There are a lot of reasons to visit Tampa, and if you’re lucky enough to be visiting one of the finest destinations in Florida, then you’re not going to run out of things to do. As well as the hugely popular theme parks, there are a number of alternative sites to explore in Tampa that might take you a little off the beaten track. From beautiful beaches that are consistently rated as among the best in the country, to the peaceful parks that can provide you with an escape from the crowds, working out what you have time to do is as important as working out what to do in Tampa. If you’re heading to the region for either business or pleasure, here are some destinations that you should definitely check out.
Hillsborough State Park
If you’re looking to escape the crowds and enjoy a peaceful stroll through nature, then Hillsborough State Park should be high on your list of top destinations. Not only is it one of Florida’s oldest parks, but it’s also one of the most beautiful. Even though the park is located just 20 miles from the city itself, you’d be hard pressed to realize just how close it is to the hustle and bustle. For animal-spotters hoping to catch a glimpse of the local alligators, or hikers wanting to explore the seven miles of hiking routes, Hillsborough State Park is definitely not something that you want to miss if you’re visiting Tampa.
It’s soaked in history and has been consistently voted in the top ten most beautiful theaters in the world, so you should definitely take the time to take in a show at the Tampa Theatre. For the architecture alone the trip is worth it. Check the schedule before you set off, and choose from the array of new and classic movies, or even time it right and take in a stunning live show in the unique setting. Whether you’re there for business, romance, or simply entertainment, Tampa Theatre is a must-see.
The Florida Aquarium
If you can tolerate the crowds, then you’re probably going to want to visit the aquarium. It is a busy tourist destination, but that’s because it has a lot to see there. The highlight has to be the 500,000 gallon Coral Reef Tank that’s packed full of sharks, turtles, and plenty of locally native species of fish. It’s a truly stunning sight, and not one that you want to miss if you’re looking for things to do in Tampa. It’s not all indoors either, as the aquarium also has a fantastic Wetlands Trail to explore, where you’ll be able to enjoy daily animal encounter shows while surrounded by the beauty of the Florida cypress swamps.
Hubbard’s Marina Dolphin Cruise
If you have the time to really explore Tampa, then you should give some serious thought to taking a dolphin cruise. You’ll have to make your way to Madeira Beach, but you’re almost guaranteed to see multiple dolphin sightings. The tours only take around an hour, so no matter how pressing your itinerary, it’s worth squeezing in a visit to check out the amazing sight of wild dolphins. Not only that, but you’ll also get the chance to gasp at the sight of the multi-million dollar homes that are dotted along the coastline.
Hyde Park Village
For shopaholics who are bored with the traditional indoor mall, you can’t go far wrong with Hyde Park Village. Open air and packed full of shops and dining establishments, it’s all too easy to end up spending far longer here than you ever intended. Some people even prepare their entire weekends around a trip to Hyde Park Village, so it’s safe to say that you’re not going to run out of things to do there. Highlights have to be the Cinebistro (where you can enjoy a luxury meal with a film), as well as the huge number of upscale shops and alternative restaurants. There are also a number of annual and monthly events that you should try and time your visit to coincide with, with the Fall Festival being one of the most popular.
No matter your reasons for visiting Tampa, you’re certainly never going to be bored. With so much to see and do, you might even be tempted to stay longer than your diary allows. Take the time to explore the sights, and you might end up making visits to Tampa a regular excursion. You’ll certainly struggle to fit everything in over the course of a single week.