Tampa Attractions: Things to Do in an Afternoon
With around 15 million visitors a year, Tampa, Florida, is a popular city in the US. There are many things that make it such a great place to visit, from the sunny weather to the friendliness of the locals.
Best of all are the attractions. Whether you’re a couple looking for a romantic date, a family with young children, or a solo traveler looking for some thrills, you’ll have a great time in Tampa if you take a look into what the city has to offer.
Here are the Tampa attractions you should check out if you have an afternoon free in this city.
The Florida Aquarium
With more than 20,000 aquatic animals, the Florida Aquarium is one of the best things to do in Tampa and has a number of things that everyone will enjoy. Whether you’re an animal fan or just enjoy seeing things that you can’t elsewhere, there’s so much here that you need to lay your eyes on before you leave.
From an Ocean Decade Exhibit that shows digital works of art showcasing how we need to take care of our oceans and keep the planet clean to a 4D theatre showing movies with limited capacity, it’s not just aquatic animals you can take in here.
To keep the kids amused, there’s also a Splash Pad, which is great since Florida isn’t exactly known for its cool temperatures!
While the Tampa Riverwalk can be enjoyed by families and solo travelers too, it’s absolutely perfect for date night. This 2.6-mile stretch goes along the Hillsborough River and is open year-round for you to enjoy, even lighting up at night to create that perfect scenic atmosphere.
It even lights up differently for special events, so take note of the colors and look into why they’re that way so you can appreciate Tampa’s culture and history while you walk. There’s also various art along the route that you can stop and take in, perfect for those who appreciate visually stunning pieces.
Big Cat Rescue
Although this rescue was closed to the public in 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak, it may yet be reopening in the future so you should keep an eye out if you plan on visiting Tampa. Big Cat Rescue was made wildly popular due to the Netflix show, though the owner isn’t particularly appreciative of how things were “blown out of proportion”.
The aim of this rescue is to rehabilitate and take care of exotic cats and before it closed, they offered private tours to the public. Hopefully, this will happen again so the rescue can keep bringing in money and taking care of exotic animals.
While Big Cat Rescue may be currently closed, there is another place in Tampa you can go to see lions, tigers, and bears, oh my! The zoo.
Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park prides itself on being one of the top 25 zoos in the US (according to TripAdvisor) and is open seven days a week, so you can visit any time you have a free afternoon! You can tour the zoo at your leisure or look into one of their many experiences, including their Wildlife Explorer Quest and Breakfast With the Animals.
The zoo even hosts weddings and birthday parties!
Best of all though, they have some truly stunning animals to view. From the Florida panther to the African elephant, the whole world is represented in the zoo and you’ll love seeing all of the animals.
Looking for a bit of an adrenaline rush? Busch Gardens might sound like a peaceful, zen place, but it’s actually a theme park with some pretty intense rides. Look no further for thrills.
The Iron Gwazi is a huge newly-opened drop ride that will have your heart in your mouth. There are also some incredibly fast rollercoasters.
But if thrills aren’t your thing and you have kids with you who’d appreciate something more age-appropriate to do, there are also some activities built for them like Sesame Street shows.
If you still don’t have your animal fix yet, you can also find some animal encounters here, like meeting cheetahs.
Lettuce Lake Regional Park
No misleading name this time — Lettuce Lake Regional Park is where you can go to relax. Pack up a picnic and head to the greenery where you can sit and enjoy your food around breathtaking nature views. Who says you can’t find an oasis in the middle of a busy city like Tampa?
Just be aware that pets aren’t allowed on the boardwalk so if you have Fido with you, you might have to give that part a miss.
You can also rent canoes and kayaks if you’re still looking for more adventure. There’s plenty of water in the park.
An Escape Room
The Great Escape Room Tampa is the best escape room in the city and worth finding.
Not sure what an escape room is? It’s a room where you can go in with a group of people and your task is to escape using various clues found in the space. Rooms are often themed, so you can find a horror theme to get your heart going or a more easygoing one if you aren’t looking for something to get your blood pumping.
Whether you tour escape rooms everywhere you go or this is your first one, you can’t go wrong with this escape room. It has various themes to enjoy including a surgical room, a seance, and an underworld maze. Pick the one that sounds most intriguing or suits your time constraints and off you go!
Unlike other escape room experiences, they also offer scavenger hunts if you want something a little different.
Glazer Children’s Museum
If you have kids with you, stopping off at the Glazer Children’s Museum is a must. Many children find museums boring because there’s nothing they can interact with, but this museum understands kids and helps them connect to the world around them in ways they’ll find fun.
From saving the day in the firehouse to mastering money in the bank, it will also teach your children real-life skills.
Can’t make it? They also have virtual events you can tune in for.
Museum of Science and Industry
For a museum that’s a little more suited to adults, try the Museum of Science and Industry. They have dinosaurs, a planetarium, and even a VR simulator so you can find some excitement in experiencing things firsthand — or so it feels like.
There’s something for everyone here because the museum has such a vast range of experiences and exhibits. Check out the schedule before you go so you can look into the upcoming events and decide what you just can’t miss.
If you have kids with you, don’t worry — they also have things to keep the kids entertained, and what kid doesn’t love dinosaurs anyway?
Tampa Museum of Art
If you’re more of an artist than a scientist, you need to head to Tampa Museum of Art. With a focus on contemporary but also ancient art, there’s something for everyone.
Not only does the museum have art exhibits that are sure to fascinate you, but they also have classes. If you’re more of a hands-on person who wants to learn how to become a better artist, you can do that too. They also have a Summer Art Camp so your kid can go and learn how to be an artist too, if you’re local to the area.
While you’re in Tampa, check out what’s happening at Amalie Arena and see if there’s anything that appeals to you.
If you’re a sports fan, you might find that there’s a game on you want to attend.
More of a music fan than sports? No problem. Amalie Arena also hosts music concerts and live events, so you might find that an artist you love is there at the same time you are.
They also have a grill and some suits, if you’re looking to splash out and upgrade your experience.
Experience the Streetcar System
Tampa has a pretty unique form of public transport — the streetcar system. Although the stops are a little limited, you should use it at least once to get the full Tampa experience and see a lot of the city as you travel between stops.
Eat Some Great Food
If you stop off in Tampa, you need to sample some of the food available. Tampa has a number of great restaurants and is particularly known for its seafood, but it also has some great steakhouses and simple sandwiches.
Plant-based? No worries, there are some awesome vegan spots in the city. Check out Loving Hut and Pure Kitchen which have some mouth-watering, meat-free dishes.
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
Gambling is legal in Florida (at least, casino gambling is), so if you’re looking for your own little slice of Las Vegas in Tampa, it’s easy to find. Head to the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino for a night of financial adventure as you play on the slots machines and indulge in some gambling games.
Just always remember to gamble responsibly!
Weedon Island Preserve
This bird-watching and fishing site is a beautiful green space home to many different plants and animals that you can visit. It’s also big on archaeology and has some events you can attend if that’s your sort of thing too.
If you’re just going for a visit and have no interest in the events, that’s also well worth it. There are guided tours and nature hikes for those who don’t want to make their own way, or you can use a map and check out the nature reserve on your own. You’ll get lost in the beauty of it all and might even spot some interesting species of animals and plants you can then tell your friends about.
Empower Adventures Tampa Bay
If you want to do something extra special that you’ll never forget, check out the two-hour zipline experience at Empower Adventures Tampa Bay. You’ll take a zipline tour through some special areas of Tampa, including a wilderness preserve, and you’ll finish with a fun rappel.
If this sounds a little daunting to you, don’t worry. The company describes the experience as easy to moderate in terms of fitness level, so it shouldn’t be too challenging for those who aren’t used to adrenaline adventures. Ask all the questions you want beforehand to make sure it’s the right activity for your afternoon.
You can’t possibly visit Florida without making time to go to the beach, and there’s no place around more scenic than Clearwater Beach. Head over to the white sand to see people enjoying sports in the water or even just sunbathing out there, making the most of that Florida heat.
There are also a lot of restaurants and places to grab drinks close to the promenade, so you’ll never be short of snacks and refreshments. If you just want an afternoon to relax rather than running around concentrating on activities, you’ll find no better place.
There Are Some Amazing Tampa Attractions
Tampa is an amazing city that’s often underrated but if you visit, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to things to do. Look at everything in advance and decide what’s more to your tastes, whether that’s an escape room, a theme park, or just chilling on the beach after a couple of hours at a museum.
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