Best Things to Do in Tampa: A Tourist Guide

Nestled on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Tampa is a vibrant city that offers a rich blend of cultural experiences, historical landmarks, and outdoor adventures. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, Tampa has something to offer everyone. From its bustling downtown area to its serene waterfronts, this city promises a memorable vacation. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the best things to do in Tampa, ensuring you make the most of your visit.

Tampa’s allure lies in its diverse attractions. The city is home to world-renowned theme parks, lush parks, cultural museums, and a thriving culinary scene. This guide will cover various aspects of Tampa, from family-friendly activities and historic neighborhoods to outdoor adventures and culinary delights. As we explore each facet of Tampa, you’ll discover why this city is a top destination for tourists from around the globe.

Family-Friendly Activities in Tampa

Tampa is a haven for families, offering numerous attractions that cater to all age groups. The city boasts some of the best theme parks and family-oriented spots that guarantee fun and excitement.

Family Friendly Activities in Tampa
Family-Friendly Activities in Tampa

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

One of the premier attractions in Tampa, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, combines thrilling rides, live entertainment, and a world-class zoo. The park’s African-themed safari experience allows visitors to see a variety of animals up close, including giraffes, zebras, and rhinos. For adrenaline junkies, Busch Gardens features some of the most exhilarating roller coasters, such as SheiKra and Montu. Families can also enjoy various shows and interactive exhibits, making it a perfect destination for a day of fun.

The Florida Aquarium

Located in downtown Tampa, The Florida Aquarium is a must-visit for marine enthusiasts. This impressive facility is home to over 14,000 aquatic animals and plants, offering interactive exhibits that educate and entertain. Highlights include the Coral Reef Gallery, where visitors can walk through a tunnel surrounded by sea life, and the Wetlands Trail, showcasing Florida’s unique ecosystems. The aquarium also offers behind-the-scenes tours and animal encounters, providing a deeper understanding of marine conservation efforts.

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo

Voted as one of the best zoos in the United States, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo offers a delightful experience for families. Spread across 63 acres, the zoo is home to more than 1,300 animals, including exotic species from around the world. Visitors can explore various themed sections, such as the Asian Gardens, Primate World, and the Florida Wildlife Center. The zoo also features interactive exhibits, educational programs, and seasonal events, ensuring a fun and educational experience for all ages.

Glazer Children’s Museum

Aimed at fostering creativity and learning in young minds, the Glazer Children’s Museum in downtown Tampa offers hands-on exhibits and interactive play areas. Children can engage in a variety of activities, from role-playing in a kid-sized city to exploring scientific concepts in the museum’s innovative exhibits. The museum also hosts educational programs, workshops, and special events, making it a great place for families to spend a day.

Exploring Historic Neighborhoods

Tampa’s rich history is evident in its diverse neighborhoods, each offering a unique glimpse into the city’s past. Walking through these historic districts, visitors can appreciate the architecture, culture, and stories that have shaped Tampa.

Ybor City

Known as the “Cigar Capital of the World,” Ybor City is one of Tampa’s most iconic neighborhoods. Founded in the 1880s by cigar manufacturers, this historic district is now a vibrant area filled with restaurants, bars, and shops. Visitors can explore the Ybor City Museum State Park to learn about the neighborhood’s history and its significance in the cigar industry. Walking tours offer insights into the area’s colorful past, while the lively nightlife scene makes it a popular destination for evening entertainment.

Ybor City Tampa
Ybor City Tampa

Hyde Park

Hyde Park is a charming neighborhood known for its beautiful historic homes, tree-lined streets, and upscale shopping and dining. The area is perfect for a leisurely stroll, with Bayshore Boulevard offering scenic views of Tampa Bay. Hyde Park Village, the neighborhood’s commercial hub, features a mix of high-end boutiques, cafes, and restaurants. The area’s historic charm and modern amenities make it a favorite among locals and tourists alike.

Seminole Heights

Seminole Heights is a trendy neighborhood that has retained its historic charm while embracing a contemporary vibe. Known for its bungalow-style homes and eclectic atmosphere, Seminole Heights is a haven for foodies, with numerous restaurants, breweries, and cafes offering a diverse culinary experience. The neighborhood also hosts community events, farmers’ markets, and art festivals, making it a vibrant part of Tampa’s cultural scene.

Outdoor Adventures and Natural Beauty

Tampa’s natural beauty and favorable climate make it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts. From serene parks to thrilling water activities, the city offers a wide range of outdoor adventures.

Hillsborough River State Park

Located just a short drive from downtown Tampa, Hillsborough River State Park offers a tranquil escape into nature. The park features scenic hiking trails, canoeing and kayaking opportunities, and picnic areas. The Hillsborough River flows through the park, providing beautiful views and a chance to see local wildlife. Visitors can also explore the historic Fort Foster, a reconstructed fort from the Second Seminole War, adding a historical element to the outdoor experience.

Tampa Riverwalk

The Tampa Riverwalk is a 2.6-mile-long pedestrian path that runs along the Hillsborough River, connecting various attractions and parks in downtown Tampa. The Riverwalk offers stunning views of the river and the city skyline, making it a popular spot for walking, jogging, and cycling. Along the way, visitors can enjoy public art installations, waterfront parks, and access to cultural institutions such as the Tampa Museum of Art and the Glazer Children’s Museum. The Riverwalk is also home to numerous events and festivals throughout the year, adding to its vibrant atmosphere.

Lettuce Lake Park

For those seeking a peaceful retreat, Lettuce Lake Park offers a serene setting with diverse ecosystems to explore. The park features a boardwalk that winds through a cypress swamp, providing excellent opportunities for birdwatching and wildlife photography. Visitors can also enjoy kayaking and canoeing on the park’s waterways, as well as hiking and biking on the trails. Lettuce Lake Park’s natural beauty and tranquility make it a perfect destination for nature lovers.

Culinary Delights and Nightlife

Tampa’s culinary scene is a melting pot of flavors, reflecting the city’s diverse cultural influences. From local seafood to international cuisine, Tampa offers a wide array of dining options to satisfy any palate.

Culinary Delights and Nightlife Tampa
Culinary Delights and Nightlife Tampa

Columbia Restaurant

Established in 1905, Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City is Florida’s oldest restaurant and a Tampa institution. This family-owned establishment is renowned for its Spanish and Cuban cuisine, featuring dishes such as paella, Cuban sandwiches, and their famous “1905 Salad.” The restaurant’s historic ambiance, complete with hand-painted tiles and Spanish architecture, adds to the dining experience. A visit to Tampa would be incomplete without enjoying a meal at Columbia Restaurant.


Located along the Tampa Riverwalk, Ulele offers a unique dining experience that celebrates the flavors of Florida’s native ingredients. The restaurant’s menu features dishes inspired by Native American and multicultural influences, such as charbroiled oysters, alligator hush puppies, and fresh seafood. Ulele’s riverside location provides a picturesque setting for outdoor dining, and the on-site brewery offers a selection of craft beers to complement the meal.

Bern’s Steak House

For a fine dining experience, Bern’s Steak House in South Tampa is a must-visit. This iconic restaurant is famous for its aged steaks, extensive wine collection, and decadent desserts. Bern’s offers an unparalleled dining experience, with personalized service and attention to detail. The restaurant also features a dessert room, where guests can indulge in sweet treats while enjoying live music. A visit to Bern’s Steak House is a culinary journey that promises to delight even the most discerning food enthusiasts.

Cultural Experiences and Museums

Tampa’s rich cultural heritage is showcased through its numerous museums and cultural institutions. These attractions offer insights into the city’s history, art, and scientific achievements.

Tampa Museum of Art

The Tampa Museum of Art, located along the Tampa Riverwalk, is a premier cultural institution that features an impressive collection of contemporary and classical art. The museum’s rotating exhibitions showcase works from renowned artists, while the permanent collection includes Greek and Roman antiquities. The museum also offers educational programs, workshops, and events, making it a vibrant part of Tampa’s cultural landscape.

Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI)

MOSI is a science museum that offers interactive exhibits and hands-on learning experiences for visitors of all ages. The museum features a variety of exhibits focused on space, technology, and natural sciences. Highlights include the Saunders Planetarium, the Sky Trail Ropes Course, and the BioWorks Butterfly Garden. MOSI’s engaging exhibits and educational programs make it a popular destination for families and science enthusiasts.

Tampa Bay History Center

The Tampa Bay History Center provides a comprehensive look at the region’s history, from the early Native American inhabitants to the present day. The museum’s exhibits cover a wide range of topics, including the cigar industry’s impact on Tampa, the history of pirate legends in the area, and the city’s role in the Spanish-American War. Interactive displays and multimedia presentations bring Tampa’s history to life, making it an educational and entertaining experience for visitors.

Shopping and Entertainment

Tampa offers a diverse range of shopping and entertainment options, from upscale malls to vibrant nightlife districts. Whether you’re looking for a unique souvenir or a night out on the town, Tampa has something to offer.

Shopping and Entertainment Tampa
Shopping and Entertainment Tampa

International Plaza and Bay Street

International Plaza and Bay Street is Tampa’s premier shopping destination, featuring a mix of high-end retailers, department stores, and dining options. The mall’s open-air Bay Street section offers a lively atmosphere with restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues. Visitors can enjoy a day of shopping, followed by a delicious meal or a night out at one of the many bars and clubs.

Tampa Theatre

Built in 1926, the Tampa Theatre is a historic movie palace that showcases classic films, independent movies, and live performances. The theatre’s stunning architecture, complete with ornate details and a star-lit ceiling, provides a unique and nostalgic movie-going experience. In addition to films, the Tampa Theatre hosts concerts, comedy shows, and special events, making it a cultural landmark in the city.

Amalie Arena

For sports fans and concert-goers, Amalie Arena is the place to be. Home to the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, the arena hosts a variety of sporting events, concerts, and entertainment shows throughout the year. With state-of-the-art facilities and a central location in downtown Tampa, Amalie Arena offers an exciting venue for live entertainment.

Amalie Arena
Amalie Arena


Tampa’s diverse attractions, rich history, and vibrant cultural scene make it a top destination for tourists. Whether you’re exploring family-friendly activities, delving into the city’s historic neighborhoods, or enjoying outdoor adventures, Tampa offers something for everyone. The city’s culinary delights, cultural experiences, and shopping and entertainment options further enhance the visitor experience, ensuring a memorable stay in this dynamic Gulf Coast city.

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