The best things to do in Tampa

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Nestled along Florida’s picturesque Gulf Coast, Tampa is a dynamic city brimming with a diverse array of attractions and activities to suit every traveler’s taste. From its vibrant cultural scene and thrilling outdoor adventures to its world-class dining and entertainment options, there are many memorable things to do in Tampa for visitors of all ages.

Sunset over a waterfront cityscape with palm trees, modern buildings, and things to do in Tampa.
Photo credit: YayImages.

From the moment you arrive, you’ll find yourself immersed in a world of excitement and wonder, making memories that will last a lifetime. Get ready for endless opportunities for fun and relaxation with a visit to Tampa Bay.

Just a 3-hour drive from Daytona Beach, along I-4 interstate, you’ll find the booming city of Tampa Bay. Although you won’t find white sandy beaches like those in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, you will find lots of history and culture like in St Augustine.


Tampa is home to a vibrant culinary scene, offering a diverse range of dining options to suit various tastes and preferences. Here are some of the most popular restaurants in Tampa.

Bern’s Steak House is an iconic steakhouse known for its superb steaks, extensive wine list and unique dining experience. The restaurant boasts a sophisticated atmosphere and impeccable service. You might want to start looking six months out for a reservation and don’t skip the dessert room.

Ulele is located in Tampa Heights along the Riverwalk. Ulele is known for it’s fresh seafood, native-inspired dishes and craft beers brewed on-site. You can order drinks to go in special cups and legally walk around the Riverwalk.

City skyline at dusk with illuminated skyscrapers and a lit bridge over a river, showcasing things to do in Tampa.
Photo credit: YayImages.

The Oxford Exchange is more than just a restaurant; it combines a restaurant, bookstore, coffee shop and event space. If you’re looking for an Instagrammable spot in Tampa, check out the Oxford Exchange. 

Armature Works is located in the Tampa Heights district along the river. It’s a mixed-use space that houses several dining options, including Heights Public Market, which features stalls selling everything from artisanal pizza to poke bowls and full-service dining options. 

One of the most iconic is the Columbia Restaurant, established in 1905 and Florida’s oldest restaurant. It is known for its Spanish-Cuban cuisine, lively atmosphere and flamenco performances. If you visit, you must try their Cuban sandwich. 

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There is a wide range of things to do in Tampa for visitors of all ages and interests. Here are some popular activities to consider during your time there.

Take a leisurely stroll, jog or bike ride along the Tampa Riverwalk, which stretches for 2.4 miles along the Hillsborough River and offers beautiful views of downtown Tampa. Along the Riverwalk, you’ll find a variety of restaurants and bars to stop, relax and enjoy the views. 

Spend a day at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, an amusement park and zoo featuring thrilling rides, animal encounters, live entertainment and beautiful gardens. The Florida Aquarium, located in downtown Tampa, is where you can discover marine life from Florida and around the world. Highlights include interactive exhibits, touch tanks and a coral reef habitat.

A giraffe being fed a leaf by a human at a wildlife park is one of the exciting things to do in Tampa.
Photo credit: YayImages.

Catch a game and cheer on the local sports teams. Depending on the season, you can watch the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning or the MLB’s Tampa Bay Rays in action. Although, the Rays are technically in St. Pete, which is just over the bridge from Tampa.

Take a dolphin-watching cruise in Tampa Bay for a chance to see wild dolphins in their natural habitat. Go kayaking, paddleboarding, fishing or picnicking in one of the city’s many parks and nature preserves and enjoy the sunny weather.

Culture and art

Learn about the rich history of the Tampa Bay area through interactive exhibits, artifacts and educational programs at the Tampa Bay History Center located in the Channelside District. Or immerse yourself in contemporary and classical art at the Tampa Museum of Art, located along the Riverwalk. 

Explore Tampa’s historic Ybor City neighborhood, known for its vibrant culture, eclectic shops, restaurants and nightlife. Don’t miss the Ybor City State Museum and a visit to a cigar factory.

St. Pete

Downtown St. Pete is worth the visit if you’re in Tampa for more than a few days. It’s just on the other side of Tampa Bay. Start your day with a leisurely stroll along the scenic waterfront of the Tampa Bay, exploring the picturesque parks and enjoying the stunning views. Dive into the city’s rich art scene by visiting world-renowned museums like the Salvador Dali Museum and the Chihuly Collection, where you can marvel at masterpieces of contemporary art and glass sculptures. 

A marina lined with palm trees under a clear blue sky hosts various things to do in Tampa, with docked sailboats and flying birds.
Photo credit: YayImages.

Afterward, wander through the eclectic streets of downtown, filled with charming boutiques, art galleries and trendy eateries, and savor a delicious meal at one of the many acclaimed restaurants. Don’t miss the chance to catch a live performance at the historic Mahaffey Theater or relax with a drink at a rooftop bar while taking in the city skyline.

Whether you’re interested in history, culture, outdoor adventure or family-friendly fun, there are a variety of things to do in Tampa that suit every taste and preference. Tampa stands as a captivating destination that seamlessly blends sun, sand, culture and adventure. Whether you’re marveling at the beauty of Busch Gardens, exploring the historic streets of Ybor City or soaking up the sun at Clearwater Beach, Tampa offers a diverse range of experiences that will leave you enchanted. 

Lara is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Personal Trainer. She is also a photographer and recipe developer and has a food and travel blog, Lara Clevenger. She shares easy recipes that are mostly low-carb, along with some bowling and travel adventures. Whether you’re cooking with an air fryer, Blackstone or Instant Pot, she has you covered with healthy recipes.

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