Tampa Attractions You Don’t Want to Miss
| Written by: Dana Hornor
Tampa is a city located on the west coast of central Florida that offers beautiful natural attractions, exciting theme parks and lively nightlife. It’s situated on an inlet that extends into Tampa Bay and it’s dotted with high rises and a historic district. It’s perfect for a relaxing day at one of Tampa Bay’s most charming and pretty beaches, Treasure Island, or for heart-pumping thrills at amusement park, Busch Gardens. If you’re planning a cruise into or out of the Port of Tampa, check out one of these 5 attractions. You’ll be glad you did.
Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo
1101 W. Sligh Avenue
Tampa, FL 33604
For animals and nature sights, head over to Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, which was voted the #1 zoo in the USA for kids. There are numerous animals and habitat areas, including Safari Africa and Ituri Forest, where the elephants, zebras, meerkets, African penguins and pygmy hippos roam. Or there are the Asian Gardens and Sulawest Aviary, home to leopards, tigers and Indian rhinos. Guests can interact with the animals, via experiences like the giraffe feeding, or in the lorikeet landing, and attend a show such as the African Penguin Feeding or Birds of Prey.
10165 N McKinley Drive
Tampa, FL 33612
If you brought the kids with you, or are a big kid yourself (no shame in that!) then swing over to Busch Gardens, a 335 acre African-themed entertainment and adventure park. About a 15 minute drive from the Port of Tampa, Busch Gardens is one of the main attractions the city is known for. There are roller coasters like Falcon’s Fury, which has a 90 degree mid-air turn, Sheikra, with 70 mph whirlwind speeds and Tanganyika Tidal Wave, which cruises riders through African river country only to drop them 55 feet. The park also offers shows and unique experiences like the Serengeti Night Safari, which takes guests across the vast Serengeti to search for hippos, lions, hyenas and more.
1600 East 8th Avenue Ste. B104 (Ybor City Visitor Information Center)
Tampa, FL 33605
Only 5 minutes from the Port of Tampa, Ybor City is one of only two National Historic Landmark Districts in Florida. It came about after cigar baron Vincente Martinez Ybor moved to the area after workers at his Key West plant threatened to unionize. At one point, before the Great Depression, the cigar factory he started in Tampa was the largest in the world, with 900,000 cigars produced a month. Now, Ybor City, with its red brick and stucco façade buildings, wrought iron balconies and brightly colored mosaics, is Tampa’s Latin Quarter, where the smell of roasting Cuban coffee wafts through the streets and Latin music plays into the night.
2117 East 7th Avenue
Tampa, FL 33605
Playing off of Ybor City’s Hispanic heritage takes us to Columbia Restaurant, the state’s oldest and country’s largest Spanish restaurant. It began as a small corner café in 1905 by Cuban immigrant Casimiro Hernandez, Sr. and now serves traditional Spanish and Cuban dishes and drinks like paella, Cuban black bean soup and mango daiquiris. The restaurant is only 5 minutes from the Port of Tampa and Flamenco dancers perform nightly in the grand outdoor setting amongst palm trees and tall white pillars.
120 108th Avenue
Treasure Island, FL 33706
Treasure Island is a community in Tampa with four miles of white sandy beaches. The magical sunsets and charming surrounding area make them some of the best beaches in Florida. There are three different beach neighborhoods and finding your slice of paradise is easy.