The Tampa Bay Area offers several attractions that provide entertainment for both residents and tourists. These attractions can be experienced with friends, family, or a date since they all offer unforgettable experiences. The attractions range from nature parks and beaches to museums and theme parks, but all provide entertainment for guests of all ages.
1) Florida Botanical Gardens
Florida Botanical Gardens is where one can learn about Florida’s native plants and wildlife by viewing it in person. It contains over 30 acres of beautiful gardens and over 90 acres of Florida natural areas. The gardens include an herb garden, a tropical fruit garden, and a butterfly garden. In Florida’s natural areas, guests can view native Florida plants while walking a small trail. In the natural areas, it is possible to see turtles, fish, alligators, and many different types of birds. Guests can also bring a picnic lunch in to enjoy at the picnic tables in Florida’s fresh air. Florida Botanical Gardens is located in Largo, Florida and is opened every day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. all year. Admission is free.
The Florida Botanical Gardens
2) Heritage Village
Heritage Village is a 21-acre living museum that contains 28 historic structures, including a school, church, and a sponge warehouse. The village also offers living-history demonstrations, like palm frond weaving, rope making, blacksmithing, and pioneer cooking. A native plant trail shows dozens of plants used by early inhabitants of Florida. There is also an exhibit that focuses on artifacts from coastal living and offers a hands-on area for children. Heritage Village is located in Largo, Florida and is opened every day. Hours: Wednesday — Saturday hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. while Sunday is 1 to 4 p.m. Admission is free.
3) Clearwater Beach
Clearwater Beach is one of the top beaches in Florida and in the Nation due to its white sandy beaches. Clearwater Beach is a beautiful beach adorned with numerous restaurants, shops, and bars. Besides swimming in the gulf, one can go fishing, parasailing, jet skiing, snorkeling, kayaking, and sailing. The artificial offshore reefs provide beautiful scenery and fish that only scuba divers can experience. There are also nearby wildlife sanctuaries that offer hiking trails, canoeing trails, and bird watching for those wishing to experience nature. Clearwater Beach also offers a ferry service that provides transportation to Caladesi Island, another one of the top beaches in the USA. Clearwater beach also contains Pier 60, a boardwalk that features crafters, street performers, and musical entertainment every night at sunset.
4) Ybor City
Ybor City was founded by Vicente Martinez-Ybor as a cigar manufacturing center in the late 1800s. Once known as the cigar capital of the world, today it is one of only two National Historic Landmark Districts in Florida. During the day, one can visit the Ybor City Museum and learn about the cigar industry, the various immigrant ethnic groups, and the founders of Ybor City. Several tours of the city are offered daily, including a ghost tour at night. There is also a range of restaurants that feature Spanish, French, Italian, and Cuban food. One famous restaurant is the Colombia, which was founded in 1905 and is a nationally acclaimed restaurant. At night, there is a movie theater, a comedy club, an arcade, and a range of nightclubs and bars that one can enjoy. Ybor City is located in Tampa.
Ybor City Museum
5) Fort Desoto Park
Fort Desoto is a park named after the famous Spanish explorer Hernando Desoto who landed in the Tampa Bay Area in 1539. Fort Desoto Park consists of 1,136 acres made up of five interconnect islands; a total of over seven miles of beach. There is a boat launch, camping sites, picnic shelters, playgrounds, fishing piers, a concession/souvenir shop, hiking trails, and a dog park. Guests can also rent kayaks and bikes. The park also offers ferry transportation to Egmont Key for $20. The Quartermaster Museum offers visitors information on the Tocobaga Indians, the early Spanish explorers, and the Spanish-American War. Fort Desoto has a historic fort in which guests can explore in a self-guided historical trail. Fort Desoto is located in St. Petersburg and is open all year round.
6) Egmont Key State Park
Egmont Key is an island only accessible by boat; several local businesses provide transportation, including Fort Desoto. Egmont Key has an eventful history that includes serving as a camp for captured Seminole Indians and later as a camp for the Union Navy during the Civil War. Egmont Key also contains a lighthouse that was built in 1858 and Fort Dade, a fort built in 1898 for the Spanish-American War. Guests can still view historic ruins. Egmont Key offers its guests swimming, shelling, and fishing along its beautiful beach while serving as the location of a harbor pilot station. Egmont Key State Park is located in St. Petersburg and is open all year round from 8 a.m. to sundown.
Egmont Key State Park
7) The Pier
The Pier provides food, shopping, fishing, and all sorts of fun in downtown St. Petersburg. The small shops sell tropical outfits, hats, wine, candy, and numerous other special souvenirs. There are also several waterfront restaurants offering tasty food that can only be found in Florida. There is a Croatian Native Art Gallery, Crystal Mirage Gallery, and a Candle Gallery; all these galleries offer rare items for sell. The Pier also offers a small aquarium in which children can learn about and touch small sea creatures. Visitors can also rent fishing poles and fish off the pier during the day or night while feeding pelicans. The pier offers a 90-minute boat ride where passengers can look for dolphins. Visitors can also choose to rent boats. The pier is open every day, though the hours vary depending on the day.
St. Pete Pier
8) Tampa Bay Historic Center
The Tampa Bay Historic Center is located in downtown Tampa. It is a museum that contains artifacts from the Florida Native Americans and early European settlers to the Civil War and Cigar Factories in Ybor City. One interactive exhibit allows guest to take a virtual tour of landmarks and to view historic photographs of these landmarks. The Columbia Café, affiliated with the famous Columbia restaurant based in Ybor City, offers favorite Cuban dishes. The Tampa Bay Historic Center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for children and students with ID.
Tampa Bay Historic Center
9) Florida Holocaust Museum
The Florida Holocaust Museum is one of the largest holocaust museums in the United States and is located in downtown St. Petersburg. The museum was developed to educate its guests on the Holocaust in order to prevent it from occurring again. The History, Heritage, and Hope exhibit shows the history of the Holocaust through photographs, text, and artifacts. One of the most distinguished artifacts is an original boxcar that was used to transport the Holocaust victims to the concentration camps. Traveling exhibits about the Holocaust and other genocide events frequent the museum throughout the year. The museum is opened daily (except on holidays) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult tickets are $14 and students with ID is $8-$10.
Florida Holocaust Museum
10) Clearwater Marine Aquarium
The Clearwater Marine Aquarium specializes in rescue, rehabilitation, and release of sick or injured marine animals. The aquarium is also home to the famous dolphin named Winter. Winter is a rescued dolphin that lost her tail due to injuries but is able to swim due to a prosthetic tail. Besides Winter, other dolphins, river otters, sea turtles, fish, and sharks live at the aquarium. Several injured animals, mostly sea turtles, spend time at the aquarium until they are fully recovered from their injuries. The aquarium also includes dolphin presentations, stingray feeding, and a touch tank. The aquarium is opened Monday to Thursday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday to Saturday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Adult ticket prices are $14.95 and children are $9.95. Clearwater Marine Aquarium