Top 25 Tampa Attractions & Things To Do You Can't Miss

Last Updated on January 07, 2024 by Nikki Jain

Located on the west coast of Florida, Tampa is famous for its gorgeous beaches, sunny weather and wide range of attractions. There are so many things to do in Tampa that visitors will never tire of the sights and sounds. From Busch Gardens to luxurious hotel day passes, Tampa attractions offer a unique urban experience for all ages, including relaxing parks, exciting shopping, and one-of-a-kind museums.

Throughout the Tampa Bay area, you will find a blend of 19th-century Spanish architecture with some of the best Cuban food that you can experience in the historic neighborhood of Ybor City. The best start to seeing Tampa attractions might be the famed Tampa Riverwalk. Not only is it vibrantly alive with many restaurants, but the walk also provides an introduction to many other important places in the city.

Here are some of the best Tampa attractions you’ll want to visit on your next trip.

Things To Do in Tampa

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1: Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens
Flickr/Jeremy Thompson

One of the major Tampa attractions is the 335-acre theme park Bush Gardens. The great news is that it offers every magical adventure and costs less than Disneyland.

There are heart-pounding roller coasters for adults, gentler carousels, and bumper cars for children. The new Serengeti Flyer is the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world, and the Iron Gwazi crashes down from 91 feet at 76 miles per hour.

There are dozens of eateries, and for the best deal, consider an All-Day-Dining package which is $49.99 for adults and $24.99 for children. Eat to your heart's content all day long with a new meal every hour and a half.

A VIP-guided tour through Bush Gardens begins at $429.99. This includes a tour, lunch, beverages, and rides. Bush Gardens is open from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. or 9:00 p.m., depending on the season.

Address: 10165 N McKinley Dr, Tampa, FL 33612

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2: Sunshine Skyway Bridge

Sunshine Skyway Bridge
The Sunshine Skyway Bridge over Tampa Bay | Dreamstime/Delmas Lehman

Spanning nearly 22,000 feet in length, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge is an iconic landmark in Florida that connects St. Petersburg with Palmetto over Tampa Bay. Completed and dedicated in 1987, this bridge is constructed of steel and concrete, offering stunning views of the bay and surrounding areas.

Today, millions of people travel across the Sunshine Skyway Bridge every year for work or pleasure. Its unique design and location make it one of the most gorgeous bridges in the United States.

You can look forward to taking in the contemporary design and architecture of the bridge when you visit, as well as admiring the beauty of the emerald green waters below.

Address: I-275, St. Petersburg, FL 33711

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3: Ybor City

Ybor City

One of the best places to visit in Tampa to learn about its history is the Ybor City neighborhood, originally established as a cigar manufacturing area. In honor of the cigar, residents hold the annual Cigar Festival every December, or visitors can learn about the history of cigars at the Ybor City Museum. Many of the cigar shops here roll their smokes from scratch.

Ybor City restaurants also offer a plethora of genuine Cuban and Spanish cuisine, such as Carmines and the El Puerto Restaurant and Grill. The neighborhood has become famous for its lively club scene with the city's best DJs for the past decade.

The Crowbar is one the best heavy rock clubs in Tampa, and the New World Brewery delights reggae and jazz fans. Other excellent clubs are Club Prana, with five levels of dance music, and the Ritz Ybor.

Address: Ybor City, Tampa, FL 33605

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4: Big Cat Rescue

Big Cat Rescue
Flickr/Holmes Palacios

Situated on 67 acres of land in North Tampa, Big Cat Rescue is a valuable, fascinating and educational place that is a delight to visit. This animal sanctuary is committed to rescuing big cats as well as focusing on their rehabilitation when injured.

All sorts of big cats, including tigers, lions, and cougars, have been housed and cared for at this sanctuary. It is visited by thousands of people every year in order to see these exotic animals as well as to support the great work of the sanctuary.

Big Cat Rescue focuses not only on providing a safe haven for these majestic animals but also on educating people about them through guided tours. You can enjoy tours of the sanctuary, look forward to an educational experience, and support a great cause when you visit here.

Address: 12802 Easy St, Tampa, FL 33625

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5: Tampa Theatre

Tampa Theatre

The landmark Tampa Theatre is one of the beloved Tampa attractions that will take guests back to the movie palaces of the 1930s when going to a movie was an event.

The theatre is now on the National Register of Historic Places in the United States and has features onscreen in a number of productions, including movies and videos by bands. Visitors can choose 1,200 cushy seats to enjoy first-run and revival shows, as well as concerts and special events.

The architecture is glorious, starting with the huge marble staircase to the second level. A Wurlitzer pipe organ plays music – the way movies used to do. Genuine ushers (does anyone remember those?) will escort people to their seats.

The theatre is a doorway to the past hand as an hour-and-a-half backstage and balcony tour that includes the Wurlitzer organ, the fabulous architecture, and the history of the Tampa Theatre. Tours are $10.00 for adults and $8.00 for children under 12. Evening shows for adults are a mere $11.00, and entrance for children under 12 is $9.00.

Address: 711 N Franklin St, Tampa, FL 33602

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6: Tampa Riverwalk

Tampa Riverwalk
Dreamstime/Tony Bosse

One of the best things to do in Tampa is to get a fabulous overview of the city by taking the famed Riverwalk along the Hillsborough River, beginning at the Heights Market to Sparkman Wharf.

The Riverwalk has a huge selection of bars and restaurants. It passes along some of Tampa's most important sights, such as the Florida Aquarium, Tampa Bay History Center, the Amalie Entertainment Arena, the Children's Museum, the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, and many others. At night, the walk is alive with vibrant colors.

A special perk of the River Walk is the Tampa Riverwalk Attraction Pass. The individual attractions along the walk can be quite expensive, so the pass is a huge money-saver.

A One-Day pass providing entry into all the sights is $55.00 for adults and $35.00 for children. There is so much to see; a three-day pass is an even better bargain at 79.00 for adults and $49.00 for children. See everything while pampering your wallet.

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Planning a trip to Florida soon? You might want to check out our Florida Travel Guide here.

7: Tampa Electric Manatee Viewing Center

Tampa Electric Manatee Viewing Center
Dreamstime/Mira Agron

The large number of manatees that are seen in the Tampa Electric power station’s discharge canal has resulted in many people flocking to the Manatee viewing center in order to feast their eyes on these creatures. The Manatee Viewing Center enables you to view and learn more about manatees as well as immersing yourself in their environment. 

In addition, you can head outside and enjoy places such as the stunning butterfly gardens and gorgeous surroundings. This is a great place to visit if you want to enjoy nature, education, and fun for people of all ages.

Address: 6990 Dickman Rd, Apollo Beach, FL 33572

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8: The Florida Aquarium

The Florida Aquarium

The Florida Aquarium is one of the top places to go in Tampa on a hot day. Not only does it have a collection of 8,000 marine animals from around the world, but when the kids get hot and cranky, the aquarium has an outdoor splash area with spray zones and dump buckets.

Visitors can check out the sand tiger sharks, sea turtles, and fun otters. The amazing, simulated Wetland section has a wetland trail to watch the alligators, playful otters, and splendid birds such as spoonbills and ibises. The African Penguins are a particular favorite.

The general admission for adults is $33.20 and $28.20 for children.
A half-hour behind-the-scenes tour of the aquarium is given daily beginning at 1:00 p.m. at a cost of only $10.00.

The Florida Aquarium sponsors a daily dolphin cruise to observe them in their natural habitat. Drinks and snacks are available during the cruise. The aquarium is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily.

Address: 701 Channelside Dr, Tampa, FL 33602

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Also Read: 25 Best Aquariums in the US

9: ZooTampa at Lowry Park

ZooTampa at Lowry Park

Covering 63 acres in Tampa, the ZooTampa at Lowry Park is one of the fun and fascinating Tampa attractions enjoyed by people of all ages. When you explore this zoo, you can take in many species, including amphibians, birds, fish, mammals, and reptiles from different parts of the world, including Africa, Asia, Australia, and South America.

The animal exhibits are designed to offer visitors an immersive experience. You can get up close and personal with some of the most exotic creatures, like giraffes and rhinos, in their natural habitats.

You can also learn about conservation and participate in various educational programs such as the Zoo School and various children’s programs and activities. Visitors will love the landscape and gardens designed to reflect different environments, such as the Asian Gardens and Primate World.

The regular admission price for a visit to Lowry Park Zoo for adults (ages 12+) is $45.95 per person, while children (ages 3-11) can enter the park for $35.95 each.

Address: 1101 W Sligh Ave, Tampa, FL 33604

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10: Tampa Bay History Center

Tampa Bay History Center

For those who enjoy delving into the past and who are keen to learn more about Tampa’s history, the Tampa Bay History Center is a great Tampa attraction to explore.

Located in downtown Tampa, you can look forward to taking in a variety of permanent and temporary exhibitions showcasing the rich history of the Tampa Bay area. You can also get involved in various events and educational programs to really make the most of your visit here.

The center features exhibits and artifacts that highlight significant events in the area's history, such as the arrival of Spanish explorers in 1521, the establishment of Ybor City as a cigar-making capital, and the development of MacDill Air Force Base during World War II.

In addition to its permanent exhibits, the history center hosts temporary exhibits that explore specific subjects or eras. This is a place that provides learning, education and a fascinating experience for young and old alike.

Visitors can expect to pay a reasonable admission fee to access all the exhibits available at the center. For adults, it costs $14.95, while seniors and students receive a discount rate of $12.95 per person. Children under six years old are free.

Address: 801 Old Water St, Tampa, FL 33602

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11: Adventure Island Tampa Bay

Adventure Island Tampa Bay
Adventure Island Tampa Bay

One of the major attractions in Tampa near Busch Gardens is the water park Adventure Island Tampa Bay. This is convenient because reduced tickets are available that include entry to both.

This fun water park couldn’t be more refreshing on a hot Tampa Day with its waterfalls, slides, a wave pool with rolling surf, a lazy river, and a splash zone. Hearts will pound while sliding down the half-mile tube ride. For more thrills, jump off the cliff into the Paradise Lagoon.

For the younger set, the Splash Attack area has a 1,000-gallon water bucket and a tree house full of water toys. A one-day ticket is $40.00 per person. However, when combined with the entrance to Busch Gardens, the ticket is 67.50 for both destinations.

There are special add-ons for all-day dining for $35.00, and a private cabana rental for 6 with a mini-fridge and a ceiling fan is $69.99. A comfortable lounger costs $29.99 for the day. Live the good life and take advantage of the added comfort.

Address: 10001 McKinley Dr, Tampa, FL 33612

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Also Read: Best Amusement Parks in Florida

12: Tampa Bay Downs

Tampa Bay Downs
Tampa Bay Downs

One of the country’s best racetracks is a vital part of Tampa attractions. Tampa Bay Downs has been in the racing business since 1926 and is one of the US oldest and best-maintained tracks and is a major factor leading to the coveted Triple Crown.

The track comes with the Downs Golf Practice Facility, where guests can work on their golf swing while betting and watching the race on screen. Those who love to gamble but prefer cards can head for the Silks Poker Rooms. Both facilities are open daily. Between horse racing, golf, and poker, life can get very busy at Tampa Bay Downs.

On most racing days, the gates open at 11:00 a.m. Visitors and bettors can watch from indoor lounges with television or the stands. Snacks are available at the concession stand. The racetrack is family-friendly and encourages youngsters to cheer on their favorite horse. Admission costs a reasonable $3.00 on weekends and is free on Wednesdays. Children under 12 can cheer for free when accompanied by an adult.

Address: 11225 Race Track Rd, Tampa, FL 33626

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13: Yacht StarShip Tampa

Yacht StarShip Tampa
Yacht StarShip

This boozin’ and cruisin’ yachting is a staple romantic adventure and one of the Tampa tourist attractions offering the ultimate view of Tampa Bay. It includes an open bar, exquisite dining, and dancing under the stars.

The two-hour full dinner cruise is $79.95 to $129.95 per adult and $54.95 to $104.95 for children under the age of 12.

This includes a lavish three-course dinner and a complimentary open bar. Live entertainment and dancing on deck follow the meal.

The cruise is available without dinner and only for drinks. Guests can revel in the same beautiful sights and are limited to four free drinks.

The price varies between $49.95 and $99.95 for adults and $29.95 and $79.95 for children under 12. Live entertainment and dancing are included.

Yachtstarship Tampa also offers dolphin cruises that last over one hour.

Address: 603 Channelside Dr, Tampa

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14: Henry B. Plant Museum

Henry B. Plant Museum

For anyone who wishes for an elegant and unforgettable journey back to a grander time, one of the places that are a must-see in Tampa is the Henry B. Plant Museum.

The museum was the home of railroad tycoon Henry Plant, who yearned for a palace for himself (did everyone in Tampa crave a palace?). The museum has most of the original opulence intact with furnishings and artifacts from the Orient and the Victorian era and a lavish garden to do it justice.

The one drawback to visiting the Henry B. Plant Museum is the let-down when leaving to return to the 21st century. Our current times just can’t live up to the glamor of the Gilded Age.

Visit the museum Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., except for Sundays, when it opens at noon. It is closed on Mondays and is free one Saturday a month. Call 813-254-1891 for more specific information.

Address: 401 West Kennedy Blvd., Tampa

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15: American Victory Ship & Museum

American Victory Ship & Museum

The American Victory Ship & Museum is one of the top Tampa attractions that has been named the 15 Best Family Things to Do in Tampa. The 72-year-old ship has served the United States in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War and is a wonder of maritime history.

The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10: a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and opens at noon on Mondays for self-guided tours through nine decks. Docent-guided tours are only $25.00. The ship is mostly in its original condition, including the electrician’s quarters, engine room, radio room, mess hall, hospital, captain quarters, and more.

Exhibits include rare artifacts, photographs, medals, and uniforms. The cost of admission for adults is $12.00, and for children under 12, $7.00. Veterans pay $10.00.

Address: 705 Channelside Dr., Tampa

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16: Hillsborough River State Park

Hillsborough River State Park

Hillsborough River State Park is one of the places to visit in Tampa if you love camping but refuse to give up the air conditioning, electricity, and your beloved Keurig coffee maker.

Comfortable furniture, a carpet, and a convenient fridge are also part of the tents.

The state park has embraced the latest trend in camping – glamping. Call it camping with style – sleeping outdoors while refusing to give up any indoor comforts.

These tents rent between $150.00 to $175.00 per night. The camping grounds have a café, a pool, and tours of Fort Foster.

There are seven miles of hiking and biking trails, wildlife, kayaking, and fishing.

Fort Foster was erected in 1836 to defend the Hillsborough Bridge against Seminole attacks.

Tours of Fort Foster need to be prearranged by calling 813-987-6771.

Address: 15402 US-301, Thonotosassa, FL 33592

17: Resort Day Pass

Resort Day Pass
Dreamstime/Sean Pavone

It happens to everyone. You’re looking for things to do in Tampa that involve pampering and luxury but insist on an affordable price. Impossible? A Resort Day Pass at the Tampa Marriott Water Street has the power to change your day.

Starting at $20.00 for adults, the pass includes the use of the rooftop pool with poolside service and the fitness center. 

A $40.00 package includes all the above, plus a complimentary cocktail. The $70.00 package consists of the above and a luxury daybed, complimentary fresh fruit, and bottled water.

The $200-day pass includes the above with passes for four people, a private cabana, two complimentary cocktails, and a $40.00 food credit.

The ultimate luxurious day passes for $800.00 includes the above, day passes for four people, a private cabana, dinner and cocktail pairing at Anchor and Brine, and a $300.00 food credit.

Address: 505 Water St, Tampa

18: How to Spa in Tampa

How to Spa in Tampa
Safety Harbor Resort and Spa

Even on a budget vacation, there are things to do in Tampa, such as glamping, that can elevate any experience into something special.

One of those is Any Day Funday at the luxurious Safety Harbor Spa and Resort. You do not have to be a guest of the resort to enjoy this indulgence.

The Funday includes a 50-minute massage or facial and lunch and champagne. Feel free to stay for the entire day and enjoy Zumba, yoga, aquatics, Pilates, the indoor and outdoor pool, and a bit of fun at the tiki bar.

It only costs $159.00 to indulge in Any Day Funday.

The spa supports healing through water, so inquire about all their water features, such as a sauna treatment, sea salt exfoliation with a sauna, and a massage with Vichy Shower.

Address: 105 North Bayshore Drive, Safety Harbor, FL 34695

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19: HorsePower for Kids

HorsePower for Kids

One of the cool Tampa attractions that are based on pure animal power is HorsePower for Kids for both novice and experienced horseback riders. All rides are led by experienced guides.

The ranch has a bird sanctuary, a petting zoo, a treehouse, tire swings, peacocks, and a picnic area with a playground. It’s a children’s Garden of Eden.

Admission to the ranch is $14.00 for children over one year old, and pony rides are $5.00 each.

However, the company believes strongly in the healing power of animals; anyone who cannot afford the admission price will receive a free “scholarship” to enter.

Tour the ranch while riding a horse-drawn hayride before toasting marshmallows by a fire. The cost of the hayride, which includes up to 30 people, is a total of $495.00.

Let's not forget the ranch's lovely barn, available for western-themed parties, weddings, and quinceanera.

Address: 8005 Racetrack Rd., Tampa

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20: Dinosaur World

Dinosaur World
Dreamstime/Tony Bosse

One of the fun family-type things to do in Tampa is to wander among the dinosaurs Jurassic Park-style.

There are 200 life-sized dinosaurs spread over 20 acres, which also has a dinosaur-themed playground for kids. Not surprisingly, T-Rex is the most beloved of the ancient creatures. A definite prehistoric star.

One of the favorite activities is the weekend excavations, which allow visitors to pan for gems and minerals. The huge gift shop has dinosaur artifacts, toys, and games.

Entrance to Dinosaur World is $20.37 for adults and $15.00 for children. The special weekend excavations cost $28.97 for adults and $23.60 for children.

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

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21: Safari Wilderness

Safari Wilderness
Safari Wilderness

One of the most popular attractions in Tampa allows you to explore Africa without leaving the U.S. Safari Wilderness is not to be confused with a zoo.

This large wilderness ranch was created for seeing the 260-acres African wilderness through guided drives, on ATV, by kayak … or on the back of a camel!

Guests can feed the animals from the special Safari vehicle, and kids love the petting barn. The ranch arranges encounters with cheetahs and other delightful animals as a tour add-on. Tours begin at $125.00.

For visitors who wish to stay overnight or up to six nights, Safari Wilderness has glamping sites available starting at $400 a night.

The tents allow sleeping for four people within sight of the ranch’s family of cheetahs. Premium tents come with a deck, a bathroom, and an air conditioner.

Wilderness Safari hosts evening gatherings by a campfire, perfect for enjoying a meal.

Address: 10850 Moore Road, Lakeland, FL 33809

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22: Bok Tower Gardens

Bok Tower Gardens
Dreamstime/Sean Pavone

Bok Tower Gardens is one of the relaxing spots in Tampa designed to bring joy to your face. It is a historically incredible landscaped garden with a backdrop of lush foliage and spring blooms of magnolias and azaleas.

There are tranquil recesses and spots to simply sit and contemplate the meaning of life while 126 species of birds sing overhead.

This is nature as it was meant to be. Two different paths weave through the gardens, and one leads to the enchanting Singing Tower.

The 205-foot Singing Tower in the center of the garden has 60 bells and provides daily musical entertainment between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.

Visitors should also drop by the Blue Palmetto Café between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. for delicious light meals and a glass of wine.

The gardens are open every day of the year from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Admission for adults is $17.00 and for children under 12, it is $5.00.

Address: 1151 Tower Blvd, Lake Wales, FL 33853

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23: Tampa Bay Food Tours

Tampa Bay Food Tours
Tampa Bay Food Tours

Tampa attractions include the finest Downtown restaurants that can be visited on the Tampa Bay Food Tours.

This 3-hour tour is $94.00 and guarantees an exquisite Tampa dining experience with up to five restaurants that will showcase their finest cuisine with paired wine.

Food and wine are only a part of the event, though. This is an opportunity to learn about Tampa’s history, scenery, and beautiful architecture.

The tour usually starts at Mailo’s Prime Steakhouse on 400 N Ashley Drive, but specifics will be provided when booking online.

Address: Downtown Tampa

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24: Empower Adventures Tampa Bay

Empower Adventures Tampa Bay
Empower Adventures Tampa Bay

One of the attractions in Tampa that can test your nerves and bravado is Empower Adventures Tampa Bay. As Dione Warwick declared in her song, “Only the strong, only the brave, can survive.”

Tampa’s top-rated Zip Line Adventure is not something to miss. The strong and brave will climb a 60-foot tower to engage in five different zip lines and cross a 200-foot suspension bridge with a spectacular view of Tampa Bay.

While daytime zip-lining can be heart-pounding enough, Empower Adventures ups the challenge with moonlight zip-lining tours. Soar over Tampa by the light of the moon.

A two-hour daytime ziplining adventure is $79.00. A moonlit adventure costs $84.00.

Since you will want to share this bravery with friends and family, Empower Adventure will email you photos that you can modestly post on Instagram.

Address: 423 Lafayette Blvd, Oldsmar, FL 34677

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25: Weedon Island Preserve

Weedon Island Preserve

One of the amazing things to do in Tampa is to explore the 3,190-acre Weeding Island Preserve.

This facility is an educational center focused on Tampa animals and plants and the city’s dedication to preserving this rich history for future generations. The connection between people and the environment is explored in depth.

The environment here goes back 7,000 years. A boardwalk (wheelchair accessible) leads to an observation tower where nature comes to life in the form of white pelicans, roseate spoonbills, herons, egrets, and many more.

Birdwatching from the boardwalk is very popular. Trails help guide visitors through the scrubs and continue to the water, where visitors can kayak around the mangrove, an excursion that will take around three hours.

There are four picnic areas available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Center is open Thursdays through Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and opens at 11:00 on Sundays. It is closed Mondays through Wednesdays.

Address: 1800 Weedon Dr NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33702

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1. What is Tampa known for?

Tampa is a city in Florida by the Gulf Coast. It is known for its Florida Aquarium, its lavish Tampa Theater, as well as its exciting Ybor City neighborhood, which has the finest cigars west of Cuba. Tampa's even temperature makes it a desirable year-round destination.

2. What is the best time to visit Tampa?

Without a doubt, the optimal time to visit Tampa is between September and December. Hotel prices are rock bottom, and the weather ranges between 70 to 85 degrees for some delightful comfort, making it easy to explore the outdoors. August, on the other hand, is the muggiest month when it is best to remain near a pool.

3. What is the number 1 attraction in Tampa?

Busch Gardens tops the list of Tampa attractions because it is a unique combination of an amusement park and a zoo. It features thrilling roller coasters and other rides alongside animal exhibits showcasing more than 200 species from around the world.

4. What is the most unique attraction in Tampa?

Not as well-known as some of the other Tampa attractions, the Henry B. Plant Museum is a hidden gem that brings the opulence and glamor of the early 20th century to life in the 21st century.

Wrapping Up

Visitors can find excitement in Tampa 24 hours a day. From marvelous dining to visiting with delightful animals, things to do in Tampa are plentiful for visitors of any age. Busch Gardens, Dinosaur World, and Safari Wilderness are all Tampa attractions to brighten the world of any child. From ziplining to museums to luxurious day passes, adults can also have the time of their lives. The city is alive with restored historic architecture and relaxing urban parks and is a paradise for wine and exotic food connoisseurs.

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