With its mixture of historic architecture and modern landmarks, Cuban and Spanish-infused culture, vibrant business districts and beautiful waterways, Tampa is a wonderful place to visit. A lively urban center, the downtown boasts the gorgeous Tampa Riverwalk, hip bars, innovative restaurants, and amazing historical buildings. While only a short, 30-minute drive to the beaches, you may not want to leave Tampa’s city life. Check out the domed IMAX theater of the Museum of Science and Industry. Or, head over to Ybor City, created around the Cuba cigar-rolling industry in the late 1800s. Now a world renowned hot nightlife spot, lively music, cocktails, and late-night dancing fill its old red brick buildings. At nearby Hyde Park, an upscale shopping and dining district, you can find boutique stores and national brands, as well as excellent restaurants and bars.
Plenty happens in Tampa off the beaten path though. If you’re into hiking, biking, paddling, or bird-watching, hit one of the Tampa area’s many parks and preserves, such as Hillsborough River State Park in Thonotosassa or Lettuce Lake Park in north Tampa. Rent a kayak, or stroll the trails amid serene surroundings, encountering beautiful Florida birds, pop-up turtles, and lazy gators. Or, get up close and personal with the majestic lions, tigers, and leopards of the Big Cat Rescue animal sanctuary.
There’s also plenty of adventures to be had in Tampa’s museums and theme parks. The impressive Tampa Museum of Art is well worth a visit, and you won’t want to miss the Florida Aquarium. Also, Busch Gardens theme park has plenty of rides, shows and attractions to fill up a whole weekend, as does the nearby Adventure Island water park, which offers daring drops and relaxing wading pools.