Tampa is a city located on the western central coast of Florida. It has made it onto several lists in the US for its vibrancy and outdoor attractions. Tampa is a destination for the whole family. The inviting weather throughout the year is an added bonus. Here is our pick of the top 10 attractions that Tampa has to offer to its visitors.
- Big Cat Rescue
If you are fond of big cats, like leopards, tigers, lions, cougars, ocelots, lynxes, and bobcats, then this is a must visit attraction for you and your family. Big Cat Rescue is an animal sanctuary that was established in 1992 to provide refuge to abandoned big cats. It is spread over 67 acres making it the largest such sanctuary for big cats in the world. Over the years it has provided shelter to scores of abandoned animals. Only guided tours are available with the complex. If you have kids with you, then it is recommended to take the Kids Tour.
- Tampa Theater
Tampa’s only non-profit movie palace is also the first building of the city that offered air-conditioning when it opened in 1926. No wonder that it became a hit with its patrons instantly. Over the years, it has hosted thousands of screenings from different genres. The building is an attraction in itself with a listing in the US National Register of Historic Places. It was built in a Mediterranean Revival style of architecture and is known for its grandeur. Regular screenings are held at this theater even today.
- Tampa Bay History Center
The Tampa Bay History Center is a museum that traces back the history of Florida and the Tampa Bay region for nearly 12,000 years! It was opened in 2009 and presently has an exhibition space of nearly 60,000 square feet spread over 3 floors. From the first native inhabitants and the Spanish conquistadors to the cigar store from the 1920s, the museum will take you through a journey that has shaped Tampa and its surroundings regions. It also has a number of exciting interactive exhibits aimed at kids. The History Center is located on the waterfront at the Channelside District.
- Henry B Plant Museum
The Henry B Plant Museum is located in the south wing of the University of Tampa. It was originally the upscale and grand Tampa Bay Hotel, which opened its doors in 1891. The 511-room property was known for its grand décor and magnificent architecture. However, fortunes declined in the 1930s and Tampa Municipal Museum was founded in that building in the 1940s. The museum was given the present name in 1974 after Henry B Plant, the business magnate who owned the hotel. A visit to the museum will give you a peek not only to its lavishness, but also to the elite lifestyle its patrons used to enjoy.
- Columbia Restaurant
It is not often that a restaurant would make it to the list of top attractions of a major city unless it is extra special — and extra special it is. Columbia Restaurant is the oldest continually running restaurant in the state, the oldest Spanish restaurant in the USA, and one of the largest Spanish restaurants in the world! This American icon was founded in 1905 and has a seating capacity of 1700 spread over 15 dining rooms. It is located on 7th Avenue in the historic Ybor City neighborhood.
- Tampa Museum of Art
The Tampa Museum of Art is art gallery and museum located in downtown Tampa. It exhibits contemporary and modern art along with Etruscan, Roman, and Greek antiquities. The museum was opened in 1979 but the present swanky building came up in 2010. The award winning design of the new building resembles ‘an electronic jewel box sitting on a glass pedestal.’ The museum has hosted several exhibitions and deserves a visit if you are an art lover.
- Florida Aquarium
Florida Aquarium is a popular attraction in Tampa and is located in its downtown neighborhood. It was established in 1995 and presently has around 23,000 square meters of floor area displaying over 20,000 marine animals from all over the world. The Touch Tank and interactive dive experiences are two of its most popular attractions for children and adults alike. Another exciting feature is where it traces the journey of a drop of water from a Florida right up to the Gulf of Mexico!
- Lowry Park Zoo
The Lowry Park Zoo is one of the prominent family attractions in Tampa. Spread over 63 acres, the zoo was voted as the most family-friendly zoo in the US by Parents Magazine in 2009. The original zoo was established in 1957. However, it was given a completely new look with modern facilities after a major restoration in 1988. Presently, the zoo has over 1300 animals including Pygmy hippopotamus, Malayan tiger, African elephant, Florida panther, Indian rhinoceros, Borneo Orangutans, and Komodo dragons, to name just a few.
- Ybor City
Ybor City is the historic Latin quarter of Tampa, located northeast of downtown. It is named after its founder Vincente Martinez-Ybor. Ybor, a cigar baron, moved to this neighborhood in the 1880s, when his workers threatened a strike in his Key West factory. In the years that followed, Ybor transformed the sleepy neighborhood to the cigar capital of the world — producing millions of cigars every year. The cigar industry changed the fortune of Tampa until the introduction of machines in the 1930s. Ybor City has seen a resurgence in its fortunes in the recent years after many of its historic buildings were transformed into clubs and restaurants. Such has been its rising popularity that the American Planning Association ranked 7th Avenue of Ybor City as one the ’10 Great Streets in America.’ Visit the place after sundown to soak in the energy and vibrancy of this historic Latin neighborhood.
- Busch Gardens
Busch Gardens is one of the most prominent attractions for the whole family in Tampa. It is an Africa-themed amusement park spread over 335 acres. It was opened in 1959 and was originally named the ‘Dark Continent’. The park features around 2700 exotic animals in settings of a natural habitat. Other attractions at Busch Gardens include several thrill rides, craft performances, and live music. The roller coasters of the park deserve special mention, especially the Cheetah Hunt – a triple launch roller coaster, and SheiKra – a vertical dive roller coaster. Animal safaris, including the Serengeti Night Safari, are other popular attractions offered in this park.
Originally posted 2017-06-29 13:14:27.