Tampa City Guide
Tampa is a major city located on the west coast of the Florida peninsula. Tampa was first settled by the Spanish explorers in the early 16th century though it was settled by various other indigenous communities during the subsequent years.
In 1824, the US Army established a frontier post called Fort Brook in the area, which is now the locale of Tampa’s Convention Center. However, it was the Cuban immigrant community that was led by Vicente Martinez Ybor that made Tampa famous by making it a center of the cigar industry in the 1880s.
Today Tampa is a bustling; port city which is dotted with tall skyscrapers and vibrant neighborhoods. Tampa is a part of the metropolitan area most commonly referred to as the Tampa Bay Area. Most visitors to Tampa are holiday makers who book a vacation to Tampa to bask in the warm Florida sunshine while they savor its many attractions like the Busch Gardens amusement park.
Where to stay in Tampa
Business visitors to Tampa often choose to stay at the wide range of hotel properties that are located in the downtown area of Tampa, just east of the Airport. Many of the hotels located here offer stunning views of the Bay
St Petersburg and Clearwater Bay Resort Areas
Most visitors to Tampa choose to stay in the various Tampa hotels that are located within its resort areas of St Petersburg and Clearwater, across Tampa Bay from the city. These two resorts are equipped with many beachfront hotels which are popular with families who book a vacation to Tampa.
Busch Gardens Hotel District
Yet another locale for family vacations in Tampa is the hotel district which is situated within the area around the Busch Garden theme park in north Tampa. Most of the hotels located here are family-friendly hotel properties which welcome children of all ages.
No matter where or what type of hotel you choose for your visit to Tampa, Fare Buzz can assure you of best hotel rates so that you can free up more funds for leisure activities for your stay in Tampa.
Places to see in Tampa
Ybor City is which is located in downtown Tampa is the city’s ancient Latin Quarter that has now been declared a National Historic Landmark District. This district that has been restored to its original grandeur provides an insight into the late 1880’s when this area was referred to as the ‘cigar capital’ of the world. The old cigar factories now house various trendy shops, restaurants, clubs and art galleries and are a major tourist draw. Visitors additionally can also take in demonstrations of hand-rolled cigar making along with flamenco dancing performances which aim to educate as well as entertain.
Busch Gardens is a huge zoo themed amusement park which is Tampa’s major attraction. This park which predates Disneyworld offers much excitement and many thrills for its visitors. The Busch Gardens are set up as a game park in Africa and offer eight different areas, all of which feature thousands of animals living in recreated natural habitats. Aside from its animal attractions the park also offers numerous rides, shops restaurants and performance areas for live entertainment acts. Busch Gardens is generally considered a must-do attraction for any vacation to Tampa with children.
Museum of Science and Industry
The Museum of Science and Industry is another family centric attraction in Tampa that offers nearly five hundred interactive exhibits, which aim to educate and entertain children and adults. The museum also hosts an IMAX theater and is surrounded by a verdant nature reserve that features many walking trails.
Tampa Museum of Art
The Tampa Museum of Art occupies a huge building that is situated along Gasparilla Plaza. The permanent collection at this museum consists of Greek and Roman antiquities as well as a collection of 20th Century and contemporary art. Aside from its permanent collection, the museum also hosts ever-changing temporary exhibits.
Henry B. Plant Museum
The Henry B. Plant Museum located in the heart of downtown Tampa is fashioned on the famed Alhambra Palace in Spain and it is an exponent of the Moorish school of design that sports 13 minarets. The museum was built in 1891 by the Railroad tycoon as the 511 room Tampa Bay Hotel. Today the museum is a landmark attraction in Tampa and features an opulent collection of art and furnishings from Europe and the Orient.
The Florida Aquarium is a prominent family friendly attraction in Tampa and features more than 5000 inhabitants of the sea. The aquarium offers dive shows, interactive touch tanks and animal encounters, audio tours which enthrall and delight adults and kids alike.
Best time to visit Tampa
Tampa is blessed with an amenable climate that renders it a popular year round destination. The tropical climate in Tampa is characterized by warm, wet weather during the summer months and cooler, drier conditions during the winter months of November to February. Temperatures in winter rarely fall below 65F (18°C) and this balmy weather attracts hordes of vacationers as well migratory birds who choose to escape the cold winters of the north by spending time in the sunny climes of Tampa.
Getting around in Tampa
Tampa is served by its Tampa International Airport that is located six miles away from the city’s central business district. Several international and domestic carriers serve Tampa and equip with convenient air transport links that make getting to Tampa a breeze. To further ensure that you travel economically, Fare Buzz offers a plethora of cheap air ticket deals. You may want to explore them before booknig air flights.
Tampa is not equipped with an extensive public transport system and in fact the best way for visitors to get around Tampa is to rent a car. Fare Buzz, in addition to its plethora of flight and hotel deals and vacation packages also offers affordable car rentals for Tampa. So when you are making your vacation package booking with Fare Buzz, do make sure that you include your car rental request with your booking.
If you don’t want to hire a car and drive you can choose to use the limited public transport options that Tampa has to offer like express and local bus services, coaches and minibuses and the TECO line street car system which operates within Tampa’s historic district and connects the downtown area with Channelside and Ybor City.
Where to shop in Tampa
Shopping seems to be a favored activity in the immensely popular vacation destination, Tampa. As a result the port city is littered with a plethora of shopping options that range from expansive, open-air feel malls and bustling flea markets to unique, one of kind stores like Inkwood Books, a prominent independent bookstore and Fresh Threads and Revolve, both highly favored clothing retailers.
One of Tampa’s oldest shopping locales is Hyde Park Village, a well-heeled, established neighborhood which offers outposts of various high-end brands like Brooks Brothers, Williams-Sonoma, Restoration Hardware, and Anthropology along with several chic restaurants and cafes. These various shopping and dining establishments are conveniently connected by covered pathways that shield shoppers from the unpredictable Tampa weather.
The city’s many malls include retail heavens like Citrus Park, which provides shoppers with an outdoorsy ambience within its confines by the way of its tall windows that let in much light and wide walkways and piazzas which feature sparkling fountains. Located here are outposts of various well-known national brands like Aldo, Bath and Body works, Coach, Dillard’s and along with subsidiaries of many chain restaurants like Cheesecake Factory, Taco Bell, and Subway amongst others.
High-end shopping needs in Tampa are met by the city’s luxe shopping destination, the International Plaza which hosts up market department stores like Nordstrom’s along with stores belonging to several luxury retailers like Gucci, Burberry, Louis Vuitton and more. Also on offer at International Plaza are more than thirty restaurants and bars. Other Tampa malls worth visiting include retail hotspots like Westfield Brandon and Westshore, home to the city’s only Sak’s Fifth Avenue.
Yet another must-visit shopping destination in Tampa is the 800,000 square foot expanse of the open-air lifestyle and shopping destination, a mall known as the Shops at Wiregrass. This mall offers over a hundred outposts of familiar brands like JC Penney, Pandora, and American Eagle Outfitters along with various restaurants and bistros, which offer the shopping hordes a chance to take a breather during their shopping expeditions.
If your shopping habits include foraging through ‘finds’ at flea-markets, then you can’t afford to miss the Red Barn Flea market which is located less than hour from Tampa and attracts a daily turnout of more than 10,000 shoppers. This market hosts more than 650 vendors offering a plethora of products like apparel, home wares, sports goods and much more. Additional attractions at this family-friendly, air-conditioned flea-market include a well-priced farmer’s market, a food court and much live entertainment.
Where to eat in Tampa
Ocean-facing Tampa is renowned for its bountiful fresh seafood however aside from restaurants that offer a wide range of fruits of the sea, the city is also well-known for its many excellent Cuban restaurants that offer much authentic Latin American fare. Amongst Tampa’s most celebrated Cuban restaurants is Colombia, a Tampa institution which has been in existence since 1905 and has four locations around the city, with the original restaurant in Ybor City.
Other notable restaurants in Tampa include hot spots like Restaurant BT(French-Vietnamese), Thai Thani(Thai) Colonnade, Mis en Place and Boca (New American), Donatello and Bella’s Italian Café (Italian) and La Pequeña Colombia Restaurant(Latin American).
Nightlife in Tampa
Tampa offers a pulsating nightlife scene that features bars, live-music venues, lounges, dance clubs and more. The list of the most happening nightspots in Tampa currently includes joints like Blue Martini, Tampa Bay Brewing Company, Mermaid Tavern, Rick’s on the River, the Hub Bar, The Pub Tampa Bay, Dallas Bull (all bars), Hyde Park Café and the Castle (dance clubs) and the RITZ Ybor and Skipper’s Smokehouse(live-music venues).