Florida’s third-largest city is no stranger to culture and history, representing the best of The Sunshine State. Home to a vibrant waterfront district, culturally engaging venues and museums, and countless activities that offer unique experiences, Tampa Bay is just waiting for your takeover.
Everyone say, “Hey, Tampa Bay!”
Got a little British twang to it? No matter, you can still travel like a local. Read on to find out about top 5 things to see and do in Tampa. The vibrant and attraction-rich city of Tampa is the gateway to the Gulf, providing the perfect place for a Florida adventure to remember.
Unlock Tampa Bay, the heart of Florida’s Gulf coast. When it comes to having fun, Tampa Bay has everything under the sun. Everything LGBTQ+ including Tampa Bay Pride From art festivals and culinary delights to dazzling dance clubs and outdoor adventures, there’s a treasure trove of discoveries waiting for you.
Visit Tampa Gay is a joint publication of Visit Tampa Bay and Creative Loafing Tampa. Explore the Gayborhoods, read up on our LGBTQ Profiles, and learn about all of Tampa Bay’s diversity.
The first thing you need to know about Ybor is how to pronounce the name, simply replace the “Y” with an “E”!
Tampa Bay’s historic Latin Quarter, Ybor City, became the Cigar Capital of the World. Today, skilled tabaqueros still roll cigars by hand along the brick-lined streets of historic Seventh Avenue.
You’ll discover that Ybor has a New Orleans feel – full of bars, restaurants, live performers, art festivals and a weekend farmer’s market comprised of artisan goods and fresh produce. But best of all, Ybor City is home to the world-famous Cuban Sandwich!
If you’re someone who has never heard of a Cuban Sandwich, you’re in for a treat. Originally founded by Cuban immigrants in the late 1800s, Ybor blossomed with hand-rolled cigar factories and the smell of coffee in the air. These factory workers created the sandwich as a daily staple for their lunch bags. A little roast pork, some fresh baked Cuban bread – one word: delicious!
A little-known fact about Tampa is that it boasts the longest continuous sidewalk in the world. At 4.5 miles in length, this sidewalk is free of cross streets meaning walkers, runners and cyclists can exercise whilst enjoying spectacular, uninterrupted views of the bay on one side and magnificent mansion homes on the other.
Bayshore Beautiful stretches from downtown Tampa, where you can also enjoy a Segway tour, all the way to scenic Ballast Point, which features an excellent fishing pier with a fantastic seafood restaurant serving fresh catch of the day.
Take some time out on the concrete benches too, which are built into the Spanish inspired, decorative wall that dances along the sidewalk. Many couples enjoy an evening stroll here, listening to the tranquil water. Not to mention the pretty lights of the city in the distance. But hey, the clue was in the name anyway!
Over 100 years old, Gasparilla also known as Piratefest is Tampa’s version of Mardi Gras. Festivities begin the last week of January, when legendary ship’s captain, Jose Gaspar, and his pirates come into port and invade the city, taking the mayor hostage. Nothing serious, as this is all in good fun. The week is full of parties, film fests, art shows and other pirate-themed experiences that culminate in the Gasparilla Parade of Pirates.
With over 50 participating crews, visitors to the parade can vie to catch beads, gold and silver coins, bullet casings, candies and other pirate booty that is thrown by the participants walking the parade route or riding on one of the many multi-colored floats down Bayshore Beautiful. And, if you happen to be an early bird, eat a hearty breakfast fit for a pirate, and take a seat along the water to watch the pirate ship flotilla come into Tampa Bay, which includes Jose Gaspar’s ship and crew.
Keep in mind that since this festival is akin to Mardi Gras that a pirate’s favourite mate, rum, is in abundance. For a more family friendly parade, Tampa throws the Gasparilla Children’s Parade the week prior, where the pirates keep things alcohol free.
Ride, walk or run – Take in the beautiful waterfront views and feel the warm sun along the Tampa Riverwalk. The 2.6-mile (4 km) path links together some of downtown Tampa’s most popular attractions, hotels, museums, and parks like gems on a string.
Recently completed, the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and Tampa Riverwalk provides downtown residents and visitors alike the opportunity to take a stroll along the city’s edge. The park, which is gradually levelled down to the Hillsborough River, hosts live music from local bands, art and vendor sponsored festivals, the Glazer Children’s Museum, a dog park with an obstacle course, and all sorts of delicious food stalls during the weekends.
At the top of the park, children and those who are children at heart can run through an array of dancing fountains, and during the wintertime the fountains are replaced with a climate controlled ice rink. Once you’re ready to venture out along the river, you can head north up the shaded walk to take in some fine dining at Ulele, one of Tampa’s best eclectic brewpub restaurants, or you can head south down the walk and explore Tampa’s History Centre and Amelie Arena, home to the Stanley Cup winning Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team. Go Bolts!
Right from Bayshore Beautiful, the South Howard Avenue section of Tampa, affectionately known as SOHO to its residents, is alive with some of Tampa’s most cherished fine dining and hot spots. One such spot is Bern’s Steak House, originally established in 1953, and a favourite among locals and visiting celebrities.
With eight dining rooms and 350 guest seats, the restaurant still requires a reservation as dining there is in prime demand. But, if you’re in the mood for something sweet instead of a steak, you can visit the famous Dessert Room which features 48 private booths and a choice of over 50 desserts and a variety of fine wines. Don’t worry if you can’t get a reservation though, there are many restaurants to choose from in SOHO, as well as bars and coffee houses to frequent.
And if your visit to SOHO is during the day, you can take a stroll past Bern’s Park towards neighbouring Hyde Park to grab lunch, catch a movie or join the shoppers at the small boutique stores.
TAKE OFF FOR TAMPA!
New direct flights to America’s favourite airport – Virgin Atlantic continues its transatlantic expansion with a new direct route from London Heathrow to Tampa International, launching on the 3rd of November 2022. This year-round Florida service will initially fly four times a week, before increasing to daily flights from the 28th of November.
Tampa is a great choice for excited families touching down for adventure and thrills at the world-famous theme parks in Orlando, which is just 1.5 hours away. For those looking to explore a more relaxing side of Florida, the vast array of Gulf Coast beach resorts including St Pete’s and Clearwater are on the doorstep.
Tampa International Airport provides quick check-ins and security through a quieter airport and offers multiple on-site car rental providers. Once you’re through the doors, there are ample city attractions, dining, and shopping opportunities helping you get your holiday off to a great start.
Your gateway to the west coast of Florida is now open to book so get in touch today to secure your perfect holiday or request a free quote.
Then before you know it, you’ll be ready to board Virgin Atlantic’s new direct route from London Heathrow to Tampa – launching on the 3rd November 2022 – and available right here at Rainbow Lux Travel.
Set your sights on Tampa
With no shortage of excitement, welcome to the home of some of the best attractions in Florida, from The Florida Aquarium in downtown Tampa to the thrilling Busch Gardens, where you’ll find the tallest freestanding drop tower in the whole of North America.
Discover active adventures, sky-high coasters, exotic wildlife, and authentic culture and cuisine… and enjoy it all at a relaxing pace. It’s the perfect union of exhilaration with relaxation, creating something we like to call The Tampa Bay Effect.
Let’s turn your big dreams into reality. With definite light at the end of the tunnel for travel, now is the time to book your dream escape. What’s more, all our holidays are ATOL protected and can be secured with a low deposit. So, let’s look forward to your Tampa Adventure, but don’t delay.