Top 10 Things to Do in Tampa FL
Located on the west coast of Florida on Tampa Bay, beside the Gulf of Mexico, Tampa is a popular city to visit and live in.
The city's annual celebration of "Gasparilla", which features the Gasparilla Pirate Festival, a mock pirate invasion held for over a hundred years, consisting of an "invasion" flotilla and parade, draws over a 400,000 visitors. The event is sometimes called Tampa's "Mardi Gras" and brings millions of dollars to the city's economy.
Below are my top 10 things to do in Tampa, FL.
And as it turns and dips, you're elevated or (dipping) depending on where you sit, it's like being (out on) the wing of a plane.— SheiKra designer: Walter Bolliger
Tampa's Busch Gardens focuses on an African theme, with many fantasic roller coaster and water rides, including the famous SheiKra "dive machine" roller coaster.
There is also a spacious zoo, with over 2,700 animals, including meerkats, hyenas, lemurs, cheetahs, peacocks, elephants, chimpanzees, zebras, tigers, and lions.
Home to more than 20,000 aquatic plants and animals from the Sunshine State and internationally, the Florida Aquarium is a great place to visit whatever your age or background.
Conveniently located in downtown Tampa, the facility uses enlightening, engaging, and inspiring exhibits and demonstrations to educate and entertain, with a particular focus on the importance of preserving Florida's natural resources.
One of the most interesting facts about Tampa is that at one time, the historic district of Ybor City was the cigar capital of the world. Immigrants came from countries such as Spain, Cuba, and Italy and rolled millions of cigars each year.
Those interested in this fascinating historic district can sign up for the Ybor City Guided Walking Tour or visit the Ybor City Museum State Park, which is housed in the former Ferlita Bakery (originally La Joven Francesca) building, once famous for supplying Cuban bread to the local Latin community.
The oldest operating brewing company in the United States, D. G. Yuengling & Son has a brewing history second to none.
Tours of the Tampa brewery are free. You can find out how Yuengling is brewed and bottled, discover how "America's Oldest Brewery" uses modern technology, and sample some cool, fine beer in the brewery's biergarten.
Tampa Electric Manatee Viewing Center
A great free attraction in the colder months that all the family can enjoy, manatee observation is experienced from the purpose-built boardwalks and observation decks.
When the bay waters get colder, the manatees congregate near the TECO power plant. TECO has turned that into an wonderful place for visitors and locals.
There is also a museum and snack bar for education and refreshments.
Henry B. Plant Museum
This is a beautiful old hotel that has been transformed into a museum which focuses on tourism during the Gilded Age, the elite lifestyle of the hotel's super-rich guests, and the building's use during the Spanish-American War.
Located on the University of Tampa’s campus, Plant Hall was formerly known as the Tampa Bay Hotel, opening in 1891. The hotel was built by the railroad magnate, Henry B. Plant near the terminus of his rail line.
The museum is a great place to learn about the history of Tampa and is open to the public every day except Monday and major holidays.
Lowry Park Zoo
An attractive, mid-sized, non-profit zoo, Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo is about more than just looking at animals.
Visitors will discover lots of interactive exhibits and chances to get closer to wildlife, including opportunities to feed a giraffe, handle a lorikeet, touch a stingray, and much more.
As well as all that you would expect at a traditional zoo, there is also a Manatee and Aquatic Center that concentrates on providing care for injured, ill and orphaned wild manatees.
The zoo also has play areas, wild rides, educational shows and places to buy food and eat.
Lettuce Lake Park
A 240-acre site that offers something for everyone, the Lettuce lake Park has been a popular attraction since it opened in 1982.
The park offers wooded picnic and playground areas, a cycling path/jogging trail, as well as being an excellent haven for nature study.
Free guided nature tours are offered on Saturdays and Sundays at 8:30 AM with participants meeting inside the visitor center.
Big Cat Rescue
For those who care about the plight of big cats throughout the world, Big Cat Rescue is an animal sanctuary that must be visited and supported.
A great place for those passionate about cats to see them in a safe clean environment. Animals housed here include tigers, lions, cheetahs, and jaguars.
There is always something happening at the Amalie Arena, whether you are interested in ice hockey, basketball, arena football games, or music concerts. So it is worth checking their schedule if you are visiting the area.
Formerly known as the Ice Palace, the building's naming rights were sold to the St. Petersburg Times in 2002 (which subsequently became the Tampa Bay Times). Since September 2014, when the naming rights were transferred to Amalie Oil, the stadium has been known as the Amalie Arena.
© 2015 Paul Goodman