Top Things To Do In Tampa For Visitors
When the airplane’s wheels hit the runway at the Tampa International Airport, as a visitor, you just want to hop in the car, drop your bags at the hotel, and set off on your own Tampa tour. Whether you’re traveling alone, with a friend or companion, or your whole family, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
To really appreciate and take in all 175.8 square miles of Tampa, you’ll definitely want to rent a car to help you explore all that there is to see and do in Tampa–from live music to water parks to white sand beaches. The recipe for enjoying visiting any new place is food and fun. Let’s explore all the best of both that Tampa has to offer.
Find the Food
You can’t enjoy anything when you’re hungry. Luckily, Tampa has a wide array of dining experiences to suit your palette. Here are the top places to grab a bite while you’re in Tampa, Florida.
1. Oxford Exchange
The Oxford Exchange in Tampa offers an experience. The menu is American, and they have brunch, afternoon tea, coffees, spirits, and more. Whether you’re missing your morning avocado toast or everything bagel, or you want a salad or a burger for a larger appetite, the Oxford Exchange is a great vacation dining spot.
After you’ve finished your meal, you can browse the shop at the Oxford Exchange for something to take back home to add some luxury to your home from your trip. A cozy throw to warm you up with thoughts of your sunny vacation.
Lastly, nothing goes better with a latte than a good book, and at the Oxford Exchange, you can browse for a good book for your trip in their distinctive bookstore. You can even browse for signed first editions for yourself or the avid reader in your life.
2. Cask Social Kitchen
Visiting somewhere new works up a serious appetite, and one of the best cuisines for curing a big appetite is southern cooking. At the Cask Social Kitchen, they offer a brunch and dinner menu. For brunch, Cask can offer you up some delicious Cask pancakes, a traditional Southern breakfast, biscuits and gravy, and more.
For lunch, you can devour the classic chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits, or a salmon and avocado flatbread. Dinner offers a wide variety of southern favorites, and it’ll be hard choosing just one. Pair any meal with a cocktail for the complete vacation experience. Cask Social Kitchen is the ultimate place to stop in South Tampa to eat, drink, and be social.
3. Japanese Kitchen Dosunco
If you’re in the mood for a comforting bowl of authentic ramen, Tampa has got the Japanese Kitchen Dosunco. A bowl of traditional miso ramen and excellent sake are a perfect combination at the end of a long day, and the Dosunco is a local favorite for the food and the prices.
4. La Teresita
Tampa has one of the largest Cuban populations in the United States, so it would be a shame to miss out on some truly authentic Cuban dining while you’re visiting Tampa. For your dining experience, you should visit La Teresita. It’s a popular hot spot in Tampa, from breakfast to late-night hours.
The two-story building offers a cafeteria for quick service, delicious coffees, and breakfast or lunch items in a classic sandwich and coffee shop designed to replicate the original the owners began in 1978.
The restaurant, separate from the cafeteria, serves traditional Cuban and Spanish dishes. It is located in a Spanish neighborhood, but it’s also close to the airport, the International Mall, and the Raymond James Stadium.
After eating at La Teresita, you’ll see why presidents, celebrities, and other politicians have stopped by for some authentic Cuban cuisine in Ybor City.
5. Ginger Beard Coffee Shop
In Tampa’s Channelside District, you can rejuvenate yourself with a fresh shot of delicious, caffeinated goodness. Designed to be brewed using the same equipment as homebrewed beers, the guys who started Ginger Beard Coffee wanted to offer Nitro Cold Brew coffee to Tampa people.
They’ve added another location in Tampa Heights. With Ginger Beard Coffee, you’ll get a great atmosphere, delicious nitrogen-infused coffee, great service, and fast wifi. It’s an ideal stop for any time of the day to relax, refuel, and recharge.
Find the Fun
When you’ve satisfied your hunger, you’ll be craving some fun on your visit to Tampa. Tampa offers a variety of fun for everyone, so let’s hit the highlights and find what’s right for you.
1. Curtis Hixon Park
Located in downtown Tampa, the Curtis Hixon Park has museums, free outdoor activities like yoga, the Riverwalk, and even concerts. A good walk should follow all good food. The Tampa Riverwalk is a 2.6 miles long walk along the Hillsborough River. As you stroll, you’ll want to head to the next fun destination on our list.
2. Tampa Museum of Art
The Tampa Museum of Art was founded over a century ago. It offers one of the largest Greek and Roman antiquities collections in the southeastern United States, and it also has on exhibit many pieces of art from our own time. It is an iconic landmark in downtown Tampa and a must-see for visitors.
3. Hyde Park Village
If your dog is like part of the family, you’ll love Hyde Park Village. It’s so cute and so trendy, and the best part is that most of the stores are dog-friendly. So, you can spend time with your dog and still get some shopping done at places like Anthropologie, Lululemon, and Zadig & Voltaire.
You can also experience delicious treats at Sprinkles, The Hyppo, or Sorrento Sweets. You can shop at West Elm, too, but don’t forget to let your dog do some shopping at Downtown Dogs for treats, designer collars, or a cozy new bed.
4. The Florida Aquarium
Not many vacations offer the chance to hug a penguin, but Tampa does. Be sure to check out the Florida Aquarium’s Penguin Backstage Pass. The aquarium also offers a splash pad for the kids to enjoy and cool off from the Sunshine’s State’s warmest days and a wild dolphin cruise that lets you observe the beautiful ecosystem of Tampa Bay.
With these amazing experiences, you can couple a wonderful education at their other exhibits and learn while taking in the natural beauty of wildlife. It’s a great addition to any vacation to Tampa.
5. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Busch Gardens is Tampa’s very own theme park. It has some amazing roller coasters for any thrill-seekers, including Florida’s tallest launch coaster, a 335-foot freestanding drop tower, and an inverted roller coaster.
When you’re catching your breath from the rides, you can observe the over 200 species that call Busch Gardens home, or you can book one of the many safaris and tours they have to offer. The park offers a little something for everyone.
6. Ybor City
This neighborhood is a mashup of the old city, once a district for coffee manufacturing and hand-rolled cigars and the new modern city complete with pubs and bars. It has brick streets and a historic streetcar that gives it the feel of its own past.
By night, there’s great entertainment, but you can grab authentic Cuban cuisine and shop the selection of cigars during the day. So, whatever time of day you choose to visit Ybor City, it’s an experience worth adding to your Tampa visit.
7. Epperson Lagoon
Technically, Epperson Lagoon is about 35 minutes outside of Tampa in Wesley Chapel. Still, the lake and beach are so beautiful, relaxing, and fun for all ages that it’s worth hopping in the rental car and heading out for the day while you’re in Tampa.
The lagoon offers family lawn games, a swim-up bar, beautiful, purified water for swimming and fun, a floating obstacle course, and kayak rentals. The 7.5-acre lagoon is the first of its kind in the United States, and you should consider adding it to your Tampa vacation.
8. Catch a Game
Tampa is home to the NFL football team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They play at the Raymond James Stadium for home games. The stadium occasionally hosts soccer games as well. Hockey fans can catch a Tampa Bay Lightning game at the Amalie Arena in the downtown Channelside district.
Major League Baseball fans can head on out to see the Old Ball Game and root for the home team at Tropicana Field or The Trop. The Trop is home to the Tampa Bay Rays, and about six MLB teams hold their spring training in the Tampa Bay area.
Other Things You Don’t Want to Miss
Tampa has more to offer than any sane person can do and see in one day. Here are a few other sights and activities you will want to consider while visiting The Big Guava (what a nickname!):
- Adventure Island
- Clearwater Marine Aquarium
- Big Cat Rescue
- Manatee Viewing Center
- Lowry Park Zoo
- Hillsborough River State Park
- Historic Ybor City
- Cigar City Brewing
Tampa has so much to offer anyone who visits. It’s almost impossible to enjoy it all in one visit. Maybe that’s why celebrities from John Cena to Stephen King choose to call the area home. It offers a lot of culture from the old and the new. It has all the makings of a memorable and gorgeous vacation. From the food to the fun, there’s something for everyone.
Signed Books | Oxford Exchange
Christmas Eve feast is La Teresita tradition | tampabay.com
Award of Merit, Sports/Entertainment: The Lagoon at Epperson | enr.com