It might be the business hub of western Florida, but that’s not why you’ll want to visit this storied city on the Gulf side of the peninsula — especially if you look deeper into this list of the 10 best places to visit in Tampa. As many of the top things to do in Tampa, FL, and sights to take in, remind us, you’ll definitely want to come here for the action. Within this city located on Tampa Bay, you’ll find a plethora of amusements, i.e. parks, museums, zoos and nightlife, plus a mix of history and culture. From its lovely waterways to its resurgent downtown, Tampa is a great city to visit, and here are the 10 best places to visit in town when you’re there.
It’s an amusement park. But it’s also a zoo. And from wild animals to even wilder roller coasters, Busch Gardens is a pretty cool place to explore. Plus, there are plenty of behind the scenes tours, too.
This National Historic Landmark District is named for cigar baron Vincente Martinez Ybor, and today, it’s the center of the city’s Latin quarter, with amazing restaurants, shops and galleries. Check out La Septima — Seventh Avenue – where some of the most historical buildings can be found.
This wildlife sanctuary rescues abandoned and abused cats — wild cats, that is, including leopards, jaguars, lions and tigers. The only way to visit is to book a tour. Keep in mind, only some tours allow kids, so be sure to check in advance before grabbing a ticket.
From ancient Greek and Roman antiquities to contemporary art, the Tampa Museum of Art houses a pretty impressive collection. It’s also located on the city’s Riverwalk, and every fourth Friday night it offers pay-what-you-will admission.
This 1926 movie palace still plays its Wurlitzer organ before shows. A mix of contemporary movies — along with specials like Totally Classic 80s movies — and live shows are just some of the things you can enjoy.
Feed the giraffes. Or even feed an endangered rhino. Pet a stingray. Or hang out and fed some lorikeets. You can also just wander the zoo and enjoy the animals, but if you have kids, pack a swimsuit, as there are a few splash areas with fountains. This zoo is a hidden gem among our 10 best places to visit in Tampa.
Once a resort with more than 500 rooms built by railroad tycoon Henry B. Plant, the grounds are now a museum. Explore the history of this former resort, along with how Plant contributed to Tampa’s growth.
Sharks, alligators and fish, oh my! The thousands of animals and plants here will enchant any kid–and most adults. The aquarium also offers some swim and dive tours where you can get into the water with the fish.
The city may be big on business, but there is pleasure to be found here if you look into the 10 best places to visit in Tampa and top things to do in town as well.
Jeanette Hurt is the award-winning writer and author of eight culinary and
drink books, including The Cheeses of California: A Culinary Travel Guide, which received the 2010 Mark Twain Award for Best Travel Book, and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Wine and Food Pairing. She's written for TheKitchn.com, Four Seasons Magazine, Wine Enthusiast, Entrepreneur.com, and dozens more publications.