Top Things to do in Tampa, Florida
Updated: Sep 6, 2022
*This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a commission if a purchase is made*
Positioned along Florida's Gulf Coast, Tampa is a major business center full of culture and museums. With amusement parks, night life, and an aquarium, Tampa is suited for adults and children of all ages. This city is the first we visited after the 2020 pandemic started tapering away and it definitely didn't disappoint. Check out all the things we did and let me know if there's anything you would personally add!
Located in downtown Tampa, Florida Aquarium is home to more than 8,000 animals including birds, sea turtles, sharks, and many more. It's one of the more kid friendly places we visited in Tampa due to its outdoor splash pad and numerous touch tanks. Visitors can touch jellyfish, stingrays, and animals with no bones, making it a truly unique experience. The aquarium also features a rooftop deck with views of the harbor and a wild dolphin cruise for an additional cost. Like many aquariums, it has a cafeteria serving up beverages, snack items, and grilled foods.
Busch Gardens is so interesting because it's part amusement park and part zoo. This thrill park is best known for its roller coasters; notable rides include Kumba, SheiKra, and Tigris. My personal favorite was Cheetah Hunt - a quick, high thrill ride that happens to be the longest thrill attraction in the park.
Beyond the rides, visitors can partake in the award-winning 65-acre Serengeti Safari. This up-close animal encounter is led by a guide and features a 30-minute off-road tour. Many other animal experiences are available as well, including a gorilla tour, elephant encounter, and an Australian adventure.
Henry B. Plant Museum
Housed in the 1891 Tampa Bay Hotel, the Henry B. Plant Museum contains furnishings used by guests that once stayed there. While visiting, you'll also learn about Henry Plant and life in the Victorian era. For those who aren't familiar, Plant was the founder of a line of railroads and steamboats in the southeastern United States. If you're a fan of history, you don't want to miss this museum.
This 2.6-mile-long open space is lively at night and beautiful in the day. It's lined with numerous businesses, museums, and other attractions to keep tourists entertained. Along the walk is the aforementioned Florida Aquarium, the Tampa Bay History Center, and the Columbia Café - a popular spot for Cuban sandwiches.
Tampa's largest water park, Adventure Island is very close in proximity to Busch Gardens; you can even purchase tickets together to save money. It has a lazy river for adults to relax, slides for thrill seekers to enjoy, and pools for those wishing to take a plunge. Recently, the park added virtual reality snorkeling as an add on. If you're wishing to stay all day, you can even rent a cabana.
If you're looking for nightlife, Ybor has you covered. It 's full ofCuban and Latin eateries as well as LGBTQ friendly bars with drag shows well into the night. In fact, the area between 7th and 15th avenue is often called Gaybor for it's queer influence. For history lovers, the Ybor City State Museum dives into the cigar industry and immigrant communities.
Side Splitters Comedy Club
This cozy club is the perfect place to laugh until you cry. Events take place nearly every weekend and include a range of local and worldwide comedians. The club also serves food and alcohol to keep the environment light. If you're looking for an adult night out, I recommend visiting the late night show. You can book tickets online to save a spot.
A truly obscure experience, Dinosaur World includes over 150 life-size dinosaur sculptures in a natural setting. This park is easy to walk through and encourages visitors to bring food and drinks for their children. To further accommodate young ones, it features a dino-themed playground with swings and slides. Part of an indoor exhibit, fossils and artifacts are also on display.
Seminole Hard Rock Casino
Rather you're into gambling, drinking, or watching live events, Seminole Hard Rock Casino is the talk of the town for adult entertainment. The Casino is one of the largest in the United States and is accessible by hotel guests and visitors alike. If you wish to stay at the resort, you'll be greeted with three pools, fine dining, shops, and luxury rooms.
If you want to stay downtown, I suggest the Hilton Tampa Downtown. For those looking to stay in the party area of Ybor City, I recommend Hilton Garden Inn Ybor. Tampa is a very drivable city, so as long as you rent a car or hire a taxi, you can stay pretty much anywhere.
I hope you enjoyed our deep dive into Tampa. Please comment your experiences at each of these places and feel free to add a list of your own!