Things to Do in Tampa and Surrounding Area

The convention center is located at the south end of Tampa downtown. A few minutes of walk can lead you to the Tampa Bay History Center, which includes exhibition space covering 12,000 years of Florida History. A few more minutes of walk to the east will take you to the Florida Aquarium. With its 250,000 ft2 size, the Florida Aquarium is a fun place to know about the importance of Florida’s natural resources and educate students. About 1 mile north of the convention center, there is the Tampa Museum of Art. If you plan a cruise trip over the Mexican Gulf, you can start your journey at the Tampa Port Authority, which is about 1 mile from the convention center.

Top 10 Ways to Unlock Tampa Bay

Discover Tampa Bay, Florida! Here, we make it easy with the top 10 treasures to discover.  Take a look, and use it as a map to plan your Tampa Bay adventure!

1. Take the TECO Line Streetcar System to Historic Ybor City  – “Home of the Original Cuban Sandwich,” Ybor City has several places to try the best around, including the Columbia Restaurant and Gaspar’s Grotto. In 2012 the Cuban Sandwich was named the official sandwich of the City of Tampa!  While you’re in Ybor, don’t forget to stroll down Seventh Ave. and enjoy a café con leche!

2. Dive with the sharks or swim with the fishes at The Florida Aquarium – A unique opportunity for certified SCUBA divers, age 15 and older, to come face-to-face with live sharks! Dive into the Aquarium's largest tank, the Coral Reef Exhibit, featuring warm clear water teeming with massive sharks, moray eels, barracuda, a green sea turtle and more! Not SCUBA certified? Age six and older can swim with the fishes through a replica of one of the Florida Keys' most beautiful coral reef dive sites.

3. Shop ‘til you drop – Tampa Bay’s transition into high-end retail began in 1998 and has since flourished with the opening of International Plaza (in 2001) further putting the Bay area on the map as a world-class retail market. With over 350 stores between International Plaza and Westshore Plaza, those in search of quality, luxury and high fashion can find the perfect fit in Tampa Bay! Hyde Park Village also offers high-end retailers and boutique shopping in a quaint and historical neighborhood.

4. Ride a roller coaster at Busch Gardens – Take a thrill ride on Cheetah Hunt, the park’s newest mega-attraction and Florida’s first triple-launch coaster that launches riders from 0 to 60 in seconds, or, visit with the many animals easily accessible to vistiors. Next to the Busch Gardens is the Adventure Island, which features 30 acres of water rides and other attractions.

5. Find creativity at the Waterfront Arts District, along the Tampa Riverwalk  – Stop at a venue in the waterfront arts district, including Tampa Museum of Art; David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts – the largest arts center in the southeastern U.S.; or the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts to see creativity at its best! While you’re there, don’t forget to experience the Riverwalk, a waterfront walkway along the Hillsborough River where kids can jump in the fountains at Curtis Hixon Park and play in the interactive playground. The 1.5-mile walkway is a great place to ride bikes, rollerblade, take a Segway tour or even just a relaxing stroll.

6. Sit down to a delicious dish or indulge in a sugar high – Tampa Bay is a culinary experience – delight in creative cuisine at Edison or one-of-a-kind fine dining at Bern’s, the world-famous steakhouse and dessert room, complete with private booths made from old wine casks and a 65-page menu of tantalizing sweets. Also enjoy fresh farm-to-table dishes at Boca and the Refinery, or Great Gatsby-inspired good times at Ciro’s Speakeasy.

7. Visit a farmer’s market for local goods – The Ybor City Saturday Market, Tampa Downtown(Sundays), and the Seminole Heights market (Sundays) are great events to purchase locally grown produce, gifts, and enjoy delicious homemade desserts, breads, pastas, and even popsicles!

8. Play golf in Tampa Bay’s 361 days of sunshine – Tampa Bay is the perfect place to tee off! With year-round golf the area offers more than 100 courses to play, from Saddlebrook Resort to TPC Tampa Bay.

9. See Tampa’s Historical Roots – Visit the Tampa Bay Hotel, built in 1891 and a stop along the Plant Railroad System, which brought a lot of visitors and businesses to Tampa Bay over 120 years ago. Home to the University of Tampa since 1933, the hotel is now the Henry B. Plant Museum, named after its founder.

10. Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo – See more than 2,000 animals including manatees, alligators, cheetah, okapi, hippo, hogs, storks and more housed on 56 acres of lush natural habitats! Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo was voted the #1 Family Friendly Zoo by Child Magazine due to its special layout.

Here are three main events that last for a few weeks in June.

  • Busch Gardens Summer Nights (June through August): Busch Gardens stays open late and lights up the night sky with fireworks, a music and acrobatic show and rides.
  • Adventure Islands Island Nights (June through August - Thur., Fri., Sat.): Adventure Island stays open late with live entertainment, games and tropical cuisine.
  • The Florida Aquarium’s Summer Fun Nights (typically starts later in June): The Aquarium stays open late and offers discounted admission. The Aquarium is only a streetcar ride away from hotels in downtown Tampa.