Tampa is often an add-on destination for travelers to Florida who are also planning trips to Orlando. An hour and a half drive apart, Orlando’s Universal Studios and SeaWorld share FlexTicket admission to Tampa’s Busch Gardens
But Busch Gardens are just the start. A Tampa vacation combines sophisticated urban pleasures and cultural diversions with some of the finest beaches you’ll find anywhere on earth. Tampa Bay is home to pro sports teams and spring training camps. And reveling swashbucklers overrun the city during the annual Gasparilla Pirate Festival.
Tampa FL - Busch Gardens
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay doubles as one of America’s most thrilling amusement parks as well as one of the largest zoos in the country. On the 80-acre African-style savannah, you can come face-to-face with a free-ranging zebra, or feed a giraffe by hand. A zoologist accompanies you on the VIP tour, while the Serengeti Safari takes you on an open truck ride out among the grazing wildlife.
Busch Gardens’ cutting edge thrill-ride innovations include the inverted Montu, the corkscrew Kumba, and the twin wooden Gwazi coasters. SheiKra, the first diving coaster in the U.S., takes you up 200 feet, and then hurls you straight down at 70 miles an hour through loops, tunnels, and splashing waves. Let’s do it again!
With its gleaming modern skyline, Tampa is the business center of Florida's west coast. Its railroad resort origins are reflected in the University of Tampa’s Henry B. Plant Museum, housed in the 1890s arabesque Tampa Bay Hotel, once training base for Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders.
Near the cruise ships docked at Garrison Seaport Center, you can explore the Florida Aquarium, along with fashionable shops and restaurants in the Channel District. In the midday heat, one of the most popular Florida attractions in Tampa is the 25-acre Adventure Island water park. Go ahead and get wet!
Ybor City Tampa
For more than half a century, Ybor City was the "Cigar Capital of the World" and it's still one of the best places to buy hand-rolled cigars. A short trolley ride from downtown, this historic Cuban enclave is now known as Tampa's Latin Quarter – and party central. On weekends the restaurants and nightclubs get boisterously packed around the Centro Ybor.
Clearwater & St. Petersburg
Across Old Tampa Bay from downtown Tampa you’ll find the Pinellas Peninsula, site of St. Petersburg and Clearwater Beach. St. Petersburg is a museum-lover’s town, with the Florida International Museum’s extensive JFK memorabilia, the Florida Holocaust Museum, and the world-renowned Salvador Dali Museum.
Tampa Bay Beaches
Clearwater is the jumping off point for the heavenly beaches of the barrier islands. Fort De Soto beach, on Mullet Key, is hailed by experts in Tampa Florida travel as the number one best beach in the world.
South along the Gulf coast, parallel to the barrier keys, is Sarasota. The John and Mable Ringling Center for the Cultural Arts is the Official State Art Museum of Florida, and includes a charming Circus Museum.
Nearby St. Armand’s and Longboat keys cater to the elite set. On Lido key, wildlife lovers enjoy the Mote Aquarium and Pelican Man’s Bird Sanctuary.