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The Top 10 Things to Do in the Tampa Bay, St Petersburg, and Clearwater Area.

Updated on July 3, 2012

When making plans to visit Florida try not to forget the Tampa Bay metro area. There are many things to do there, both indoors and out. If you want to see wildlife then there's plenty of alligators, ibis, and panthers to choose from. From fishing to coming face to face with 3,000 year old baby's, Tampa Bay is a place with much to offer. This is a rundown of the things you really need to get out and soak up when in that part of Florida. Sorry, only ten could manage to make this tough list.

Madeira Beach sunset.
Madeira Beach sunset. | Source
source: androidzoom.com
source: androidzoom.com

10. John's Pass

Grand things often times come in small packages. Keep this in mind before you choose to discount John's Pass as one of the best things to do in Tampa Bay. This tiny fishing village sits on some of the best real estate in Pinellas county. It's located in Madiera Beach and has the pass as a benefit of connecting the gulf with Boca Ciega Bay.


There are cozy little shops lined up, some of the best ice cream you'll ever find, and pelicans that aren't afraid to greet you. When you're done shopping a strong pass current provides you with some of the best fishing in the area. Be sure to pet the reptiles at The Alligator Attraction.

Also, stop by the world famous Gators on the Pass. A sporty restaurant where you may see a celebrity or two.

Source

9. Pier 60

Located on the westside of downtown Clearwater, Pier 60 makes this countdown as a top thing to do in Tampa Bay. This 1,080 foot long fishing pier isn't your typical smelly stroll. It boasts all sorts of vendors with their artistic crafts on display.

You'll find musicians, fire breathers, dancers, and even balloon artists. It's open every day except Christmas, and the pier comes ready with binoculars for you to look out into the Gulf of Mexico. Pier 60 has some of the most creative playgrounds I've seen for kids and an even more remarkable sunset. A trip to Tampa Bay isn't complete without one.

8. The Florida Aquarium

If you like marine biology you'll love The Florida Aquarium. It's not quite as large as the Ronald Reagan Aquarium in Washington or the Georgia Aquarium, but it's location adds to it's splendor. Built in 1995 in the Channelside district this water musem is some sight.

It's right next to Tampa Port Authority so a cruise is only some steps away. Come and learn about all of Florida's native wildlife, including four foot long mangrove snappers. Cruise the bay for dolphins and visit the coral reef gallery...a 500,000 gallon tank of every color you can think of.

tradewinds-resort.com
tradewinds-resort.com

7. Anna Maria Island

One of the most relaxing things to do in Tampa Bay will be spending a day on Anna Maria Island. The island, which is a barrier island in Manatee County, sits at the southern mouth of Tampa Bay. This place is absolutely stunning. With it's eggshell white beaches and homely "non-touristy" vibe Anna Maria Island is simply utopian.

The quiet community doesn't sit too far outside the much busier city limits. It's only about 60 miles south of Tampa. For the calm and serene views it's definitely worth it the drive. The island's a hot spot for weddings and a fisherman's haven in one. The beaches of Anna Maria Island are the closest you'll come to a Caribbean style beach in Tampa Bay.

University of Tampa.
University of Tampa. | Source

6. Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park

The downtown Tampa river walk is one of the city's latest attractions. In an effort to improve the aesthetic feel of the city center, local government hit jackpot with the decision to construct it on eight acres of land. The waterfront park is meticulously laid out with designs from New York based landscape architect, Thomas Balsley.

It overlooks the Hillsborough River and has the Glazer Children's Museum and the Tampa Museum of Art nearby. Curtis Hixon Park is probably one of the most beautiful outdoor eye candy you'll find in Tampa Bay.

source: www.tampacarnival.com
source: www.tampacarnival.com

5. Tampa Bay Caribbean Carnival

This even will be one of the most cultural spectacles you'll find in Tampa Bay. Each year the gala puts many different islands together and displays that side of the globe.

If you don't go to one you'll be missing out on live steel band music, ethnic foods, Caribbean recording artists, and more. Don't leave without witnessing the "Mas" costume parade. You'll get to see expression through some of the oldest art forms in west indian history.

4. MOSI

The Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa should also be on your to do list. MOSI features over 400,000 square feet of scientific playground bliss. There are thrill exhibits for adults. Guests can suspend themselves 30 feet above ground on MOSI's High Wire Bike.

Kids in Charge is the largest science center for children in the country. If the Mummies of the World: The Exhibition doesn't sound enticing enough I don't know what will.

source: baseball-wallpapers.net
source: baseball-wallpapers.net

3. Tropicana Field - The Rays

Sport fan or not, you have to visit Tropicana Field, or "The Trop." Try to make it during baseball season because going to a Rays game is one of the hottest things to do in Tampa Bay. The organization routinely put on family game nights and other promotions to boost attendance.

Another reason why ticket prices are much more affordable than the average MLB game. In 2011 the average Rays ticket was $19.42...league average was almost $27. The Rays Summer Concert Series features some of music industry's hottest acts and the shows are usually included in game ticket price.

Cheetah Hunt

2. Busch Gardens

Visiting the theme park has to be in the top things to do in Tampa Bay. The Anheisuer-Busch owned company boasts a jungle and wilderness theme that is unmatched with any other theme park.

The moment your car arrives on their parking lots, which has nearly 5,000 spaces, you're greeted by their inviting guests. With at least 8 roller coasters to choose from and over 2,500 animal species, Busch Gardens of Tampa Bay will be an experience your family will always remember.

Honorable Mentions
 
15. Adventure Island
14. The Salvadore Dali Museum
13. Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
12. Guavaween
11. Florida State Fair

1. Gasparilla

The Gasparilla Pirate Festival has been a Tampa tradition since 1904. The parade was inspired by the legendary Jose Gaspar. He was a former naval officer that switched over to piracy. The Tampa Bay waters was where he preyed. Rumor has it that Tampa's cigar manufacturing history fueled him.

Today the parade is this extravaganza consisting of everything from an air show courtesy of MacDill Air Force Base to women showing their chests for beads. Don't worry, parents, there's an annual kids version of the parade, too.

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