downtown tampa florida

Tampa attractions history

Spanish conquerors discovered the Tampa region in the 1520s. Led by Hernando do Soto, they looked for gold and precious stones as well as a settlement area for permanent Spanish settlements. The search for something of value failed, the indigenous population was wiped out as a result of imported diseases, and the settlement conditions were initially so bad that the region could only be permanently settled at the beginning of the 18th century. Tampa attractions

After Spain ceded Florida to the United States in 1821, all of Florida was secured by fortifications. A fortress was also built in the Tampa area. In January 1849, Tampa, which did not have just 200 inhabitants at that time, received the status of a “village”.

After the discovery of large deposits of phosphate in the region, the connection to the rail network and the development of the port, the city became increasingly important. There was a real surge between 1950 and 1960. During this time, the population rose from around 125,000 to 275,000.

Tampa is the capital of Hillsborough County, university town and a major business center. The inhabitants and their guests are offered a wide range of cultural offers. The region is also blessed with many tourist attractions.

Things to do in Tampa

Tampa’s cruise port

In direct comparison to the three largest cruise ports in the world, Miami, Port Canaveral and Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale), the cruise activities from Tampa seem rather modest. Carnival, Holland America, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean offer 4-, 5-, 7- and 14-day cruises from Tampa with just a few ships. AIDAmar has already visited and in the 2016/17 season Phoenix ‘ Amadea and AIDAvita will also be visiting. With 180 ships, around 813,800 passengers embarked on multi-day cruises in the 2016 financial year.

With the Channelside complex adjoining the cruise terminal, an attractive center with bars, shops, restaurants and event locations for cruise guests and Tampas residents was created.

In contrast to passenger shipping, the freight volume is surprisingly high at 37.5 million tons. Almost a third of all freight to and from Florida goes through Port Tampa.

Sights and attractions in and outside of Tampa

downtown tampa florida

Cruises departing from Florida mostly lead to the attractive destinations of the Caribbean. In view of the many attractions of the Sunshine State, it can be assumed that cruise ship guests arriving from Europe also use their time to discover the greater Tampa area. The beaches, bridges or museums undoubtedly justify a “break” before or after the cruise.

The Florida Aquarium is within sight of the cruise terminal. The modern building is dedicated to the marine world of Florida and the earth. Thematic areas such as “Wetlands Trail” or “Bays and Beaches” , to name just a few, give visitors a vivid understanding of the living spaces.

Next to the aquarium is the Mariners Museum with the American Victory Ship. It is one of four sea-going ships in the United States from World War II. The marine transporter can be viewed in full. The ship starts round trips twice a year.

Downtown Tampa is home to the historic borough of Ybor City. It originated in the 1880s when thousands of immigrants from Cuba, Spain, and Italy moved to Tampa. The development of Ybor City came from the Cuban Vicente Martinez-Ybor, who founded the cigar production together with others in Tampa. The multi-ethnic district has blossomed into a trendy residential and business location. The Cigar Museum and Visitor Center of Ybor City provide information about cigar production in the past. The cruise terminal and the district connect historic tram cars.

The distance between Tampa and Orlando’s amusement parks (Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort or SeaWorld Orlando) is less than 110 kilometers.

In neighboring Saint Petersburg, the fourth largest city in Florida, the Dalí Museum attracts the largest collection of works by the brilliant Spanish artist outside of Europe.

Saint Petersburg skylineDalí Museum in Saint PetersburgDalí Museum in Saint Petersburg

Dalí Museum in Saint Petersburg – The master’s signature cast in concreteDalí Museum in Saint Petersburg – Dalí’s beardDalí Museum in Saint Petersburg – museum shop

Tampa and Sarasota are approximately one hundred kilometers apart. There is the great legacy of circus entrepreneur John Ringling. In 1927, he made the city of Sarasota the winter home of the world-famous circus company. He also created a palatial residential complex. The exquisite exhibitions of the State Art Museum of Florida and the Ringling Circus Museum, as well as the Ringling Historic Asola Theater, are located in and in neighboring buildings.

The Tampa cruise port

The attractive city of Tampa is wrapped around a shiny waterfront, which happens to be Florida’s main port. Great food, sunny weather, great nightlife, and tons of attractions make this city one of the most pleasant in the United States. Whether you’re in Tampa for a day or more, you’ll feel like you’re on vacation before embarking on one of the many western Caribbean cruises that offer all kinds of cruises along the stunning Mexican coast.

How to get to Tampa

Two of the most popular attractions are located directly opposite Terminal 2 (Carnival Cruise Terminal) of Tampa Harbor, the Florida Aquarium and Channelside Bay Plaza, a popular shopping and entertainment complex. Taxis take you to the city center or to the surrounding beaches and sights. However, the more adventurous can use the TECO Line tram, which connects the cruise terminals with Ybor City and the city center and connects to Hartline buses in the city and in the bay. Inexpensive private shuttles run between the cruise terminal and Tampa International Airport (TPA). Make reservations in advance.

Enjoy Cuban flair in Tampa

Cigar lovers shouldn’t miss this place: Ybor City is a historic district in Tampa and is not too far from the city center. The founder was Vincente Martinez-Ybor, a cigar maker. He made sure that thousands of immigrants, mostly from Cuba, settled here and worked for him. Millions of cigars were rolled here every year and exported all over the world. Today the city still has many small cigar shops where visitors can watch the cigars being rolled. There are various small boutiques, restaurants and bars, many of which are Cuban or Latin American. At night, the area turns into a popular place to go out, where the evening can be rounded off excellently.

Busch Gardens theme park

Busch Gardens is one of the most popular theme parks in Tampa. The special thing about this park is the mixture of zoo and amusement park. The motto Africa can be seen throughout the park, for example on a safari tour where visitors can even feed giraffes. There are also numerous roller coasters and African-style river rafting. Fun and adrenaline are guaranteed here. Depending on the ticket, one day’s entry costs around $100.

Clearwater Beach

tampa bay florida

Those looking for a beautiful beach in Tampa need only drive 20 minutes by car. Clearwater Beach in particular is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the USA and has already been placed in the top 10 in various rankings. There is something for everyone on the 4 km long and fine sandy beach. Be it dolphin watching, trying popular seafood restaurants or partying in the beach clubs – the possibilities are many. The beach is very clean and offers umbrellas and cabanas for rent. Clearwater Beach’s unique, charming setting is surrounded by water to the east and west and separated from the mainland by bridges. This gives this place its very special and fascinating flair. Travelers should not miss this dream beach!