Not only is Tampa one of Florida's premier business centers, but it offers much to do for those who live in Florida's Gulf Coast as well as for those visiting. Its downtown area is filled with urban parks, hip venues to hang out in, along with cool restaurants, and incredible restorations of very historic structures. When in Florida, downtown Tampa is one place you don't want to miss.
The riverwalk is an approximately 3-mile trail that traverses the Hillsborough River. You can bike, rollerblade, or look at numerous public art exhibits. When it's lunchtime, there are some quaint restaurants to choose from; to quench your thirst, pick a pub and sip on something cold while enjoying the Tampa sunshine. Situated along the route, too, is the Tampa Aquarium and the Glazer Children's Museum.
Located on the southeastern edge of downtown, the Tampa Aquarium is home to approximately 14,000 animals. It takes almost three hours to see everything this amazing aquatic mecca has to offer. The aquarium offers a multitude of attractions for adults and kids, including a splash pad area, an outdoor area with geysers, dump buckets and spray places.
If traveling to Tampa with young children, the Glazer Children's Museum is a must-see destination. The museum is a 53,000 square foot space full of permanent and temporary exhibits, as well as interactive displays that teach kids about art and science, and math. There is something for everyone at the museum, whether it's developing a train route, using lego building blocks or designing a perfect paper airplane.
This venue is much more of a sanctuary than a zoo. Situated on 67 acres, the Big Cat Rescue houses more than 100 animals from more than 14 varying species. The cats usually rest during the day, so if you want to drop by when they are more active, sign up for a feeding or night tour. The mission of this sanctuary community is to end the extinction of big cats in the wild. It also seeks to instill in those visiting the importance of protecting big cats and fostering laws that seek to end the abuse of animals.
The Tampa Bay History Museum is a great resource for those wanting to find out more about Florida's first inhabitants. Situated on Tampa's waterfront, it encompasses 60,000 square feet and showcases 12,000 years of Florida history with exhibits, educational films, and interactive displays. The museum's interactive features will captivate the attention of visitors of all ages.
If you are a live theater buff, then a visit to the Tampa Theater is an experience you can't miss. This ornate theater was built in 1926 and is known to be one of the world's most elaborate. While visiting the theater, make sure to take the 90-minute "balcony backstage" tour. You will see a demonstration of the Wurlitzer theater organ, as well as all the details that earned the theater its spot on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Armature Works Heights Public Market is a warehouse of retail shops, places to eat, and a rooftop bar. There is also a unique event held called "Show + Tell" Workshop, where there are product demonstrations, cooking classes, and wine tastings. The Armature Market was originally where the city's electric streetcars were stored and maintained; it now offers visitors a wonderful architectural experience.
Who wouldn't love a day at Busch Gardens? This 297-acre space of fun and frolic awaits the arrival of those visiting Tampa. Busch Gardens is home to 12,000 animals, restaurants for every taste, roller coasters, and other fun amusement activities. There is something for everyone at this fun spot. If you love animals, thrill-seeking, and educational opportunities, then a visit to Busch Gardens is a must.
Another venue for animal lovers is the Tampa Electric's Manatee Viewing Center. The tidal walk is one of the main attractions of the center, where visitors are able to admire a wide variety of animal and plant life. At the end of the walk, you can look at the manatees in the warm waters surrounding the power station. If you are looking for a wonderful break in a busy itinerary, then a visit to see the manatees is just what you need.
If you are a lover of antiques, architecture, and want to experience the Gilded Age, you need to visit the Henry B. Platt Museum. Located on the University of Tampa campus, the museum resides in the infamous Moorish Revival Tampa Bay Hotel. It contains many permanent exhibits in the refurbished rooms of the old hotel, equipped with artifacts and architectural amenities that reflect the Victorian Era origins of the facility. There is also a wonderful "Christmas Stroll" that takes place every December, where the museum is decked out in holiday trimmings.