Destination: Tampa

With its mix of historic architecture and modern landmarks, a culture infused with Cuban and Spanish flavours, vibrant business districts and beautiful waterways, Tampa is a wonderful place to visit, play and unwind.

Downtown is alive with urban parks, including the gorgeous Tampa Riverwalk, hip bars and innovative restaurants and amazing restorations of turn-of-the-century buildings.

Tampa Riverwalk

For residents and visitors alike, there’s no shortage of things to do in Tampa, whether it’s paddling along the Hillsborough River, sampling tequila at a margarita festival, enjoying a pro football or hockey game with the Tampa Bay Lightning, or attending an opera at the Straz Center.

Tampa is known for being a great city for all ages and tastes, offering hotel accommodations that fit any budget and catering to everyone, including families, outdoor adventure seekers, and foodies and wine connoisseurs. Once known as a melting pot for all cultures and settlers, Tampa remains a welcoming place for those seeking fun, opportunity and a chance to try new things.

While it’s only a short, 30-minute drive to the beaches, Tampa’s real strengths lie in its city life.

Ybor City, which was created around the Cuba cigar-rolling industry in the late 1800s, is now world-renowned as a hot nightlife spot, its old red brick buildings now filled with lively music, cocktails and late-night dancing.

Downtown is now packed with young condo residents, and with them came a crop of new fusion-cuisine dining options, craft cocktail and beer bars, and regular festivals, concerts and events hosted in the well-kept Curtis Hixon Park.

TECO Manatee Viewing Center

Nearby Hyde Park, an upscale shopping and dining district, there are boutique stores and national brands, as well as excellent restaurants and bars. But one of the great things about Tampa is you can venture outside of the urban, metro centers to find plenty to do off the beaten path.

For an interesting glimpse at one of the Tampa Bay area’s iconic animals, check out the TECO Manatee Viewing Center from late fall through early spring to see a manatee sanctuary filled with dozens upon dozens of the gentle giants huddled in the warmer waters of the habitat.

If you’re into hiking, biking, paddling or bird-watching, hit one of the Tampa area’s many parks and preserves, such as Hillsborough River State Park in Thonotosassa or Lettuce Lake Park in north Tampa.

Rent a kayak or stroll the trails amid serene surroundings, encountering beautiful Florida birds, pop-up turtles, lazy gators and the occasional manatee. Bring your fishing gear and a picnic lunch for the whole family, or spend a romantic afternoon in a canoe for two.

Busch Gardens

There’s also plenty of adventures to be had in Tampa’s museums and theme parks, well known to visitors from across the country.

Busch Gardens has plenty of rides, shows, animals and attractions to fill up a whole weekend and the nearby Adventure Island water park offers daring drops and relaxing wading pools.

The impressive Tampa Museum of Art is directly next to the Glazer Children’s Museum, which makes for a great outing for the entire family.

Article via Visit Florida. For more information and ideas, check out Visit Tampa Bay.

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