Tampa Bay Vacation Guide
Welcome to Tampa Bay and the Florida Sun Coast! With pristine beaches, luxurious resorts, world-class golf courses, amusement parks, water parks, fine dining, museums, and aquariums in historic settings, Tampa Bay is the destination of choice for a Summer vacation.
Amusement Parks, Water Parks, and Museums
Theme parks are always on everyone’s list for vacation fun. Busch Gardens offers a 200-foot high roller coaster, professional stage shows, an unprecedented African wild animal experience, rides for younger family members, and a wide array of restaurants. Right next door is Adventure Island, a 30-acre extravaganza of water slides, wave pools, and a more leisurely tube ride down a man-made river that is the perfect way for the family to spend a hot summer day. Children love dinosaurs, space, and fun science exhibits and Tampa Bay has just the place. Right around the corner (literally) is MOSI, Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry (nominated for Nickelodeon’s 2010 Parents Pick Awards) which offers over 450 exhibits, a planetarium, and a 10,500 square-foot screen IMAX Dome theatre. Fun and education make MOSI a must-see attraction.
Aquariums and Ocean Wild Life
What would a trip to Florida be without sea creatures? Head down to the Florida Aquarium located in Tampa’s trendy Channelside district and ranked in the top 5 “Kid-Friendly Aquariums” by Parents Magazine. Kids age six and up can experience a coral reef in “Swim With the Fishes” by donning scuba gear and getting in the water with 2,300 aquatic animals in the ½ million gallons Corral Reef Exhibit. Not enough excitement?
Try “Dive with the Sharks” for those 15 years and up SCUBA certified and get in the 93,000 gallon Shark Bay with live sharks and sea turtles from around the world. Want to experience Florida wildlife in their natural habitat? Hop aboard the Bay Spirit II, the aquariums 72-foot catamaran, and view the wild dolphins, manatees, and numerous species of wild birds that live in Tampa Bay.
Dining and Historic Districts
One of only two National Historic Landmark Districts in Florida, Ybor City Tampa’s historic home of the cigar industry is a treasure trove of dining, shopping, and entertainment. Visit the Columbia House, started in 1905 and still in the Gonzmart family for the finest of Spanish cuisine from one of only 50 restaurants deemed an All-American Icon by Nation’s Restaurant News. Ybor City also offers 45 plus clubs and restaurants which offer a wide variety of cuisines from around the world. Visitors to this historic district also like to take in the many music venues, coffee bars, and eclectic shops that make Ybor City a local favorite destination.
Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks
From here it’s a short trip (37 miles from Ybor City) over to Tarpon Springs, one of Florida’s most unique communities. Tarpon Springs is known throughout the world for its high-quality sponges which flourish in local waters. Greek immigrants began to arrive in the 1880s to harvest these sponges and built a rich and vibrant community. With its rich Greek heritage, Tarpon Springs offers nationally recognized restaurants, Greek bakeries, natural sponges, a ‘sponge’ museum, aquarium, and shops featuring local and international products. Greek cuisine, shopping, sponges and several buildings listed on the National List of Historic Places make Tarpon Springs one of Tampa Bay’s favorite vacation spots.
Resort Hotels and Full-Service Spas
A short drive down the coast (35 miles from Tarpon Springs) is the Don Cesar, world-renowned ‘Pink Lady’ resort. Built by Thomas Roew, a real estate developer this Moorish and Mediterranean style gem first opened in 1928 and was heralded as the most beautiful hotel in Florida. After 80+ years and numerous owners, including a stint as a home of convalescence for World War II soldiers, the Don Cesar has been refurbished and returned to its imminent position as a world-class resort. Boasting 277 rooms, 2 beachfront pools, 24-hour room service, a full-service spa, casual and fine dining (in the ‘casual’ Florida style) the Don Cesar is truly a world-class destination.
Tampa Bay Golf Courses
Tampa Bay area offers hundreds of courses ranging in difficulty from novice to championship level. Several courses offer fantastic ocean vistas while others are cut from native wetlands and cypress forests. Entire vacations are planned around the many golf courses, their related resorts, and the many amenities they have to offer.
Infinite Recreation and Vacation Opportunities
This short article did not even scratch the surface of the myriad attractions available in Tampa Bay. With professional sports, dog and horse racing, unparalleled shopping opportunities, museums, aquariums, world-class dining, starred resorts, and pristine beaches Tampa Bay is the destination of choice for discerning travelers.