Places to visit in Tampa

Tampa International Airport is located approximately six miles from the city centre of Tampa, in the US state of Florida. It is a busy airport with around sixteen million passengers per annum, and is modern and well equipped. It has also been voted as the best-loved airport in the world on previous occasions. Many of the airport’s passengers are arriving to enjoy the tourist attractions in the area, which are plentiful. Tampa attractions range from a large collection of museums to some exciting amusement parks, zoos and aquariums. From the airport, passengers have several options for ground transportation, and will therefore find it easy to travel to their hotel, or to the city centre.

The city of Tampa is located on a major estuary along the western coast of Florida, a state that is to the south of Georgia. Tampa is found to the north of the popular city of Miami and to the south-east of Orlando, where the world-famous Disneyland attractions can be found. Nearer to Tampa are the areas of St Petersburg, Clearwater, Lakeland, Brandon and Bradenton, and just west of the city’s international airport is Old Tampa Bay. This city in Florida is known to be particularly charming and full of character, with several notable attractions. There are plenty of opportunities to relax on sandy beaches as well. The beaches in the area are all very popular during the warmer summer months of the year when temperatures average about 32 degrees Celsius. However, winter months in Tampa are not very cold, averaging around 21 degrees Celsius. The city spans an area of about 112 square miles, it has a population of over 300,000 and the main language spoken by its residents is American English.

Tampa is divided into several districts and neighbourhoods. One of the most important is the Downtown District, in particular for business purposes, but also for tourism, as it is bustling with popular tourist attractions. In this district visitors will find the Florida Aquarium and the Gasparilla Pirate Fest, as well as the Port of Tampa, busy with cruise ships, sail boats and freighters. Nearby the downtown area is the Waterfront District, filled with wonderful restaurants and shopping facilities. The Channelside Centre is huge, and very popular. Ybor City is quite a famous area of Tampa, known for its role in the cigar-making industry. It is a historic area, rich in Latin culture, and with much architecture to be admired. The Museum State Park can be found here, along with restaurants, clubs and shopping areas. Night time venues are especially plentiful along Seventh Avenue. Other popular districts include the Hyde Park Historic District and the Cultural District.

Visitors of Tampa who are looking for thrills, excitement, entertainment and adventure are advised to spare a good few hours of their time at Busch Gardens and/or Adventure Island. Busch Gardens is found at 3605 East Bougainvillea Avenue, and is an amazing establishment filled with fun rides. It’s theme is a safari adventure, and it is also classified as a zoo, since that it has over 2,700 animals from around the world. Therefore, on the one side you can enjoy modern and man-made sources of entertainment, and on the other, a wonderful variety of wildlife and more natural sources of amusement. Many live shows are enjoyed throughout the day. Just adjacent to Busch Gardens, at 4500 Bougainvillea Avenue, is Adventure Island. Here there are many more rides to explore, including the Key West Rapids, the Wahoo Run, Splash Attack, the Runaway Rapids and the Caribbean Corkscrew, which are some of the favourites. Unlike Busch Gardens, however, Adventure Island has a tropical island theme to it, and is located on about thirty acres of lush landscape. Both of these attractions are a must for families and thrill-seekers.

Animal enthusiasts will find the Florida Aquarium and the Lowry Park Zoo a perfect day’s outing, as here there are many amazing creatures to admire. All kinds of marine life is found at the aquarium, located at 701 Channelside Drive. There are also many forms of aquatic plants which are of interest. Some of the most well-loved creatures at the aquarium are the river otters, a giant Pacific octopus and American alligators. There are also a number of free-flying birds, and visitors who are bold may enjoy the opportunity to dive in the shark tank. Informative tours are regularly held at the aquarium, and boat trips of the bay can be reserved as well. The Lowry Park Zoo at 1101 West Sligh Avenue is a large area of 16.5 hectares, and boasts a fine collection of animals. Although it is mainly home to land-going animals, it has an aquatic centre as well. It also features a children’s petting zoo that is very popular, and a 1,500 square foot area full of interactive displays and exhibits.

Further attractions in Tampa include the J.B. Starkey’s Flatwoods Adventures, which explores the history of the Starkey family, and that provides insight to the workings of a genuine Florida cattle ranch, and the Malibu Grand Prix, where people who meet the requirements can enjoy adrenaline-charged driving activities. There is also a lovely miniature golf course here, and a large games room. Although the city of Tampa is not overflowing with distinctive landmarks and monuments, it does have a couple that are frequently visited. They include Christopher Columbus Square, the MacDill Air Force Base, the Raymond James Stadium and the Tampa Convention Centre, featuring about 600,000 square feet of meeting space and a 36,000 square foot ballroom.

The Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) is well worth a visit, with a large collection of fun and educational exhibits. It can be found at 4801 East Fowler Avenue. It also has an IMAX Dome Theatre with educational movies. Further museums of interest include the American Victory Mariners Memorial and Museum Ship (a museum on an actual vessel that served in WWII), the Henry B. Plant Museum, Tampa Bay History Centre and the Ybor City Museum State Park.

Although Tampa attractions are quite plentiful, tourists may like to go further and enjoy Captain Memo’s Original Pirate Cruise at Clearwater Beach, take a self-guided canoe trip down the rivers at Thonotosassa, visit Dinosaur World at 5145 Harvey Tew Road or go to the Historic Bok Sanctuary at Lake Wales. Very popular as well is Weeki Wachee Springs in Weeki Wachee, with mermaid and animal shows, wilderness river cruises and scuba diving activities. Further details regarding these attractions and many more are available at Tampa International Airport, or from tourist centres in the city of Tampa.