Tampa is a great destination which truly has something for everyone. Tampa was personally right up my street with famous attractions like Busch Gardens, The Florida Aquarium, Ybor City and an amazing food scene. Also Tampa is awesome if you’re an animal lover. Keep reading :)
WHAT TO DO
Busch Gardens is by far the best thing you can do in Tampa! Busch Gardens is a 335-acre African-themed animal theme park with over 8 roller coasters.
You can spend a whole day there enjoying the beautiful scenery, hopping on crazy rides and getting your adrenaline fix. At the same time Busch Gardens have a very large focus on animals. They are the home to over 200 species of animals.
Busch Gardens have a conservation fund dedicated to helping animals as well as a dedicated on site rescue centre with an operating theatre. Much to my surprise I was more captured by the animal aspect of the theme park than the rides, perhaps because it was so unexpected! I loved the Serengeti Safari experience. It was hard to believe that I was in Florida.
Admissions start from $85.99/ticket (£73)
10165 McKinley Dr, Tampa, FL 33612
Visit Ybor City
Ybor City is a historical district in Tampa, founded in 1886 by Vicente Martinez-Ybor. Ybor represents the birth of the cigar industry. We enjoyed a guided tour through the historical district and it felt like we were somewhere between Cuba and New Orleans! Ybor City is a vibrant area filled with social clubs, bars, restaurants and Cuban cafes.
Cigars are still being made in Ybor so make sure you go to a cigar shop and watch them being rolled by the masters themselves or maybe puff one yourself!
Tampa Riverwalk is a pedestrian pathway that runs along Hillsborough River, connecting Tampa’s downtown district with the city’s beautiful waterfront. The riverwalk is full of museums, shops, parks and food spots. See the full map with attractions listed HERE.
Urban Kai Stand Up Paddle boarding
Paddle boarding down Hillsborough river was one of my Tampa highlights. I’m not going to lie I was a bit scared at first! The closest thing I had tried previously was kayaking.
Whilst I didn’t fully stand up at any point, I didn’t fall and was up on my knees so for me that’s a success! Paddle boarding was a very manageable physical challenge but peaceful at the same time. I highly recommend it!
1910 N. Ola Ave
The Florida Aquarium
Located right by the riverwalk is the impressive Florida Aquarium – home to thousands of plants and animals including sharks, turtles, alligators, seahorses, wild birds, penguins, stingrays and much more. I was in awe of their main observatory and could have probably spent a few hours in there trying to photograph the sealife.
They had several hands-on tanks with stingrays & jellyfish for example. The staff are very knowledgeable and there’s plenty of information to be found at each section of the aquarium. Make sure you get there early to avoid the crowds.
General admission: $26.95
701 Channelside Drive
WHERE TO EAT
Located again on the riverwalk (right next to the aquarium) is Sparkman Wharf which opened only recently in 2018. With a beer garden and 9 vendors, it’s the perfect place for casual sunny al fresco dining.
I tried the jalapeño hot dog from Montados Tapas & Wine (by Mise En Place) as well as coffee from Blind Tiger, both which were delicious.
615 Channelside Drive
Oxford Exchange is a trendy hangout spot where you can find a restaurant, eyewear store, bookstore, lifestyle gift store, co-working space, design studio and event venue all under one roof!
The interior design is so picturesque. If I lived in Tampa, this is where I’d be spending most of my working day on my laptop with a cup of coffee and delicious food.
420 West Kennedy Boulevard
Armature Works is an old factory which has been made into a riverside food court. There are so many food & drink options under one roof. The atmosphere is great for a casual outing with plenty of seating available both inside and outside.
Don’t forget to try the Cuban sandwich from Hemingway’s because you can’t come to Tampa and not have this classic sandwich.
1910 North Ola Avenue
WHERE TO STAY
Hotel Alba is a modern and newly renovated hotel by Hilton offering 222 rooms. I stayed at the Cabana room which was extremely spacious with a living area and a separate bedroom with a king size bed. True comfort in style!
Location wise it’s only a 10 minute drive from Tampa International Airport, so it’s a great option for business travellers. The hotel offers free shuttles for guests too which is a great bonus.
5303 W. Kennedy Blvd.T
CHECK OUT WHAT TO DO IN THE FOLLOWING NEARBY DESTINATIONS:
ST PETE’S BEACH/CLEARWATER