This is what you can do in Tampa Bay 2018
Make 2018 the year you discover Florida’s most diverse destination with fantastic food, superb shopping & amazing adventures for the entire family.
Florida is divers, and Tampa Bay itself is no different. Discover what’s special about Tampa – from its historic charm, out-of-the-ordinary modes of transportation, to the spectacular art, food and craft beer vibe.
Treat your taste buds to Tampa Bay flavors
Tampa Bay has gained the reputation as a foodie favourite. And new in 2018, food halls will bring a dynamic vibe to historic Tampa Heights. Visitors can taster mouth-watering fare at Hall on Franklin or Armature Works, both iconic buildings reborn as stylish, modern eateries. Favorite eateries that fuse their menus with local flavor are Ulele, Oxford Exchange, and the Columbia (Florida’s oldest restaurant).
Did someone say ‘dessert?’
Find the best 2018 spots that specialise in delicacies! Ybor City, land of hand-rolled cigars, now has Snobachi hand-rolled ice cream. Then for true decadence, reserve a table at Bern’s Steak House’s opulent Harry Waugh Dessert Room, a landmark of fine dining for 60 years. And order the macadamia nut ice cream! For an after-dinner espresso, try local coffee houses such as Foundation Coffee or Kôfē at the Hall on Franklin. They’ll also be ready for you in the morning.
Florida’s top spot for a craft beer, whiskey or specialty cocktails
In Florida’s hub for craft brewing, great drinks are part of life like sunshine and hand-rolled cigars. Find your favorite at nationally known Cigar City Brewing Co., Coppertail, or Angry Chair. Or let Brew Bus do the driving on a beer-tasting tour across the region. Or discover Tampa Bay’s cocktail culture by sampling iconic spots like Hotel Bar, Franklin Manor, and Ciro’s Speakeasy (be sure to call ahead for the password). New in 2018, a joint project by Hyde Park’s Irish 31 and Florida Cane Distillery have produced Florida’s first craft whiskey derived from Florida-grown sugar cane. Mingle with the locals in the intimate confines of Ybor City’s Cigar City Cider & Mead where the menu of small-batch specialties changes regularly.
It’s a pirate’s life for us!
Discover Tampa Bay’s link to piracy and the high seas at the Tampa Bay History Center’s new in 2018 permanent exhibit highlighting the lives and times of privateers, conquistadors, and treasure seekers in Florida. Explore a replica pirate ship and learn about life below decks in the 18th Century. The museum’s new in 2018 cartographic center will be the first of its kind in the Southeast U.S. Dress the part of a scurvy scalawag each January, when legendary pirate José Gaspar sails into Tampa Bay with cannons blazing. Join Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla for the country’s third-largest parade down scenic Bayshore Boulevard. The invasion kicks off Gasparilla Season: 8 weeks of parades, festivals, and sports events.
Like gems on a string
Day or night, the 2.4-mile (4km) Tampa Riverwalk is the perfect, pedestrian-friendly way to move among downtown’s popular hotels, restaurants, museums, and festival parks. Keep a close watch on the water for surprise appearances by dolphins and manatees breaking the surface! New in 2018 floating docks will give boaters, kayakers, and paddleboards access to the Riverwalk’s treasures from the water. After dark, the Riverwalk becomes a canvas for shifting colors of light, joining downtown’s bridges and the Tampa Museum of Art in the nightly display.
Save on fun with CityPASS
For less than half the normal cost of a ticket, CityPASS gets you into some of Tampa Bay’s most popular attractions. Dive like a falcon and feel the Cobra’s Curse at Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay. Experience the NEW in 2018 4-D theater and splash pad at The Florida Aquarium. Meet manatees and at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, named the best zoo in the U.S. by Parents magazine. Build robots or get plenty of hands-on learning at MOSI, the Museum of Science and Industry. Florida’s only CityPASS costs $106 for adults, $96 for children 3-9 years of age — a 51% saving compared to buying all the tickets at full price.
Paddle your way to adventure
Where the river meets the bay, downtown abounds in ways to get out on the water. New in 2018, rent a ride from Urban Kai Stand Up Paddleboards and explore the waterfront in a whole new way. Pirate Water Taxi stops at downtown’s popular spots on its daily runs up and down the Hillsborough River. See the city from a new angle when you rent a water bike, biyak or e-boat for a self-guided and self-propelled trip on the sparkling waterfront. Or go wild and let Canoe Escape guide you among lush cypress forests filled with wildlife minutes from downtown’s towers.
Comfort, luxury away from home
Tampa Bay’s hotels have something for everyone. New in 2018, European visitors will find a familiar name — AC Hotel by Marriott — in the heart of the swanky West Shore District. Visitors get new experiences at downtown’s Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina, new in 2018 pool bars at Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk and Hilton Tampa Downtown, reinvented rooms at Embassy Suites Tampa Downtown and the Barrymore Hotel, and a new name for the waterfront Westin Tampa Waterside (formerly Westin Harbour Island). Stylish, food-themed Epicurean Hotel ranks among Conde Nast Traveler’s 2017 Readers’ Choice Top Hotels in Florida. On the horizon | New hotels breaking ground in 2018 include a dual-flagged Hampton Inn-Home 2 Suites in the Channel District steps from Port Tampa Bay’s Cruise Terminal 5, and a 519-room JW Marriott in the heart of the convention district.
Shop for that vacation keepsake
Retail therapy comes in all forms in Tampa Bay. New in 2018, the Unlock Tampa Bay Visitors Center puts hundreds of uniquely Tampa Bay items at your fingertips in the heart of downtown. Luxury brands abound at open-air Hyde Park Village, newly expanded for 2018 in fashionable Hyde Park. At International Plaza, Bay Street’s collection of restaurants is the perfect spot for a break while shopping at more than 200 high-end stores. Looking for something crafty or unique? A multitude of weekend markets make Tampa Bay a shopping centerpiece.
Cruise to Cuba & the Caribbean
New in 2018, the charm of Old Havana lies within easy reach of Port Tampa Bay aboard Royal Caribbean or Carnival ships. Before you leave, visit Cuban soil here in Tampa Bay with a stop at historic Ybor City’s José Martí Park, owned by the Cuban people in honor of the Apostle of Freedom. Port Tampa Bay hosts four cruise lines: Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian America and Holland America. They make Tampa Bay the ideal point of departure to explore the western Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. Add a day to your stay to enjoy the destination Porthole magazine named its Best Kept Secret.
+ Tampa Itinerary
- Outdoor Enthusiast
- Paddle through a 16,000-acre nature preserve with Canoe Escape where you'll spot alligators, turtles and many birds of prey.
- Ride a hot air balloon and discover Tampa Bay's landscapes, wildlife, and waterfront from a new perspective.
- Charter an electric boat through eBoats Tampa and watch the sunset from the Hillsborough River.
- Count the alligators that sunbathe atop floating logs as you paddle down the Hillsborough River with Canoe Escape.
- Go bird watching at Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay's 35-acre nature preserve.
- Big Cat Rescue provides sanctuary to nearly 150 exotic cats, including leopards, lynx, jaguars, lions, tigers and the only three white servals in the world. You can even spend the night in one of the cabins.
- At Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, one of the top amusement parks in the country, take a wild safari on the Serengeti Plain where you'll have giraffes eating out of the palm of your hand, and see eland, ostriches and zebras.
- Start your day with a run or walk along scenic Bayshore Boulevard, the world's longest continuous sidewalk at 4.5 miles.
- If you'd rather walk, the Tampa Riverwalk provides easy access to many downtown attractions, as well as scenic views of Tampa's Hillsborough River.
- Discover world-renowned Greek and Roman Classical antiquities, modern and contemporary paintings and photography at the Tampa Museum of Art.
- Enjoy the Florida sunshine and live music during the lunch hour in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, an eight acre park overlooking the Hillsborough River.
- The Tampa Police Museum along Franklin Street Mall is a quick diversion.
- Unlock the Tampa Bay History Center for great insight into the area's past.
- Explore the largest and fastest roller coasters in the Southeast at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.
- When the sun goes down, Ybor City comes alive as partiers converge on the lively Historic Latin Quarter in search of a good time. Club-hop down Seventh Avenue, stopping in at Green Iguana and discover why Ybor City earned the name, "Nightlife Capital of Florida's West Coast."
- The Tampa Museum of Art's permanent collection comprises Greek and Roman classical antiquities and modern and contemporary art.
- Uncover a mix of historic and contemporary works at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts.
- Bern's Fine Wine's & Spirits for a wine tasting - then buy what you like.
- David A Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts brings opera, cabaret, plays, dance, music, alternative theater and an outstanding Broadway Series to Tampa Bay.
- Celebrate heritage Latin-style at Fiesta Day in Ybor City in February or Gasparilla Festival of the Arts in March.
- Hyde Park Village offers high-end retailers and boutique shopping in a quaint and historical neighborhood.
- Explore the boutiques in Palma Ceia, one of Tampa's most charming neighborhoods. The antique red brick roads shaded by enormous oaks make this the perfect place to shop!
- Sports Fanatic
- Hit one straight down the middle at one of Tampa Bay's nearly three dozen public, semi-private and private golf courses, or take a lesson at Saddlebrook Resort's Golf Training Center.
- If you're looking for a great hockey game, the Tampa Bay Lightning can be found at downtown Tampa's Amalie Arena October through April.
- See Tampa's arena football team, the Tampa Bay Storm, play at the Amalie Arena March through July.
- September through December, dress in red and pewter before you head to Tampa Bay's Raymond James Stadium to discover the hard-hitting football action of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Or take a stadium tour for an up-close look at the field, locker room, a private suite and Buccaneer Cove.
- Watch America's most-beloved baseball team the legendary New York Yankees prepare for the upcoming season at their Spring Training home, Tampa Bay's George M. Steinbrenner Field. The boys of summer from five other major league teams (including Tampa Bay's own Rays) warm up here each February and March.
- The Major League Baseball Tampa Bay Rays load the bases at St. Petersburg's Tropicana Field April through September.
- From December through May, uncover top thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs, the only racetrack of its kind on Florida's West Coast.
Check out our calendar of events for the latest sports happenings in and around Tampa Bay.
- Start off your morning with the traditional local breakfast of café con leche and Cuban toast at La Tropicana in Ybor City. The best time to catch the local flavor is between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m.
- Stop in at Centro Ybor's Visitor Information Center that doubles as a cigar museum. Pick up a handy map to get the lay of the land of Tampa's National Historic Landmark District Ybor City.
- The Ybor City State Museum focuses on the heritage of Ybor City and the people who settled here. Saturday morning tours start at 10:30 a.m. and include the museum and casitas.
- Stroll Seventh Avenue (La Setima) to take in the wrought iron balconies, old time globe street lamps, historic markers and specialty shops.
- Lunch at one of the many local eateries like the Columbia Restaurant, open since 1905 and considered the oldest restaurant in Florida.
- Take the TECO Line Streetcar System from Ybor City to downtown Tampa. The streetcars are replicas of the system the ran throughout Tampa in the early 1900s.
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Tracy Burrows160 Posts
If there is one thing that I have learnt, it is the more I see, the more there is to see! My name is Tracy Burrows and I am the managing editor of Out There Global, a community driven travel platform for both cost effective and luxury travel ideas around the world. From Jan 2014 - Dec 2016 I managed the LatestSightings.com blog (a United Nations World Summit Award Winner: Culture & Tourism 2016 & National Geographic partner). I was also consulting editor at MOZambique Magazine, and contributor at Sawubona. Prior to my career I obtained a tourism marketing degree, and graduated from a 2 year 'Hospitality Management in Development Program' in California. Following this I acquired a journalism diploma and since it's been all about travel and writing! And my nourishment from all those who have impacted me: family; friends; and strangers alike. Thank you for joining our journey!