With its sunny weather and world-famous attractions, Tampa is one of the top tourist destinations in Florida.
More than 100 million people visit every year, and that number is expected to skyrocket within the next decade as the city builds even more hotels, casinos and beachfront properties.
Are you planning a trip to Tampa? Are you wondering what to do when you get there?
Maybe you need some ideas, maps, guides and travel tips for a great Florida vacation.
Well, you’ve come to the right place.
From historic museums to crazy water parks, here are 23 things to do in Tampa that you won’t want to miss.
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1. Florida Aquarium
With more than 20,000 animals spread across 250,000 square feet, the Florida Aquarium is a lot more than a few fish tanks.
It’s the biggest aquatic collection in Tampa, and it’s easily one of the best places to go in the city.
For starters, you’ll get to enjoy everything from underwater domes to simulated wetlands preserved under a glass atrium.
If you love the diverse wildlife of Tampa, your eyes will pop at all of the things to see in the Florida Aquarium.
There are feisty fish, colorful coral, snapping sharks, peculiar penguins and much, much more.
You can also enjoy short educational films in the 4D theater that will rock your seat and hit you with real wind currents as you learn about the monsters of the deep.
If you feel like splashing around, there’s an outdoor water playground where you and the kids can cool off.
One of the most amazing things to do at the Florida Aquarium, however, is to take their wild dolphin cruise.
You can hop on their catamaran and go dolphin-watching around the waters of Tampa.
You’ll never forget the sight of their silver bodies glinting in the sunlight as they bob and weave through the waves!
If you’re looking for fun things to do in Tampa, you’ll definitely want to consider a visit to the Florida Aquarium.
It can provide hours of education and entertainment, so it’ll be a worthwhile stop for visitors of all ages during a Florida vacation.
Address: 701 Channelside Dr, Tampa, FL 33602, USA
2. Tampa Theater
Originally built as a “movie palace” in 1926, the Tampa Theater is one of the great historical attractions of Florida.
Even more impressively, it’s still in operation today, so it can be put on your list of what to do while in Tampa.
Visitors can buy a ticket to the Tampa Theater at the old-fashioned glass booth that sits at the forefront of the brick building.
Once they’re inside, they can settle into the plush red seats that are arranged in a semi-circle around the stage and video center.
A pull-back curtain protects the screens when not in use. A Wurlitzer organ serves as an authentically vintage backdrop.
You won’t find contemporary blockbusters at the Tampa Theater.
Instead, they play documentaries, independent films and foreign works.
It’s a place where you can go to escape the trappings of modern life and relax in another era.
If you’re looking for fun historic attractions in Florida, it doesn’t get much better than the Tampa Theater.
It’s been a centerpiece of the area for almost 100 years, and with any luck, it will continue to thrive for 100 more.
Address: 711 N Franklin St, Tampa, FL 33602, USA
3. Tampa Bay Downs
Tampa Bay Downs is one of the only horse-racing establishments on the west coast of Florida.
It’s located slightly outside of the city limits of Tampa, but it’s worth the extra gas.
Who knows? You might even win your money back by betting on a good horse!
Don’t worry if you’ve never participated in thoroughbred racing.
Tampa Bay Downs is very accessible to first-timers; you can place small bets on dozens of daily races, and you can watch from either the stands or the indoor lounge rooms that are set up with TV screens.
You can even munch on snacks from the concession stand if you find that gambling gives you an appetite.
The staff of Tampa Bay Downs is another thing that marks it as one of the best places to visit for newbie horse racers.
They’re always milling around to answer questions, so if you’re unsure about the odds on Kentucky Thunder, just ask a staffer. They’ll be near.
Horse racing is one of those fun things to do that most people see on television but never actually attempt in real life.
With Tampa Bay Downs, however, you can jump right into the action without worrying about betting too much or missing the photo finish.
It’s a newbie-friendly place, so if you’ve always wondered what it would be like to bet on a horse race, Tampa Bay Downs can fulfill your fantasy.
Address: 11225 Race Track Rd, Tampa, FL 33626, USA
4. Tampa Museum of Art
The Tampa Museum of Art was designed to look like “a jewel box on a glass pedestal.”
Made with stone floors, translucent ceilings and fiber optic lights, it’s one of the most stunning sights in Florida before you even walk through the doors.
Once you enter, however, things only get better.
There are exhibits and art galleries; there are lecture halls and display rooms.
Whether you’re looking for a sophisticated collection of Roman sculptures or a messy art station where the kids can play with watercolors, the Tampa Museum of Art can provide.
Another fun thing about the museum is that it hosts a variety of special events.
From yoga classes in the mornings to summer camps on the weekends, you can always find fun things to do on the premises.
In fact, it’s one of our recommended travel hacks to always check the calendar of the Tampa Museum of Art before you go; you never know what awesome things will be posted next!
The Tampa Museum of Art isn’t just one of the best places to go in Tampa. It’s also one of the best places to go in all of Florida.
It’s beautiful inside and out, and it regularly tops travel lists for the coolest places to visit in the city of Tampa. You won’t want to miss it.
Address: 120 W Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa, FL 33602, USA
5. Downtown Tampa
Take a ride on an old-fashioned streetcar that clangs its arrival at every stop.
Hop aboard a cruise that will send you gliding through the great waterways of Florida.
Sip on cocktails while enjoying aerial views of the city on a rooftop bar.
This is downtown Tampa, and there are always exciting things to do when you open your mind to new experiences!
From bars and bistros to museums and movie theaters, downtown Tampa is brimming with opportunity.
Not only will you enjoy all of the traditional “tourist stuff” like dining and shopping, but there are also unique attractions that you can only find in the Tampa area.
For example, did you know that they have a preserved WWII cargo ship just sitting in the docks?
Another great thing about downtown Tampa is its proximity to hotels and resorts.
When you’re done exploring the city, you’ll be near lots of accommodation options.
In fact, downtown Tampa is known for having world-class lodgings and luxury suites, so it’s just a matter of choosing which silk sheets that you want for your bed.
Downtown Tampa doesn’t have a cool or catchy name. It’s just known as downtown Tampa.
That’s the only thing that will disappoint you about the area, however, so grab your fanny pack and get ready to have the time of your life.
It’s considered one of the best things to do in Tampa for a reason!
6. Tampa Bay Food Tours
Tampa Bay Food Tours is a company located in Tampa Bay.
As its name suggests, it’s all about stuffing your face with the delicious cuisine of Tampa, so you should definitely put it on your list of stuff to do in the city.
The main tour will take three hours and guide you to a half-dozen eateries in the area.
Some of the establishments might be sophisticated places where you can enjoy fancy salads and fine wines.
Others might be casual joints where you can eat your weight in crab cakes, lobster pizzas and dessert shooters.
The locations can change. The tour guides can change. The schedules can change; some are daytime excursions while others are planned for nights or special holidays.
The only true constant of Tampa Bay Food Tours is that it will fill your belly with the best foods of Florida, so you should look them up if you’re seeking things to do in the area that can fill out your weekend schedule.
7. Busch Gardens Tampa
Offering everything from roller coasters to live tiger habitats, Busch Gardens Tampa is one of the coolest things to do in the entire state of Florida.
It’s partly a zoo and partly an amusement park, and you can lose entire weekends to its ziplines, bumper cars, bird gardens, water slides and elephant enclosures.
Do you like old-fashioned rides and games? Test your adrenaline on Cobra’s Curse, Falcon’s Fury or the Gwazi Gliders.
Do you like getting up close and personal with wildlife? Walk the Tiger Trail or climb to the treetop observation decks of the Orangutan Outpost.
Busch Gardens Tampa has other activities as well.
There are food stalls, gift shops, movie theaters, play parks and concert stages.
There are haunted houses for Halloween and light shows for Christmas.
No matter when you’re visiting or who you’re traveling with, you’ll never lack for fun things to see and do!
Another great feature of the Busch Gardens Tampa is that it’s located right across the street from Adventure Island, one of the biggest water parks in Tampa.
If you’re somehow not satisfied with all of the crazy activities of Busch Gardens Tampa, just punch your ticket and head to the other side of the road.
Your wild ride never has to end!
Address: 10165 McKinley Dr, Tampa, FL 33612, USA
8. The Hindu Temple of Florida
It’s a white ancestral temple that rises above northern Tampa, and it attracts thousands of visitors every year for worship, observation and tourism.
Built with Indian-style architecture, the Hindu Temple of Florida is a modern marvel that includes everything from rising steps to descending pyramid towers.
Not only will you be in awe of its size, but you’ll also goggle at its many pathways that lead to prayer rooms and rooftop courtyards.
There are no dates and times for worship at the Hindu Temple of Florida. There are no entrance fees.
There isn’t even a staff; the temple is attended by volunteers and religious devotees. People come and go as they please.
If you like orderly, structured attractions, the Hindu Temple of Florida probably isn’t for you.
If you like the freedom to explore things on your own, however, it’ll be a beautiful sight and a quiet chance to learn more about Tampa and its melting pot of religions.
Add the Hindu Temple of Florida to your bookmarks of memorable things to do in Tampa.
Address: 5509 Lynn Rd, Tampa, FL 33624, USA
9. Weedon Island Preserve
Hiking trails weave around forests and saltwater ponds. Kayaking and canoeing trails can be taken through bushes, mangroves and seagrass flats.
An elevated observation deck will give you panoramic views of Tampa, and boardwalks and picnicking sites are scattered everywhere for sightseeing tourists.
You can even go fishing on a special pedestrian pier!
The Cultural and Natural History Center is also located on the reserve.
It hosts all kinds of hikes and nature tours for both kids and adults, so it’s one of the best things to do if you’re wondering what to see in the wilderness.
If you’re looking for fun things to do in Tampa Bay, consider the Weedon Island Preserve.
It’s a gorgeous location with a lot to offer in terms of attractions and activities, and it can help you get away from it all when the busy parts of Tampa are being just a little too loud.
Address: 1800 Weedon Dr NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33702, USA
10. Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tampa
Imagine a place where you can relax in a hot tub, eat a five-course meal and win an amazing jackpot all in the same night.
The fun never stops at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tampa, and this is exactly why it’s one of the best places to visit in Tampa.
If you’re a gambler, you’ll love the slots and card tables of the casino.
You can find all of your favorite games there, including poker, blackjack and roulette.
Gambling is legal in Florida, so take advantage of the laws and try your luck!
If you prefer a more casual atmosphere, stop by one of the bars, restaurants or lounges of the hotel.
There’s a constant rotation of everything from live music to comedy shows, so the activities are enjoyable, and the cocktails never stop flowing.
When you’re wiped out from the fun, retire to a luxurious suite with floor-to-ceiling windows and access to things like pools, jacuzzis and 24/7 room service.
The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tampa is basically a playground for adults, so if you’re visiting the Tampa area of Florida, let it draw you in like a moth to a flame.
There’s a reason why it’s one of the top attractions of the entire state of Florida!
Address: 5223 Orient Rd, Tampa, FL 33610, USA
11. Empower Adventures Tampa Bay
Do you laugh in the face of danger? Are you looking for fun things to do in Tampa that will create unforgettable vacation memories?
Empower Adventures Tampa Bay is the destination for you.
Empower Adventures Tampa Bay is an adventure center located in the heart of Tampa.
It offers everything from zip lines to suspended rope bridges in a series of obstacle courses that are designed to get your heart pumping.
Reservations are required, so you’ll need to call ahead.
You might also want to ask about things like age and weight restrictions before you start daydreaming about free-flying over the bayous of Tampa.
For thrill seekers, however, Empower Adventures Tampa Bay is one of the best things to do in Tampa.
If you’re wondering what to do on your trip, put a special star by attractions like these.
Anyone can take a picture of the Florida skyline, but only a daring few can say that they saw it from hundreds of feet in the air.
Address: 423 Lafayette Blvd, Oldsmar, FL 34677, USA
12. Tampa Bay History Center
There’s more to Tampa than its glitzy casinos and fancy restaurants, and the Tampa Bay History Center is here to prove it.
It showcases more than 10,000 years of history for both Tampa and the surrounding regions of Florida.
Start with an exploration of the relics, artifacts and preserved texts of early European voyages to the Americas.
Continue your education with the re-tellings of the myths and legends that surround the Spanish conquerors of the New World.
Finish your tour with informative videos of modern civilization in Florida.
From dastardly pirates to peaceful settlers, a lot of people have shaped the Tampa of today.
Visit the Tampa Bay History Center to learn who they are, what they’ve accomplished and how they might impact tomorrow, too.
Things to do in Florida don’t always have to be flashy.
They can be low-key while still being fun, and the Tampa Bay History Center is a great example.
Address: 801 Old Water St, Tampa, FL 33602, USA
13. Clearwater Beach
One of the great things about Florida is that you can always find a beach.
Even in landlocked cities like Gainesville, there are water parks and sand pits that are designed to look like the shores of coastal cities, so a list of things to do in Gainesville can still include splashy fun.
Tampa is located on the Gulf of Mexico, so you can enjoy natural beaches here.
Some are them are lively places where you can always find bonfires and volleyball games; others are quiet retreats where you can cuddle with a lover or watch the sunset over the water.
If you’re willing to travel a little outside of Tampa, however, the best beach is definitely Clearwater Beach.
It’s about 25 miles west of Tampa Bay, and it offers just about everything that you could want from a beach.
For adrenaline junkies, there’s swimming, surfing, jetskiing, parasailing and paddleboarding.
For culture lovers, there are shops, cafes, restaurants, boardwalks and all kinds of street performers and musicians.
Things come especially alive on the weekends, but there are fun things to do at any time.
Clearwater Beach will give you the kind of beach experience that you daydream about when you’re stuck in a cubicle and thinking longingly of Florida.
With white sands, blue waves and pink cocktails, it’s a tropical paradise just a short distance from Tampa.
Planning a trip to Clearwater soon? Why not check out some of the things to do in Clearwater before you go?
14. Museum of Science and Industry
Let’s say that you want to take the kids somewhere a little more intellectually challenging than a zoo or playground.
Have you considered the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Tampa?
As one of the premier institutions of Florida, MOSI Tampa has been recognized for its contributions to the scientific community.
It’s also a fun place to get hands-on with STEM learning.
It offers games, exhibits, activities, tours and interactive stations for kids and adults alike.
Previous exhibits have included things like “Imagination Playground,” a building station for everything from robots to miniature cities.
Today’s exhibits include “Slippery Science,” a hockey showcase that teaches about the importance of friction and aerodynamics.
And “Mission: Moonbase,” a simulated lunar base where you can learn about the atmosphere and environment of the moon.
You don’t have to be a child to enjoy MOSI Tampa.
It has a little something for everyone, so adults can get a kick out of its exhibits and features, too.
The great thing about science is that it’s an all-ages pursuit!
Address: 4801 E Fowler Ave, Tampa, FL 33617, USA
15. International Plaza and Bay Street
Offering more than a million square feet of retail space, the International Plaza and Bay Street is one of the top things to do in Tampa when your money is burning a hole in your pocket.
It’s home to literally hundreds of stores and restaurants, so you can fill your shopping bags with a wide variety of clothes, shoes, snacks, toys, souvenirs and travel accessories.
The next best thing about the International Plaza and Bay Street is its proximity to the Tampa International Airport.
It’s located right near it, so whether you’re just starting or just finishing your trip to Florida, you can pick up what you need for your flight.
Last but not least, the International Plaza and Bay Street is a completely enclosed shopping center, so you never have to worry about bad weather ruining your shop-til-you-drop adventures.
Rain or shine, day or night, you can stroll the corridors of this Tampa shopping center and indulge in some top tier retail therapy.
The International Plaza and Bay Street might not be the biggest mall in Florida, but it’s the biggest in Tampa, and it can provide what you need in terms of both luxuries and essentials.
Put it on your list of fun things to do in Tampa!
Address: 2223 N Westshore Blvd, Tampa, FL 33607, USA
16. Dinosaur World
Located just a few miles outside of Tampa, Dinosaur World is a one-of-a-kind theme park where you can walk through an open habitat of life-sized dinosaur models.
Not only will it delight dino lovers, but it’ll also be a good time for archeologists, paleontologists and excavators.
The main attraction of Dinosaur World is its life-sized models.
From towering T-rexes to skulking velociraptors, you’ll get to explore all kinds of extinct species as you hike the trails, picnic on the grounds and take pictures to your heart’s content.
There are other activities as well.
Kids can go on supervised “fossil digs” to find shark teeth and stingray barbs.
And visitors of all ages can participate in “excavations” where you sift through sand and pluck out gems, minerals and arrowheads.
You can even keep what you find!
Dinosaur World is such a unique destination that you literally can’t find anywhere else like it in the entire state of Florida.
Buy a ticket for a crazy vacation story and an even crazier weekend in Tampa.
Address: 5145 Harvey Tew Rd, Plant City, FL 33565, USA
17. Hillsborough River State Park
The Hillsborough River State Park has been called one of the last wild places in Florida.
It’s teeming with trees, swamps, vines, bayous and mangroves, and it isn’t uncommon to see alligators slinking around the marshes.
It’ll provide plenty of scrapbook material for nature lovers and wildlife observers.
It’ll also provide cool things to do in Tampa during a weekend getaway.
If you like working up a sweat, you might enjoy canoeing down the waterways or biking around the forest trails.
If you prefer more laid-back activities, you can visit the interpretive center to learn more about the Native American tribes that used to live in and near Florida.
Florida isn’t alone in being a state of wonders.
If you’re looking specifically for the gorgeous sights of Tampa, however, check out the Hillsborough River State Park.
It will serve as a feast for your eyes and a balm for your soul.
Address: 15402 US-301, Thonotosassa, FL 33592, USA
18. Big Cat Rescue
Florida has a lot of wildlife reserves and animal sanctuaries, but the Big Cat Rescue is a standout both for its sterling reputation and the fact that it’s dedicated solely to felines.
From lions to leopards to lynxes, it’s meant for furry bodies with big paws.
Many of the animals at the Big Cat Rescue are being rehabilitated after abuse and neglect at the hands of circuses, hunters, animal testers and exotic pet owners.
The goal of the rescue is to help the poor creatures while also educating the public about them and raising awareness for their plight.
Visitors to the Big Cat Rescue can take guided tours of the animal habitats and view webcams of their homes, nests and hospital recovery wards.
If you’re in Tampa for more than a weekend getaway, you can even volunteer to care for the cats yourself.
Big Cats Rescue is one of those attractions that will make you feel good about spending your money there.
It’s a good cause and a good way to enjoy some time in Florida, so don’t hesitate to swing by and say hello to Andi the Bobcat or Manny the Jaguar.
Address: 12802 Easy St, Tampa, FL 33625, USA
19. Ybor City
Ybor City isn’t actually a city. It’s a sprawling neighborhood in Tampa that’s known for its vibrant local culture and rich, colorful history.
Once you’ve joined a block party, however, you might feel a little like you’ve stepped outside of the greater Tampa area.
Originally hailed as the “cigar capital of the world,” Ybor City is filled with the remnants of the old cigar mills that put it on the map.
But they’ve been transformed into the kinds of quirky attractions that make Florida such an amazing vacation destination.
You can find shops, boutiques, nightclubs, microbreweries and food trucks around every corner.
Ybor City is also famous for its thriving Latin American communities.
Whether you’re looking to eat exotic dishes or dance the night away at a salsa club, you can find the best of Latin America right in the heart of Tampa.
Swing by Ybor City if you’re traveling to Florida.
It has such a different vibe than Tampa that it’ll make you feel like you’re experiencing a second vacation within the first one.
As a bonus, you’ll get to try some great arroz con pollo!
20. University of South Florida Botanical Gardens
There’s something special about the University of South Florida Botanical Gardens.
Maybe it’s the butterflies and songbirds that are constantly flitting near the flowers, trees and grasses; maybe it’s the sheer diversity of their orchids, tulips, palms, gingers, begonias and bonsai trees.
More than 3,000 species are hosted in the botanical gardens, so it’s literally impossible to see them all in a single trip.
You’ll need to come back again and again during your Tampa trip.
Another fun feature of the University of South Florida Botanical Gardens is the range of activities that they offer to visitors.
There are beekeeping workshops and yoga classes; there are flower and garden festivals where you can purchase pots, seeds, crafts and paintings.
Kids and adults can both find something to do on the official schedule.
You don’t have to be a nature geek to enjoy the University of South Florida Botanical Gardens.
Even if you’re just looking for a quiet place to relax or a unique thing to do on a weekend, you should put the botanical gardens on your shortlist.
They’re easily one of the top things to do in Tampa.
Address: 12210 USF Pine Drive, Tampa, FL 33612, USA
21. Tampa Bay Brewing Company
The Tampa Bay Brewing Company is one of the oldest breweries in Florida, and it’s a popular tourist destination for anyone going through the Tampa area.
If you’re looking for good food, good beer and good company, you won’t want to miss it.
It isn’t a flashy place. You won’t find people nibbling on fancy cheeses and sipping from imported wines with their pinkies in the air.
The Tampa Bay Brewing Company is a salt-of-the-earth business.
It’s family owned and operated, and it specializes in authentic homebrews that will leave you smacking your lips and asking for more.
You can taste them in the taprooms, try them out at special brewing events or order them with a meal at the on-site cafe and patio bar.
Kids should be left at the hotel, but adults can have a grand old time as they sit on the porch and shoot the breeze.
Beer lovers, make time during your Tampa vacation for the Tampa Bay Brewing Company.
Florida might have lots of breweries, but this is one of the best, so it deserves a bottoms up.
Address: 1600 East 8th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605, USA
22. Skatepark of Tampa
Popularly known as “SPoT,” the Skatepark of Tampa is one of the most famous skate parks in Florida.
It’s been featured in everything from Tony Hawk video games to MTV documentaries, so it’s practically a landmark of pop culture, and it should be on your list of top places to visit in Tampa.
There are rails, ramps and jump points for both amateur and professional skaters. There are seats and snacks for spectators.
You can bring your own equipment or rent something from the on-site shop; they try to make it easy for people of all skill levels to enjoy themselves.
The Skatepark of Tampa also hosts a number of skating events if you’re more into cheering than doing your own ollies and kickflips.
For example, it’s home to the annual Tampa Pro and Tampa Am competitions, and it organizes fundraising activities like Boards for Bros if you want to contribute to a good cause while you’re in Florida.
Don’t be afraid of falling on your face at the Skatepark of Tampa.
The whole point of skating is to move in ways that you can’t on two stationary feet.
Gather your courage, call up the Skatepark of Tampa and ask about arranging a visit. Do it tonight. Do it now!
Address: 4215 E Columbus Dr, Tampa, FL 33605, USA
23. Tampa Riverwalk
Say goodbye to Tampa with a journey down the Tampa Riverwalk.
As your Florida vacation comes to an end, you can drink in the sights, sounds and smells of the area one last time before you hop on a plane and head back home.
What is the Tampa Riverwalk?
Simply put, it’s a pedestrian trail that stretches for almost three miles near and through the Hillsborough River of Tampa.
Some people walk it; some people bike or bus alongside it; some people set up their easels on it.
With scenic views near the river, it’s a great place for sightseeing.
It’s also a nice gateway for the attractions of Tampa.
It passes everything from the Rivergate Tower to the Tampa Museum of Art, so if you missed anything on your Tampa bucket list, you can cross it off before you go.
Florida is a beautiful destination, and the Tampa Riverwalk will allow you to soak it all in as a final farewell.
It’s always hard to end a vacation, especially when you’re enjoying somewhere as fun as Tampa, but it has to be done.
Kiss it all goodbye with the Tampa Riverwalk.
Start Planning Your Trip To Tampa
If you’re wondering what to do in Tampa, Florida, these are just a few of our best suggestions.
The perfect itinerary will depend on the specifics of your trip.
Maybe you’re looking for an intimate honeymoon; maybe you want something wild for a bachelor party or spring break adventure.
The great thing about Tampa is that you can find fun activities for every kind of visit, so rest assured that it’s one of the best places to travel in the US!