Tampa Florida Attractions
We get people visiting Florida for a variety of reasons; to thaw out from a cold winter in the Northeast or in the UK, to bring the kids to meet the Disney characters, see Harry Potter in person or to hit the beach and relax in the sun, or maybe to launch that Caribbean cruise or to blow off some steam at a famous Spring Break beach. They could even be scouting for that condo in the sunshine where they can retire or just come back to every year.
So why don’t more people think of our Tampa Florida attractions when planning their vacation? Tampa Bay just does not get the same press coverage as a single destination! Let’s compare Orlando, the tourism Mecca, and Tampa Bay.
Orlando is the obvious destination for the Amusement Parks, although calling Disney and Universal properties “amusement parks” is like comparing a dingy to a cruise ship. But Orlando has some of the best in the world. Orlando also has great hotels to fit many budgets and lots of little side activities for you and your family. Orlando International Airport (MCO) also has direct flights from London, Paris and several other major European cities.
So Why is Tampa better?
Amusement Parks - First of all, you get all the advantages of being close to Disney & Company, because they’re only 90 minutes from downtown Tampa. One of the huge issues with staying and playing in the Orlando area is traffic..it could take you 90 minutes just to get down International Drive if there’s a convention in town…and there is always a convention in Orlando. Secondly, Busch Gardens in Tampa has some of the best roller coasters in the country, an amazing opportunity to interact with African wildlife and some of the best kid-friendly rides and activities available. You can spend a day at Busch Gardens and see and do it all. It also will not take you 15 minutes to get from the parking lot to the entertainment area, and is less than 20 minutes to get there from Tampa Airport hotels. Spend one day at Busch Gardens, then the next day head right across the street to Adventure Island Water Park and enjoy a HUGE wave pool and water slides that will leave a permanent grin on your face. There’s so much to do! The Florida Aquarium, Glazer Children’s Museum and Eco-Tour wildlife encounters you’ll never forget.
Beaches: The only beaches you’ll find in the Orlando area are ones created by the amusement parks. The Tampa Bay area has beaches that are continually rated as the BEST IN THE COUNTRY. Clearwater Beach, Fort DeSoto Park Beach, Siesta Key Beach are just a few that have made recent top 10 lists. Clearwater Beach gets thumbs up on most Spring Break beach reviews and Clearwater Beach restaurants are some of the coolest in the area. Local favorites are Indian Rocks Beach and the small town, Key West feel of Gulfport.
Nightlife: Tampa Bay is definitely where the party is. There’s something about Tampa’s Latin heritage and is diverse population that makes the clubs in the Tampa Bay area some of the best in the state. Tampa sees visitors from Miami come up all the time, just to sample the after-hours atmosphere of our own Ybor City. The family friendly after-hours fun happens in Channelside Bay Plaza or in St. Petersburg’s Baywalk, but the real action happens after 10 or 11PM in Ybor City, Tampa’s Soho district or back in Channelside. Tampa’s nightlife features original Rap and Hip Hop, Salsa, Reggae, and Techno. If you don’t feel like dancing, there’s plenty to do in Soho with pool and ping pong in several bars, Channelside’s late night bowling alley and people watching on 7th Avenue in Ybor City.
Walkability – In most of the Orlando hotels, you’re really not close enough to walk to anything, so you’re faced with traffic no matter where you stay. Find a hotel in downtown Tampa right on the water, or even many of the Tampa Airport hotels are convenient enough to shopping and entertainment to make it easy to leave the car and head out on your own.
Cruising – The Port of Tampa is an up and coming cruise ship launching ground. Ships from Carnival, Holland America, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean International leave for all points right from the Channelside District.
Sporting Events – Orlando does have the Magic, but there’s always something happening in Tampa sports. The Tampa Bay Lighting hockey team, Tampa Bay Rays baseball, and the Buc’s football are just the most well know. The Tampa Bay Storm arena football games are exciting (and air conditioned) and our own University of South Florida Bulls football and basketball teams are best in class.
The next time you’re planning that Florida vacation, consider Tampa Florida attractions, beaches and fun, but make sure you pack everything too!