille
  • Nightlife – Ybor City
  • Place to stayFairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Clearwater

Best Attractions and Things to Do in Tampa

1. Clearwater Beach

Cleawater beach as one of the best tampa bay attractions

Awarded the TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards for “America’s Beach Beach” (two years in a row), Clearwater Beach is one of the best beaches in the world. Sugar white sand, sapphire, emerald-shaded water, and gentle waves make this family-friendly beach a treat for water lovers. It’s located just across the causeway from downtown Tampa.

This Gulf Coast beach offers an array of kid-friendly water sports and a playground for adults. You can dine and dance at Shephard’s Beach Resort, gawk over stunning Tampa views at Palm Pavilion Beachside Grill & Bar, or cast a line at Pier 60, which offers the nightly Sunsets at Pier 60. This lively festival scene includes local art, souvenirs, entertainment, and fun along the pier.

Looking for a hotel in the Clearwater area? You’ll have plenty to choose from. The Hilton Clearwater Beach Resort & Spa sits beachfront and offers a pool, a spa, and several bars and restaurants.

The Hilton is within walking distance of Pier 60 and Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill, which features burgers, specialty salads, tropical cocktails, and the famous grouper sandwich.

If the name sounds familiar, several Frenchy’s restaurants in the Clearwater and Dunedin areas are for your dining pleasure. Then, there’s Frenchy’s Oasis Motel, a retro 60s-inspired hotel on the sound side just a few blocks from the beach.

2. Honeymoon Island State Park

Panorama of Honeymoon Island State Park
Artiom Photo / Shutterstock

Address: 1 Causeway Blvd., Dunedin, FL 34698

More than four miles of spectacular coastline make Honeymoon Island one of Florida’s favorite state parks and best islands in Florida. Best of all? You don’t have to be on a honeymoon.

The area is very family-friendly and has restrooms, concession stands, and lots of parking. Travelers with pets will be happy to know that Honeymoon Island has a fur-baby-friendly dog beach just a half-mile hike off the main road.

For nature lovers, this beach offers plenty to see. A three-mile trail through a thick pine forest allows various birdlife sightings, and you might also see the occasional tortoise or armadillo. 

Insider Tip: Be sure to bring water shoes. The waves are incredibly gentle, but the floor is filled with rocks. While they’re relatively smooth, it’s not very fun to stub a toe on a rock in the shallow end. You’ll thank us later.

See Related: South Carolina Beaches

3. Caladesi Island State Park

Caladesi State Park

Address: 1 Causeway Blvd., Dunedin, FL 34698

This pristine gem is one of the best Tampa Bay attractions and with good reason. Caladesi is one of the few untouched islands along the Gulf Coast.

Its remote location gives it a touch of exclusivity and romance. Head here if you’re in town on a honeymoon or anniversary trip (or if you just like a secluded setting).

The island park is only accessible by ferry, which leaves from the aforementioned Honeymoon Island. Sometimes, though, the water is shallow enough to walk there, but that risk is up to you.

High tide can be a real surprise. Visitors can stroll along the island’s gorgeous beaches or take a picturesque kayak trip through the bayside mangrove forest. 

If you prefer to walk along the land, there’s a nature trail to the historic Scharrer Homestead. You can also take a bird-watching tour to spy on herons, egrets, and wading birds. 

See Related: Travel Sandals

4. Clearwater Marine Aquarium 

Winter the dolphin

Address: 249 Windward Passage, Clearwater, FL 33767

Looking for the best Tampa Bay aquarium? This marine aquarium in Clearwater houses an array of marine life in a former water treatment plant. The aquarium was home to the world-famous dolphin, Winter, from the popular Dolphin Tale movies (with the assistance of human stars Cozi Zuehlsdorff, Nathan Gamble, Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd, and Morgan Freeman).

The Atlantic bottlenose dolphin was rescued from a crab trap as a baby in 2005. With the help of SeaWorld’s rescue services, she was transported to the Clearwater Aquarium, which specializes in the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of sick and injured animals. She eventually lost her tail due to the injuries but became world-famous with her story of a prosthetic tail and re-learning to swim with it.

Winter has since passed away, but her legacy lives on with her story and the research that has since helped with human prosthetic limbs.

Not to mention the upgrades the aquarium was able to implement with publicity from the movie and Winter herself. It underwent an 80-million-dollar expansion and renovation project.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium is home to a host of rescued animals that include sea turtles, otters, pelicans, sharks, stingrays, and more.

5. Dinosaur World

Dinosaur World Tampa Bay

Address: 5145 Harvey Tew Road, Plant City, FL 33565

Dinosaur World is the only attraction near Tampa dedicated entirely to the prehistoric world. This unique attraction offers more than 200 dinosaur displays spread across 12 acres. Unlike other dinosaur parks, this family-friendly venue displays life-sized dinosaur replicas in an interactive and natural setting.

Future paleontologists can search for hidden treasures like arrowheads and raw gemstones, dig for fossils, or watch the entertaining Exploration Cave Show where expert paleontologists offer insights about artifacts and prehistoric creatures. 

6. The Florida Aquarium

Florida Aquarium

Address: 701 Channelside Drive, Tampa, FL 33602

One of the top Tampa attractions, the Florida Aquarium offers a massive collection of marine life, making it one of the best activities for visitors seeking a fun and educational experience.

Located downtown, the Florida Aquarium houses more than 14,000 marine animals. It may take at least three hours to make your way through the labyrinth of sea turtles, stingrays, and moray eels. Habitats include Florida wetlands, coral reefs, Madagascar, Florida shorelines, and invertebrates.

Among the best attractions at the Florida Aquarium are the touch tanks, where you can pet a moon jellyfish (if you aren’t too squeamish). Take the little ones to the Splash Pad area, a two-acre outdoor space with dump buckets, geysers, and spray zones. 

7. ZooTampa at Lowry Park

Sign for ZooTampa at Lowry Park
Joseph M. Arseneau / Shutterstock.com

Address: 1101 W. Sligh Avenue, Tampa, FL 33604

ZooTampa at Lowry Park contains 2,000 animals in their natural habitats. Visitors can get close to the zoo’s inhabitants by accessing “backstage” opportunities with penguins and tortoises. Popular residents of the zoo include African elephants, penguins, Florida panthers, and Bornean orangutans.

In addition to animal attractions, the Lowry Park Zoo features rides like the safari ride in the African habitat, a mini railroad, a carousel, and a roller coaster. The zoo hosts special events and programs during the year and is just as popular with residents as with travelers.

The Big Cat Rescue in Citrus Park is closed to the general public, so ZooTampa will be your best bet to see ferocious felines like the Malayan tiger and the Florida panther.

Note: Zoo Tampa doesn’t currently have lions (check out Busch Gardens below for lions), but there are plans to add a lion habitat, as well as jaguars, in the future.

8. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Address: 10165 McKinley Drive, Tampa, FL 33612

As much of a Tampa zoo as it is a theme park, Busch Gardens Tampa brings the African Serengeti to the Gulf Coast. It’s the place to be for animal lovers with a thrill-seeking agenda. More than 200 species thrive in state-of-the-art naturalistic exhibits that replicate the African habitat.

Get up close and personal with cheetahs, learn about primates, watch meerkats dig underground burrows, hand-feed kangaroos & macropods, or check out elephants, hippos, hyenas, penguins, flamingos, and more.

Since 1959, Busch Gardens Tampa offers a variety of tours and tailor-made experiences. Learn more about training exotic and endangered species on the Animal Training Tour or go on the Keeper for a Day tour to observe how Animal Care Specialists care for the zoo’s fauna. 

Busch Gardens appears on the CW Television Network’s Wildlife Docs show, which chronicles the work of the veterinary staff who care for the animals at the park. You can visit the check-up rooms seen on the show, making this one of the top Tampa attractions for animal lovers.

Then, of course, you’ve got the thrill factor of soaring, roaring, and flying on coasters such as Iron Gwazi, Cheetah Hunt, SheiKra, and Kumba. Not a speed demon? Plenty of family-friendly rides, attractions, and entertainment to please the whole crew.

9. Salvador Dali Museum

Dali Museum outside

Address: One Dali Boulevard, St. Petersburg, FL 33701

If you’re a fan of the wonderfully melting, imaginative, and uniquely surrealist art of Salvador Dali, get yourself to the Dali Museum post haste. This three-story museum in nearby St. Petersburg is home to one of the most extensive collections of Salvador Dali’s art outside of Spain. The building itself is a fantastical work of art in its melding of glass, metal, and concrete.

Located on a picturesque bay along the downtown waterfront of St. Petersburg, the Dali Museum pays homage to the late surrealist artist with 96 drawings, oil paintings, sculptures, and photographs. Just a sampling of Dali’s work on exhibit includes Apparatus and Hand, Anthropomorphic Echo, Daddy Longlegs of the Evening-Hope!, and Fantasies Diurnes.

Check out exhibits from student surrealist artists, dream-inspired paintings, Dali pieces in augmented reality and virtual reality (how’s that for a trippy experience?), and works from other world-renowned artists at this Tampa museum.

Outdoors, there’s an Avant-Garden where you can enjoy the Tampa Bay waterfront and explore Dali’s fascination with art and nature. Themed garden sections include a mathematical garden, a stone garden, a labyrinth, a ficus wishing tree, and a grotto with tropical plants and rippling water features (this is where you’ll find me).

While this isn’t exactly located in Tampa, St. Petersburg is just a short drive away and definitely deserving of a day trip from downtown Tampa.

10. Tampa Museum of Art

Tampa Museum of Art

Address: 120 W. Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa, FL 33602

Located in downtown Tampa, the Tampa Museum of Art focuses on modern and contemporary art through paintings, photographs, textiles, and sculptures. It hosts one of the largest Roman and Greek antiquities collections in the southeastern United States.

Visitors can spend the day browsing the various collections or enjoying a meal at the Riverwalk Cafe. The museum is home to day camps and hosts various events throughout the year, including curator talks, music performances, and art exhibitions.

If you want to save money on your visit, consider stopping by on a Thursday evening. On Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., the museum offers special pricing of pay-as-you-will. Donate whatever you can, and then enjoy an evening with some great contemporary art.

See Related: Resorts in Key West, Florida

11. International Plaza & Bay Street

International Plaza and Bay Street

Address: 2223 N. Westshore Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33607

International Plaza and Bay Street are two of the best Tampa Bay attractions for those looking to score designer duds. The high-end shopping center introduced the likes of Gucci and Nordstrom, shops not previously seen here. 

International Plaza features three upscale department stores with over 200 specialty and designer shops. Once you’re finished shopping, grab some grub at any of the 30 bars or eateries within the mall or Bay Street, an al fresco village of small boutiques and fine dining restaurants. 

12. Hyde Park Village

Hyde Park Village

Address: 1602 W. Swann Avenue, Tampa, FL 33606

This outdoor shopping district in the Old Hyde Park neighborhood is one of Tampa’s most upscale shopping destinations. If you’re looking for an urban experience with a side of retail therapy, this is the best place to be in Tampa.

You’ll find a ton of stores, coffee shops, boutiques, and restaurants throughout this 270,000-square-foot shopping district. Some popular places to visit include Pottery Barn, CineBistro, Anthropologie, Buddy Brew Coffee, Kendra Scott, and many more.

13. Downtown Dunedin

Dunedin City sign by the water
Garrett Brown / Shutterstock

Address: 420 Main Street, Dunedin, FL 34698

Named one of the top five small walking communities by RunThePlanet.com, Downtown Dunedin is a true loiterer’s haven.

Dunedin sits along Saint Joseph Sound just north of Clearwater. This waterfront community comprises lively pubs, craft breweries, art galleries, fine restaurants, and unique antique shops. 

Check out the Downtown Dunedin Market, which is open on Fridays and Saturdays from November through May. You’ll find some of the best in food, fresh produce, clothing, doggie treats, plants, pottery, flowers, and more.  

On other days of the week, there’s still plenty to see and do. The Clay and Paper Gallery of Art features an assortment of pottery and jewelry, while vintage shops like Amanda Austin and My Favorite Things offer a myriad of linens, clothes, silverware, and home decor. 

The Hampton Inn Dunedin is a terrific choice for accommodations in the Tampa Bay area. The pet-friendly hotel has a pool, a business center, meeting rooms, and a fitness center.

See Related: Friend Vacation Ideas

14. Museum of Science and Industry

Museum of Science and Industry

Located in Tampa, the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) is a scientific playground composed of over 450 hands-on activities spanning 400,000 square feet, making it the largest science center in the southeastern United States.

With plenty of children’s activities, MOSI is one of the best Tampa Bay attractions for the whole family. Playful and interactive exhibits abound — The Amazing You is a 13,000-square-foot exhibition dedicated to health and wellness.

Try The Sky Trail Ropes Course, an adrenaline-pumping show featuring 36 elements on a 36-foot-high multilevel structure for high-octane fun.  Get general admission to permanent exhibits, including the Dinovations Lab, Connectus, and Idea Zone, via CityPASS!

See RelatedThings to Do in Miami, Florida

15. Tampa Bay History Center

Tampa Bay History Center

Address: 801 Water Street, Tampa, FL 33602

The Tampa Bay History Center is a popular history museum dedicated to preserving Florida’s history through research and education. Located on the waterfront of Tampa’s Channelside District, the museum contains three floors of permanent and temporary exhibitions spanning 12,000 years of Florida history. Check out galleries on pirates, shipwrecks, native people, Florida cattle ranching, and Native American crafts and artifacts.

The Historical Center also houses the Witt Research Center, an extensive map museum and hall. There’s a museum store and the Columbia Café, which serves light meals and beverages.

One of the top attractions in town, the Tampa Bay History Center is among the best venues for people who enjoy learning about American and Floridian history.

16. Glazer Children’s Museum

Glazer Children's Museum

Address: 110 W. Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa, FL 33602

Kids and kids at heart will find The Glazer Children’s Museum to be the ultimate playground. Parents and children can learn by playing their way through more than 170 interactive activities in various themed areas. 

You’ll find plenty of hands-on exhibits specifically designed for children under 11, such as a kid-sized airplane, a grocery store, and a cruise ship, at this popular Tampa museum.

Sign up for formal curriculum-based classes, informal workshops, camps, and specialized programs. Special educational events are also held throughout the year.

See Related: Fun Things to Do in Orlando, Florida

17. Adventure Island 

Adventure Island Tampa Bay

Address: 10001 McKinley Drive, Tampa, FL 33612

As Tampa’s largest and most popular water park, Busch Gardens’ Adventure Island has all sorts of water-related fun for thrillseekers looking for a unique experience. The park offers a wide variety of high-speed, leisurely, and family-friendly rides across 30 gorgeously landscaped acres.

While visiting Tampa, this theme park is perfect for daredevils looking for high-octane water-themed experiences, but it also offers many more relaxed rides, slides, and pools. Guests can drift lazily amidst waterfalls in the Rambling Bayou, take a dip in the miniature wave pool, or join the kids in the interactive water play area.

See Related: Best Weekend Getaways in the USA

18. Manatee Viewing Center

Manatee Viewing Center Entrance

Address: 6990 Dickman Road, Apollo Beach, FL 33572

If you’re as much a fan of manatees as I am, you’ll want to get yourself to Tampa’s Manatee Viewing Center as quickly as possible. Located at Tampa Electric’s Big Bend Power Station, this is one of Tampa’s top attractions and makes a fun and unique activity for the whole crew. It’s about 25 minutes from the city center.

Manatees in the area are attracted to the warm running water the factory puts out. During the chilly winter months, hundreds of them can float about in the warm water. The canal is a state- and federally-designated animal sanctuary.

The center is part of the Florida Conservation and Technology Center, which was formed to showcase the state’s research, conservation efforts, habitat restoration, and protection of endangered species.

The best part about this attraction (after the manatees) is that parking and admission are free. Visitors can walk along the boardwalks to see these gentle giants. There’s a 50-foot observation tower, hiking trails, a gift shop, Southshore Café, and a butterfly garden.

Looking for a hotel that’s convenient to both Apollo Beach and the Tampa city center? The Holiday Inn Express & Suites Tampa East – Ybor City is a great choice. It’s about 25 minutes from Apollo Beach and offers guest rooms with a microwave, a mini fridge, a coffee machine, and cable TV.

19. Sunshine Skyway Bridge

Sunshine Skyway Bridge spanning the Lower Tampa Bay and connecting Terra Ceia to St. Petersburg, Florida, USA
Artiom Photo / Shutterstock

Address: 7508 – 7534 Sunshine Skyway Lane, St. Petersburg, FL 33711

It only takes about five minutes to drive over the Bob Graham Sunshine Skyway Bridge, but the views are worth the trip. At 430 feet, it’s considered the steepest bridge in Florida. It opened in 1987 and is the second structure to grace the site. The architecturally striking bridge crosses the lower bay and connects St. Petersburg to the Terra Ceia community.

The cable-stayed bridge is about four miles long. Along the span, there’s a fishing pier and a beach, which makes a terrific spot to pull over and take a dip.

For a really unique vantage point, take a St. Petersburg Sunset Cruise, which sails under the bridge. Enjoy stunning skyline views as you look for dolphins and snap pics of the famous Gulf Coast sunsets. Tours leave from the St. Petersburg Pier.

If you’re searching for a hotel near the bridge, consider the Residence Inn by Marriott St. Petersburg Tierra Verde. This pet-friendly hotel has a swimming pool, free parking, meeting rooms, and excellent views of the bridge and the waterways of Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. It offers convenient access to Fort De Soto State Park, the Dali Museum, and St. Pete Beach.

20. Ghost Hunt in Ybor City

Centro Ybor at Ybor City
Wangkun Jia / Adobe Stock

Tampa’s historic Ybor City was founded in 1886, so there are sure to be a few spirits hanging about. Take a ghost and pub tour to see the scary side of Tampa’s history while tasting spirits along the way.

Ybor City visitors can hear harrowing stories about real people and the history and folklore of the area. You’ll also have the opportunity to walk some of the city’s most haunted streets and learn more about the paranormal activity experienced by the locals. Tours meet at Tampa Bay Brewing Company.

Named for its founder, Vicente Martinez Ybor, the area known as Ybor City is considered a National Historic Landmark District. Many of the buildings are also designated historic, including the Columbia Restaurant, which was established in 1905 by Cuban immigrant Casimiro Hern.

The district is a former cigar manufacturing region. The Ybor City Cigar Factory was previously the largest in the world.

Hundreds of thousands of cigars were hand-rolled every month. The area has undergone a revival in recent years. It now hosts several shops, galleries, restaurants, and cafes.

The National Historic Landmark of Ybor City is a great place to take in the vibrant local Cuban culture in the Tampa area.

21. Tampa Theatre

Tampa Theatre movie palace in Tampa, Florida
ImageMD / Shutterstock.com

Address: 711 N. Franklin St, Tampa, FL 33602

Tampa Theatre is integral to Tampa Bay’s arts and culture community. Opened in 1926 as an opulent movie palace (for the bargain bin price of $0.25), it features a realistic night sky (twinkling stars, anyone?), a Mediterranean courtyard, and gargoyles (ya just gotta love a place with gargoyles).

Locals loved them too, as the community rallied to save the theatre from destruction in the 1970s. Known for its annual Oscar Night and film-themed wine festival, this theatre devotes most of its screen time to documentary, independent, and foreign films.

Enjoy the nostalgia of classic and popular favorites such as Raiders of the Lost Ark and Casablanca as well as concerts, cultural performances, and comedy shows by performers such as Leslie Jones, Rob Schneider, Steve Trevino, and John Crist.

One of the coolest aspects of the theatre is its Mighty Wurlitzer organ. It originally accompanied silent movies. With the invention of those new-fangled “talkies,” it can now be heard during special occasions with guest organists and silent film events

22. Tampa Riverwalk

Tampa Riverwalk

Address: Hillsborough River, Tampa, FL 33602

The Tampa Riverwalk, located along the Hillsborough River, is 2.6 miles of fun and festivities in downtown Tampa. It’s one of the liveliest nightlife scenes in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area. The waterside walkway lights up at night to create a sparkling backdrop for travelers and locals.

Head to The Sail for a cocktail while enjoying riverfront sunset views or stop by the Armature Works restaurant complex for innovative dining options. Other sites along the riverwalk – which is popular with walkers, bikers, and Segway-ers – include the Port Tampa Bay Cruise Terminal, the Florida Aquarium, the Curtis Hixon Park, Glazer Children’s Museum, and the David A. Stratz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts.

If you’re in the market for accommodations in the area, check out the Hotel Tampa Riverwalk. This pet-friendly hotel has a swimming pool, a fitness center, a restaurant, and a bar. Other hotels near the Riverwalk include the Barrymore Hotel Tampa Riverwalk, Aloft Tampa Downtown, and the Residence Inn by Marriott Tampa Downtown.

23. Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa

Seminole Hard Rock Casino

Address: 5223 Orient Road, Tampa, FL 33610

The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa is one of the best places in Tampa for luxury accommodations and entertainment all in one. The AAA Four Diamond Resort offers luxury rooms and suites, a full spa, convention space, concert areas, restaurants, a pool and beach club, and much more.

What truly shines here in terms of nightlife is the 90,000-square-foot casino. From slot machines and table games to baccarat and poker, there’s something for every type of risk taker. The casino is decorated with iconic Hard Rock memorabilia, making it a fun space to tour even if you don’t feel like gambling.

Once you’re done with the casino, you can grab a bite to eat at any of the many dining options available. It offers great fine dining spots like Cipresso and The Rez Grill. You can grab a more casual bite at the classic Hard Rock Cafe or Sugar Factory.

Looking for more things to do? Take in a show at the Hard Rock Event Center or book a session at the Rock Spa & Salon. On the weekends, you can head outside between 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. to enjoy a dazzling light show on the guitar-shaped exterior of the building.

24. Wild Dolphin Cruise

Dolphin Sightseeing in Tampa
Dolphin Sightseeing Cruise / Viator

There’s no better way to enjoy Tampa’s Gulf Coast location than with a sightseeing boat tour. Gather the whole crew and take a wild dolphin cruise through the waters of Tampa Bay.

Look for wildlife such as dolphins, egrets, sea turtles, manatees, and more. Tours depart from the Tampa Bay History Center, near the Amalie Arena, and last about 1.5 hours.

When you return, or before depart, let the kids run off some energy at the nearby waterfront Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park. There’s a pier, a playground, and a walking path.

The Tampa Marriott Water Street is a great option near water tour access, the Tampa Convention Center, the Florida Aquarium, concerts, hockey games, and arena football at Amalie Arena. The Marriott offers meeting and event space, a swimming pool, a restaurant, free Wi-Fi, and wonderful waterfront views.

25. Lettuce Lake Conservation Park

Wood Boardwalk in Lettuce Lake Regional Park in Hillsborough County in Tampa
Jim Schwabel / Shutterstock

Address: 6920 E. Fletcher Avenue, Tampa, FL 33637

Opened in 1982, Lettuce Lake Regional Park is situated along the Hillsborough River. It offers 240 acres of cycling, hiking, and walking trails as well as picnic areas with BBQ grills, playgrounds, a visitors center, a fishing dock, and a fitness course.

Enjoy Florida’s hardwood and pine forests and natural scenery by walking along the 3,500-foot boardwalk and looking out from the three-story observation tower for turtles, gators, fish, and other Florida fauna. This is a wonderful area for birdwatching. You can also rent canoes and kayaks.

Dogs are allowed (but not on the boardwalk), so bring those four-legged fluffy kids along. To note, bicycles aren’t allowed on the boardwalk either, in case your dog is feeling left out.

If you’re wondering about the salad-inspired name (or maybe that was just me), it comes from water lilies and spatterdock plants that were seen floating on the water. They looked like lettuce. Go figure. In case you’re wondering what spatterdock is, it’s a water lily with a fancy schmancy name.

Looking for hotels in the area? The Hampton Inn & Suites Tampa-North is a good anchorage to base a north Tampa trip. Nearby attractions include Busch Gardens, Adventure Island, the Museum of Science & Industry, and the Yuengling Center.

Located on the University of South Florida campus, the Yuengling Center hosts concerts, conferences, comedy shows, and sporting events like the Harlem Globetrotters and indoor soccer’s Tampa Bay Strikers.

26. Raymond James Stadium

Game at Raymond James Stadium
Bernard Gagnon / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Address: 4201 N. Dale Mabry Hwy., Tampa, FL 33607

Raymond James is the premier sports venue in the Tampa area, home to the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the University of South Florida Bulls college football team.

The multi-purpose stadium opened in 1998 and hosts motocross events, music festivals, the NCAA Outback Bowl, and big-name concerts by Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney, Ed Sheeran, Beyonce, George Strait, and more (in addition to home games led by the on-again/off-again Mr. Brady).

The coolest thing about Raymond James (“cool” being a relative term as the stadium is open-air … in Florida!) is Buccaneer Cove. This endzone area is modeled after a 19th-century pirate village.

A fishing village facade for the concession stands, beach hut-inspired kiosks, a 9-foot by 7-foot skull, and a 103-foot long pirate ship that blasts eight cannons after home team touchdowns. Football? What football? I’m there for the cannons, concessions, and pirates.

To fuel the sports fans even more, George Steinbrenner Field (formerly Legends Field) is located across from Raymond James Stadium. It’s home to Tampa Tarpons baseball, New York Yankees spring training, festivals, and seasonal events.

For easy access to sporting events, check into Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Tampa RJ Stadium. The hotel offers a pool, business center, meeting rooms, laundry facilities, and free breakfast, parking, and WiFi.

27. Courtney Campbell Causeway

Aerial view of the Courtney Cambell Causeway crossing Old Tampa Bay between Tampa and Clearwater, Florida
John Couture / Shutterstock

A causeway as an attraction? Sure, when it’s as fabulous and scenic as this one. The 9.5-mile-long bridge crosses the bay between Tampa and Clearwater. Along the way are pull-offs for beach-goers, a public boat ramp, walking and bicycling trails, and fishing and birdwatching spots.

Construction began in 1927 and was completed in 1934 as a toll road (at a whopping $0.25 a car). Originally named the Davis Causeway, it became the Courtney Campbell Causeway in 1948. It was designated an official scenic highway by the state of Florida in 2005.

The Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Clearwater is a terrific choice to be near places to visit in Tampa. It’s on the Gulf side of the causeway, making it convenient to both the beaches and the city center. The hotel offers free Wi-Fi, parking, and daily continental breakfast as well as a swimming pool, a hot tub, and a fitness center.

28. American Victory Ship and Museum

View of American Victory Ship and Museum and skyline
Lindsay Ryan / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

Address: 705 Channelside Drive, Tampa, FL 33602

The American Victory Ship and Museum is an excellent opportunity for history and military buffs to board a 455-foot-long ship that saw service during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

Explore exhibits and artifacts throughout the entire ship, including the cargo hold, weaponry, galley, flying bridge, wheelhouse, and more. Medals, uniforms, documents, and photographs make up the many exhibits.

It’s located near the Port Tampa Cruise Terminal and the Florida Aquarium and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

29. Hillsborough River State Park

Trail at Hillsborough River State Park
Joel / Adobe Stock

Address: 15402 US 301, Thonotosassa, FL 33592

Hillsborough River State Park is about 30 minutes from Tampa and makes a terrific day trip or afternoon excursion. The 3,383-acre park offers more than seven miles of trails for hiking and biking as well as Class II rapids perfect for a thrilling kayak adventure.

The park has picnic pavilions, a pool, campsites, and fishing access. Not feeling the outdoorsy ambiance of traditional camping? No problem. The park offers glamping sites with a hotel-quality bed, AC and heat, mini fridge, the all-important coffee maker, and electrical outlets for re-charging.

Visitors can also check out Fort Foster Historic Park. It is located within Hillsborough River State Park and’s a reproduction of a fort built on the same grounds in 1836.

It was built as a defense for the bridge at the Hillsborough River as well as a resupply point for field soldiers. Fort Foster isn’t open on a daily basis (guided tours are available by reservation on select days from November through April), but there’s an interpretive center near Parking Lot 1 that features displays found on site that reflect the conflict between the U.S. military and the Seminole nation.

30. The Chihuly Collection

Beautiful and colorful glass sculptures in the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum
CK Foto / Shutterstock.com

Address: 720 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Fans of glass art will not want to miss the chance to see an entire exhibit devoted to the art of American glass artist Dale Chihuly. The permanent gallery, in a building designed specifically for the collection, is part of (and located across from) the Morean Arts Center.

Stand next to large-scale creations like the Ruby Red Icicle Chandelier or pieces such as Macchis, Persians, Tumbleweeds, and Niijima Floats. Chihuly’s incredible creations can be seen at the canals in Venice, the Citadel in Jerusalem, the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in Canada as well as in permanent exhibits in other museums and botanical gardens around the world.

Make a full day of it by visiting the Morean Arts Center, the Morean Center for Clay (just a couple blocks away), and the Morean Glass Studio, where you can watch glass-blowing demonstrations and purchase unique works of art. Between the sites, you’ll encounter a variety of rotating, permanent, and temporary exhibits as well as working artist studios.

The Morean Arts Center and the Morean Center for Clay are free to the public, but there is a fee to visit the Chihuly Collection.

FAQ

What are the top-rated attractions to visit in Tampa?

Popular Tampa tourist attractions include Honeymoon Island State Park, Raymond James Stadium, and theme parks like Busch Gardens and Adventure Island. Looking for a way to make sure you get to all the sites? There’s no better deal than the Tampa Bay CityPASS, which allows visitors to save on admission to some of the area’s top tourist attractions.

What are some free or low-cost attractions in Tampa?

The Manatee Viewing Center and Clearwater Beach are both fun and free activities (though you may have to pay for parking at the beach). Enjoy the nightly free and family-friendly entertainment at Sunsets at Pier 60. The Morean Arts Center offers a free look at contemporary art and sculpture.

What are the best attractions for families with young children in Tampa?

Fun things for families with young children visiting Tampa range from ZooTampa at Lowry Park to the Manatee Viewing Center, Clearwater Aquarium, and the Glazer Children’s Museum.

What are the best attractions for couples or adults only in Tampa?

Couples looking to connect in a beautiful setting will want to head to Caladesi Island for a secluded picnic or kayaking. If you’re into nightlife, entertainment, and games of chance, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino or Tampa Bay Downs are perfect for Tampa Bay attractions.

What are the best indoor activities or attractions in Tampa in case of bad weather?

The best places in Tampa to visit on a rainy day include the Florida Aquarium, the Dali Museum, or perhaps a show at the Tampa Theatre.

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