65 Fun Things to Do in Tampa, Florida

Beaches? Tick. Nightlife? Tick. Proximity to some of the world’s most exciting theme parks? Double tick.

Tampa might not be Florida’s largest city (Jacksonville), nor its most famous (Miami), but its array of exciting things to do is as diverse and intriguing as any.

Throw in the endless amount of tourist attractions within striking distance in places like Clearwater, St. Petersburg and Orlando (some of which are mentioned here), and the list truly does become endless.

Laden rich in culture, explore 19th-century architecture, learn something new at the museums or stop by lively local neighborhoods like Ybor City  — where the Cuban sandwich was invented!

Swap land for the seas and set sail on a sunset cruise, or ride out for the chance to spot dolphins up close. Get festive with a visit to a floating tiki bar, or go bar-hopping along the waters with a group of mates.

In the evenings, catch a concert by candlelight, dine in the dark or hit the town for cocktails and a boogie.

For the younger ones, there are tons of exciting activities, from virtual reality arcades to Legoland, Dinosaur World, indoor skydiving and ziplining adventures, and families favor the experiences for both children and teens.

Whether you’re searching for a trip full of thrills, relaxation, food or fun, here’s the best selection of fun things to do in Tampa to have you covered.

Table of Contents

1 – Meet the penguins at Florida Aquarium

Relaxing things to do in tampa

Fun for all ages, the aquarium is a journey of all kinds of marine ecosystems, from freshwater springs to the expansive Florida Keys!

As you pass through the sections, you’ll find exhibits of wetlands, beaches, and a coral reef housing a myriad of vibrant sea life.

The highlight, of course, is Penguins: Backstage Pass, where visitors get close enough to see the cute critters waddle, eat and shake their tail feathers!

Take the kids to play with water outdoors at the Splash Pad, or watch a short movie about marine life in the 4-D Theater where you can experience mist, wind, among other effects, as you see them on screen.

  • Florida Aquarium tickets

2 – Ride a roller coaster and go on a safari at Busch Gardens

Relaxing things to do in tampa

Where a zoo meets an amusement park, travelers love the 65-acre Serengeti Safari, a popular attraction complete with over 200 species.

With so many creatures to see, you might be spoiled for choice — so if you need help deciding, you can’t go wrong with hippo, elephant, and kangaroo tours!

Adrenaline junkies, make a beeline for the Iron Gwazi — the world’s fastest and steepest Hybrid Coaster, a hybrid coaster made of wood and steel. It takes you to a speed of up to 76 miles per hour after diving from a peak of over 200 feet tall.

On top of that, between February and April, the gardens host the delicious Food & Wine Festival!

  • Bush Gardens tickets

3 – See the riches of old Tampa at the Henry B. Plant Museum

Relaxing things to do in tampa

This stunning 19th-century building will captivate you before you even step inside — once in the front door, the vast array of ceramics, art decor, paintings, sculptures and opulent furniture on display (dating back to the early 1800s) just makes it so much more special.

Highlights of the permanent collection include blue and white Japanese and English ceramic vases, French Boulle Style cabinets, and a Chinese Chair from the late Quing Dynasty.

For history and art buffs, put the Plant Museum on your list of things to do in Tampa. After all, it was Plant’s vision and riches that launched Tampa to stardom.

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4 – Chill out at the best parks

Relaxing things to do in tampa

Traveling with family and looking for fun things to do in Tampa or a place for the little ones to play? Here are some of the best parks in town for downtime.

Make sure you’ve packed all of the kids’ swimming gear and sun protectors before heading to Water Works Park (connected to the Tampa Riverwalk). The outdoor water playground and splash pad equate to hours of splishing and squealing about for the little ones.

Next to the water area is a dog park, grass area and picnic tables with shade from the sun.

Relax around the lakesides or enjoy a serene walk along the Nature Trail at Al Lopez Park. Families particularly love this park as there is much to do and see. Cycle, go fishing at th dock and let the kids have a blast at the playground.

For those whose baseball history isn’t up to scratch, Al Lopez was a famous American baseball catcher and then manager in Major League Baseball. Spot the bronzed statue of the man in action at the park.

The athletic type will love Julian B Lane Riverfront Park, equipped with incredible public sports facilities like six tennis courts, basketball courts, two pickleball courts and a multi-use field purposed for soccer, football and lacrosse.

This is another park with a cool-down area and has a splash pad too with a massive splash bucket in the middle of it.

5 – Sample the culinary delights of Ybor City

Relaxing things to do in tampa

The lively Cuban/Latin-inspired Ybor City is a delightful part of Tampa. Travelers love taking in the sights and smells of the neighborhood, but it’s the tastes that will truly dazzle!

The city’s diverse communities have been part of defining the flavors of Tampa. Make sure to try the famous dishes in Ybor such as deviled crab, Cuban sandwich, Spanish bean soup and crab enchilau.

On this three-hour walking tour, get ready for four to six food and drink tastings in between points of interest in Ybor City!

  • food tours in Tampa

6 – Watch the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena

Relaxing things to do in tampa

The waterside Amalie Arena, one of Florida’s prime venues for entertainment, hosts plenty of concerts and sporting events.

But, the best show of them all is the local hockey team, who, after its 2020 Stanley Cup victory, is absolutely dominating on the ice!

Seeing the locals cheer on Tampa Bay Lightning team is electric. There’s simply nothing else like it.

7 – Go zip lining in a Florida preserve

Relaxing things to do in tampa

Keep your adrenaline pumping for a zip line adventure at the Mobbly Bayou Wilderness Preserve — with a series of five zipline cables.

Keep the momentum by walking across a suspension bridge, jumping off an auto belay or finishing a ropes course.

This nearly 400 acres preserve offers fun-filled outdoor activities, as well as hiking and canoeing. Restrooms and picnic shelters are also available in the area.

  • zip lining in Tampa

8 – Hike the boardwalk at Lettuce Lake Regional Park

Relaxing things to do in tampa

Adjoining the Hillsborough River, this natural oasis is teeming with hardwood forest, really showing off what Florida’s nature scene has to offer.

Start your day with a quiet picnic, with a stunning natural backdrop, before moving onto the 3,500-foot boardwalk.

Here, you can find an observation tower on the river, as well as canoe rentals where you can explore the river by paddling along the quiet water — while being surrounded by greenery.

9 – Captain a speedboat at Tampa Bay

Relaxing things to do in tampa

Tampa and boats go together like peanut butter and jelly, so why not step up to the helm, open the throttle and feel the thrill speeding through the iconic bay with great views of Tampa?

There’s a guide to point out attractions like Fort de Soto Park, and will help you spot local wildlife like dolphins and manatees in the waters below.

If you prefer to focus on the scenery and let a captain steer the boat, hop on a Tampa history cruise which takes you to charming harbors, homes and museums.

  • jet boat tours in Tampa

10 – Take the tidal walk at the Manatee Viewing Center

Relaxing things to do in tampa

When the Big Bend Power Station accidentally attracted manatees near its discharge canal, it became committed to keeping the water clean and safe for the visiting sea life!

Nowadays, manatees and rays are quite common, and the 900-foot tidal walk takes them closer to visitors.

Don’t forget to check out the nearby butterfly gardens!

11 – Bring your own cocktails on a floating Tiki Boat bar

Relaxing things to do in tampa

A floating BYO tiki bar? Sign us up!

The bar floats down the Hillsborough River, winding by the Riverwalk and through downtown Tampa — so you know that the views are extraordinary!

The boat is decked out with ice in the coolers and Bluetooth speakers — just bring the snacks, drinks, and good vibes for a great night out.

Admire the picturesque sights along the river in this cruise that takes 1.5 hours and ends up at the bustling city life amid skyscrapers and traffic flow.

  • tiki boat cruises in Tampa

12 – Head out on a dolphin-watching cruise

Relaxing things to do in tampa

Tampa Bay is brimming with sea life, so cruises and marine tours are always considered some of the best things to do in Tampa!

These 90-minute cruises take you into the dynamic Tampa Bay ecosystem, exploring its plethora of wildlife, including bottlenose dolphins, turtles, manatees, exotic birds and more.

Get your cameras ready — not just for pictures of the wildlife, but also Tampa’s glamorous seaside estates!

  • dolphin watching in Tampa

13 – Day trip to Clearwater Beach

Relaxing things to do in tampa

If you’ve ticked all of the central Tampa activities off your list, take a day trip to Clearwater Beach for hours of outdoor adventures. And yes, in case you were wondering, the ocean is crystal-clear, but it’s often the ridiculously soft powder-white sands that steal the show.

Read more  55 Things To Do in Orlando Besides Theme Parks

Situated 30 minutes from Tampa in the Clearwater area, families and friends can enjoy an array of group activities at the beach, from boat trips to water sports to other aquatic endeavors like the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

Learn to SUP (stand-up paddleboard), go kayaking or try jet skiing. If you prefer to stay dry, opt for a boating expedition. The little ones particularly find joy onboard Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise or opt for a party cruise with mates on the Calypso Queen.

Couples especially love the Clearwater Beach sunset sail, as well as dinner cruises.

Local buses run daily from Tampa to Clearwater Beach, and as one of the hottest tourist beaches around, there is everything you need for the ultimate beach day.

While you’re in the area, consider heading further on to St. Petersburg, only a half an hour drive from Clearwater.

14 – Go skydiving … indoors OR outdoors!

Relaxing things to do in tampa

Stroll into iFLY and feel the adrenaline rush of free-falling in an 800-horsepower indoor wind tunnel!

Experience it first here before doing the real thing or practice your skydiving techniques with all favorable conditions and less cost.

Indoor skydiving is easier on the wallet, but if you want to step it up a notch and free-fall for real, head to Plant City.

Take a deep breath before you jump from 11,000-feet for a heart-stopping freefall and breath-taking panoramic views.

  • indoor skydiving in Tampa

15 – Soar over Tampa in a hot air balloon

Relaxing things to do in tampa

Take to the skies just before dawn and see the famous Florida sunrise over Tampa — trust us, it’s worth the early wake-up!

You won’t forget what it’s like to see Tampa basking in the sunrise from the clouds. But, if you need more convincing, there’s also a champagne toast waiting for you when you land.

Most tours take off in Hillsborough and Pasco counties to get the best sunrise views of the marvelous terrains.

16 – Experience the magic of Walt Disney World

Relaxing things to do in tampa

Where to start? Disney World contains four theme parks, two water parks and a plethora of other attractions, including golf and shopping.

By far the most famous theme park on the planet, whether you’re age 6 or 60, no trip to Florida is complete without a trip to the Mickey Mouse’s house.

If you’re after thrills, make a beeline for the vertical drop of the Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

  • Walt Disney World tickets

17 – Hop on board the Tampa Bay Fun Boat

Relaxing things to do in tampa

Looking for something out of the ordinary? Swap the usual city exploring for time out on the waters and enjoy cruising around the bay on the Tampa Bay Fun Boat.

The captain’s main aim is for all guests to have maximum fun whilst onboard, and jolly commentary and party tunes are never far from earshot.

Seating up to 36 passengers, if you’re planning a bachelorette, engagement party, or other special events like a birthday party, book a private charter tour, and you’re allowed to bring your own drinks along if you feel like toasting with a glass of champagne.

If you’re traveling to Tampa with the family, or an intimate group of friends, consider the dedicated sightseeing charter tour.

From the harbor, scope iconic attractions, monuments and neighborhoods, and as you sail from one to the next, learn the history and tales behind them.

Couples; starting at Golden Hour are sunset tours around Hillsborough Bay. As the sky changes color over the horizon, look out for dolphins, schools of fish and aquatic birds swooping by.

  • boat tours in Tampa

18 – Travel around the city on a Streetcar ride

Relaxing things to do in tampa

11 stops on an old-school tram is all it takes to conquer this cool sightseeing experience and the Tampa Streetcar rides have been operating since the late 1900s — 1982 to be precise.

In its peak glory days, the electric streetcar would transport residents and visitors to and from Ybor City, Ballast Point, Hyde Park, Sulphur Springs and other places around town. Today, it still carries passengers, but through the city’s urban center.

While it acts as a public mode of transport, stopping and picking up passengers from the 11 designated streetcar stops around the city, you can also book a private tour on the streetcar. A round-trip is just short of one hour.

Some of the stops include Centennial Park Station, Centro Ybor Station, Cadrecha Plaza Station, York Street Station, HSBC Station and six others.

Greasemonkey, there is also a ‘Ybor Station “Behind the Scenes” Tour’, which takes an in-depth, hands-on dive into the maintenance and history of the streetcar.

19 – Watch the Tampa Bay Rays play baseball at Tropicana Field

Relaxing things to do in tampa

International travelers might want to start here. Opened in 1990, Tropicana Field (formerly the Florida Suncoast Dome) has a total area of 1.1 million square feet that is unique in Major League Baseball.

Baseball is a favorite sporting pastime for the locals, but no trip to Tropicana Field is complete without taking the stadium tour!

It includes the Rays Touch Experience — a 10,000-gallon tank of friendly rays who can happily swim up to your hand and get to know you!

20 – Take a helicopter tour from Tampa

Relaxing things to do in tampa

Take off from Tampa and fly over the historic Sunshine Skyway Bridge and the white sands of Clearwater Beach!

But, the stunning views don’t stop there! Fly over the pink beach palace of Spa Oceana, the sporting fortress that is Tropicana Field, and plenty of nearby paradise islands.

Experience how it feels to really fly whether you want to be a pilot or simply want to see the world from a different view. With a super knowledgeable pilot and amazing staff, this tour makes your trip to Tampa unforgettable.

21 – Meet lions and tigers at Big Cat Rescue

Relaxing things to do in tampa

Don’t come here looking for Joe Exotic!

This colossal sanctuary prides itself on caring for big cats by rescuing the orphaned and mistreated. It also aims to stop the trade of wild and endangered animals.

The upshot for travelers is that they can come to support the excellent cause — while meeting the lions, tigers, cougars, jaguars and other exotic beasts living happily in its care.

Visit the zoo and support this campaign by raising awareness and donations.

22 – Let the children play at Glazer Children’s Museum

Relaxing things to do in tampa

As any parent will attest, visiting the Glazer Museum is one of the best things to do in Tampa for children, with younger travelers limited only by their imaginations as they explore the creative space.

It’s amazing watching kids learn without classrooms — as they build fortresses, learn to cook pizza, create artistic masterpieces, work as a banker, and be heroic firefighters all in one afternoon!

Let your kids have their best quality playtime while in Tampa, while learning and having to try different roles in our society and explore the world.

  • Glazer Children’s Museum tickets

23 – Wander with the dinosaurs at Dinosaur World Florida

Relaxing things to do in tampa

With hundreds of life-sized dinosaurs and interactive outdoor exhibits, you can feel like you’re in Jurassic Park!

Younger visitors will love the energetic dinosaur playground, while anyone wanting to get their hands a little dirty can be an archaeologist at the Fossil Dig and Bone Yard — you get to keep what you find, including real dinosaur teeth!

This family-oriented destination also welcomes your furry members. Bring your well-behaved dog to stroll along the boardwalks surrounded by old oak trees, or anywhere in the park except the indoor museum.

24 – Ride the Solar Vortex at Adventure Island

Relaxing things to do in tampa

In between the child-friendly splash areas and expansive waters to relax with sunglasses and a good book, Adventure Island has some great thrill rides on offer.

Waves of water and adrenaline wash over you at the free-fall in Vanish Point, the open flume Calypso Coaster and the Solar Vortex — the nation’s first dual tailspin waterslide!

To enjoy the water park to the fullest, it’s best to get exclusive dining deals and priority access to skip the queue for the slides and rides.

  • Adventure Island Tampa tickets

25 – Unleash your inner child at the Museum of Science & Industry

Relaxing things to do in tampa

This hands-on scientific playground will captivate travelers of all ages!

A giant playground, MOSI has over 100 firsthand activities, such as brain-teasing problems, robot building and optical illusions.

Among the hundreds of activities available, youngsters love the Saunders Planetarium’s tour of the night sky and Connectus, which brings the world of tomorrow to you today.

For more adventurous visitors, check out the Sky Trail Ropes Course and Virtual Reality Simulator.

26 – Go fishing in Tampa

Relaxing things to do in tampa

Fishing folk, get excited! There are more than enough great places around Tampa waters to cast your line!

At Davis Island Dog Beach, there’s a great mix of inshore and nearshore species, otherwise, you might find the Tampa Riverwalk a little closer.

Redfish and trout are common (and delicious) catches, but if you’re looking for something trophy-worthy, try your luck reeling in a tarpon weighing up to 200 pounds.

  • fishing trips in Tampa

27 – Stroll Tampa Riverwalk at nighttime

Relaxing things to do in tampa

Illuminating the Hillsborough River with brilliant and colorful lights, the Riverwalk is a bundle of fun to explore.

Among the amazing views, the Riverwalk boasts restaurants, bars, museums and various festivals throughout the year — but it’s post-sunset that you can find it at its most captivating when dressed in the Tampa lights.

Another must-see is the Curtis Hixon Park, a beloved slice of nature complete with water fountains and, during winter, an ice-skating rink!

28 – Explore the city’s landmarks on a Segway tour

Relaxing things to do in tampa

Walking around might not cover all the city highlights in a day, but you can glide through the streets on a Segway tour — while learning historical and interesting facts about some famous landmarks.

Most tours take two hours cruising around the downtown district, covering the starting from the Embassy Suites, Amalie Arena, Riverwalk and Curtis Hixon Park.

With friendly guides and a warm welcoming atmosphere, it’s a fun and exciting way to spend a day in Tampa.

  • segway tours in Tampa

29 – Race down the speedway at Grand Prix Tampa Family Fun Center

Relaxing things to do in tampa

With something for the whole traveling family, fun is never far away at Grand Prix Tampa.

Rev your kart at the whirlwind Big Track, with fast turns in this 1.2 kilometers long track, or race with your kids on the Family Track.

Putt your way through a fairytale at mini-golf, conquer the ropes course, beat the high score at the Castle Arcade, bounce around at Turbo Bungy Dome, or become Babe Ruth at the batting cages!

30 – Rev your engines at East Bay Raceway Park

Relaxing things to do in tampa

Racers, start your engine and then put the pedal to the metal at East Bay Raceway Park, and if you think this is anything like go-karting … think again!

As the only dirt road track in Hillsborough County and the western part of Florida, the racing park is where serious motorheads can come to have some fun either behind the wheel or just as a spectator.

Wondering what the vehicle options are? Anyone from the age of 14 years old can choose to race V-8 Warriors, Mini-Sprints, Gladiators, Street Stocks, Outlaw 4s and Micro Sprints.

Drivers from 16 years old grab the wheel from a pick of Limited Sprints, Open Wheel Modifieds, 360 Sprints, 410 Sprints and all Late Model classes.

If you’re itching to see a bit of serious competition, the Winternationals are held here annually. Day and nighttime riding happen here, and on Saturdays, the raceway stays open until 11 PM.

31 – Cheer on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium

Relaxing things to do in tampa

Fresh off hosting Super Bowl LV in 2021 where the Buccaneers took home the trophy, Raymond James Stadium is mandatory for any sports fan looking for things to do in Tampa.

However, the stadium with its gorgeous sunsets and world-class amenities also regularly hosts the Sunset Music Festival — not to mention wrestling, monster trucks and plenty more!

32 – Spin the roulette wheel at Seminole Hard Rock Casino Tampa

Relaxing things to do in tampa

Experience world-class gaming and entertainment at Hard Rock Casino in Seminole, one of the largest casinos in the country.

Whether testing your beginner’s luck or for serious fun, you have an array of options for slot machines to try, such as Dragon Link and Buffalo Gold.

Outside of the swanky gaming floor, visitors can relax in a mellow cocktail lounge or find live music and experience the famous Tampa nightlife.

To complete your evening, consider staying at Seminole’s luxurious hotel. While you’re there, make sure to sample an artisanal ice cream infused with top-shelf liquors for dessert from Aubi & Ramsa!

Read more  36+ Cool Things to Do in Tampa, FL (Besides Partying)

33 – Discover the Tampa Bay History Center

Relaxing things to do in tampa

Spend some time expanding your local knowledge at the Tampa Bay History Center.

Arriving at the center-meets-museum-meets-gallery, begin investigating the three floors of exhibitions.

Stepping back in time to Florida’s earliest days, uncover the past and learn about the land’s native inhabitants from around 10,000 years ago.

Moving onto other permanent exhibits explore the years that followed, from when the first European settlers arrived, to the American Civil War, to modern-day Tampa and its place as a port city.

Interesting display titles include ‘Florida’s First People’ and ‘Cigar City’, or get an interactive understanding of historical events at the Winds of Change Theater and Coacoochee’s Story Theater.

Temporary expos showcase at the center’s gallery for a few months at a time and their focus and subject matter relate to local history and culture.

If you’re here on weekends, head up the way to Chinsegut Hill. The historic house is open on Saturdays and Sundays only, and guided tours are available every 30 minutes.

34 – Watch a film at Tampa Theatre

Relaxing things to do in tampa
credit to Tampa Theatre

Not your average cinema, the not-for-profit Tampa Theatre hosts more than 600 events a year, with the focal point being its Mediterranean-style courtyard.

With flowers and stone gargoyles sitting under a breathtakingly-designed night sky mural, it’s a perfect spot for the ‘gram.

Keep your ears open for the mighty Wurlitzer Organ too!

Watch films and live events, or tour the theater backstage to feed your curiosity about how great shows are produced.

35 – Watch the horse racing at Tampa Bay Downs

Relaxing things to do in tampa

With races mostly on Wednesdays, Fridays and weekends from November to May — and more stakes races than one can count — Tampa Bay Downs is a top destination for thoroughbred racing.

Travelers can make a day of it by raising the stakes at the Silks Poker Room or by getting a lesson at the Downs Golf Practice Facility.

Indulge in delicious meals and drinks in the restaurants available, including the Skye Terrace Dining Room and the Sports Gallery at the Clubhouse, as well as Silks Bar and Grille, and Legends Bar at the Grandstand.

36 – Chill at Ben T Davis Beach

Relaxing things to do in tampa

If the ocean is your happy place, Ben T Davis Beach is a lovely little bay to wallow away an hour or two watching the waves roll in and seabirds treading along the shores.

Comprising extra soft sands, it’s not the best beach for swimming because of its shallow waters, but if you do want to take a dip to cool off, ensure it’s between the buoys of the allocated swimming area.

Close to the airport, if you have a few hours to kill before flying, catch a quick chill near the ocean one last time, with snacks, or a good book to finish off.

Ben T Davis Beach is en route to Clearwater Beach — a popular day trip for Tampa travelers — and there are a few accommodation options and restaurants across the road.

37 – Board the American Victory Ship & Museum

Relaxing things to do in tampa

After serving in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, the SS Victory has docked at Tampa where it serves as an immersive museum.

Walk through the historic ship, past the former hospital beds, admire the weaponry, check out the lifeboats, and so much more. For history buffs, it’s one of the best things to do in Tampa.

Having served for over seven decades, the ship is not only a breathing museum, but also a venue for special events and training for reserve military, firefighters and police officers.

38 – Build a raft and ride it at Legoland Florida

Relaxing things to do in tampa

If you’re looking for things to do in Tampa for kids, Legoland can easily make its way to the top of your list!

Aimed at kids aged 2 to 12 — but sure to be enjoyed by older kids as well — Legoland is packed with exciting rides and water features, including Miniland USA where you can see the whole United States in one day!

Enjoy all 50 Lego-themed rides and other attractions with the best deal available. You can also double your fun with a two- or three-day ticket pass.

  • LEGOLAND Florida tickets

39 – See CITY fashion and ancient vases at the Tampa Museum of Art

Relaxing things to do in tampa

Home to an exciting and eclectic mix of displays, from ancient Greek and Roman artifacts to contemporary art, including painting and video — there’s something for every twang of art lover.

The museum exterior design is a magnificent work of art as well, with LED installation on the 1,300 square meters facade called “Sky” by Leo Villareal.

After browsing the permanent collection, which includes sculptures, photos and new media, drop by at the museum store for souvenirs from exhibitions.

Check the dates for the museum’s signature events: the LGBTQ+ inspired Neon Jungle, the CITY fashion show, and the black-tie Pavilion events.

40 – Go horse riding at HorsePower for Kids & Animal Sanctuary

Relaxing things to do in tampa

HorsePower is the dream of Armando Gort, who always wanted a horse farm for children to learn to love animals. Nothing can describe the experience here better than that.

Make horse riding a fun way for the children to enjoy nature and connect with horses and all animals in the sanctuary.

It’s a wonder complete with a petting zoo, pony rides, children’s train rides and zip lines.

41 – Catch a live show at Straz Center for the Performing Arts

Relaxing things to do in tampa

Although it began life as an abandoned gravel lot, the Straz Center is now a cultural hub for the performing arts, hosting everything from jazz and opera to Next Generation Ballet and contemporary musicals.

This center for performance art consists of five theaters with unique characteristics, including the horseshoe-shaped Carol Morsani Hall with 2,610 seating capacity, as well as a rehearsal hall.

To get the most out of a show, start with dinner at Maestro’s On The River with spectacular Riverwalk views and a glass (or three) of wine.

42 – From food to music, enjoy the festivals in Tampa

Relaxing things to do in tampa

Always vibey and host to a hot dining scene, the type of travelers that arrive here are usually after a good time — whether it’s on the party, culturally-inclined, or wining and foodie scene. Lucky for us, there are some fantastic festivals in Tampa to tickle everyone’s fancy.

Pleasing crowds since 2012, the Gasparilla Music Festival (held annually down at Curtis Hixon Park), boasts four stages where live acts and DJs across an assortment of genres steal the limelight.

Gasparilla Pirate Fest is literally like none other around … Each year, hundreds of festival-goers dress up as pirates (paying an ode to the famous Spanish pirate Jose Gaspar, whose nickname was Gasparilla). There’s even a Gasparilla Parade of Pirates procession.

Running for more than 50 years, the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts is a celebration of artists from all around the country who arrive to win the festival’s acclaimed prize for best artwork. Shop dozens of stalls selling their creative goods from ceramics to jewelry.

Occupying the entire area of the Riverwalk, the annual Riverfest is a free, whole weekend affair showcasing local artists, creators, cooks and talent.

Store your energy for the three-day electro and dance Sunset Music Festival, or get your fix of the blues at the three-day weekend Tampa Bay Blues Festival.

43 – Shop and dine at Sparkman Wharf

Relaxing things to do in tampa

On the spectacular Riverwalk, a host of great fashion shops await!

A vibrant part of the downtown waterfront, Sparkman Wharf provides intimate spaces for dining, drinking, live music and other recreational activities.

Treat yourself at Joyful Notion or treat your pet at The Modern Paws. Foodwise, there are plenty of delightful eateries covering all sorts of cuisine, plus a popular beerhouse!

44 – See a concert at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre

Relaxing things to do in tampa

The Amphitheatre is the largest concert-only stage in Tampa Bay.

There are truckloads of concerts and music festivals, most notably the Next Big Thing — held on the first Sunday of every December.

The event showcases the best alternative and up-and-coming rock acts in the region!

For the best seats, buy a lawn ticket and bring your own deck chair.

45 – Party and pedal on Cycle Boats

Relaxing things to do in tampa

Built for 8+ passengers, the Cycle Boats have pedal stations to move your party out to the water and a long table with benches for when the party starts!

Put on some music and bring a cooler full of drinks! With plenty of room to walk around, there might even be a little boogie on board.

Pedal together to paddle the boat with team effort and fun, as you cruise along the downtown area in this remarkable journey.

46 – Explore Tampa on a water bike

Relaxing things to do in tampa
credit to Tampa Bay Water Bike Co

Instead of the bustling, group-friendly Cycle Boats, the quiet water bike is perfect for solo travelers or as a tandem activity for couples keen to ogle at the impressive waterside homes.

Explore the city from the river and experience it with a little exercise. No need to change into swimwear, as these water bikes are made to keep you dry and have fun in a safe way (of course).

With hordes of wildlife around as well, it’s are a great way to explore Tampa from the water at your own pace! This outdoor adventure and sightseeing can be enjoyed by all ages and cycling skills.

47 – Ride the Hogwarts Express at Universal Orlando

Relaxing things to do in tampa

Another colossal complex, this one encompasses two theme parks, including the famous Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure — connected by the Hogwarts Express steam train.

You can also spend a day at the water theme park Volcano Bay and Universal CityWalk with dining, shopping and evening entertainment.

This is the only place you can find Harry Potter and Homer Simpson a stone’s throw from each other!

  • Universal Orlando tickets

48 – Go bar-hopping from the river at Staying Afloat Party Boat

Relaxing things to do in tampa

A surefire hit for all party-goers, cruise the river and go for a swim with the funky floaties provided.

Dry yourself off and then go to a bar … and another … and another!

Passengers can also bring whatever food and drink they like on the party boat. With typical warm weather year-round and Bluetooth speakers on board, the fun never stops!

49 – Have a laugh at Side Splitters Comedy Club

Relaxing things to do in tampa

With touring headliners gracing the club every week, pull up a chair and enjoy the show by the bar or at a table with a full menu.

Sidesplitters has been showcasing some of the best local and national stand-up comedians since 1992 in its club in Tampa.

There’s no other way to enjoy or learn humor than in a live performance. Some of the more daring travelers love Comic’s Nights Out, an award-winning open mic night.

Buy a ticket and enjoy your complimentary drink before you head up on stage!

50 – Spend the day exploring the Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve

Relaxing things to do in tampa

Originally created to help aid flood prevention, the Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve has developed over the years as a recreation space out in nature, spanning parks and with outdoorsy activities to get involved in.

Situated in Hillsborough, the preserve serves to protect the multitude of parks, forestry, river, wetlands and wildlife residing in the woodland area, and there are designated walking, hiking and biking trails to lead the way.

The park sites within the Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve include Dead River Park, Flatwoods Park, John B. Sargeant Park, Morris Bridge Park, Trout Creek Park and Wilderness Park Off Road Loop Trail System.

Avid bird-watching enthusiasts; there are over 20 sites to see the feathered creatures, or for hippophiles, there are two riding grounds (the Jefferson Equestrian Area and the Oak Ridge Equestrian Area) and other marked riding trails through the parks and preserves for horseback treks.

Boating excursions along the Hillsborough River offer the chance to see alligators and turtles swimming low in the waters, or grab a paddle and go canoeing.

Fishing is available in certain parts, as well as overnight camping.

51 – Ride Sea World’s Infinity Falls (if you dare)

Relaxing things to do in tampa

SeaWorld offers plenty of rides and sea life, making itself a crowd favorite for decades.

For an adrenaline surge, the Infinity Falls is the tallest drop in Florida, while the Mako hypercoaster is sure to make even the bravest souls scream.

The truly unique experience, however, is the killer whale tour. See the ocean’s most powerful predator in full flight while admiring its grace and beauty.

  • SeaWorld Orlando tickets

52 – Hit the golf courses around Tampa

Relaxing things to do in tampa

Golfers LOVE Tampa.

At Club Renaissance, you can find satisfying Bermuda grass greens and fairways lined with ancient oaks.

The Groves Golf and Country Club blends into its surroundings of Florida wetlands and is friendly for all skill levels — unlike the more difficult Palmer Course which includes plenty of hills, elevation challenges and sand bunkers.

Read more  12 Best Things to Do in the Whitsunday Islands

Difficulty aside, the picturesque scenery is second to none.

53 – Excite your palettes when you try Dining In The Dark

Relaxing things to do in tampa

It’s time to put your five senses to the test during an exciting (and interesting) Dining In The Dark experience — an ideal option for couples and foodies!

After your secret location is revealed, make your way to the restaurant where the fun — and eating — will begin. But there’s just one catch … Not only is the entire dining space in complete darkness but you will be blindfolded so that your vision completely disappears.

You’re left to rely on your other four senses as you wine and dine, moving from one course to the next, trying to decipher what you’re eating…eat-heavy menu, but that’s pretty much the only clue you’ll get.

54 – Get refreshed on a craft brewery tour

Relaxing things to do in tampa

Who’s ready for a drink?

Join a beer tasting tour and stop at a dozen different craft breweries, restaurants and bars around Tampa.

Visitors can’t get enough of Cigar City Brewing, a local favorite that offers everything from tangerine sour ales to imperial porters (which pack a punch), along with a cheeky handmade cigar or two!

Some cool places and amazing beers in Ybor that can satisfy your brew cravings. Coppertail Brewing Co. and Tampa Bay Brewing Company offer refreshing beer selections such as chocolate beer and expressive sours, which are highly recommended.

  • beer tastings in Tampa

55 – Take a cooking class at Armature Works

Relaxing things to do in tampa

Armature Works is a foodie’s paradise — that’s just a fact.

Formerly a warehouse for electric streetcars in Tampa way back in the 1900s, Armature now serves as a destination for markets, events and co-working spaces in the neighborhood.

You can find an array of food choices from the 22,000 square-foot market Heights Public Market, as well as full-dining restaurants in the building to satisfy your tastebuds!

It’s full of amazing eateries and boasts incredible fresh food that you’d be dying to sink your teeth into!

The place also hosts workshops from top chefs and restaurateurs with pop-up meals, cooking classes and wine tastings.

56 – Explore the corn maze at Keel Farms

Relaxing things to do in tampa
credit to Keel Farms

Keel Farms have added a corn maze to its 20+ acre property, Corky’s Corn Maze, and it is one of the greatest attractions for the kids. Besides that, Keel Farms offers live music & dancing, trivia nights, fairs & festivals, and family-friendly events.

They’re also known for their fruit wines. Their own high-end crop of blueberries is used to make their #1 seller of blueberry wines, also available peach, key lime, watermelon, and strawberry. There’s plenty of fun waiting for you at Keel Farms right outside of Tampa in Plant City, Florida.

57 – Dine at Columbia

Relaxing things to do in tampa
credit to Columbia restaurant

For foodies, this is one of the most iconic things to do in Tampa.

Located in historic Ybor City, Columbia is Florida’s oldest restaurant and the largest Spanish restaurant in the world — run by fourth and fifth-generation descendants of the founder Casimiro Hernandez Sr.

What once started as a corner cafe over 11 decades ago, the restaurant has been frequented not only by locals but also celebrities and tourists.

Don’t miss the Ybor classic devil crab croquetas and Spanish most popular tapa — gambas which is Gulf of Mexico shrimp sauteed in Spanish olive oil. Make sure you get to also try its very own Original “1905” Martini and Columbia Original “1905” Salad.

To accompany some brilliant Spanish cuisine, Columbia hosts flamenco dancing and jazz.

58 – Wine and dine during ZooBrews at ZooTampa

Relaxing things to do in tampa

This popular zoo has plenty of animals, but offers plenty more than just your typical furry friends.

Home to over 1,000 animals, especially endangered and threatened species, the zoo aims to help strengthen the connection between people and wildlife — through interactive activities ideal for families.

Toddler Tuesdays are a hands-on hit with younger visitors. Fitness in the wild moves the yoga studio to the African savannah.

ZooBrews is a one-of-a-kind fundraising event with bottomless food and drink, live music and the chance to meet some cute and cuddly animals!

  • ZooTampa ticket

59 – Stroll through Florida Botanical Gardens

Relaxing things to do in tampa

With plenty of places to wander in greenery, this 100-acre free-entry park is a tranquil oasis and a stark contrast to Tampa’s bustling lifestyle.

Camera at the ready, check out the colorful roses of the Wedding Garden and the ponds of the Wetlands Walkway.

Take in the aromas of the Tropical Fruit Garden and see the gorgeous residents of Butterfly Garden who aren’t afraid to land on you!

60 – Tip the buskers at Pier 60

Relaxing things to do in tampa

Pier 60 is the best sunset in Tampa Bay, hands-down.

While the colorful sunset is already amazing, Pier 60 brings local artists and buskers to perform every night — the variety of skills on show dazzle and entertain visitors for hours, from jugglers to fire-eaters to stencil artists and more.

This nightly celebration hosted by Sunsets at Pier 60 has helped the artist community to showcase their talents for more than 25 years.

It happens all year round from 5 PM to 9 PM.

61 – Pick Candlelight Concerts for date night

Relaxing things to do in tampa

What sounds dreamier than a concert by candlelight?

From Melbourne to Rome, Glasgow to Vancouver, and now Tampa, these incredible candlelight concerts take place in a specifically chosen grand location in certain cities around the world.

Picture this: As musicians, orchestras or artists perform on center stage, the entire space is lit up by thousands of warm candle.

Get the chance to experience the romantic spectacle at some of the city’s most exemplary venues, and there are different candlelight concerts to choose from.

Watch the Candlelight Ballet accompanied by compilatiodiningns by Tchaikovsky at the Centro Asturiano de Tampa, or for all the classics, catch the ‘From Bach to The Beatles’ candlelight concert at The Orlo House & Ballroom.

62 – See the melting clocks at the Salvador Dali Museum

Relaxing things to do in tampa

The 20th century’s greatest artist has over 2,400 of his works in St Petersburg, Florida — a collection that is simply unmissable.

The Salvador Dali Museum has instantly-recognizable oil paintings with melting clocks, as well as stacks of variety such as sculptures and films.

Objects from the permanent collection include a white vintage telephone with a lobster handle called “Aphrodisiac Telephone,” a peculiar coat with a metal collar called “Aphrodisiac Dinner Jacket.”

You can also find clot sculptures made of bronze, such as “Alma del Quijote” (Soul of Don Quixote), “Apollo Musagetes” and “Caballo con jinete tropezando” (Horse and Rider Stumbling).

After exploring the gallery, head outside to the Avant-garden that represents the connection between nature and mathematics.

63 – Learn about photography at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts

Relaxing things to do in tampa

A museum dedicated to displaying the best of local and international photography talent, and hoping to spread the secrets of photography to anyone who listens — FMPA offers a host of displays that are both dynamic and brilliant.

Located at the Waterfront Art District, the museum occupies the second and third floors of the Cube, a six-story building that is a work of art itself!

Established in 2001 as Tampa Gallery of Photographic Arts, the museum (renamed in 2006) has an expanding permanent collection — including early 20th-century panoramic photos that show the old Tampa.

However, to take full advantage, why not sign up for a class?

Choose from basic photography, photographing places or people, or smartphone and social media photography.

64 – Drink and see spirits at a ghost and pub tour

Relaxing things to do in tampa

For a tour that blends quirkiness, drinks and frights, look no further.

Keen travelers can have the chance to sample four of the best watering holes Tampa has to offer — with a ghoulish guide revealing all of the haunted and historic stories behind the destinations along the way.

Discover creepy urban legends such as a Spanish ghost believed to haunt the Ybor City Museum State Park. It’s definitely a wacky way to paint the town red!

  • ghost tours in Tampa

65 – Hit the dancefloor at the best nightclubs

Relaxing things to do in tampa

After all the city explorations, shopping and city touring, it’s time to let your hair down and put on your party shoes for some of Tampa’s most hip and happening nightclubs.

The energetic The Castle club — with a slogan, “Everyone is welcome, nothing is taboo,” guarantees a night to remember with pulsing music, strong drinks and a lively crowd.

From VIP bottle service to five floors of entertainment and good vibes, Club Prana is always busy — and has been ever since opening its doors in 2000.

Hosting some of the hottest DJs around, from Bonobo to Benny Benassi, The Ritz Ybor promises the best tunes in town. Check out their weekly events to see who’s playing next at the lavish club.

For some of the best music in town, the Crowbar hosts all sorts of live music events, from international DJs to local artists on stage. (Check out The Crow’s Nest Beer Garden too.)

With a more laid-back atmosphere, Gaspar’s Grotto is actually a pirate bar! Mateys join and congregate between the three large bars where resident DJs and local musos play.

How to get to Tampa?

If you’re driving across the country, the closest big city is Orlando (1.5 hours away), or Miami is a four-hour drive from Tampa.

The most convenient way to reach Tampa, especially for international travelers, is to fly directly into the city.

Before you arrive at Tampa International Airport, pre-organize airport transfers for when you touch down. Your private drive awaits you and will drive you directly to your accommodation in a private, air-conditioned vehicle.

Where to stay in Tampa?

Wondering what the accommodation scene is like in Tampa? Here are some of the best hotels and resorts in town to splurge on for a top-notch stay.

Modern, classy and a great option for couples, The Tampa EDITION is a super elegant stay with a gorgeous guest pool and interiors laden with botanicals. The fabulous Hotel Haya is all about the Art Deco vibes and includes suites and rooms with balconies or courtyard access.

Do you prefer accommodation options with a lot of space to make home? ROOST Tampa offers amazing apartments and studios with super trendy finishes and design. Built inside a heritage building, everything from the service to the overly comfortable beds to the architecture is sublime at Le Méridien Tampa, The Courthouse.

In the heart of Tampa with both rooms and suites available, Element Tampa Midtown is not only favored for its location but its buzzing rooftop pool and bar. The Westin Tampa Waterside has great views to wake up to and built next to the water, it overlooks the harbor.

Convenient, close to the airport and a fab pick for business travelers, check into the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay. It has all the on-site facilities, from outdoor pools to a 24-hour fitness center.

Visiting Tampa on a budget?

There’s nothing wrong with being wise with your money, especially when traveling. Save where you can when visiting Tampa, like choosing a Tampa Bay CityPASS.

The pass includes entry to five iconic city attractions, and in the end, you can save up to 50% instead of booking tickets individually.

Admission for things to do and see in Tampa included in your ticket are Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, The Florida Aquarium, ZooTampa at Lowry Park, Clearwater Marine Aquarium and a Tropics Boat Tours Dolphin or Sunset Cruise, or a visit to the Museum of Science & Industry instead.

Where to go next?

A part of the country that never stops shining, local and international travelers flock to this part of the USA, and there are many other things to do in Florida to make you stick around for a while.

If smaller towns are more your vibe and you’re digging the vibrant cities, next head to Clearwater — a 33-minute drive from Tampa. It’s home to oceanic resorts and stunning beaches thanks to its position on the Gulf of Mexico.

From intriguing museums to nature reserves, St. Petersburg is favored by families and couples. It’s a short 25-minute drive from Tampa and is even good for a day trip.

Heading south of Tampa to Sarasota, discover a quieter reprieve and the town is frequented by families.  By far the biggest one on your (children’s) lists of places to visit has got to be Orlando, home to Disney World, beachfront resorts and buzzing nightlife.

Final thoughts

A delightful destination for all sorts of travelers, whether here for quality family time, or with a bunch of mates, there are tons of fun, exciting and unique things to do in Tampa.

What are your favorite sites to visit, places to dine or must-try activities in the city? Share with us in the comments, we love hearing your thoughts.

As always, happy, safe and sunny travels!

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About the Author: Tung Chi