TAMPA, FLORIDA

By  Mike Miller  Updated July 2, 2022

Tampa, Florida Things To Do, Lodging, Dining, & Real Estate At End Of Article

Tampa is in Central West Florida on Tampa Bay, a large estuary of the Gulf of Mexico.  It is the county seat of Hillsborough County and has a population of 387,916.

The population of Hillsborough County is 1,512,070.

University of Tampa, Formerly Tampa Bay HotelUniversity of Tampa, Formerly Tampa Bay Hotel

With its large neighbor to the west across the bay, St. Petersburg, in Pinellas County the Tampa-St. Petersburg Metropolitan Area has a population of 3,142,673.

HISTORY OF TAMPA FLORIDA

The modern history of Tampa Florida began when Spanish explorers visited the area in the 1520's.

They reported Tocobaga Indian villages on the north shore of the bay and Calusa Indian villages on the south shore.

Hernando de Soto On The West Coast of FloridaHernando de Soto On The West Coast of Florida
Florida Memory, State Archives of Florida

These conquistadors, including Hernando de Soto and Panfile de Narvaez didn't find any gold, so they moved on and left the Indians to themselves.

The Spaniards apparently left behind some of the European diseases for which the Indians had no immunity, because most of the Indians disappeared not long after the Spanish contact.

Tampa history reveals a sparsely settled area for the next couple of hundred years.

Read More About the History of Tampa


TAMPA FLORIDA TODAY

Modern Tampa is a city of neighborhoods, many of them originally inhabited by various ethnic and cultural groups.

A few of these neighborhoods close to downtown are: 

Hyde Park, near downtown on the west side of the Hillsborough River. It has been renovated in recent years to create trendy housing, restaurants and shopping.

Hyde Park VillageHyde Park Village

Ballast Point, Bayshore and Palma Ceia are old neighborhoods with fine large homes north of MacDill Air Force Base.

Bike Rentals on Bayshore BoulevardBike Rentals on Bayshore Boulevard

Davis Islands is a 1920's boom town development dredged up from Tampa Bay immediately south of downtown.

Bayshore BoulevardBayshore Boulevard

Harbour Island is immediately south of the heart of downtown Tampa. It was originally known as Seddon Island, and not too many years ago it was a seedy rundown industrial port.

In 1979 it was purchased from the railroad, and redeveloped into today's fine condominiums, marinas, shops, offices and restaurants.

Bern's Steak HouseBern's Steak House

Bern's Steak House is a legendary fine dining restaurant noted not only for its famous steaks, but for its incredible dessert room and enormous wine cellar.

Ybor City is a historic entertainment and business district that is built around the cigar factories, homes, and shops of the cigar district founded by Martin Ybor in 1885.  Read more about Ybor City.

Ybor City Tampa NeighborhoodYbor City Tampa Neighborhood
Davis Islands MarinaMarina on Davis Islands

Like most Florida cities, Tampa has sprawled out from its center and is now surrounded by many beautiful suburbs and new towns.

Sun City Center, for example, is south of Tampa and is one of the largest Florida active retirement communities.

Most areas of Tampa are safe, but like all big cities it's best to have some local advice before wandering around in some places and neighborhoods you don't know anything about. 

Gasparilla FestivalGasparilla Festival

Tampa is also a good place to start and finish one of your favorite Florida day trips.

Its central location on the Gulf coast means there are many opportunities for one tank trips not only in Central West Florida, but in Southwest and Central Florida also.


THINGS TO DO IN TAMPA, FLORIDA

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
10165 McKinley Dr, Tampa, FL 33612 | (813) 884-4386

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is an exhilarating amusement park with an African theme. Visitors love the thrill of roller coasters like SheiKra and Montu, while animal lovers appreciate the park’s various wildlife exhibits.

Our favorite part is the Serengeti Safari, where you can get up close with giraffes, zebras, and other animals in an open-air vehicle. The park also offers fun entertainment, from live shows to seasonal events.

Families enjoy the mix of exciting rides, beautiful gardens, and interactive animal encounters, making Busch Gardens a fun-filled destination for all ages.

The Florida Aquarium
701 Channelside Dr, Tampa, FL 33602 | (813) 273-4000

The Florida Aquarium is a world-class attraction showcasing aquatic life from around the globe. We enjoy the interactive exhibits and the opportunity to touch stingrays, starfish, and other marine creatures.

The aquarium features a diverse range of habitats, from coral reefs to wetlands, offering a fascinating glimpse into the underwater world. Visitors also love the splash pad for kids and the educational shows, which highlight the importance of ocean conservation.

The scenic outdoor areas and panoramic views of Tampa Bay make it a great place for families to learn and explore together.

Tampa Riverwalk
Downtown Tampa, FL 33602 | Tampa St, or Ashley St

The Tampa Riverwalk is a vibrant pedestrian pathway along the Hillsborough River, stretching for 2.6 miles. We love strolling along the scenic waterfront, exploring public art installations, and relaxing at one of the many parks along the route.

The Riverwalk connects several popular attractions, including the Tampa Museum of Art and the Florida Aquarium. Visitors like to rent bikes, enjoy riverfront dining, or hop on a water taxi to see the sights from the water.

The Riverwalk’s lively atmosphere and beautiful views make it a favorite spot for both locals and tourists to unwind and have fun.

Tampa Museum of Art
120 W Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa, FL 33602 | (813) 274-8130

The Tampa Museum of Art is a cultural gem located in downtown Tampa, offering an impressive collection of classical and contemporary art. We enjoy the museum’s modern architecture and the rotating exhibitions that showcase local and international artists.

The museum’s outdoor sculpture garden and waterfront setting provide a serene atmosphere for appreciating art and nature. Visitors like the interactive family programs and special events, making the museum an inviting place for art enthusiasts of all ages.

The museum's central location along the Riverwalk makes it easy to explore other attractions in downtown Tampa.

Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park
1101 W Sligh Ave, Tampa, FL 33604 | (813) 935-8552

Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park is a family-friendly zoo known for its diverse animal exhibits and interactive experiences. We enjoy the opportunity to feed giraffes, ride a safari tram, or cool off in the splash pad.

The zoo features animals from around the world, including manatees, tigers, and koalas. Visitors love the engaging keeper talks and the fun rides in the Wallaroo Station children’s area.

The zoo’s commitment to wildlife conservation and education, along with its beautifully landscaped habitats, make it a delightful and educational destination for animal lovers of all ages.

Glazer Children's Museum
110 W Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa, FL 33602 | (813) 443-3861

The Glazer Children's Museum is an interactive learning space designed for kids to explore and play. We love the hands-on exhibits that encourage creativity and curiosity, from building cities to exploring a fire station.

The museum offers a variety of themed areas where children can role-play, experiment, and learn through play. Visitors like the special events and educational programs that cater to different age groups, making it a great place for families to spend time together.

The museum’s location along the Riverwalk also provides easy access to other downtown Tampa attractions.

Tampa Bay History Center
801 Water St, Tampa, FL 33602 | (813) 228-0097

The Tampa Bay History Center is a fascinating museum that explores the history of Tampa Bay and Florida. We enjoy the interactive exhibits that cover topics ranging from pirate legends to Cuban cigar culture.

The museum’s waterfront setting and engaging storytelling make history come alive for visitors of all ages. Visitors also like the Touchton Map Library and the Columbia Cafe, which offers delicious Cuban cuisine with a view of the river.

The history center’s comprehensive exhibits and immersive experiences make it a must-visit for anyone interested in learning more about the region’s rich past.

Armature Works
1910 N Ola Ave, Tampa, FL 33602 | (813) 250-3725

Armature Works is a trendy mixed-use space along the Tampa Riverwalk, offering dining, shopping, and entertainment. We love the bustling Heights Public Market, filled with food vendors offering a variety of cuisines.

The historic building has been beautifully restored, providing a unique atmosphere for socializing and exploring. Visitors like the outdoor seating areas, live music events, and riverfront views, making Armature Works a favorite gathering spot for locals and tourists alike.

The vibrant atmosphere and diverse offerings make it a great place to experience Tampa’s culinary and cultural scene.

Adventure Island
10001 McKinley Dr, Tampa, FL 33612 | (813) 884-4386

Adjacent to Busch Gardens, Adventure Island is Tampa’s premier water park, offering an array of slides, pools, and splash pads. We enjoy the thrilling water slides and the wave pool, perfect for cooling off on hot Florida days.

The park’s lazy river is a favorite for those looking to relax and float along a gentle stream. Visitors appreciate the cabanas for a private retreat with amenities.

Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park
600 N Ashley Dr, Tampa, FL 33602 | (813) 274-8615

Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park is a dynamic urban park that hosts a range of events and festivals. We enjoy the spacious lawn areas for picnics and games, and the two interactive fountains where children can play.

There is a dog park, and picnic tables are available. The park is a popular spot for concerts and outdoor movies, drawing both locals and tourists.



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