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Tampa hotels By Joanna Citarella

With the Super Bowl fast approaching — and football being at the forefront of everyone’s mind — I couldn’t miss the opportunity to point out some of the other great attractions that the Tampa Bay area has to offer visitors on a Florida vacation.

The options are endless, but below are 5 of my favorite things to see and do:

1. Busch Gardens, a personal favorite of mine which just seems to get better every year. With something for everyone, from hair-raising roller coasters (SheiKra offers a 200-ft. vertical drop and reaches speeds of up to 70 mph) to an African Safari; you can easily spend an entire day taking in all that the park has to offer. Don’t miss the parks newest exhibit, Jungala, something the whole family can enjoy together.

2. MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry) includes a Planetarium, an IMAX theater and a “kids in charge science center” offering a range of educational interactive exhibits aimed at children aged 12 and under. Adults will enjoy the newest exhibit, Body Works, a one-of-a-kind look at the wonders of the human body.

3. Sun, Sea and Sand. For a change of pace, venture a few miles out of Tampa and explore the beaches of Clearwater and St Petersburg. The area boasts 35 miles of pristine beach, including Fort De Soto Park and Caladesi Island, voted Americas No. 1 beaches in 2005 and 2008 respectively. The west coast of Florida also offers some of the most spectacular sunsets. If conditions are just right, you might evenspot the legendary Green Flash as the sun goes down!

4. Downtown St. Petersburg. This neighborhood includes notable attractions such as the St. Petersburg Pier and the world famous Salvador Dali Museum. The Pier offers shopping, dining and an observation deck with a spectacular view of the bay, while the Salvador Dali Museum houses a comprehensive collection of works and complimentary exhibits.

5. Enjoy the weather. Although this one may seem obvious, I still feel it's worth mentioning that the average temperature Tampa in January is a comfortable 70 degrees. Humidity is low, skies are blue, and conditions are perfect — not only for watching football, but also for taking in some of the other notable attractions in the Tampa Bay area.

So, if you’re traveling down to Tampa for the big game and find yourself getting a little caught up in football fever, take a few moments to consider how you might like to spend your time pre and post game and really make it a memorable Florida vacation.

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Joanna Citarella is the Orbitz Market Manager for the West Coast and Northwest of Florida.

Tagged: Florida

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