Last updated: 11:40 AM ET, Sat September 21 2019
Tampa, Florida, USA downtown skyline. (photo via SeanPavonePhoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Tampa

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Tampa, Florida, USA downtown skyline. (photo via SeanPavonePhoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Tampa, Florida, USA downtown skyline. (photo via SeanPavonePhoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Tampa, Florida, has all the makings for a great vacation destination. It offers city life, major theme park attractions, premier sports teams and nearby beach and water fun.

Tampa’s downtown is its main commercial center on the waterfront. Historic Ybor City offers a glimpse into Cuban life in the past and present, and is a happening area for nightlife, dining and shopping. Learn about the impact of the cigar industry at the Ybor City Cigar Museum. In West Tampa, you’ll find historic neighborhoods and the University of Tampa campus.

If you’re traveling with kids, and even if you’re not, Busch Gardens is a must stop if you like roller coasters or love to get upclose to animals. More animals can be found at the Lowry Park Zoo, one of the top zoos in the country, and the Florida Aquarium with its over 20,000 species of aquatic plants and animals. Get wet at Adventure Island water park near Busch Gardens. Also great for kids is Dinosaur World, an outdoor museum with over 150 life-size dinosaurs. The Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI) offers hands-on family focused fun. The Tampa Museum of Art recently opened to wow visitors with its design and visual arts. The Tampa Theatre, which dates back to 1926, is a city and national landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places showcasing beautiful architecture.

Whatever time of year you are visiting, catch Tampa’s sports teams doing their best, whether its football (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), hockey (the Tampa Bay Lightning) or baseball (Tampa Bay Rays).

Nearby beaches include Clearwater Beach and the other beaches of neighboring St. Petersburg.

Photo of the Ybor City historic district in Tampa Florida. (photo via WGCPhotography / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Photo of the Ybor City historic district in Tampa Florida. (photo via WGCPhotography / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

There are numerous malls if you wish to kill a few hours to shop, including International Plaza Mall and Westshore Plaza Mall near the airport. Hyde Park, a historic district home to multi-million dollar mansions, also offers fun specialty shops to check out. It may no longer be the “Cigar Capital of the World”, but Ybor City is still the place to buy vintage clothing, hand-rolled cigars, handcrafted Spanish tiles and more. Centro Ybor offers shopping, dining and entertainment all in one. South Howard Avenue, or SoHo, offers its own dining delights along “Restaurant Row”.

Most U.S. airlines service Tampa International Airport (TPA) with non-stop and connecting flights from most destinations in the country. St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport (PIE), 15 minutes away, serves smaller routes and discount airlines.

Renting a car is the best way to get around the area. HART provides extensive bus service throughout Hillsborough County, including local, Commuter Express from Tampa suburbs and trolley service serving the Central Business District. The TECO Line Streetcar, which is good for tourists, runs from Dick Greco Plaza downtown to Centennial Park in Ybor City.

Tampa’s humid subtropical climate creates average high ranges from 70 to 90 degrees year-round and lows of 52 to 76 degrees. You can expect hot temperatures from mid-April through early October, which is also the rainy season.