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Pro tips from our travel blog: Everything you need to know for a perfectly rewarding trip to Tampa

Roll up and ride in sleekly tropical Tampa

Nestled right on the Gulf of Mexico, Tampa offers visitors to Florida one of the nicest year-round climates this side of San Diego. The sea breeze keeps temperatures moderate and humidity relatively low. As part of the wider Tampa Bay Area, Tampa is an ideal place to vacation close to St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Sarasota and Bradenton with the attractions of Orlando just over an hour away on I-4.

The city took off in the late 19th century and grew into a thriving metropolis with modern architecture and vibrant neighborhoods. Tampa's roadways tend to be larger than those found in Florida's older communities, so driving is a pleasant experience.


Places to visit

The moderate climate prevents vegetation from freezing over in the winter, so Tampa is always bursting with color from tropical plants, and many plant nurseries are open during all seasons if you want to take an orchid home.

Bok Tower Gardens

At Tampa's Bok Tower Gardens, you'll find one of the best-maintained parks in all of Florida. A beautiful 205-foot marble tower dominates the park, and countless ponds, flower beds, benches and lawns provide plenty of space to play soccer or enjoy an afternoon picnic.

Tampa Bay History Center

Although Europeans did not begin colonizing the Americas until the 16th century, the American Indians reached Florida thousands of years prior. The Tampa Bay History Center is a Smithsonian Institute affiliate that charts Florida's entire history. Take a guided tour and experience more than 10,000 years of history. Afterwards, enjoy Spanish and Cuban cuisine in the center's restaurant.

Busch Gardens

You don't have to travel the whole way to Orlando to seek thrills on intimidating rollercoasters. Busch Gardens Tampa has eight rollercoasters, including Kumba, which rises more than 140 feet above the ground. Because Busch Gardens Tampa was previously known as Busch Gardens Africa, most of the rides, attractions and park areas have African names and themes that range from Morocco to the Congo.

Museum of Science and Industry

If you're bringing the entire family to Tampa, your kids will have a blast at MOSI, the Museum of Science and Industry. MOSI is home to a curved IMAX screen, and the theater often shows current movies as well as science documentaries. The museum itself has dozens of exhibits, and your kids will be able to learn about different technologies with hands-on experience.

Sports

Tampa is a major city for sporting events and you’re likely to have the opportunity to watch at least one sports game during your stay. Catch the local Buccaneers NFL team at the Raymond James Stadium, or if hockey is more your style, chill out at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Would you rather play sports instead of watching them? Go kayaking in Tampa Bay, or work up a sweat at Tampa Tennis.


Travel information

If you're flying into Tampa, you are in luck. Tampa International Airport (TPA) typically gets very high marks and connects to a variety of destinations, including Havana and Toronto. Drivers also have easy access. Tampa connects straight to Orlando with I-4, which minimizes driving times. To reach Gainesville to the north, drive on I-75 for about 90 minutes. Naples is a few hours to the south on I-75, and you can easily reach Miami by taking the Tamiami Trail.


Best time to visit

Tampa is a resort destination all year-round. It escapes much of the summer crowds that gravitate toward Orlando, allowing availability during peak season, and making it an ideal place to locate last minute travel packages. Florida often experiences hurricanes during the summer, but they rarely affect the Tampa Bay area. Hotels in the area are well-equipped to deal with any extreme weather, so storms are unlikely to impact your trip.

Temperatures are extremely pleasant during the fall and spring seasons, and you'll find Tampa to be comfortable in October without a jacket or even long pants. Shorts and sandals are appropriate attire for this Florida vacation, and the Gulf of Mexico is almost always warm enough for a swim.