So you landed in Tampa Bay, Florida, decided to stay for the weekend and are ready to explore the city, see the sights, and experience the everyday life of a real Floridian.
The only problem is: Where do you start?
There are many fun things to do in Florida, and Tampa qualifies for that. But with only a three-day weekend to work with, your time is limited, making it very hard to explore the area.
This state is known for its beaches, natural springs, cuisine, and other fun activities that will take more than half the day. They’re even a ton of romantic things to do in Tampa if that’s what you’re looking for.
No matter the occasion, this article will help plan your entire Tampa weekend. This article has all the inside knowledge about the latest trends and best spots to visit during your stay.
Keep reading on, and we’ll help you find the best things to do in Tampa Bay for the weekend.
Different Parts of Tampa
For any newcomers to Florida, you can explore several neighborhoods around Downtown Tampa which are family-friendly and explore the nightlife.
Driving around the Tampa Bay area, you could find several nightlife activities and events around Ybor city, St. Pete, Hyde Park Village, Channelside, and other parts of Hillsborough County.
Locales like Sarasota and Clearwater are ideal places to plan a beach day and relax under the sun, just as long as you don’t mind driving an hour.
If you enjoy shopping, check out Westshore and the International mall with exclusive shops and restaurants to eat and drink. There are also some Premium Outlet malls on the outskirts of the interstate heading towards Orlando for more options.
Most neighborhoods in Tampa are full of fun things to do, given the right time and preparation. When you decide to come and visit, check out the upcoming events happening around the different parts of Tampa and find one that interests you.
Before booking a flight to Tampa, there are some cool facts and information worth knowing about this city.
One of the city’s most promising features is the Hillsborough River. It is a long river that stretches for 60 miles across several counties and is home to numerous wildlife habitats and nature trails. The best way to experience this grand river is by walking on the Tampa Riverwalk and getting a nice view of the Tampa Bayshore.
Another Tampa Bay area that holds a rich background resides in Ybor City. Nowadays, the locals know this area for its incredible nightlife, but during the daytime, the streets and trolleys have traces of a small community and Tampa’s largest Cuban cigar factory.
If you are interested in learning more about the history of Tampa, make plans to check out the Tampa Bay History Center and see what other events shaped the city today.
COVID-19 Restrictions in Tampa
While it sounds fun to get out of town and visit Tampa for the weekend, the Covid-19 virus is still posing a threat, so be sure you understand the current guidelines for most establishments.
The restaurants in Tampa are slowly reopening with new expansions for outdoor and patio dining. There’s more room to enjoy your craft beer or margarita while also being at a safe distance from other customers.
Many of Tampa’s best attractions like Busch Gardens Tampa, the Florida Aquarium, and MOSI are up-to-date with preventative measures to protect guests against covid. These policies include hand-sanitation stations, social distancing within long lines, staff PPE, and capacity restrictions.
As the city continues to grow, the residents do their best to follow all the CDC guidelines. Rest assured, your weekend in Tampa Bay will be fun and safe for the whole family.
Thing to Do in Tampa
You won’t be bored or disappointed when searching for fun things to do around Tampa. If you only have the weekend to explore, we highly recommend checking out some of these local hot spots:
- Busch Gardens. Tampa’s world-renowned theme park has many roller coasters, animal attractions, and live entertainment shows.
- Lowry Park ZooTampa. The park has over 1,300 exotic animals to see with live educational shows and the rehabilitation center for manatees.
- MOSI. This museum of science is the second-largest in the Southeastern United States, with over 405 hands-on activities devoted to science and technology.
- Tampa Museum of Art. A state-of-the-art museum with an assortment of exhibits focused on antiquities and contemporary art.
- Big Cat Rescue. Popularized by Netflix’s “Tiger King,” this animal sanctuary houses more than 100 rescued wild cats.
- Adventure Island. Right across from Busch Gardens is one of Tampa’s best water parks with a wave pool and a lazy river for tubing.
- The Stratz Center for the Performing Arts. A performing arts complex near the banks of the Hillsborough River with local and scheduled events per season.
- Glazer Children’s Museum. A science center designed for children and toddlers to interact with fun and educational exhibits.
- The Florida Aquarium. Experience 20,000 different types of aquatic animals through fun exhibits and adventure zones.
- Amalie Arena. This megadome arena is home to the Tampa Bay Lightning and supports big-game events and concerts throughout the year.
Shopping in Tampa
If you are looking to do some shopping around the Tampa Bay area, you won’t have any trouble finding them. We’re not talking about the “Buy my house Florida” mindset. This is a different kind of shopping experience.
If you are coming in from the Tampa International airport, the International Plaza on Westshore is just a 10-minute drive. This 2-story shopping center offers more than 200 specialty stores. There are also 30 different types of eateries and bars around the area after all that shopping.
Hyde Park Village is south of downtown Tampa, and many visitors recognize it as one of the best shopping destinations. This shopping district is 265,000 square feet and contains seven blocks of independent shops and restaurants. The open-air environment shaded by trees also gives the area a natural aesthetic.
The Tampa Premium Outlets are another place for shoppers with a Key West ambiance and over 100 different retailers. The best part of all: each store has huge saving discounts ranging from 25-65% with quality items.
Partying in Tampa
Whether the day or night, Tampa can throw some of the craziest parties around, depending on where you go. If you’re in the mood to let loose and have fun, keep these events in mind:
- Ybor City. This historical district becomes the party town once the sun goes down. If you’re into clubs, live music, lounges, and breweries, check out the nightlife at Ybor.
- Gasparilla. This pirate fest happens every year near the end of January with a friendly parade evasion throughout Tampa. The day consists of yacht parties, pirate cosplay, and free necklace beads.
- The Florida Fairgrounds. Plan your trip accordingly to check out this massive land that regularly hosts state fairs, music festivals, and other big-time events.
- State Parks. Tampa holds many beaches and recreational parks perfect for outdoor activities like kayaking, jet ski rentals, nature trails, and barbeques.
- St. Petersburg. If you have explored all that Tampa Bay offers, check out the neighboring St. Pete for more nightclubs and wild activities.
Coffee Shops in Tampa
If you need a day to relax, compose yourself, and have some coffee on the side, Tampa has some of the best coffee shops around.
Buddy Brew Coffee can be found on Kennedy Boulevard and has some of the freshest coffee beans. The interior design mimics a brewery, and the baristas are dedicated to their craft to produce creative in-house blends. Caffeine Roasters is another good coffee shop on this same street and makes the best lattes imaginable.
Foundation Coffee Co. is in the heart of Ybor City and provides delicious coffee and outdoor seating for its customers. The area is quiet and offers a break away from all the noise. If you stop by this little cafe, try their signature Honey Rose Latte.
The Blind Tiger Cafe has delicious pastries that go well with its high-quality coffee. Their pies are well-known to keep you asking for more alongside their rich iced coffee.
Lastly, the Felicitous Coffee and Tea House delivers a fresh brew inside a 60s-style hippie-chic atmosphere. The Belgian waffles are to die for, and this shop is one of the few places with authentic vegan choices.
Best Lunchtime Spots in Tampa
When talking about diverse food and luxury, Tampa knows how to feed its customers with style. If you’re looking for a place to eat, we have some of the best spots you don’t want to miss.
The Heights Public Market at Armature Works serves tasty food and has a nice scenic view of the Hillsborough River. The seating is very communal with its giant food hall with numerous stalls and bars open at your leisure.
The Sunday Delicatessen in Ybor City is a small mom n’ pop shop great for breakfast and lunch plans. Their sandwich selection is diverse and is delivered in large portions to feed many people.
Datz in South Tampa is a trendy gastropub with a chill atmosphere and crazy lunch items. No one else is serving A-grade quality meatloaf with stuffed mac n’ cheese or pouring jalapeno-maple syrup over a plate of chicken and waffles. You can come by for brunch hours and visit the sister store, Dough, afterward for some sweets and coffee.
Mel’s Hot Dogs has been in Tampa since the 70s and still serves some of the best hot dogs in the area. After a day in Busch Gardens, take a quick detour to Mel’s and try some well-roasted dogs served on a sesame seed bun.
Doc B’s Fresh Kitchen is located inside the International Plaza and is the ideal place for lunch after shopping. With a fine selection of wine and craft beers, the ingredients are fresh and organic, which makes the steaks and seafood platters delicious.
Tampa is a thriving city that provides the best quality in food, entertainment, and atmosphere. If you’re thinking about coming down to Tampa for the weekend, preparation and planning is one less thing to worry about.