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19 Top Things To See and Do in Tampa, FL

Tampa is quickly evolving from once being a diamond in the rough to one of great brilliance. Nowadays, this is one of the most prominent locations in the State of Florida. This guide will give you an overview of some of the things that are available to see and do in the greater Tampa, FL area.

Big Cat Rescue

Big Cat Rescue is a non-profit educational sanctuary. It covers 67 acres and is home to 13 species of nearly 100 big cats. A guided day tour takes approximately 1.5 hours to complete.No one under 10 is allowed on this tour. There is a Kids tour that take approximately 1 hour to complete. All ages are allowed on this tour. There are 3 other tours the Feeding Tour, Big Cat Keeper tour and the Night Tour. The Night Tour gives visitors a rare chance to see the nocturnal habits of these fabulous creatures. All tours require advance ticket purchase. You can make your purchase by calling (888) 316-5875 or for international callers by calling (212) 209-3370

Henry B. Plant Museum

Now more than a century old, America’s only surviving Victorian railroad resort hotel museum, has earned the distinction as a National Historic Landmark. This museum is dedicated to the lifestyle of the past and contains actual furnishings enjoyed by the first guests. The facility opened as the Tampa Bay Hotel in 1891. A portion of the Henry B Plant Museum occupies the facility and the University of Tampa occupies the remainder.

The museum has continued to acquire original furnishings, artwork, artifacts and architectural items that were part of the original facility.

Manatee Viewing Center

The Big Bend discharge canal is a federal and state designated manatee sanctuary. Included on the premises is an educational building with colorful displays showing the habitat of the manatee. On the premises you will find butterfly gardens, Florida friendly landscaping while using the oyster shell path taking you to a wildlife observation tower to view the estuary below.

Channelside Bay Plaza

If you’re looking for a casual dining experience, entertainment, the waterfront or a shopping experience. Channelside Bay Plaza has it. Before or after you cruise, looking for fireworks or to enjoy some of the home grown talent Channelside Bay Plaza has it.

Tampa Bay History Center

Want to see what a 1920’s cigar store looked like, or the Spanish conquistadors that shaped the Tampa area history. The museum has interactive exhibits for visitors of all ages. This waterfront museum covers 12,000 years of Tampa history even before Tampa was Tampa.

Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park

This park stretches along the shore of Garrison channel. The area was one of the earliest settlements of the Native Americans. The park offers a Heroes Plaza, a Native American centograph and two playgrounds for children. Originally this site was the first military installation for Tampa.

Tampa River Walk

If you want to take a long scenic walk then take one along the Hillsborough River on the Tampa Riverwalk. Your walk will be an exploration of many sites along the way. You can start anywhere along the walk a good place to start might be at the History Museum and end up at Water Works Park for lunch.

Glazer Children's Museum

The museum is filled with interactivities for children in 17 themed areas. Adults are only allowed in the museum if they are with a child. There is also an outdoor park to have a picnic with the children. There is a cafeteria if you prefer not to bring a lunch and a store for those treasured mementos. Parking at the Poe garage makes it easy for access and when arriving or leaving. AS children play at the Glazer Childrens Museum they are mastering the skills required for math, science and reading. If they are climbing through the water cycle, virtually flinch a plane or pretending to be a vet, this is no ordinary educational experience.

Tampa Museum of Art

Originally founded in 1923 as the Tampa Bay Art Center, the institution later changed its title to the Tampa Junior Museum in 1958. Since 1979, it has been known as The Tampa Museum of Art; its new award-winning facility was opened in 2010. Nowadays, the museum is dedicated to collecting antiquities, modern and contemporary art. Its mission is stated as to “gather, study, discuss and present the finest visual arts for a curious public", as well as "to create an environment for exploring new ideas and innovative experience”.

The Florida Museum of Photographic Arts

This museum is focused on displaying photographic art as being central to modern life and culture. It features contemporary works by national and international photographic artists that are collected, preserved and exhibited with a mission to artistically enrich the community. Pursuant to this goal, the museum runs a number of programs, such as free Children’s Literacy Through Photography, fee based adult photography classes, workshops and children’s summer camps.

eBOATS TAMPA

A new way for families to experience Tampa on the water is by eBoat. While commandeering an eBoat you can enjoy dining or just a simple cruise on the river which is quiet and very easy to maneuver. After you have had a brief orientation you will be set free to explore Tampa’s diverse and beautiful waterways. This is a family friendly activity but the operator must be at least 25 years old with a valid driver’s license and credit card to rent the eBoat. You can bring your own favorite food, snacks or beverage or they will assist you with catering from one of the great local restaurants. eBoats provides a small cooler and ice for your convenience.

Pebble Creek Golf Club

This course is more than 6,000 yards long, is a par-71 course with Bermuda greens and mature grandfather oaks. If you want to remember those holes that impressed you bring your camera along for some great photographic opportunities. The green fees are reasonable even during the high season.

MOSI

Tampa’s MOSI is advertised as the second-largest science center in the southeastern United States. If you’re a child or those of us who are seniors you will have your interested peaked all day. This museum is one of the few that has Sauropod dinosaur remains on display. MOSI also has the Kids in Charge facility that allows them to be curious children. Don’t forget the zip line attraction that does have restrictions as to who can use it.

Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens Tampa is older than Disney World Orlando. This parked is a combined amusement park and zoo all for one price. You can get up close and personal with the parks exotic creatures. You can explore the various themed islands. This park has many interesting things to do for children of all ages including those that are young at heart always.

Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo

Located in Tampa on the northern end of town this zoo is very well stocked with an impressive array of opportunities to interact with the animals. This nearly 60 acre attraction makes for an enjoyable day of viewing magnificent animals in their native settings. There are 8 themed areas that highlight animals in their native environment.

Yabor City

Yabor is pronounced ee-bore. Yabor City is located in the northeast part of Tampa. It was once well know for hand rolled cigars (millions annually) and coffee manufacturing. Yabor is a mix of new and old with its many pubs and bars leaning to the modern while the street car, brick streets and architecture lean to the old. Yabor City is only one of two National Historic Landmark Districts in Florida. It has been known as the Latin Quarter for over a century.

Hyde Park Village

Hyde Park Village is a historic district comprising 6 city blocks. The shopping area consists of a fountain with brick walkways and majestic oaks around the fountain, and acts as a town square. There is a mixture of high-end shopping, dining and entertainment. The retailers feature local, regional and national brands. For visitors' convenience, there is free parking space always available at the Hyde Park Village multi-level garage.

International Mall

Tampa’s International Plaza is one of the top places on Florida’s West Coast to shop and dine in style. It is located next to Tampa International Airport and features over 200 department stores, specialty shops, bistros and restaurants. Bay Street acts as the town square surrounded by shopping and dining areas. There's a concierge desk with bilingual staff who can provide general and store information.

The Florida Aquarium

The Florida Aquarium is located near Channelside in the southeastern area of Tampa. A large collection of marine life over 20,000 types of animal and plant life is housed in the aquarium. Allow at least 3-4 hours to view all the exhibits. Children will enjoy the Explore A Shore exhibit that includes a waterslide and water jet sprays they can play in. So bring a towel and change of clothes for the children just in case.

Lawrence Sanek

Guide Author
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19 Top Things To See and Do in Tampa, FL