Tampa Bay Travel Guides
Super useful & totally free travel guides, written by locals who love Tampa
- ✨ Things to Do
- 🗺️ Where to Stay
- 🛎️ Hotels
- 🍽️ Restaurants
- 🚗 Day Trips
- 🏘️ Neighborhoods
- 🍸 Bars
- 🏖️ Beaches
- 🏞️ Parks
- 🗓️ Best Time to Visit
- 🚌 Getting Around
- 👉 Tips
- 🧳 What to Pack
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
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.
🛎️ Best Hotels
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.
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.
🚗 Day Trips
- 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.
- 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 walking distance to the waterfront. Home to many unique restaurants.
🏘️ Read the full list of best neighborhoods in Tampa.
- 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.
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.
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
- State – Florida
- Country – United 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 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.
📰 Florida Travel Guides
While Tampa Bay is an excellent travel destination, the Sunshine State has many other travel-worthy cities! Check out our other Florida Travel Guides and start planning your next trip:
- Where to Stay in Cocoa Beach (Best Places & Areas in 2023)
- 23 Best Things to Do in Cocoa Beach (in 2023)
- 17 Best Tampa Bay Beaches for 2023 (By a Local)
- 17 Best Parks in Tampa in 2023 (A Local’s Guide)
- 29 Best Tampa Restaurants in 2023 (Where to Eat, By a Local)
- 41 Best Things to Do in Tampa in 2023 (By a Local)
- Best Time to Visit Tampa in 2023 (By a Local)
- 17 Best Tampa Neighborhoods in 2023 (By a Local)
- Where to Stay in Tampa (Best Places By a Local)
- 17 Best Day Trips from Tampa in 2023 (By a Local)
- 34 Best Things to Do in Orlando in 2023 (By a Local)
- Kennedy Space Center (Ultimate Visitor’s Guide for 2023)
- 25 Best Orlando Restaurants (Where to Eat, By a Local)
- 21 Best Things to Do in Disney Springs (in 2023)
- Disney World With Toddlers (A Local Mom’s Essential Guide)
- Parking at Disney World | Insider Guide (for 2023)
- Where to Stay at Disney World (Best Places + Local Tips)
- 18 Best Walt Disney World Hotels in 2023 (By a Local)
- 13 Best Beaches in Fort Lauderdale (By a Local)
- 23 Best South Florida Beaches for 2023 (By a Local)
- The Best Time to Visit Orlando? When to Go, By a Local
- 15 Epic Day Trips from Orlando for 2023 (By a Local!)
- 33 Best Things to Do in Florida in 2023 (By Locals!)
- Where to Stay in Miami (Best Areas & Places for 2023)
- 49 Disney World Tips (An Orlando Local’s Insider Secrets)
- Disney Packing List (25 Things You Might Forget to Bring)
- Disney World on a Budget (How to Play, Stay & Eat Cheaply)
- Is Orlando Safe to Travel in 2023? (A Local’s Perspective)
- Animal Kingdom Itinerary (The Perfect One Day Planner)
- Hollywood Studios Itinerary (A Perfect 1 Day Touring Plan)
- Epcot Itinerary (A Local’s Perfect 1 Day Touring Planner)
- Magic Kingdom Itinerary (A Perfect 1 Day Touring Planner)
- Disney World Itinerary (6 Days Planned By an Orlando Local)
- 24 Free Things to Do in Orlando (By a Local)
- 47 Best Things to Do in Miami, Florida (in 2023)
- 22 Best Fort Lauderdale Boat Tours (By a Local Captain)
- 21 Things to Do In Orlando for Kids (By a Local Mom)
- Best Time to Visit Disney World (By an Orlando Local)
- The Best Time to Visit Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 2023
- 25 Things to Do in Central Florida (A Local’s Picks)
- 33 Best Places to Visit in Florida in 2023 (By Locals)
- 15 Fun Day Trips from Miami to Take Now
- Orlando on a Budget – How to Eat, Stay, & Do It Cheaply
- 23 Best Beaches in Florida for 2023 (Picked By Locals)
- 21 Fun Things to Do in Jupiter, FL (in 2023)
- 27 Fun Things to Do in South Florida (By a Local)
- Where to Stay in Fort Lauderdale in 2023 (By a Local!)
- Where To Stay in Orlando, By an Area Local 
- 33 Best Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale in 2023 (By a Local)
- 15 Epic Day Trips from Fort Lauderdale (By a Local)