Tampa Bay Travel Guides

Super useful & totally free travel guides, written by locals who love Tampa

Aerial view of the Bayshore with a waterfront view in Tampa Bay.
An aerial shot of Bayshore. One of the many waterfront views that you can find in Tampa Bay

Why We Love Tampa Bay: Tampa Bay is home to Tampa, St. Pete, and Clearwater. Tampa Bay has something for everyone to enjoy. Come cheer on the three major league sports teams located here: Buccaneers (football), Rays (baseball), and Lightning (hockey). Or enjoy one of the many beaches, state parks, or other waterside attractions on the Bay. 

As some parts of Tampa Bay continue to rapidly develop, many areas continue to have a small-town feel. This combination makes Tampa Bay an excellent travel destination. 

Best of Tampa Bay

Things to Do

Façade and entrance view to the Florida Aquarium in The Channel District
Entrance to the Florida Aquarium located in The Channel District

In Tampa Bay, you can explore waterside attractions like beaches and piers, while still having access to city activities like theme parks and aquariums:

  • Florida Aquarium – An aquarium in Downtown Tampa that is home to over 8,000 animals like seahorses and stingrays.
  • Saint Petersburg Sunken Gardens – A botanical garden that has tropical gardens, waterfalls, and even a flock of flamingos. 
  • Busch Gardens – A theme park with thrilling rollercoasters, animal exhibits, and delicious food options.
  • Fort De Soto Park – A state park that has some of the best beaches and scenic walking & biking trails that Florida has to offer.
  • St. Pete Pier – A family-friendly pier extending over the Tampa Bay and offering green grass, playgrounds, and dining options. 

👉 See the full list of best things to do in Tampa.

🗺️ Where to Stay

For an unforgettable trip, here are my top recommended areas to stay in while visiting Tampa Bay:

  • Downtown Tampa – Downtown Tampa has restaurants, bars, and clubs within walking distance. And, you’re still a short drive from the beach!
  • Hyde Park – A great selection of boutique restaurants and shops. A great place to stay if you’re looking to shop and dine.
  • Downtown St. Pete – “DTSP” has a fun, young energy. It’s filled with quirky shops and has an energetic nightlife scene.

👉 Read the complete guide to where to stay in Tampa.

Skyline view of downtown Tampa, Florida
A view of Downtown Tampa

🛎️ Best Hotels

View at the stunning lobby of Hotel Haya located in Ybor City
The lobby of Hotel Haya in Ybor City

Enhance your trip to Tampa Bay by staying in one of the city’s many luxurious hotels. Here are some of my recommendations: 

  • Hotel Haya – Located in Ybor City. Hotel Haya offers unique rooms and a breathtaking coffee shop and a lobby lounge. 
  • La Meridien – Spend the night in a piece of Tampa history! This hotel was built inside a century-old Historic Federal Courthouse. 
  • Epicurean Hotel – This hotel is located in South Tampa, walking distance from the Amalie Arena and other downtown attractions. 

🍽️ Restaurants

Tampa Bay has countless locally owned restaurants for every type of cuisine. Here are some restaurants that speak to the Tampa Bay food scene:

  • Bern’s Steak House – This steakhouse opened in 1956. It has been serving the best steak money can buy ever since!
  • Columbia Restaurant – This is the oldest continually operated restaurant in Florida. They serve delicious Spanish-Cuban food. 
  • Caretta on the Gulf – Located on Clearwater beach. Sit outside to watch a beautiful Florida sunset while you enjoy your meal. 
  • Rococo Steak – A boutique steakhouse in St. Pete that is located in a former manse. 

🍴 See my full list of the best restaurants in Tampa.

Chips and three kinds of dips at Miguelito's
Chips and dip at Miguelito’s. Another great Tampa Bay eatery

🚗 Day Trips

The greenery landscape of Bok Tower Gardens
Some of the nature you’ll see at Bok Tower Gardens
  • Weeki Wachee Springs State Park – Learn about Florida wildlife, take a boat cruise, and watch a real-life mermaid show. 
  • Bok Tower Gardens – A botanical garden that has over 250 acres of flowers, plants, and foliage. A great place to get lost in nature!
  • Crystal River – Swim with manatees or kayak down the river. This is a great day trip if you want to fish. 
  • Orlando – Home to many great theme parks. Or enjoy a day trip at one of the city’s many other attractions like International Drive. 
  • Rainbow River – This is the perfect day trip for someone looking to relax in nature. Rainbow River has its own natural lazy river!

👉 Read the full list of best day trips from Tampa.

🏘️ Neighborhoods

Night view of downtown St. Petersburg reflected on the water
Downtown St. Petersburg at night
  • Downtown Tampa – Considered Tampa’s main business and financial district. Home to many unique restaurants and bars.
  • The Channel District – Overlooking the Hillsborough River. Many waterside attractions and restaurants.
  • South Tampa – Considered to be one of the trendiest parts of Tampa Bay. There are many locally owned shops and restaurants here.
  • Ybor City – A historical cornerstone of Tampa Bay. It’s also a great place to stay for a lively nightlife scene.
  • Downtown St. Pete – An easy-going section of St. Pete that is within walking distance to the waterfront. Home to many unique restaurants.

🏘️ Read the full list of best neighborhoods in Tampa.

🍸 Bars

Interior view of a vibrant and colorful bar in Tampa
The inside of a bar in Tampa (photo: Viaval Tours / Shutterstock)
  • The Hub Bar – A 1940s vintage bar in the heart of downtown. It has a jukebox! 
  • SpookEasy Lounge – A great bar for someone looking for a non-alcoholic drink. Here you’ll find teas, coffee, and kava!
  • City Side – A LBGT bar and lounge that is known for its karaoke and cabaret shows. 
  • Reservoir Bar – A late-night bar located in Ybor City. Come for the drink deals and stay for the good company you’ll find here.
  • The Dog Bar – My favorite dog bar in Tampa Bay. This bar is designed with your pup in mind – you’ll both have a great time.

🏖️ Beaches

Panoramic view of the sea from the shoreline of Fort De Soto Beach
Fort De Soto Beach on a sunny day

Tampa Bay is known for its beaches. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to visit them all on your trip. Here are my top 5 Tampa Bay beaches:

  • Fort De Soto Beach – This beach is over 3 miles long and has one of the best off-leash dog beaches in the country.
  • Clearwater Beach – Beautiful, white-sand beach that has other available amenities like parasailing and jet-skiing. 
  • Honeymoon Island Beach – Located inside Honeymoon Island State Park, this protected beach is over 4 miles long and has crystal-clear water.
  • St. Petersburg Beach – Watch the sunset over the horizon while sitting with your toes in the sand at this well-loved beach.
  • Pass-a-grille Beach – A quaint beach that is lined with unique shops, galleries, and restaurants. 

🏖️ Read the full list of best beaches in Tampa Bay.

🏞️ Parks

View from the footbridge in the middle of Lettuce Lake Park in the fall.
Lettuce Lake Park in the fall

Escape into nature at some of Tampa Bay’s finest parks: 

  • Julian B Lane Riverfront Park – Playgrounds, basketball courts, dog parks, and more can all be found at this riverfront park.
  • Lettuce Lake Park – Located in North Tampa, this park offers scenic boardwalks and hiking trails circling the lake. 
  • Sawgrass Lake Park – A park located in St. Pete that is known for its wildlife observation. 
  • Vinoy Park – An 11-acre waterfront park in St. Pete. The park has a beautiful view of the Downtown St. Pete skyline.
  • Crest Lake Park – Many fishing and picnic areas in this Clearwater park. Plus, they have a 3-acre dog park!

🏞️ Read the full list of best parks in Tampa.

Tampa Bay Travel Advice

🗓️ Best Time to Visit

Since Tampa Bay doesn’t have drastic season changes, trips here are viable all year round. Here’s my insight:

  • 🍂 Fall – Fall is the best time to visit Tampa Bay! You still get the Florida sunshine, but the temperature starts to cool down and the air becomes less muggy.
  • ❄️ Winter – Tampa Bay winters are beautiful. There are many festive activities during this time and the weather is cool, but not freezing.
  • 🌼 Spring – Spring break trips to Tampa Bay are common for a reason! It’s perfect beach weather and it’s less crowded than it will be in the summer.
  • 🌞 Summer – A trip to Tampa Bay in the summer is sure to be overcrowded. It’s great beach weather, but make sure you’re okay sharing that beach with many other visitors! 

👉 See my full guide to the best time to visit Tampa.

🚌 Getting Around

Tampa Bay has many options for getting around the area. Read below so you can maximize your exploring when you’re here:

  • 🚶‍♀️ Walking – Tampa Bay has a walkability score of 50. Walkers should stay in Downtown Tampa or Downtown St. Pete.
  • 🚗 Driving – A car will be necessary to drive to the different neighborhoods of Tampa Bay.
  • 🚇 Public Transit – Tampa Bay has a bus system that will take you to commonly visited areas of the city.
  • 📲 Ride Share – Uber and Lyft are both prevalent in Tampa Bay. 
  • 🚴‍♀️ Biking – Some areas are biker friendly. Bikers should stay in South Tampa and more residential areas.
  • 🛴 Scooters – Bird, Lime, Spin, and HOPR Bike all have available e-scooters.

👉 Tips & Things to Know

  • 🌧️ – Afternoon Rainstorms Are Common – If you are on an afternoon adventure, don’t let an approaching storm cloud discourage you. Afternoon rainstorms are common but usually pass quickly.
  • 👚 – Wear Lightweight Layers – I recommend wearing lightweight layers. You will want to have clothes that can keep you cool in the heat, but also have something to layer on when you go indoors.
  • 🐕 – Tampa Bay is Very Dog Friendly – Reconsider letting your neighbor watch your dog while you visit Tampa Bay! There are many dog-friendly areas, like South Tampa and Downtown St. Pete.
  • 💧 – Stay Hydrated – It’s crucial to drink lots of water when you’re spending time in Florida’s humidity and heat. Bring a reusable water bottle, too!
  • 💳 – Make sure you bring a card to pay with – An increasing number of restaurants and shops in Tampa Bay are becoming cashless. Make sure you have a card to make purchases with.

🧳 What to Pack

  • 🦟 – Bug Spray – Bug Spray is essential, especially in the summertime. Bugs and mosquitos can be a huge nuisance so avoid the issue by using bug spray.
  • ☀️ – Sunscreen & Aloe Vera – Sunscreen is critical to use in order to protect your skin from UV radiation. Aloe Vera can be used in the event of a sunburn. It will help ease discomfort from the burn.
  • 👟 – Walking Shoes – Many of Tampa Bay’s attractions are designed for walking and exploring. Ensure you bring comfortable shoes you can walk around in.
  • 🩱 – Bathing Suit – Tampa Bay has some of the best beaches you’ll visit. Bring a bathing suit and get ready to soak in the Florida sunshine.
  • 🕶️ – Sunglasses – Tampa Bay is sunny! The sun is always bright and shining. Bring sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun.

🤓 Tampa Facts & Info

  • Census Population (2020) – 390,000 (Tampa – city), 3.22 million (metro area)
  • Time Zone – Eastern Time (UTC -5 / UTC -4 during daylight savings)
  • Area Codes – 813, 727
  • Airports – Tampa International Airport (TPA)
  • Nickname – The Big Guava
  • Demonym – Tampan, Tampanian, Tampeño
  • StateFlorida
  • CountryUnited States of America

💵 Costs & Budgeting

  • 3 Star Hotel Room – $100-$200/night
  • 1 Bedroom Apartment Rental – $100-$300/night
  • Rental Car – $75+/day
  • Public Transit Ticket – ~$6 day-pass 
  • Ride Share from Downtown to Airport – $25-$40
  • Take Out Meal for Two – $30-$50
  • Sit Down Dinner for Two – $50-$200
  • Draft Beer – $6-$12

FAQs About Visiting Tampa Bay

Is Tampa Bay safe for tourists?

Tampa Bay is a safe area for tourists. Tampa Bay’s crime rate is lower than the national average. Take sensible safety precautions and always trust your gut.

What is Tampa Bay best known for?

Tampa Bay is well-known for its wide variety of sports teams and waterside attractions. Tampa Bay is home to three major league sporting teams: the Buccaneers (football), Rays (baseball), and Lightning (hockey). Tampa Bay is also known for the many beaches that are located on the Bay and Gulf Coast.

What is the best month to visit Tampa Bay?

The best time to visit Tampa Bay is between September and December. When September approaches and Tampa Bay enters the fall season, the weather begins to cool down and the air becomes less humid. There are many festive activities to celebrate the holiday season.

Is there a difference between Tampa and Tampa Bay?

‘Tampa Bay’ refers to Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and the surrounding counties. ‘Tampa’ refers to the city of Tampa, which is the largest of the three major cities that comprise Tampa Bay. They are often used interchangeably to refer to the city of Tampa.

Is Tampa Bay walkable?

Tampa Bay has many walkable areas and neighborhoods. The more metropolitan areas, such as Downtown Tampa and Downtown St. Pete, are pedestrian-friendly. 

Does Tampa Bay have good nightlife?

Tampa Bay has a very lively nightlife scene. Ybor City, South Tampa, and Downtown St. Pete are three great areas to have a night out on the town.

Meet Our Tampa Travel Expert

Marina Martinelli

Marina Martinelli is a freelance writer and traveler based out of Tampa, FL. When she’s not writing, she’s on a quest to find the best hiking trails and dog beaches that the world has to offer. You can learn more about Marina on her website, The Caffeinated Keyboard.

👉 Read Marina’s Articles

📰 Tampa Bay Travel Guides

Check out our other Tampa Bay Travel Guides and start planning your next trip:

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