City of Tampa Postcard Mural in Downtown Tampa

The 25 Best Things to Do in and Around Tampa, Florida

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through our affiliate links, we may earn a small commission without any extra cost to you. Thank you!

The city of Tampa is a popular destination to visit on the Gulf side of Florida. While Florida is known for its other cities such as Miami and Miami Beach, you will be absolutely surprised by the incredible town of Tampa, Florida. There are numerous things to do in Tampa for people of all ages with varying interests. Tampa has a lot to offer, from sporting events to theme parks to nightlife to so much more. Whether you are visiting one of the several amusement parks, seeing Florida wildlife, or enjoying what the city of Tampa has to offer, there are plenty of things to keep you busy. Keep reading to learn about some of the many things to do in Tampa.

Explore Downtown Tampa

While visiting Tampa, spend some time exploring the Downtown area. Here, you will find the Tampa Riverwalk, various museums, an iconic Tampa mural, and several excellent places to eat. There are also many hotel options in downtown Tampa to choose from if you are staying there.

Take a Walk Along the Tampa Riverwalk

The Tampa Riverwalk is located along the Hillsborough River. The Riverwalk is a 2.6-mile long path going from Sparkman Wharf to Armature Works. Along the Riverwalk, you will find many places to eat, many parks, including splash parks for children to play in, dog parks, and museums. As you walk along the Riverwalk, you will see the Historical Monument Trail, the Heroes Plaza, and quotes along a portion of the Riverwalk path.

You can also decide to take a boat ride along the Hillsborough River, as there are water shuttle stops along the Riverwalk. This is a great way to have a leisurely and relaxing cruise along the Tampa Riverwalk.

The Amalie Arena and the Tampa Convention Center are on the Riverwalk’s south end near the cruise terminal. Armature Works is on the north end of the Riverwalk. If you are planning to catch a Broadway production during your visit to Tampa, Florida, the Straz Center of Performing Arts is in the Arts District portion of the Riverwalk.

Going for a leisurely walk along the Tampa Riverwalk is a great thing to do during your trip to Tampa. We really enjoyed walking along the Riverwalk and liked how easy it was to walk along the pedestrian path. There is no worry about crossing busy streets along the route. There were many sites to see along our walk. It was a great way to start our morning and get our steps in. 

View of the path along the Riverwalk
The path along the Riverwalk
Swing along the Riverwalk
Swing along the Riverwalk

Visit Armature Works on the North End of the Tampa Riverwalk

Armature Works is a restored mixed-use building in the Heights District of Tampa. It is located on the waterfront of the Hillsborough River and Riverwalk. There are many places to grab a bite to eat or get something to drink at Armature Works. The hardest decision here will be choosing what to eat.

If you want to avoid sitting outside, there are many places to sit inside the Armature Works building. However, it does get busy, so grabbing a table outside might be a good idea.

Outside of Armature Works on the Riverwalk side is a large lawn you can relax on. There are large checkerboards for a quick game and many tables and benches. Sitting outside on the lawn is also a great option. You can look out towards the Riverwalk and enjoy live music while spending the day around the Armature Works area.

Outside area at Armature Works
Outside area at Armature Works

Visit MacDill Park

MacDill Park is located along the Riverwalk. It is a small park that honors MacDill Air Force Base’s contribution to the community. A beautiful memorial pays tribute to the sacrifices made by Gold Star families.

MacDill Park
MacDill Park
The monument at MacDill Park
The monument at MacDill Park

Visit Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park

Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park is a large park near the Tampa Museum of Art and the Glazer Children’s Museum. It is a great place to sit and relax or enjoy your morning coffee. There are water features that children can enjoy, and it is the perfect park to walk your fur babies. 

View of Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park
Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park

Visit Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park

Fort Brooke was Tampa’s earliest settlement and first military installation. Today, Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park has a large green space perfect for having a picnic and a sizable playground for children to play. You can also find a small pier. If you walk to the end of the pier, you can see out to the bay, and if a cruise ship is in port, you get the perfect view of the front of the ship. Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park is part of the Tampa Riverwalk and is located along the Garrison Channel.

Cotanchobee Park
Cotanchobee Park
View of cruise ship along the pier at Cotanchobee Park
Cruise ship along the pier at Cotanchobee Park

Visit One of the Museums Along the Tampa Riverwalk

While enjoying your walk along the Tampa Riverwalk, you will find a few museums that you can easily visit. These are a few of our favorite museums: 

Tampa Museum of Art

The Tampa Museum of Art is located right off the Tampa Riverwalk near Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. Its permanent collection includes antiquities, statutes, sculptures, and contemporary art. The museum also has a variety of changing exhibitions throughout the year. It is open Friday through Wednesday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and Thursday from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm. On Thursday evenings from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm, the museum offers Art on the House with pay-as-you-will admission.

Tampa Museum of Art
Tampa Museum of Art

Glazer Children’s Museum

The Glazer Children’s Museum is located right next to the Tampa Museum of Art. It is a great museum with incredible exhibits that will keep kids entertained. The Safety Village is a small town where kids can visit a bank, Publix, a Vet clinic, and a few other businesses you would find in a town, such as an ice cream parlor. The town is filled with many interactive displays for kids to enjoy. The museum also offers an art center, a farm, and daily programs.

The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm. During the summer months, the museum is open Monday through Sunday from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm.

View of the Glazer Children's Museum
Glazer Children’s Museum

Tampa Bay History Center

The Tampa Bay History Center is located on Water Street near the start of the Tampa Riverwalk and Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park. The museum has several floors with exhibits that showcase Florida’s history. You will learn about the conquistadors, pirates, and Florida pioneers, as well as the history of the Tampa Bay area. The exhibits cover about 12,000 years of history and include interactive activities. The Tampa Bay History Center is open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. 

If you get hungry while visiting the museum, visit the Columbia Cafe. The cafe is off the Riverwalk and has a covered outdoor patio. The cafe serves a variety of delicious Cuban and Spanish-inspired dishes. It’s definitely worth a try. 

Tampa Bay History Center
Tampa Bay History Center

Take a Picture at the Tampa Postcard Mural

While exploring Downtown Tampa, remember to stop by the Tampa Postcard Mural for a picture. As the name suggests, this is an art mural painted on the side of a building that resembles a Tampa postcard. You can find the Tampa Postcard Mural on the building at the corner of Royal Street and North Florida Avenue.

City of Tampa Postcard Mural in Downtown Tampa
Tampa Postcard Mural

Visit the Historic Ybor City District

The Historic Ybor City District is a popular town known for its vibrant nightlife. It is a great place to learn about Tampa’s rich cultural heritage. There are many restaurants, pubs with live entertainment, and galleries to explore. Ybor City is a historic location where Cuban and Spanish cigar factory workers lived and where cigars were made. This was one of the first towns in Florida to experience industrial growth. 

Today, you will find museums, cigar shops, pubs, and many restaurants. Throughout the year, you will find many community events in Ybor City, with many taking place on 7th Avenue, the main street where you find restaurants and attractions in Ybor City Tampa. While visiting Ybor City, consider going on a spooky walk with a Ghost Walking Tour of Ybor City. The Ghost Walking Tour is definitely one of the best and most unique things to do in Tampa.

View of Centro Ybor
Centro Ybor
Ybor Museum
Ybor Museum

Visit the J.C. Newman Cigar Factory in Ybor

The J.C. Newman Cigar Company is one of the oldest family-owned cigar-making companies in the United States. Their cigar factory is located in Ybor and is known as “El Reloj.”  You can visit the cigar factory in Ybor and watch cigars being rolled both by hand and by machine. You can also visit the museum, theatre, and factory store at El Reloj. The factory is open to the public from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm on weekdays. Cigar rolling ends at 3:00 pm. You should plan to be there before if you would like to see how cigars are rolled. 

Ride the TECO Streetcar Trolley

Riding the TECO Streetcar Trolley is an easy way to get between Downtown Tampa and the Historic Ybor City District. Riding the Trolley is very easy to do and one of the best free things to do in Tampa, Florida. There are multiple stops between Downtown Tampa and the Historic Ybor District, allowing you to stop and explore the many places along the way. 

TECO Streetcar Trolley
TECO Streetcar Trolley

The TECO Streetcar Trolley hours vary by day, and you should verify the hours in case you are relying on the trolley to get you back to your hotel. Monday through Thursday, the trolley runs between 7:00 am to 11:00 pm. On Friday, the trolley runs between 7:00 am to 2:00 am. Saturdays, the Trolly runs from 8:30 am to 2:00 am. On Sundays, the trolley runs from 8:30 am to 11:00 pm. The extended hours on Friday and Saturday allow visitors to Ybor City to enjoy the popular nightlife.

Take a Stroll Around Sparkman Wharf

Sparkman Wharf is a waterfront location with many restaurants and bars that look out to the harbor. The wharf has several eateries that have a food truck/street food vibe. There is also a beer garden and a cafe where you can enjoy a refreshing beverage. You will also find a couple of shops, including a chocolate factory. There is a large grass area where you can sit near the water and enjoy your lunch. Sparkman Wharf is a great place to spend an afternoon and relax while having a bite to eat.

Sparkman Wharf
Sparkman Wharf
Food stand at Sparkman Wharf
Food stand at Sparkman Wharf

Visit Attractions and Theme Parks Around Tampa

Regardless of who you are traveling with, you will find an attraction that is perfect for everyone in your party. There are several attractions in and around Tampa, such as a zoo and several amusement parks. Here are some of the popular attractions you can visit.

Visit Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens is an amusement park with an African theme that is a great family-friendly thing to do in Tampa. It features roller coasters and a variety of other rides, including some of the tallest roller coasters in the nation.

Busch Gardens is a unique place to visit in Tampa. In addition to being an amusement park, Busch Gardens has a 65-acre Serengeti Plain with animal exhibits. You can enjoy going on an open-air safari through the Serengeti Plain. There are a variety of animal encounter tours to choose from.

If you have younger children, you can spend some time in the Sesame Street Safari of Fun area. Your kids will enjoy kid-size rides, splash zones, visiting with the Sesame Street characters, and enjoying a show. Busch Gardens is a great family amusement park with attractions for everyone to enjoy.

Visit Adventure Island

Adventure Island is a water park across from Busch Gardens amusement park. It is a fantastic, family-friendly thing to do in Tampa. There are several waterslides, including a few corkscrew thriller waterslides. There are four different pools, including a lazy river and a wave pool and a new splash area for kids. Visiting Adventure Island is a great way to cool off when it is hot in Florida and one of the best things to do in Tampa. 

Visit the Florida Aquarium

The Florida Aquarium is considered to be one of the largest aquariums in the United States. It is located near Sparkman Wharf on the Riverside Walk in Downtown Tampa. The aquarium has several habitats where you can see sharks, eels, puffer fish, stingrays, and hundreds of other fish. The largest aquarium habitat is the Coral Reef aquarium, which holds 500,000 gallons of water and has sand tiger sharks, sea turtles, and many other fish. 

The Florida Aquarium is open daily from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm. You will need to make advanced online reservations to visit the Florida Aquarium. 

Florida Aquarium
Florida Aquarium

Visit ZooTampa at Lowry Park

ZooTampa at Lowry Park is a great place to take kids if you are looking for a family friendly thing to do in Tampa. It is a great zoo with six regions representing animals from Asia, Africa, Australia, and Florida. There is a Carousel ride, which is perfect for young children, and the Roaring Springs Water Adventure ride, which is perfect for families. In the Australian region, you will find more rides, a play area, and a splash pad for kids to enjoy as well.

Visit Legoland Florida

Legoland Florida Resort is one of the best things to do in Tampa with kids, especially if you have children who love Legos. The Legoland Florida Resort is about an hour’s drive from Tampa. Similar to Legoland California in Carlsbad, Legoland Florida has over 50 rides and attractions for kids and a water park. There are also three Lego-themed hotels you can stay at during your visit. If you have children who are fans of Peppa Pig, you can purchase a Legoland bundle ticket that includes entry to the Peppa Pig Theme Park.

Visit the Tampa Electric Manatee Viewing Center

The Manatee Viewing Center is a protected manatee sanctuary where the public can see manatees. The Manatee Viewing Center is open between the months of November and mid-April. Besides manatees, you can also see sting rays, visit the educational building, and walk various trails. Going to the Tampa Electric Manatee Viewing Center is one of the best free things to do in Tampa, and parking is also free during your visit.

Swim with Manatees

If you want to get up close to the manatees, you can swim with them. Manatees are protected animals, and there are two areas where you can swim with them: the Crystal River and Kings Bay. You will need to follow the rules that will be set by your guide, which are in place so that the Manatees are not disturbed. Some of the rules include not getting too close, not touching the Manatees, and not disturbing them. You should not enter any areas marked as a Manatee Refuge. Your best bet is to stick with reputable companies that work to protect the Manatees while giving you a great time swimming with them and viewing them from a safe distance.  

Visit Hillsborough River State Park

Hillsborough River State Park is a gem located near downtown Tampa. If you love the outdoors, you will enjoy a visit to Hillsborough River State Park, where you can explore and view Florida’s wildlife. 

The park has a camping site with amenities such as a cafe, a pool, playgrounds, showers, and restrooms. It also has several hiking trails that range from easy to strenuous. 

The Hillsborough River is part of the park, making it a great place to canoe or kayak. Kayak, canoe, and bicycle rentals are available in the park. If you would like to elevate the fun, there is also a class two rapid in the park. This is a great way to try whitewater rafting. 

Hillsborough River State Park is a great park to visit. It is located a few minutes away from downtown and is easily one of the top things to do in Tampa.

Visit MOSI, The Museum of Science and Industry

The Museum of Science and Industry is a hands-on science museum with interactive exhibits. MOSI has permanent exhibits as well as rotating exhibits, making every visit to MOSI different. One of their spectacular experiences is the Saunders Planetarium, where you will tour the sky and learn about the cosmos. There is a small fee to attend the show at the Saunders Planetarium. 

MOSI is open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.  

Go to a Sports Game in Tampa

If you are a sports fan, make plans to attend a football, baseball, hockey, or soccer game and support your favorite sports team. Whether you are a fan of one of the several Tampa sports teams or not, going to a game can be a lot of fun.

Tampa Bay Lightning

The Amalie Arena in Tampa is home to the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team. Amalie Arena is in Downtown Tampa near Sparkman Wharf. If you are looking for hotels within walking distance of Amalie Arena, the closest hotels are in Downtown Tampa. Although hotels in Downtown Tampa may be more pricey, there are plenty of hotels in the surrounding area. 

View of the Amalie Arena
Amalie Arena

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers play at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. The football field is near the Tampa International Airport, so if you are coming from out of town to see the Buccaneers or see your favorite football team play against the Buccaneers, you can stay at a hotel near the airport. 

Tampa Bay Rays

Tropicana Field is the home of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team. The Tropicana Field is located outside of the city of Tampa in nearby St. Petersburg. If you are planning to catch a baseball game during your visit, you can stay in St. Petersburg or closer to Tampa.

Tampa Bay Rowdies

The Al Lang Stadium is the home of the Tampa Bay Rowdies soccer team. Similarly to the Tampa Bay Rays, the Al Lang Stadium is located in St. Petersburg. The Al Lang Stadium is down the road from the Tropicana Field near the Salvador Dali Museum. You can choose to stay in St. Petersburg or in Tampa.

Spring Training in Tampa

If you are a big baseball fan, several MLB teams have spring training in Tampa. The teams who do spring training in Tampa include the New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Toronto Blue Jays. You can catch some of their spring training baseball games in Tampa.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some answers to some frequently asked questions about visiting Tampa to help you plan your next vacation.

Where in Florida is Tampa?

Tampa is located on the west side of Florida, on the Gulf of Mexico side. It is about two hours from Orlando and four to five hours from Miami and Miami Beach.

Flamingo at Tampa Airport
Pink flamingo at the Tampa Airport

What is the Best Way to Get Around Tampa Florida?

To get around Tampa, you can rent a car, take a taxi, or use a rideshare app like Uber or Lyft. If you are staying in the Tampa area for several days and planning to explore nearby areas or go to the beach, we recommend renting a car. If you would rather take public transportation, you can ride the bus around Tampa or into other nearby cities. 

When Is the Best Time to Visit Tampa?

The warmest months in Tampa are May through September, which can also be humid. There is also more rainfall during these months due to the humidity. If you do not mind the heat or the humidity, then these are great months to visit Tampa. The cooler months start in October and go through June. 

We have visited during both the warm and cool seasons and found the cooler season more pleasant than the hot season. However, the hot season wasn’t so bad, and when it became hot, there was always a pool in which to cool off. I would say that any time is a great time to visit Tampa. The only thing I would keep in mind is that hurricane season in Florida begins in June and goes through the end of November.  

Are There Beaches in Tampa?

If you want to go to the beach on your trip to Tampa, you must drive to the coast. The drive to the coast is about 30 minutes, depending on the traffic and which beach you would like to visit. There are several beaches to visit in the Clearwater and St. Petersburg areas.

Is a Trip to Tampa Worth It?

Absolutely! Tampa is worth visiting for its many sites. Ybor City is a great historical town to visit and enjoy the nightlife. Tampa has many attractions, such as Busch Gardens, Legoland, and the Aquarium, to name a few. Hillsborough River State Park is an excellent park for a family getaway that has many activities for families to enjoy. And if you are an experienced cruiser that loves cruising, or new to cruising, Tampa has a large cruise port that services many cruise lines with cruise ships headed to many exotic destinations. Spending a few days or a week exploring the incredible town of Tampa is well worth it!

Popular & Related Posts

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top