One trip to sunny Tampa, Florida is all it takes to fall in love with the area. Part of Florida’s Gulf Coast, Tampa Bay offers a long list of exciting activities to engage in year round. From its beautiful beaches, fun-filled theme parks and attractions, and vibrant nightlife, there’s something special for everyone to do in Tampa. It doesn’t matter if you travel alone, with a friend, or with your entire family. — you’ll have the trip of a lifetime when you visit this Gulf Coast city, and you should be sure to check it out when you are with us vacationing on Siesta Key.
If you’re traveling with your family, you’ll likely have different age groups to entertain.
That’s one of the things that makes Tampa great. There are plenty of family-friendly activities in the city. Below, you’ll find some of the most popular ways to spend time with the people you love most. The excitement of being in a new place won’t wear off quickly when you have an itinerary full of amazing things to do.
Go to Grand Prix Tampa and enjoy over 15 acres of fun activities to choose from. Play arcade games, partake in a round or two of miniature golf, or enjoy racing your family members on the go-kart track. You’ll enjoy the challenge of the ropes course as well as the batting cages. Bring grandma and grandpa along, too, and create memories that last a lifetime. Who knows who the better gamer is, Grandpa or the kids?
Visit the American Victory Ship for a self-guided or docent-led tour of the ship. If you want to take your time and really soak in the experience of being on a historic vessel that first set sea in 1945. The fully-functioning steamship offers massive cargo holds, a hospital, radio and gyro rooms, crew cabins, and an engine room. There are photographs, uniforms, medals, and even naval equipment inside the ship, too, making it an unforgettable place for everyone who visits.
View manatees at Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Station and see how they live in their natural habitat. Also, get to know the power station and how its byproducts are reusable. Feel what it’s like to be in a hurricane by standing beside the hurricane simulator before retreating outdoors to the award-winning butterfly gardens. You’ll see native and coastal plants there as well as other wild animals that call the area home.
Ride in a glass bottom boat at Silver Springs, one of Florida’s oldest attractions. A trip down the Silver River lets you get up close and personal with the river’s wildlife and vegetation as well as its cultural and historical artifacts. Look at the floor of the boat to see what makes this attraction special. Where else will you get such a unique perspective of Florida wildlife? You’ll see some movie props from Hollywood there, too, because many movies are filmed in the area.
Search for fossils with Paleo Discoveries Fossil Hunting. You have the option to screen sift or snorkel in one of Florida’s rivers or streams in search of the ancient animals that once lived there. If you’re lucky, you’ll go home with a souvenir like no other. You may find the remains of saber-tooth cats, mammoths, sloths, sharks, or even a horse while fossil hunting. The day trips hosted by Paleo Discoveries are educational experiences in addition to offering hours of fun and entertainment among Florida’s natural environment.
The city of Tampa comes alive at night. If you haven’t yet seen what it’s like when the sun goes down, now is the time to check out some of the hottest attractions in the Gulf Coast. You can sit back, enjoy a few drinks, and be entertained by performers of all types: musicians, comedians, actors and actresses, and dancers. Best of all, some venues offer entertainment for free!
Caddy’s on the Beach offers live music in the evenings, which is ideal for beachgoers who want more time by the ocean. The restaurant and bar has a dinner menu complete with seafood, sandwiches, and barbecue. Cabanas are included with a minimum purchase and come with chairs and complementary bottles of water so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy yourself once more.
Ciro’s Speakeasy and Supper Club allows you to escape the maddening crowds during the height of tourist season. Slink back into a chair or booth and allow the bartending staff and mixologists at Ciro’s to create you a hand crafted cocktail you’ll never forget. There are also a few food items to order like raw oysters and duck fat fries. If you’re looking for something a little more sophisticated to do, trade your flip flops for dress shoes and make sure to get yourself a reservation at Tampa’s “hidden gem” where a password is required for entry.
Straz Center for the Performing Arts gives locals and visitors plenty of entertainment to choose from each month. From musicians to magicians, theater to themed dance nights, the Center comes alive at night, giving you a glimpse of Tampa Bay at its finest. Purchase your tickets in advance to avoid tickets being sold out. You don’t want to miss out on the glitz and glamour of Tampa’s lively performing arts community.
Hamburger Mary’s would find it a “drag” if you didn’t come to one of its many events held throughout the week. The restaurant and bar provides live music and entertainment with its many drag queen-related events, including Bingo and drag shows. Order a gourmet burger and then go next door to the Pubhouse for a couple of local beers. You can even order wings if you’re still hungry.
Splitsville is a retro-themed bowling alley supplying live entertainment, food, and drinks in a fun, relaxed atmosphere. Even if you’re not the best bowler, grab your spouse or friends and hit the lanes. You’ll have a great time bowling, gabbing, and stuffing your face with food. Feast on pizza, sandwiches, burgers, and even sushi. This upscale bowling alley knows how cool nostalgia is, which is why it capitalizes on it by making nostalgia part of its brand.
Part of the Tampa Bay experience is eating the food its fine restaurants put out. It doesn’t matter what type of cuisine you’re looking for, because you’ll find it in Tampa. Ranging from rustic to eclectic, the restaurants in the city have the ambiance and great food you’ve come to expect while on vacation. Eat heartily and tip well because you’re going to want to come back to the same spots the next trip you take to the area.
Bern’s Steak House is the place to go to get a steak cooked to order. The restaurant takes pride in what they do, calling it “Art in Steak.” What they mean by that is the food you order is exactly how you want it to be. From the cut to the preparation to the broiling, your steak is treated with care so you can enjoy every forkful with an equal amount of enthusiasm. There are also soups and salads, vegetables and sides, and other entrees such as beef, veal, lamb, and poultry. If you want to eat well in a nice atmosphere, shake the sand out of your clothing and enjoy this sit down restaurant.
Mise En Place Restaurant is the premier spot for Modern American cuisine and the restaurant itself delights visitors. From its colorful décor to its use of fresh local ingredients, it’s the type of place that sticks with you for years. When you return to Tampa, you’ll want to visit the restaurant again and try a different menu option. The change of seasons serves up a whole new array of dishes.
Roy’s lets you try Hawaiian Fusion for the first time. In addition to fresh fish and seafood, they also have sushi, pork ribs, and pot stickers to choose from. The Aloha Hour offers food and drink specials fit for even the tightest budget. If you’re looking to fill up without spending a fortune, try the sliders, ebi roll, or lobster bisque. Enjoy a wide variety of beers, wine, sake, and cocktails with your meal.
Restaurant BT encourages its patrons to eat local but think globally. The massive lunch and dinner menus give you plenty of ways to tickle your taste buds. Rice plates, noodle bowls, sandwiches, and Peking duck burritos are offered during the afternoon. In the evening, meals are substantially heavier and include salmon, snapper, beef, and even organic tofu for the vegetarians in your party. Dessert and drink menus are also available for you to peruse whenever it’s convenient for you.
Attractions: Places to See
Learn about the history of the area by visiting some of the city’s hottest attractions. Don’t forget your camera because you’re going to want to take pictures of the places you go. After all, isn’t that what vacation is all about? Capturing memories and spending time with the people you care about the most?
International Plaza and Bay Street offers over 200 specialty shops, three department stores, multiple boutiques, and a variety of restaurants to eat at. If you’re looking to do a little shopping before you head home, this is a great place to do it. You can make a day out of visiting the plaza and its stores with or without your family. It’s a wonderful place to go to take advantage of sales and the latest shopping trends.
Downtown Tampa is the heart of the city’s business center. You’ll find museums and places to shop, dine, and stay, as well as outdoor parks, trails, and other recreation areas. The Riverwalk offers plenty of opportunities to chat up a friend and get some exercise. You’ll learn about the historic figures and events that shaped the history of the city. The busts of the most prominent people from Tampa are housed there, so you can learn about and pay tribute to their accomplishments.
Tricks the Magic Theater provides magic and mystery with its family-friendly acts and talented magicians. The fifty-seat theater offers a small and personal experience for everyone who attends the show. Featuring some of the best magicians in the world, Tricks even has a Magic Academy and rents out its facilities for parties and special occasions. If you want an entirely different experience than you’ve had in the sun, you’ll enjoy the Magic Theater’s cool environment.
Tabaneros Cigars offers factory tours of its historic business. Located in Ybor City, a neighborhood known for its cigar makers, Tabaneros Cigars is a place to not only buy cigars, but see how they’re made. There’s a minimum of five and maximum of 20 people needed for a tour, so grab your colleagues or family and learn about the different cigars sold by Tabaneros.
Things to Do: Activities to Do
Experience a vacation like no other in Tampa Bay. You’ll find indoor and outdoor activities to do every day you’re in the city. From sunbathing on one of the area’s many beaches to going on a scavenger hunt with your closest coworkers or friends, you’ll have plenty to talk about once you’ve made it back home. Tampa is never short of fun things to do, see, taste, and experience.
The exterior of the Tampa Museum of Art is enough to excite visitors. Equipped with programmable LED lights spanning 45 feet high and 300 feet long, it’s an incredible sight to see in the dark. In the daylight, the façade has a moiré-like pattern, making it a work of art itself. Inside the museum, you’ll find a permanent collection of artwork as well as exhibits by well-known artists such as Norman Rockwell, Andy Warhol, and Jaume Plensa. The museum hosts special events and programs throughout the year, so take a look at its calendar to see if any coincide with the dates you’re visiting Tampa.
Fort Foster is part of Hillsborough River State Park and is a fantastic place to visit if you’re a history buff. Keep in mind that the fort was created for war, so the terrain is steep and floors uneven. You also can’t climb, lean on, or touch the cannons, but you can take photos beside them. The purpose of the fort was to defend the Hillsborough River bridge crossing and also serve as a resupply location for soldiers stationed in the field.
Lettuce Lake Regional Park is a great place to picnic, bird watch, and get in touch with nature. The 240-acre site charges low admission for a vehicle with up to eight people in it. There are picnic tables, barbecue grills, walking trails, and a boardwalk. If you want to rent a kayak, you can.
Take a stroll down Bayshore Boulevard. It has the longest unbroken sidewalk in the world, measuring 4.5 miles long. It’s a great place to run, walk, and even ride a bike. You’ll see many of Tampa’s historic homes along the way. If you’re looking for something free to do outdoors, this is a fantastic place to start. There are water fountains to refill your water bottle along the way, but there aren’t bathroom facilities, so plan accordingly.
Visit the Wat Mongkolrata Temple. The popular religious spot is known for its beauty and its Sunday Market, which started in the 1980s with only two tables. The relaxing location hosts chanting and meditation sessions along with Buddhist teaching sessions. You’re welcome to visit the temple, but urged to follow temple etiquette so you don’t disturb others.
Traveling to Florida for business or pleasure offers a new experience each time you visit. If you want to be close to Tampa so you can visit the city, why not stay in Siesta Key in a beachfront rental? You’ll fall asleep to the sound of waves crashing in the ocean and wake up to warm sun streaming through your window. Catch up on the rest, relaxation, and fun you miss out on the rest of the year by making your trip to the area one of the best experiences you’ve ever had.