Located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Tampa, FL, is a cultural and family vacation destination where you will find a choice of museums, free attractions, family-friendly activities, botanical gardens, flea markets, restaurants and famous attractions such as Busch Gardens Tampa, Lowry Park Zoo and the historic Ybor City neighborhood. Stroll along Tampa Riverwalk past romantic parks, hotels and romantic restaurants, visit the Tampa Museum of Art, the Tampa Bay History Center, great beaches, and the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts.
1. Busch Gardens Tampa
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Busch Gardens Tampa is a world-renowned amusement park and one of the best things to do in Tampa, Florida, that offers a wide variety of fun activities and adventures for the whole family. Operated by SeaWorld Entertainment, Busch Gardens Tampa features an array of exclusive park experiences, such as a Serengeti Safari and Guided Adventure Tours, live entertainment and shows, themed rides and special kids’ attractions.
Animal attractions include a Cheetah Run, Bird Gardens, Jambo Junction and Edge of Africa, and a variety of restaurants, cafés, bars, and shops provide all-day dining and shopping for park visitors.
10165 N Malcolm McKinley Dr, Tampa, Florida, Phone: 888-800-5447
2. Tampa Museum of Art
© Tampa Museum of Art
The Tampa Museum of Art is a state-of-the-art museum and one of the top Tampa attractions with a focus on antiquities and modern and contemporary art. Founded in 1979, the Museum aims to present the public with a creative environment in which to explore and enjoy outstanding visual art through a range of permanent and temporary collections and exhibitions.
The Museum also presents an array of educational programs, lectures and workshops throughout the year for both adults and children that celebrate the Museum's collection of ancient art, as well as take an in-depth look at the current exhibitions.
The Tampa Museum of Art is located on the banks of the Hillsborough River in Downtown Tampa and is open seven days a week.
120 W. Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa, Florida, Phone: 813-274-8130
3.Florida Museum of Photographic Arts
© Florida Museum of Photographic Arts
The Florida Museum of Photographic Arts (FMoPA) is located in the heart of Tampa’s vibrant Waterfront Arts District and is housed in the architecturally significant Cube building, one of Florida’s most innovative interior spaces. Founded in 2001, the FMoPA is dedicated to exhibiting important photographic art and features a range of historical and contemporary works by nationally and internationally known photographic artists.
Collections are showcased in a variety of permanent and temporary exhibitions, and the Museum has hosted over 60 major photographic exhibitions to date. If you are wondering what to do in Tampa today, this is a great place to visit.
The FMoPA also provides community-enrichment by offering educational programs, instructor biographies, learnerships, and photography classes for children and adults and hosts weekly, monthly and annual photographic and arts-related events.
400 N Ashley Dr, Tampa, Florida, Phone: 813-221-2222
4.Contemporary Art Museum, Tampa, FL
© Contemporary Art Museum
The Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) was established in 1989 with the aim of collecting, preserving and presenting significant and innovative exhibitions of contemporary art from around the world. Located on the campus of the University of South Florida, the Museum currently houses a collection of more than 5,000 works, including graphics and sculptures by artists such as by Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg and James Rosenquist, among others.
The Contemporary Art Museum is one of the top attractions in Tampa, Florida. In addition to showcasing superior artworks, the Museum also acts as an educational resource for scholars, students, professionals, and artists by offering a variety of programs, workshops and classes, as well as symposia, conferences and lectures.
3821 USF Holly Drive, Tampa, Florida, Phone: 813-974-4133
5. Museum of Science & Industry
© Museum of Science & Industry
The Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI) is a community-based institution that is dedicated to inspiring and encouraging an interest and understanding of science, industry, and technology.
The Museum is the largest science center in the Southeastern United States and features over 450 interactive and hands-on activities and experiences for visitors to explore and enjoy, such as a drone and robot zone, 3D printing exhibit, live science demonstrations, a working planetarium, a Bio-Works butterfly garden, and daily science talks.
If you are looking for fun things to do in Tampa with the whole family, this is a great place to visit. The museum is also the location of the Florida Hospital DOME Theater, Florida's only IMAX Dome Theatre, which features films, movies and shows on the hour every day.
4801 E. Fowler Avenue, Tampa, Florida, Phone: 813-987-6000
6. Tampa Bay History Center
© Tampa Bay History Center
The Tampa Bay History Center is a popular history museum that is dedicated to exploring, presenting and preserving the history of the Tampa Bay, its first native inhabitants and the historical figures that played a role in the shaping of the society.
Located on the waterfront in Tampa’s Channelside District, the museum features three floors of permanent and temporary exhibitions spanning 12,000 years of Florida history, as well as an array of interactive, family-friendly activities and displays, cutting-edge presentations and state-of-the-art theaters.
The History Center also boasts the Witt Research Center, an extensive map gallery and event hall, a museum store, and the Columbia Café where patrons can enjoy light meals and beverages. The Tampa Bay History Center is open daily, year-round. For art museum lovers, visit the Contemporary Art Museum.
801 Old Water Street (formerly St. Pete Times Forum Drive), Tampa, Florida, Phone: 813-228-0097
7.Ybor City Museum State Park, Tampa, FL
© Ybor City Museum State Park
Ybor City Museum State Park in Tampa invites you to explore the rich cultural heritage of the National Historic Landmark District of Ybor City. The Museum is located in a 1923-era Ferlita Bakery building in the center of the park and showcases the history of Ybor City, the birth of the cigar industry and the subsequent growth of the town because of it.
Ybor City Museum State Park is also home to a typical ‘casita’, a recreated cigar worker’s house, and beautiful lush Mediterranean-style gardens. Enjoy a guided tour through the park led by knowledgeable park rangers or volunteers, or explore the urban oasis of the Ybor City Historic District. The Museum offers a range of educational programs, workshops, and classes about the history of the District and its reputation as the “Cigar Capital of the World.” Next read: Tampa Museum of Art
1818 Ninth Avenue, Tampa, Florida, Phone: 813-247-6323
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Tampa Riverwalk is a well-maintained pedestrian pathway that runs along the Hillsborough River and connects downtown Tampa with the city’s lovely waterfront, several public parks, and a variety of hotels, museums, restaurants and other entertainment venues.
Top attractions on the Riverwalk include the Florida Aquarium, the World WAR II American Victory Ship, Channelside Bay Plaza, and the Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park, among others.
If you are looking for romantic date ideas in Tampa, this is a great area to explore. Also located along the Riverwalk is the Historical Monument Trail, which is made up of beautiful bronze and marble busts and monuments that showcase the people who played a significant role in the history of Tampa and Hillsborough County.
Next read: Orlando to Tampa and Tampa Museum of Art on the banks of the Hillsborough River for contemporary art lovers.
9. Big Cat Rescue, Tampa, FL
© Big Cat Rescue
Big Cat Rescue is an animal sanctuary in Citrus Park dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating and housing injured or orphaned native wild cats and other exotic felines. Established in 1992 to fight against and end the private trade and ownership of exotic cats, Big Cat Rescue is now home to more than 100 wild cats, representing 11 species.
Visitors can enjoy a variety of guided tours through the facility, ranging from photographic and keeper tours to feeding and night tours and visit the resident cats, which include tigers, bobcats, cougars and mountain lion.
12802 Easy Street, Tampa, Florida, Phone: 813-920-4130
10. Tampa Waterbike Company
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Tampa Waterbike Company offers a family-friendly and fun-filled way to see and experience Tampa from the water on peddle-driven waterbikes. Waterbikes combine the ease of riding a bicycle with the flotation of a kayak, keeping riders dry throughout the ride and are suitable for all ages and levels of fitness.
Tampa Waterbike Company also offers tours and rentals in hands-free, peddle-drive kayaks ideal for fishing or simply cruising around. Both waterbikes and kayaks can be rented on an hourly basis, with package deals available for special occasions.
333 S. Franklin Street, Tampa, Florida, Phone: 813-465-8025
11.Glazer Children's Museum, Tampa, FL
© Glazer Children's Museum
The Glazer Children’s Museum provides children with a space to imagine, explore, discover and grow through a variety of educational exhibits, displays, programs, and experiences. The Museum features 17 themed areas that hosts over 170 interactive exhibits, ranging from ‘Design and Build’ displays to an ‘Engineer’s Workshop’ where children can immerse themselves in each theme and enjoy hands-on learning experiences.
The Museum also presents staff-directed daily programs for children of all ages that are based on seasonal themes, such as Toddler’s Tuesdays and Whisk it Wednesdays, and offers field trips, summer camps, and other special events throughout the year.
110 W Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa, Florida, Phone: 813-443-3861
12.Tampa Electric Manatee Viewing Center
© Tampa Electric Manatee Viewing Center
The Tampa Electric Manatee Viewing Center is a special manatee sanctuary that provides a crucial protected environment for manatees to live and breed. The Center features a variety of colorful displays and exhibits about the manatee and its habitat, as well as information about the Big Bend Power Station and how it generates electricity for the community in an environmentally responsible way.
Visitors can experience the force of a hurricane in the center’s unique hurricane simulator and learn how to prepare for major storms or stroll around the award-winning butterfly gardens that surround the center. Stroll along the center's tidal walk and take in the variety of native and coastal plant life that has made this unique habitat their home.
6990 Dickman Rd, Apollo Beach, FL 33572, 813-228-4289
13. Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo
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Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo preserves, protects and rehabilitates some of the world’s most unusual creatures. Home to over 1,300 animals, including chimpanzees, Borneo orangutans, Florida Panthers, Queensland koalas, and Florida manatees, the Zoo focuses on endangered, threatened and vulnerable species from around the world, with an array of habitats devoted to Asia, Africa, Australia and Florida.
Visitors can enjoy a variety of educational experiences, such as animal encounters, behind-the-scene tours, keeper talks, and other special events that relate to the living planet. Lowry Park Zoo is also home to Florida’s premier manatee rescue and rehabilitation center and operates one of the world’s foremost breeding programs to save a range of endangered species from extinction.
1101 W. Sligh Avenue, Tampa, FL, Phone: 813-935-8552
14.Magic Carpet Glide, Tampa, Florida
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Experience the beauty of Tampa in a unique and fun way – on a Segway! Magic Carpet Glide offers guided tours of the city and its beautiful Riverwalk on motorized Segways, with stops at various landmarks and attractions, such as Bayshore Boulevard, Harbor Island, the University of Tampa and Tampa Riverwalk.
Tours begin in the bustling Channelside entertainment district and follow Tampa Riverwalk to Curtis Hixon Park. Visitors can also enjoy a different view of the city on a Nightglider Tour, which takes in the beauty of the city by night. All tours are led by professional guides and safety equipment is provided.
15.The Straz Center for the Performing Arts
© The Straz Center for the Performing Arts
The Straz Center for the Performing Arts is one of the largest performing arts complexes in the Southeastern United States and provides a variety of world-renowned artistic and musical events for the public to enjoy.
Located on the banks of the Hillsborough River, the Straz Center presents over 4,000 concerts, performances and events per season, ranging from grand opera to Broadway shows.
The Straz Center is home to the Patel Conservatory, which offers an array of educational programs, workshops and classes that focus on training in the performing arts training for educators, families, community partners, and adults.
1010 N Macinnes Place, Tampa, FL, Phone: 813-229-7827
16. The Florida Aquarium, Tampa, Florida
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The Florida Aquarium is located in the Channel District of Downtown Tampa and is home to over 20,000 aquatic plants and animals from all over the world. The Aquarium features a variety of exhibits that are laid out to follow the journey of a drop of water from one of Florida’s many fresh-water springs to the open ocean of the Gulf of Mexico.
Interactive exhibits include a glass-encased simulated wetlands display, a Stingray Beach where visitors can touch a bamboo shark and a pristine coral reef housed in a vast tank. A two-acre outdoor water adventure zone features water cannons, geysers and a climbing pirate ship for children of all ages, while older visitors to the aquarium can dive with sharks, swim with fishes or take a Wild Dolphin Ecotour across Tampa Bay aboard the Bay Spirit II.
701 Channelside Drive, Tampa, FL, Phone: 813-273-4000
17.Not a Clue Adventures
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Not a Clue Adventures offers a range of guided outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, kayaking, fishing, and specialized outdoor adventures.
Owned by Jeanene Arrington, who is also the lead guide on many of the adventures, Not a Clue Adventures has something for everyone, from fully catered, family-friendly camping and guided hiking trips on the Sunshine State’s thousands of miles of trails to freshwater and saltwater kayaking, canoeing and fishing and hunting trips.
All camping equipment is provided and guides are fully trained in all fields, as well as health and safety. Not a Clue Adventures also offers specialized outdoor adventures, such as birdwatching and wildlife tracking, basic survival, and foraging techniques, horsemanship, Scouting Adventures.
18.Tampa Bay Food Tours
© Tampa Bay Food Tours
Tampa Bay Food Tours take groups of up 12 participants on three and a half hour walking tours of the Tampa region's best culinary and beverage options, blending historical tour elements with samplings of high-quality food, wine, and craft beer. Tour size remains intimate to give each participant a personalized experience as groups explore areas of Tampa's downtown and riverfront districts and sample delicacies from the area's best restaurants. All tours stop at four to five local favorite restaurants, including spots such as Sea Sea Riders, Hog Island Fish Camp, Jensen Brothers Seafood Carver's Fish House, and Cueni Brewery. Tours of nearby Dunedin and St. Pete are also offered, exploring the Gulf Coast waterfront districts of both cities. Phone: 813-310-4401
19.Henry B. Plant Museum, Tampa, Florida
© Henry B. Plant Museum
Formerly known as the Tampa Bay Hotel, the Henry B. Plant Museum was once a luxurious 500+ room resort hotel opened by railroad magnate Henry B. Plant in 1891 and today serves as a museum dedicated to showcasing the elite lifestyle of the luxurious hotel’s patrons during the Gilded Age.
Located in the south wing of Plant Hall at the University of Tampa, the building was designed by architect J.A. Wood in the Moorish Revival style and was also used as a base of operations during the Spanish-American War.
Guests can visit and explore the old hotel and its magnificent grounds, which feature a golf course, a racetrack, a casino, a bowling alley, and an indoor heating swimming pool, and learn all about the history of the beautiful building, which has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
401 W Kennedy Blvd, Tampa, FL, Phone: 813-254-1891
20. HorsePower for Kids
© HorsePower for Kids
HorsePower for Kids, Inc. is a family-friendly farm and petting zoo that provides unique interactive experiences with animals and horses. The farm creates fun, educational opportunities for children and adults to interact and care for vulnerable animals through a variety of activities, including horseback and pony riding, horse camps, a special petting zoo and group field trips.
Horse camps are held throughout the summer and include equine education, grooming and feeding, trail rides, riding lessons and horse shows, while the petting zoo allows visitors to feed and interact with a range of farm animals such as goats, pigs, rabbits, and horses. HorsePower for Kids is open seven days a week during summer and Tuesdays through Sunday in the fall and winter months.
8005 S. Racetrack Rd, Tampa, FL, Phone: 813-855-8992
21. Painting with a Twist, Tampa, Florida
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Painting with a Twist is a fantastic way to have some fun and meet new friends and as you learn how to paint in a relaxed environment. Enjoy step-by-step painting instruction from a local artist as you sip your favorite beverage and create a personal, one-of-a-kind masterpiece from over 5,000 paintings.
Formerly known as Corks N Canvas, Painting with a Twist was started by Cathy Deano and Renee Maloney in Louisiana who decided that pairing instructional art with friends, wine and a lively instructor was a fun thing to do and the concept has taken off, with 244 locations nationwide.
Painting with a Twist can be booked for private parties, team building, and other special occasions and host monthly fundraising events. Read more
2821 S MacDill Avenue, Tampa, FL, Phone: 813-839-2409
22.Lettuce Lake Regional Park, Tampa, Florida
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Nestled in the natural floodplain of the Hillsborough River, Lettuce Lake Regional Park is a 240-acre parkland that offers a range of outdoor recreational activities for the public to enjoy. The Park was founded in 1982 and features a wealth of wooded picnic areas, playgrounds for children cycling paths and walking/jogging trails, and a complete fitness course.
The Park is also an important educational resource, with a modern interpretative center boasting a range of exhibits and displays, an observation tower and a lovely boardwalk for wildlife viewing and birdwatching.
Visitors can enjoy ranger-led guided tours of the Park who will share their knowledge of the surrounding ecosystems and environment, as well as Park Ranger Nature Educational Programs for children and adults.
23.Hillsborough River State Park
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Hillsborough River State Park was established in 1938 and is one of Florida's first state parks. Surrounding the swiftly flowing Hillsborough River, the park is a pristine natural environment that provides the public with a variety of outdoor activities to enjoy, including fishing, canoeing, kayaking, hiking and camping.
The park boasts over seven miles of hiking trails, several tranquil picnic areas and a fresh water swimming pool is open during the summer months for cooling off. Fort Foster State Historic Site is located on the east side of the park and features a reconstructed fort from the Second Seminole War, and visitors can enjoy ranger-guided interpretive tours around the site every Saturday and Sunday.
15402 N US Highway 301, Thonotosassa, FL 33592, 813-987-6771
23 Best Things to Do in Tampa, Florida
- Busch Gardens Tampa, Photo: Courtesy of Peter - Fotolia.com
- Tampa Museum of Art, Photo: Tampa Museum of Art
- Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, Photo: Florida Museum of Photographic Arts
- Contemporary Art Museum, Tampa, FL, Photo: Contemporary Art Museum
- Museum of Science & Industry, Photo: Museum of Science & Industry
- Tampa Bay History Center, Photo: Tampa Bay History Center
- Ybor City Museum State Park, Tampa, FL, Photo: Ybor City Museum State Park
- Tampa Riverwalk, Photo: Courtesy of jon bilous - Fotolia.com
- Big Cat Rescue, Tampa, FL, Photo: Big Cat Rescue
- Tampa Waterbike Company, Photo: Courtesy of bonniefink - Fotolia.com
- Glazer Children's Museum, Tampa, FL, Photo: Glazer Children's Museum
- Tampa Electric Manatee Viewing Center, Photo: Tampa Electric Manatee Viewing Center
- Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo, Photo: Courtesy of Earl Robbins - Fotolia.com
- Magic Carpet Glide, Tampa, Florida, Photo: Courtesy of virsuziglis - Fotolia.com
- The Straz Center for the Performing Arts, Photo: The Straz Center for the Performing Arts
- The Florida Aquarium, Tampa, Florida, Photo: Courtesy of pipehorse - Fotolia.com
- Not a Clue Adventures, Photo: Courtesy of aiisha - Fotolia.com
- Tampa Bay Food Tours, Photo: Tampa Bay Food Tours
- Henry B. Plant Museum, Tampa, Florida, Photo: Henry B. Plant Museum
- HorsePower for Kids, Photo: HorsePower for Kids
- Painting with a Twist, Tampa, Florida, Photo: Courtesy of bittedankeschon - Fotolia.com
- Lettuce Lake Regional Park, Tampa, Florida, Photo: Courtesy of WavebreakMediaMicro - Fotolia.com
- Hillsborough River State Park, Photo: Courtesy of bulashenko - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of SeanPavonePhoto - Fotolia.com