If you’re making the trip to Tampa for the RNC Convention, you are in for a treat! Tampa is a young, vibrant and ever improving city with a lot to offer our visitors. Here are the Tampa Florida Attractions you don’t want to miss.
Tampa History Center – If you make your first stop the Tampa History Center you’ll have a better appreciation for everything else during your trip. Like our historical connection with Cuba, Spain and the Cigar industry, the fact that the Convention Center sits on the site of Ft. Brooke all the way up to today’s stats on population and our local commerce. Luckily, the History Center is located right on the Riverwalk between the Tampa Forum and the Convention Center itself.
Ybor City – Tampa’s Latin Quarter is where the City’s heart beats the loudest. Stroll down La Septima (7thAvenue) and see dozens of bars and restaurants, many with a Cuban twist. Cigar smoking is encouraged in Ybor and you can watch traditional cigar rolling demonstration in several cigar shops. The things you absolutely MUST do in Ybor City are: Have a Cuban Sandwich and Café con Leche, visit the Columbia Restaurant, tour the Ybor City Museum.
Riverwalk – You won’t be able to avoid seeing the Riverwalk during your convention trip. Riverwalk is a path that runs from Chanelside and the Tampa History Center along the Garrison Channel to the Convention Center. You’ll see Harbor Island just across the water with boat docks on either side. Riverwalk is also where you start some of the more interesting tours of the Tampa area: Check out the NoShooz catamaran docked right by the Convention Center. This is run by Tampa Sailing Tours and is a great way to see Tampa from the water. Also look for the City Bike booth underneath the bridge over to Harbor Island for bicycle rentals and tours.
Florida Aquarium – The Florida Aquarium, known locally as the Tampa Aquarium, gives you the same introduction to the waterways of Tampa that History Center gives to the people of the area. Starting at the bottom floor you’ll find yourself at the sea floor exhibits. Then, as you move upwards through the building you move upward through the seas and rivers as well. At the top you’ll find lagoons and pools where you can pet local Rays (not the baseball players)
SOHO – Tampa’s version of Soho stands for South Howard Avenue. It’s a strip of the hottest restaurants and bars in the city and it’s only 2 miles from downtown Tampa. The most notable eating establishment in SOHO is the famous Bern’s Steakhouse. Bern’s is an institution here in Tampa and nationally known for its beef as well as the best wine cellar in the South. If you make it to Bern’s don’t skip the desert room!
Curtis Hixon Park is an open area across the River from the University of Tampa that provides the space for many public events in Tampa, such as the Gasparilla Art Festival and our St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. It’s bounded on the North by the Tampa Museum of Art and the Glazer Children’s Museum and on the South by the new Florida Museum of Photographic Arts. All 3 of the Museums are small enough to enjoy in an afternoon or evening and full of enough inspiration and artwork to make the trip worthwhile.
Hyde Park Village - Tampa’s Hyde Park is a small, affluent shopping and restaurant district just a few miles from the Convention Center. It’s a great place to grab dinner, shop at Lulumon or Restoration Hardware and see a movie. The perfect spot for a casual evening while you’re in town.
University of Tampa - this private university is the architectural and historic heart of Tampa. You can’t avoid the beautiful, onion skin towers that look like they’d be more at home in Moscow than Tampa. By day UT houses students from all over the world as well as the HB Plant Museum. Like baseball history? Come see where Babe Ruth signed his first professional contract!
Bayshore Blvd – along Bayshore Blvd is Tampa’s international claim to fame; the longest continuous sidewalk in the world! But the real attraction to Bayshore is that it’s a walkable, ride able ribbon that runs between the waters of Tampa Bay and some of the most beautiful homes in the City. Simply walk across the Hillsborough River on the Platt St. bridge next to the Convention Center and you’ll be on your way. And yes, this photo was taken while walking along Bayshore.
Busch Gardens – this one is a pretty obvious choice for the tourist in you. Busch Gardens is where some of the best roller coasters in the country illicit screams right next to where you can get a jeep tour of our own corner of the Serengeti. Keep in mind if you do go that it’s going to be HOT. Hot and humid are the words for August in Tampa Bay, so if your interest is in the animals of Busch Gardens make sure to go early in the morning or around dusk.