35 Things to Do in Tampa
By Janet Benoir – October 9, 2023
Tampa, a vibrant coastal city in west central Florida, ranks as one of the state’s top tourist destinations. Rich in history, this city boasts an impressive array of attractions including world-class museums, theaters, family-friendly activities, outdoor adventures, beaches, and sporting venues.
In addition, Tampa’s picturesque waterfront area is home to numerous parks and restaurants, making it the perfect place to explore. With several must-see attractions, you and your family are guaranteed an unforgettable experience in this captivating city.
The Tampa Riverwalk
Tampa Riverwalk is a must-visit attraction when exploring Tampa. This 2.6-mile pedestrian trail stretches along the banks of the Hillsborough River, allowing you to admire the waterfront and city skyline as you stroll, jog, or cycle. Numerous parks, museums, and restaurants line the path, offering you countless opportunities for entertainment, relaxation, and gastronomic delights.
For art and history enthusiasts, a stop at the Tampa Museum of Art, Glazer Children’s Museum, or the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts is worthwhile. In contrast, those seeking green spaces can enjoy picturesque spots like the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park or Water Works Park. While you’re there, indulge in Tampa’s culinary scene by visiting the iconic Armature Works or The Sail Plaza.
Downtown Tampa serves as the city’s core, featuring numerous businesses, cultural attractions, eateries, and shops. Its many restaurants, hotels, and nightlife choices make the area a sought-after destination for travelers. Tampa Bay offers a wealth of experiences, including museums, theaters, and stadiums that cater to various interests.
Dive into the rich history of the region at the Tampa Bay History Center, a captivating museum situated in downtown Tampa. With displays on topics spanning from Native American culture to modern lifestyles, there’s something for all visitors to appreciate. One notable exhibit features a replica of Ybor City’s famed cigar factory. In downtown Tampa, you can also encounter the widely popular Florida Aquarium.
Tampa Museum of Art
Visiting the Tampa Museum of Art is an excellent choice for those looking to appreciate cultural and artistic masterpieces in Tampa. The museum, located in the heart of downtown, showcases a wide variety of art collections ranging from contemporary and modern works to ancient Roman and Greek artifacts. As you wander through the galleries, you’ll find yourself immersed in a thought-provoking and creative experience.
This museum also hosts temporary exhibitions, ensuring a dynamic experience for return visits. Don’t forget to check out the on-site restaurant and gift shop for souvenirs and an enjoyable dining experience with stunning views of Hillsborough River. Overall, a visit to the Tampa Museum of Art is a must for anyone interested in art and culture within the vibrant city of Tampa.
Glazer Children’s Museum
When visiting Tampa, a great destination to consider is the Glazer Children’s Museum. This interactive museum encourages children to learn through play, offering hands-on exhibits that cover a variety of topics. From science and technology to arts and culture, this museum caters to young minds seeking adventure and knowledge.
Take advantage of over 170 creative and engaging exhibits designed to inspire curiosity. Some popular attractions include the Water’s Journey exhibit, which educates about the water cycle, and the Design + Build section that encourages architectural creativity. Make sure you add the Glazer Children’s Museum to your list of places to explore while in Tampa.
The Florida Aquarium
In Tampa, Florida, you’ll find the captivating Florida Aquarium, brimming with aquatic wonders and a perfect stop for both education and entertainment. Not only will you immerse yourself in a world of marine life, but you’ll also gain a deeper understanding of the local ecosystem and the importance of conservation.
As you explore, you’ll have the opportunity to observe over 9,000 fascinating aquatic creatures, including sea turtles, sharks, and colorful fish. For the adventurous, the Tampa Bay Eco-Tours provide an interactive experience, allowing you to witness dolphins and local wildlife in their natural habitat.
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
When visiting Tampa, don’t miss out on a thrilling adventure at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. This action-packed amusement park offers an array of exciting attractions for guests of all ages, from adrenaline-pumping roller coasters to fascinating wildlife encounters. As you explore the park’s themed areas, such as the jungles of Africa and the exotic lands of Egypt, you’ll discover exhilarating rides and entertaining shows designed to captivate and delight.
Enhance your visit by interacting with remarkable animals or taking part in informative tours. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is known for its impressive collection of species from around the world. Not only will you witness intriguing animals up close, but you’ll also learn about their habitats and the conservation efforts in place to protect them.
When you visit Tampa, one of the enjoyable experiences is to rent an EBoat. These electric boats are environmentally friendly and provide a peaceful and relaxing way to explore the waterways of Tampa. You can cruise the picturesque canals and channels, take in beautiful sights, and even dock at waterfront restaurants to savor some local cuisine.
EBoats Tampa offers a range of boats that can accommodate up to 12 passengers, making it perfect for gatherings with friends and family. You don’t require any special boating experience or license, as they provide a simple orientation, making it accessible for everyone.
At Sparkman Wharf, you can relish the waterfront atmosphere while exploring numerous dining, shopping, and entertainment options. Take your taste buds on a delightful journey through a wide array of exquisite restaurants and food trucks, offering delicacies catered to diverse palates. Don’t forget to stop by the craft beer garden to sip on local brews as you unwind.
While you’re there, immerse yourself in Tampa’s lively social scene by participating in outdoor activities and events hosted at Sparkman Wharf. Stroll along the picturesque boardwalk or lounge on the lawn to enjoy the beautiful Florida weather, and catch an outdoor movie or live music performance. This dynamic destination truly promotes a vibrant, convivial experience for all visitors.
Ybor City Historic District
In Tampa, a must-visit spot is the Ybor City Historic District. Established by cigar manufacturer Vicente Martinez-Ybor in the late 1800s, this vibrant neighborhood showcases a rich history and diverse culture. As you stroll through the charming brick streets, you’ll discover various dining options, unique shops, and art galleries, which offer an authentic taste of Tampa’s heritage.
While exploring Ybor City, make sure to visit the famous Columbia Restaurant, a historical gem that has been serving delicious Spanish cuisine since 1905. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn more about the neighborhood’s history by visiting the Ybor City Museum State Park, where you’ll find intriguing exhibits about the area’s past.
Cigar City Cider and Mead
If you’re looking for a unique local beverage experience in Tampa, be sure to visit Cigar City Cider and Mead. This craft establishment offers an exceptional selection of handcrafted ciders and meads, with a focus on using fresh, local ingredients. Their creative flavor profiles and innovative combinations make it a must-visit destination for any adult beverage enthusiast.
During your visit, take advantage of Cigar City Cider and Mead’s welcoming atmosphere by sampling a variety of their offerings. They frequently host events, which include live music and tastings, making it the perfect stop on a night out in Tampa. With an experience like this, you’ll be eager to bring home some of their unique flavors to share with your friends and family.
JC Newman Cigar Company
While in Tampa, be sure to visit the JC Newman Cigar Company, a historic gem within the city. Established in 1895, this family-owned business stands as the last running cigar factory in Tampa. You can take a guided tour to learn about the rich history of the company and the intricate art of hand-rolling cigars.
Additionally, don’t miss the opportunity to peruse their retail shop, showcasing an impressive collection of cigars, accessories, and memorabilia. After your tour, unwind in their comfortable smoking lounge while savoring a fine cigar. The JC Newman Cigar Company offers an enriching experience that helps you appreciate Tampa’s unique cultural heritage.
Bayshore Boulevard Greenway
While visiting Tampa, be sure to take a stroll along the picturesque Bayshore Boulevard Greenway. This scenic waterfront trail stretches for 4.5 miles, offering you spectacular views of the city skyline and the glistening waters of Hillsborough Bay. As you wander, you’ll find numerous benches, shaded spots, and exercise stations, making it an ideal spot for various activities.
Bayshore Boulevard Greenway is also a popular spot for jogging, biking, and rollerblading, thanks to its well-maintained and spacious path. The trail extends through various parks and monuments, which you can stop by to appreciate Tampa’s rich history and natural beauty. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for local wildlife such as dolphins and birds as you enjoy the peaceful atmosphere and stunning views.
Tampa Bay History Center
Tampa Bay History Center is a must-see attraction when exploring Tampa. This cultural hub offers a fascinating glimpse into the region’s rich past, from its indigenous inhabitants to its modern-day developments. As you navigate through the exhibits, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of Tampa’s heritage and the events that have shaped the city.
The center is home to an impressive collection of artifacts, interactive displays, and educational programs that cater to visitors of all ages. Immerse yourself in the stories of Tampa’s iconic figures and marvel at the diverse array of historical treasures. Don’t miss out on this captivating experience, as it will undoubtedly enrich your appreciation for Tampa’s vibrant history.
Henry B. Plant Museum
While exploring Tampa, don’t miss out on the chance to visit the Henry B. Plant Museum. Housed in the stunning former Tampa Bay Hotel, this museum showcases the opulent lifestyle of the Gilded Age as well as the history of the hotel. Step back in time and experience the luxurious surroundings that attracted famous guests such as Teddy Roosevelt and Babe Ruth.
At the museum, you’ll be immersed in the rich history of the hotel, as you explore its elegant rooms and exhibits like the Grand Hall, reading and writing room, and even a replica guest room. As you tour the museum, you’ll gain insight into the life and vision of Henry B. Plant, who contributed significantly to Florida’s development in the 19th century.
Zootampa at Lowry Park
If you’re looking for something fun and educational to do in Tampa, be sure to visit Zootampa at Lowry Park. This popular wildlife reserve houses over 1,100 animals, representing more than 300 species from around the world. As you wander through the park, you’ll encounter fascinating creatures such as manatees, elephants, and even Florida panthers.
In addition to the diverse range of animals, Zootampa offers engaging experiences to enhance your visit. You can participate in animal encounters, view wildlife from up close, and learn about the park’s conservation efforts. Children will also enjoy the splash pad and amusement rides available. So, make your way to Zootampa at Lowry Park and discover the fascinating world of wildlife while having a great time in Tampa.
Museum of Science and Industry
Tampa offers a variety of attractions for visitors to explore, and one noteworthy destination is the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI). This interactive and educational facility allows you to explore various science concepts in an engaging and entertaining way.
At MOSI, you can delve into space exploration, experience the wonders of the human body, or examine robotics and engineering. MOSI caters to all age groups, making it the perfect destination for families, school field trips, or even solo adventures.
Big Cat Rescue
If you’re looking to explore one of Tampa’s unique attractions, Big Cat Rescue should be on your list. This sanctuary is dedicated to the care and conservation of large felines, including lions, tigers, leopards, and other exotic cat species. You’ll witness these majestic creatures up close and learn about their stories of rescue and rehabilitation.
Not only do you get a chance to see these impressive animals in person, but you’ll also get valuable information about the organization’s efforts to protect them through education and advocacy. Big Cat Rescue offers guided tours to ensure a safe and informative experience, providing an unforgettable adventure during your visit to Tampa.
Are you looking for a unique adventure in Tampa? Consider visiting the Giraffe Ranch, a wildlife preserve where you can get up close and personal with these majestic animals. Embrace the chance to learn about giraffe conservation and witness them thrive in their natural habitat. The Giraffe Ranch offers experiences like no other and promises an unforgettable day.
Not only can you observe and feed giraffes, but you’ll also encounter a variety of other fascinating animals living in harmony. Zebras, rhinoceros, and lemurs are just a few of the exotic species that call this reserve home. As your journey unfolds, appreciate the beauty of nature and take with you memories of a truly one-of-a-kind experience in Tampa.
Empower Adventures Tampa Bay
If you’re seeking an adrenaline-filled experience in Tampa, don’t miss Empower Adventures Tampa Bay. This outdoor adventure park offers thrilling zipline expeditions that allow you to soar above the breathtaking landscapes of the area. As you glide through the air, you’ll have the chance to take in the stunning views of Tampa Bay and its lush surroundings.
Apart from ziplining, Empower Adventures Tampa Bay also provides other exciting activities, including aerial obstacle courses and suspension bridges. These challenges cater to different skill levels, promising fun options for both beginners and adrenaline junkies. So, when visiting Tampa, make a stop at Empower Adventures Tampa Bay for an unforgettable time filled with excitement and awe-inspiring moments.
Caladesi Island State Park
Caladesi Island State Park is a perfect spot for those seeking tranquility and natural beauty while visiting Tampa. Easily accessible by ferry or private boat, this pristine island offers a wide range of activities. Stroll along the sandy shores, take a swim in the warm Gulf waters, or explore the lush nature trails surrounded by untouched Florida vegetation.
During your visit, take advantage of the opportunity to go kayaking through the island’s mangroves, or try your hand at some world-class fishing. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for local wildlife such as dolphins, sea turtles, and native birds. As you enjoy your time on Caladesi Island State Park, make sure to leave only footprints and take nothing but memories from this picturesque escape.
If you’re looking to spend a relaxing day soaking up the sun, Clearwater Beach is the perfect destination. With its powdery white sands and breathtaking views, you’ll instantly feel at ease as you dip your toes into the crystal-clear Gulf waters. While you’re there, you can enjoy various activities such as sunbathing, swimming, surfing, or even take a leisurely stroll along the picturesque shoreline.
For those seeking adventure, be sure to explore the many water sports available in the area, including jet-ski rentals, parasailing, and paddleboarding. If marine wildlife interests you, consider joining a dolphin-watching cruise or an eco-tour to gain a deeper understanding of the diverse coastal ecosystem. As you enjoy all that Clearwater Beach has to offer, don’t forget to take a break and indulge in the local food scene.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium
Looking for a memorable experience in Tampa? Don’t miss out on the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. This well-known attraction is home to various marine animals, with a focus on the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of sick or injured creatures. Here, you can witness firsthand the remarkable efforts in marine life preservation and education, while enjoying interactive exhibits and presentations.
During your visit to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, you’ll have the opportunity to see dolphins, sea turtles, otters, and more up close. Get inspired by the heartwarming stories of the animals’ rescues and rehabilitations, and learn about the importance of conservation. This family-friendly destination is not only engaging and fun but also contributes to meaningful environmental work in the Tampa Bay area.
St. Pete Beach
While visiting Tampa, you should definitely check out St. Pete Beach. This beautiful stretch of sandy shore is perfect for a relaxing day under the sun. You can choose from various activities such as swimming, sunbathing, or trying your hand at water sports like paddleboarding and surfing. Numerous beachside cafes and bars offer delicious food and refreshing drinks, ensuring that you remain energized throughout your beach day.
Furthermore, St. Pete Beach provides opportunities for beachcombing, taking long walks, and enjoying the refreshing sea breeze. Don’t forget to catch a spectacular sunset, which is an unforgettable experience. The vibrant atmosphere and diverse crowd make St. Pete Beach a must-visit destination during your stay in Tampa.
The Dali Museum
While visiting Tampa, one must-see attraction is The Dali Museum. Located in nearby St. Petersburg, this museum houses the largest collection of Salvador Dali’s artwork outside of Europe. As you explore the stunning building, you’ll be amazed by the diverse collection of paintings, sculptures, and other works by this famous Surrealist artist.
During your visit, make sure to participate in any guided tours or interactive exhibits, which offer valuable insight into the artist’s life and creative process. Additionally, the museum frequently hosts special events and temporary exhibitions, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the alluring world of Salvador Dali. With its intriguing artwork and engaging activities, The Dali Museum is truly an unforgettable Tampa Bay area experience.
Morean Arts Center
Visiting Tampa is a great opportunity to explore its flourishing arts scene. One place you shouldn’t miss is the Morean Arts Center. This renowned institution has a long history of promoting local talent as well as showcasing diverse artistic styles. As you explore the Morean Arts Center, you can marvel at contemporary and traditional exhibitions, take part in interactive installations, or even learn new creative skills through various workshops.
During your visit, don’t forget to stop by the world-famous Chihuly Collection, which offers a stunning display of glass sculptures by the master Dale Chihuly. Additionally, the Morean Glass Studio & Hot Shop provides glassblowing demonstrations, allowing you to witness the fascinating process of glass art creation. By visiting the Morean Arts Center, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the rich artistic culture of Tampa and its talented artists.
Weedon Island Preserve
Weedon Island Preserve, located in St. Petersburg, is an ideal destination for nature enthusiasts looking for outdoor activities in the Tampa area. Discover the rich cultural history and ecological wonders of the island by exploring its miles of boardwalks and trails. As you make your way through the preserve, immerse yourself in the varied landscape, including mangroves, pine flatwoods, and saltwater ponds.
Embark on a kayaking or canoeing adventure through the maze-like waterways, or simply enjoy a peaceful day of fishing. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars to spot the diverse birdlife that calls Weedon Island Preserve home.
When visiting Tampa, one cannot miss the Epperson Lagoon, an extraordinary attraction in the area. This unique paradise offers a wide range of activities to make your trip unforgettable. As you enter the lagoon, prepare to be swept away by its stunning turquoise waters sprawled across a 7.5-acre area. Known for being the first crystal-clear lagoon in the United States, Epperson Lagoon is perfect for a relaxing day or an action-packed adventure.
In the lagoon, take advantage of numerous water activities, such as swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, and snorkeling. For those seeking a thrilling experience, try the inflatable water park or take a ride on the zipline that crosses the lagoon. On the other hand, if you want a more laid-back day, indulge in luxurious cabana rentals, lounge on the sandy beach, or simply unwind at the swim-up bars. No matter your preferences, Epperson Lagoon offers something for everyone.
Florida Strawberry Festival
This annual celebration takes place in Plant City, just a short drive from Tampa, and serves as a homage to the region’s fruitful strawberry harvest. You’ll find a wide array of sweet treats, including mouthwatering strawberry shortcake and refreshing strawberry lemonade. In addition to indulging in delicious strawberries, the festival boasts an exciting lineup of live music performances, carnival rides, and engaging exhibits.
While at the Florida Strawberry Festival, don’t miss out on the opportunity to attend shows featuring live animals, cooking demonstrations, and even a youth strawberry production contest. With so much to explore and enjoy, the Florida Strawberry Festival is an essential part of any Tampa visit, whether you’re a local or a tourist. Don’t let this event pass you by – revel in the delightful tastes and vibrant atmosphere that this festival brings to life.
Cracker Country Living History Museum
As you explore Tampa, make sure to visit the Cracker Country Living History Museum. This unique open-air museum showcases the life, customs and culture of late 19th-century Florida. Wander through the carefully preserved original buildings, get hands-on with traditional crafts, and engage with costumed interpreters who will provide insights into the lives of the people who lived here.
From the cozy settler’s cabin to the bustling general store, each building offers a glimpse into a different aspect of rural Florida living. While in the museum, immerse yourself in activities like candle-making and blacksmithing or interact with farm animals. The Cracker Country Living History Museum is a quintessential Tampa experience that invites you to step back in time and learn about the region’s rich history.
Manatee Viewing Center
In Tampa, one of the must-see attractions is the Manatee Viewing Center. This unique facility offers an opportunity for you to observe these gentle marine mammals up close in a natural, protected environment. During the cooler months, manatees gather near the warm water discharge from the nearby power plant, making it an ideal spot to witness these fascinating creatures.
Robert W. Willaford Railroad Museum
While exploring the bustling city of Tampa, make sure to visit the Robert W. Willaford Railroad Museum. This unique destination offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of trains and their impact on the region. You’ll discover a vast collection of railroad memorabilia, restored train cars, and informative exhibits regarding Florida’s railroads.
Take the opportunity to stroll around the outdoor rail yard, where you can admire vintage locomotives and envision their heyday as engines of commerce and transportation. As a fan of history or trains, the Robert W. Willaford Railroad Museum provides a captivating stop on your Tampa itinerary.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tampa
While exploring Tampa, one must not miss a visit to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tampa. This thrilling entertainment destination is just a short drive away from the city center and offers an array of exhilarating experiences. Try your luck at one of the many slot machines and table games like poker, blackjack, and baccarat. Additionally, the casino hosts regular tournaments and events for a more competitive gaming atmosphere.
Apart from the gaming excitement, treat yourself to world-class dining options, luxe accommodations, and lively nightlife on the premises. With a variety of fine dining restaurants, casual eateries, and bars, there is something for every palate. If you’re in the mood for live music or a DJ set, check out the hotel’s event listings.
Captiva and Sanibel Islands
While exploring Tampa, consider taking a trip to the beautiful Captiva and Sanibel Islands, located on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Known for their stunning beaches, lush vegetation, and diverse wildlife, these islands offer numerous activities for visitors to enjoy. You can spend hours strolling along the shoreline, collecting unique seashells, or simply soaking up the sun.
Engaging in water sports is another popular way to make the most of your time on Captiva and Sanibel Islands. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to go kayaking, paddleboarding, and sailing to witness the vibrant marine life up close. Don’t miss out on a chance to embark on a fishing excursion, dolphin watching cruise, or even a sunset boat tour for a memorable experience.
Anna Maria Island
When exploring Tampa, make your way to Anna Maria Island for picturesque surroundings and natural beauty. There, you’ll find pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and plenty of activities to fill your day. Begin with a leisurely stroll or bike ride down the island’s sugar-white sands while admiring the lovely gulf views.
To connect further with nature, immerse yourself in the island’s peaceful atmosphere by visiting its lush parks and preserves. Be sure to take an eco-tour or a dolphin-watching excursion for an unforgettable experience. While on Anna Maria Island, don’t miss the opportunity to savor fresh seafood at one of its many charming eateries.