There’s a reason tourists from all over the world come to Florida every summer—the Sunshine State offers so many cities brimming to the top with attractions. And even your plans are limited to sipping cocktails by the pool, it’s always good to have an idea of other Tampa activities you can enjoy.
Fun Things to Do in Tampa
To help you make the most of your getaway to Tampa, here is a list of the very best things to do in Tampa.
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Become a Beach Bum
Enjoying the beach takes the number one spot of fun things to do in Tampa. Lather up on sunscreen, get your best bathing suit ready, and work on getting a tan that everyone at work will envy.
The best part about Tampa beaches is that each one has a different personality, so you won’t get bored with the same scenery every day. Head to Ben T. Davis Beach for a chill beach experience, explore more rugged nature at Caladesi Island State Park, and party and shop at Clearwater Beach.
Everyone comes to Florida imagining a nice relaxing time, but there are also many thrilling things to do in Tampa. Adrenaline junkies head straight to Busch Gardens, where they can find roller coaster with 90 degree drops, water rides, and even a safari experience.
If you don’t want to give up any pool and beach time, head to Adventure Island, one of Florida’s most popular water parks. Looking for a more unique way to get your adrenaline fix? Take a helicopter tour of the Tampa Bay area or swim with sharks at the Florida Aquarium.
Get Into Sports
Tampa Bay locals have sports coded into their DNA. With professional teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFL), Tampa Bay Rays (MLB), and Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL), the city lives and breathes sports. Numerous stadiums and sports venues such as the George M. Steinbrenner Field, the Amalie Arena, and the Raymond James Stadium host games. Additionally, out-of-town teams like the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies come to the Tampa area for spring training.
You’ve spent two days bumming out on the sand and now you feel like you want to get active while getting a tan. Luckily, Tampa offers a myriad of watersports for all levels of activity. From paddle boarding to jet skiing to parasailing, you’ll have your time in the water without feeling overly lazy. Families can even enjoy the water bike, a safe and easy way of seeing the fluvial beauty of this city.
Encounter Beautiful Wildlife
With an expansive coastline, and proximity to wilderness preserves, Tampa has surprisingly diverse flora and fauna for a large city. Animal lovers can encounter several species in places like Busch Gardens, the Lowry Zoo, and the Florida Aquarium—the largest in the state. The Big Cat Rescue is a must-visit, too. This non-profit takes care of animals who’ve been rescued from poachers, circuses, and abusive owners.
To see animals in their natural habitat, go to the Tampa Electric Manatee Viewing Center, take a dolphin sightseeing cruise, or kayak around Hillsborough River State Park.
Want to spend time in the water without actually being in the water? Taking a cruise is one of the best things to do in Tampa. You can relax in a quiet sunset cruise or let loose in a party cruise. The Florida Aquarium Wild Dolphin Cruise takes you far from the shore so you can see dozens of wild dolphins and other marine animals.
Though museums aren’t the first thing people think about when they consider Tampa, the city has a wealth of interesting cultural institutions. Learn about the process of making cigars with a tour of J.C. Newman Cigar Company, the last operating cigar factory in Ybor City; develop your artistic eye at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts; and satisfy your curiosity at the Museum of Science and Industry.
If you want to understand more about the city you’re visiting, the Tampa Bay History Center is a must. For the absolute best museum experience west Florida has to offer, drive 30 minutes to St. Petersburg, where you will find one of the most impressive Dali collections in the world at the Dali Museum.
Search for the Best Brew in the City
Tampa Bay has a bustling local brewery scene. There are so many established and up-and-coming breweries, a guide had to be made for those trying to navigate their options. If you don’t have time to research, local brewery tours will let you sample as many different brews as you can manage.
The yearly Tampa Bay Beer Week is a must-attend event for beer aficionados. Don’t miss the Cigar City Brewing Company, which won third place in the 2016 US Open Beer Championship, or a tour around Yuengling Brewing Company.
Explore Ybor City
Going to Ybor City is another one of the fun things to do in Tampa. A historically immigrant neighborhood, Ybor was once among the most diverse and affluent cities in Florida. Today, it’s listed as a National Historic Landmark District. Spend time exploring the Ybor City Museum, eating at the historic Columbia Restaurant, and admiring the beautiful architecture.
But Ybor is not just steeped in history—it’s also Tampa’s best nightlife district. At night, dress your best to go clubbing at Prana. Or don’t, and just rock those converse and ripped jeans in more casual establishments. The beauty of clubbing in Ybor is that there is a place for every kind of vibe and music, so it can be as chill or as exclusive as you want it to be.
Catch a Sunset
The best part of being on the west coast of Florida is catching sunsets on the daily. You can enjoy the sun painting the sky in several spots, including Tampa Riverwalk, Bayshore Boulevard, and the Courtney Campbell Trail.
Of course, the best place to catch a breathtaking sunset is the beach. Sit on your towel and watch the world slowly turn dark. You might even catch sight of a few wild dolphins on the horizons.
More from SmarterTravel:
- Tampa Travel Guide
- The 10 Best Hotels in Tampa
- The Best Cheap Hotels in Tampa for Budget Travelers
- The 10 Best Tampa Beach Hotels
- 10 Must-See Tampa Attractions
- 10 Best Beaches in Tampa
- The Best Cheap Eats in Tampa
- The 10 Best Restaurants in Tampa
- 10 Great Tampa Restaurants on the Water
- What to Wear in Tampa
- What to Pack for Tampa: 10 Must-Haves in Your Suitcase
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– Original reporting by Mariana Zapata
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