Tampa Florida is the third largest city in Florida but probably one of the most ignored by many tourists. There are 11 things that we discovered and saw that we think you will also find fantastic and interesting.
One of the favorite things to do in Tampa is Busch Gardens. This is an amazing theme park. It’s themed around Africa and it combines wild animals and extreme thrill rides.
There are the most amazing selection of animals in the Serengeti plain, which you can visit by either going on the train ride (which circles the whole park) or going on the incredible Serengeti Safari, where you get really close to the animals and actually hand feed the giraffes – which is a fantastic experience.
Right across the park are a whole range of amazing thrill rides and roller coasters. Some of the most popular rides include the Cheetah Hunt, which is a really fast roller coaster, there’s Cobra’s Curse, where you go in a vertical lift face to face with a fang and then you spin backwards and forwards.
There is the Congo River Rapids and Kumba. There’s also the Stanley Falls flume, which is a boat ride which has a 40-foot drop. So whether you’re into looking at animals or you’re a thrill seeker you’ll be satisfied at Busch Gardens.
The second most amazing part of Tampa was Ybor City.
It was created by the vision of one man called Martinez Ybor.
He created what eventually became the cigar capital of the world. He set up and then attracted many other cigar makers, largely from Cuba, to move and set up in Ybor City, which was originally just a swamp. At its height in 1927 there was over 200 cigar factories. There’s 10 blocks which are Historic Landmark District and there are fascinating stories. Don’t just go and explore by yourself, I strongly recommend that you go on a walking tour and really understand the history and know what you’re seeing.
Now one of the things you must do if you go to Ybor is is head to Le Segunda Central Bakery which for over 100 years has made the most phenomenal Cuban bread, Cuban sandwiches, pastries and cakes.
Another really important thing to do is focus on the water and the river. Tampa has a beautiful waterfront so make sure that you actually get to explore the river, and there’s three key ways of doing that.
First of all is the Pirate Water Taxi and they travel along the Hillsborough River and the Garrison Channel, and it’s a great way of seeing Tampa and whoever’s captaining the ship will give you commentary. If you’re feeling more energetic there is the Tampa Bay Water bikes. So you can jump on them and you can peddle your way along the river.
It’s really good fun, really easy to do and it’s a great way of seeing the river and Tampa.
Another great option is the Tampa Riverwalk which starts at the Convention Center and you basically can walk right along the river, either on walkways that have been built along the river or paths, and you can stroll your way or cycle away for miles and miles and miles.
Another thing that would recommend you go and see is the Henry B Plant Museum.
You can’t miss this building as you’ll see it on the river tour, you’ll see it when you travel around the city. The actual building itself used to be the Tampa Bay Hotel.
It originally was built as a very upmarket hotel resort by Henry B plant who built the railroad which stretched right across Florida, and he built a series of hotels to try and attract the wealthy.
Most of the building is now occupied by the University of Tampa but a big part of the ground floor is the Henry B Plant Museum and inside there they have the original artifacts, original furniture, paintings, carpets and it is a fascinating history of his role in putting Tampa on the map.
Museum of Art
Our next tip is if you’re looking for some culture and some art there is a fantastic Museum of Art and it’s renowned for not only having a great art collection but it has a beautiful view of the city from the plaza in front of the Museum of Art. The museum itself has a fantastic collection. It has ancient Greek through to Roman and it has pop artwork, lots of traveling exhibitions. If you’re looking for a little bit of culture and art, it is a fantastic Museum. I really enjoyed it an enormous amount.
Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park
Our next suggestion is Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park. This is a really interesting zoo. It has a much more diverse range of animals then you will see at Busch Gardens. It’s not a particularly huge zoo but does have a lot of options. A lot of choice of things to see. The zoo also has throughout the day a number of interactive things that you can do. So for example one of the great fun things was the macaw flyby, where they had some kids push a button release the macaws and they flew all around about people’s heads and then you could watch them being fed and hear about them.
And there’s various different experiences throughout the day with various animals.
Next suggestion would be the Florida Aquarium. This is a very well-respected aquarium not only for its exhibitions that it has, the outreach program but also it focuses on conservation in three key areas: sharks, sea coral and sea turtles. It has a great location right next to some of the cruise terminals so if you are coming on a cruise it’s a very easy walk to go and visit the aquarium.
If you’re looking for entertainment there’s two things that I would strongly recommend you do.
One of which is Top Golf
It’s a huge driving range that has three levels where you are hitting balls and trying to get them into various targets. It has great food and is a huge amount of fun, so if you’re looking for some entertainment Top Golf of is definitely one of them.
David J Straz Center for Performing Arts
The other is the David J Straz Center for Performing Arts.
This is a huge complex. There’s actually five theaters and you might find the opera season on, the orchestra is on and then they have a whole series of big shows that are on tou
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