Tampa/St. Petersburg (PIE) offers unexpected beauty and fun in a variety of forms. You are able to observe species in their natural habitats or plan a day at an aquarium where you can see the miracle of a prosthetic dolphin tail. Looking to feel the thrills of being in the outdoors? Tampa offers ziplining to get you high above the water for unbeatable views. Even if you’re looking to simply satisfy your inner foodie, Tampa’s charming food and local delicacies will leave you amazed and planning your next trip back in no time.
Don’t miss out on a great Cuban sandwich while in Tampa. The West Tampa Sandwich Shop has some of the best and is a frequent of locals and visitors alike (even a former President has been through the sandwich shop doors). Being so close to the coast, seafood here is as fresh as it comes. A Florida delicacy is stone crab, and one of the best places to get it is at Tampa Blue Crab and Seafood Market. Remember to grab some key lime pie before your trip ends because, after all, Key limes are native to Florida. Mike’s Pies is the place to go and the dish is even named the “Killer Key Lime Pie”. They’ve got plenty of other pie options as well sure to make your mouth water.
Tampa Bay is renowned for the unique blend of cultures in what the locals consider visiting “Cuba without a passport”. You can walk through the brick lined streets of Ybor City on your own or embark on a walking tour with a local expert to learn the history. No trip to Tampa is complete without spending some time exploring the Florida Aquarium. Considered one of the top aquarium’s in the country, the Florida Aquarium offers General Admission Tickets, Combination Tickets, or Swim & Dive Programs. This allows visitors to experience the marine wildlife up close and personal (yes, you can even dive with sand sharks)! Plus, did you even go to Tampa if you didn’t experience the waterfront views? Clearwater Beach ought to be at the top of your list. Although it can get busy due to its popularity, the many amenities, craft market and events make the beach well worth it. You can even see the famous dolphin, Winter, who was the star of the movie “Dolphin Tale” and is known far and wide for having a prosthetic tail at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
Year-round pro sports make Tampa the place to be. The city is represented by the MLB Tampa Bay Rays, the NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the NHL Tampa Bay Lightning, and is even the home of the New York Yankees spring training facility. Alumni and visitors alike make seasonal stops to the University of South Florida. With sports like football, baseball, basketball, soccer, golf and more represented in the NCAA, there is never a shortage of game day opportunities in the “Lightning Capital of the World”.
If you want to experience some of the best views of the water, Empower Zip Lines on Tampa Bay provides visitors with a 2.5-hour zip line journey over the Mobbly Bayou Preserve. And, if heights aren’t your thing, they also offer standup paddle boarding. The Tampa area is also home to some of the world’s most beautiful mangroves, islands, bay waters and animal sanctuaries. If you’re in the area between November 1 and April 15, make a trip to the Manatee Viewing Center to see the manatees up close and learn all about what makes them such a unique species. Still haven’t gotten your fill of the great Tampa outdoors? Hillsborough River State Park is the next place to stop. They boast campsites galore, picnic spots, fishing, swimming, nature trails/hiking and even canoeing and boating.
For the best shopping scene in Florida, make your way over to Hyde Park. The tree-lined brick streets welcome you in and the shops keep you around. This historic district offers the best of both worlds with recognizable name brands to unique local shops. Looking for shopping with a side of history? Ybor City is the place to be. With two-storied shops on both sides of the streets and, arts centers and great restaurants (we recommend trying the original Cuban sandwich). Just don’t be alarmed if you see a few chickens roaming the streets.