I’m a Tampa local and I’m here to help you decide where to stay in Tampa.
In this guide, I’ll break down the best places to stay in Tampa, and then we’ll cover the best Tampa neighborhoods and areas for your stay.
There are many amazing people, places, and events that bring visitors to Tampa, Florida every year. No matter the reason for your visit, this list will break down the best places to stay in Tampa!
Table of Contents
- Best Places to Stay in Tampa
- 8 Best Neighborhoods & Areas to Stay in Tampa
- Tips for Staying in Tampa
- FAQs About Where to Stay in Tampa
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Best Places to Stay in Tampa
Just looking for a quick answer on the best places to stay in Tampa? Here are my top picks:
- 🌟 Best Overall Hotel – Hotel Haya
- 💎 Best Luxury Hotel – Le Méridien Tampa
- 👪 Best for Families – Hampton Inn & Suites Tampa North
- 💻 Best for Business – Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel
- 🏨 Best Boutique – Epicurean Hotel
- ✈️ Best Near the Airport – AC Hotel by Marriott Tampa Airport
- 🛏️ Best Budget – Hotel South Tampa & Suites
Ok, let’s do a deep dive into the best areas and neighborhoods in Tampa:
8 Best Neighborhoods & Areas to Stay in Tampa
Tampa is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. There are so many great places to see and different areas of Tampa to consider!
Below I cover the 8 best neighborhoods and areas to stay in while you are staying in Tampa. You can find recommended hotels for every budget category listed for each place, as well as a mini guide to help you explore that neighborhood!
Downtown Tampa is located in southern Tampa and overlooks the Hillsborough River. It is a great area to stay in for first-time visitors looking for a luxury experience. Downtown Tampa offers many attractions for both solo travelers and families.
During your stay, you will be within walking distance of many scenic attractions. Some of these attractions include the Tampa Bay Harbor and Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. They are both perfect photo opportunities!
For a unique Tampa experience, check out the Tampa Threatre or Straz Center for Performing Arts. The Tampa Convention Center is also located in Downtown Tampa.
Pros of Staying in Downtown Tampa:
- Walkable and pedestrian-friendly
- Walking distance to multiple museums and some of the best parks in Tampa
- Rich with unique architecture and buildings
- Home to many top Tampa attractions
Con of Staying in Downtown Tampa:
- Hotels can be more expensive
- The downtown area of the city can be noisy at night
📚 Downtown Tampa Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for a Luxury Stay
- ✨ Best Hotels – Le Méridien Tampa • Tampa Marriott • Hyatt Place Tampa Downtown
- 🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Downtown Tampa
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – Malio’s ($$$$), Urban Cantina ($$), The Hungry Greek ($)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – The Pint and Brew, Hotel Bar, GenX Tavern
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – The Tampa Theatre, Glazer Children’s Museum, Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park
Channelside, or The Channel District, is located next to Downtown Tampa. Channelside overlooks the Hillsborough River. This area of Tampa is especially suited for groups wanting to spend a large portion of their time outdoors.
The Tampa RiverWalk runs throughout Channelside. It provides a convenient walkway to popular attractions like the Heights Public Market at Armature Works.
Other popular Channelside attractions include the Florida Aquarium and Sparkman’s Wharf. Or sit at the Tampa Bay harbor area and wave at cruise ships as they leave port!
If you want a beautiful photo of you in front of the Tampa skyline, I recommend using the River Walk to walk to Julian B. Lane park. Enjoy a picnic in a grassy field as you look at boats passing by on the water.
Pros of Staying in Channelside:
- Beautiful views of the Hillsborough River
- Easy walk to many waterside attractions via Tampa RiverWalk
- Easy access to Downtown and Hyde Park
Con of Staying in Channelside:
- Many Channelside attractions can be very crowded, especially on weekends
- Shade can be hard to come by when walking along the River Walk
📚 Channelside Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for a Waterfront View
- ✨ Best Hotels – Home2 Suites by Hilton • JW Marriott Tampa • Hampton Inn Tampa
- 🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Channelside
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – Ulele ($$$), Heights Public Market ($$), Rocca ($$)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – Pour House at Grand Central, Four Green Fields
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – Armature Works, Florida Aquarium, Sparkman Wharf
Ybor City is one of the historical and cultural cornerstones of Tampa. Ybor City is often referred to as The Cigar Capital of the World. This is a great historic neighborhood to stay in for anyone looking to learn about the history of Tampa… and eat the best Cuban Sandwich of your life!
Ybor is most well-known for its Columbian eateries, like Columbia Restaurant. It is also known for its nightlife culture.
Spend your mornings learning more about Tampa at attractions like the Ybor City State Museum and Ybor City Cigar Museum. Then in the evening, experience the nightlife at the many bars that line 7th Avenue.
Pros of Staying in Ybor City:
- Rich with history and art
- Many nearby bars and restaurants are open late
- Very active nightlife scene
Con of Staying in Ybor City:
- Very urban area, with not many waterfront views or greenery
- Ybor can be very noisy in the evenings due to the nightlife
📚 Ybor City Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for History and Culture Lovers
- ✨ Best Hotels – Hotel Haya • Hilton Garden Inn Ybor • Hampton Inn & Suites Ybor City
- 🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Ybor City
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – Columbia Restaurant ($$$), La Segunda Central Bakery ($), The Bricks ($$)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – Showbar Ybor, Reservoir Bar, Crowbar
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – Ybor City Cigar Museum, Centro Ybor Shopping Center, Tabanero Cigars
South Tampa encompasses the southern part of Tampa. South Tampa is unique because it has the feel of a quaint neighborhood, with the bars and restaurants of a major city. This is a great area of Tampa to stay in for groups looking to shop, dine, and drink at local Tampa gems.
Two of the must-see attractions in South Tampa are Bayshore Boulevard and Hyde Park Village. Bayshore Boulevard is a beautiful sidewalk that wraps around the western side of Hillsborough Bay.
Hyde Park Village is a cluster of shops, bars, and restaurants that will keep you entertained for the entire day. Surrounded by cobblestone streets, it’s easy to feel like you are in a movie when in Hyde Park.
South Tampa is also home to Davis Island. Spend the day at Ben T Davis beach or swimming at the Roy Jenkins outdoor swimming pool.
Pros of Staying in South Tampa:
- Very walkable area with scenic views
- Home to many of the best Tampa restaurants and bars
- Dog-friendly part of town
Con of Staying in South Tampa:
- Hotels are scarce and expensive
- Many restaurants in South Tampa have excessive wait times
📚 South Tampa Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Nightlife
- ✨ Best Hotels – Epicurean Hotel • Hotel Alba Tampa • Hotel South Tampa & Suites
- 🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in South Tampa
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – On Swann ($$$), Bern’s Steak House ($$$$), Water + Flour ($$)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – Wine & Wood, Pups Pub Tampa, Hooch & Hive
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – Hyde Park Village, CineBistro Hyde Park, Davis Island
Westshore is located a couple of miles from the Tampa International Airport. Westshore is the best area to stay in for business travelers since Westshore is considered Tampa’s business district.
In addition to the Tampa airport, Westshore is next to the Westshore Plaza and the International Plaza and Bay Street. Bay Street is a lively alleyway filled with bars and restaurants. It is the perfect place to relax and grab a bite to eat after a fun day of shopping inside the mall.
Pros of Staying in Westshore:
- Very close to the Tampa International Airport
- Access to two popular shopping malls
- Many hotels
Con of Staying in Westshore:
- Not a walkable area of town
- Not many unique Tampa attractions in Westshore
📚 Westshore Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Business Travelers
- ✨ Best Hotels – Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel • AC Hotel by Marriott Tampa Airport • Courtyard Tampa Westshore
- 🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Westshore
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – Riveters Tampa ($$), J. Alexander’s Restaurant ($$$), Ocean Prime ($$$$)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – 10&10 Enoteca, Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – Westshore Plaza, International Plaza, and Bay Street
Seminole Heights is often considered the ‘trendy’ and ‘up-and-coming’ part of Tampa. If you are looking for a place to stay in Tampa that will make you feel like a local, I would suggest staying in the Seminole Heights neighborhood.
Dine at many of the unique Tampa establishments such as the Front Porch Bar & Grill which is run from inside a Victorian house with a wraparound porch. For a unique experience, you can also stay at Gram’s Place – Tampa’s only hostel!
Seminole Heights is also home to ZooTampa at Lowry Park which is a great day adventure for both children and adults. Feed giraffes or play in the splash zone while relaxing in the Florida sunshine.
Pros of Staying in Seminole Heights:
- Many murals and street art
- Trendy restaurants and entertainment
- Great part of town for craft beer lovers
Con of Staying in Seminole Heights:
- The area can feel very residential
- You’ll need a car to get around
- Not many hotel options
📚 Seminole Heights Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Trendy Restaurants and Bars
- ✨ Best Hotels – The Hip Hop Hotels • Comfort Suites Tampa Fairgrounds • Gram’s Place Bed & Hostel
- 🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Seminole Heights
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – Rooster & the Till ($$$), Trip’s Diner ($), Front Porch and Bart’s Tavern ($$)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – Independent Bar and Cafe, Mandarin Heights, Southern Brewing & Winery
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – ZooTampa at Lowry Park, Phoenix Studio & Gott Glass Gallery
East Hillsborough refers to the eastern side of the city of Tampa. East Hillsborough contains attractions that will provide you with thrilling experiences! The Seminole Hard Rock Casino & Hotel and the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheater are both located here.
Tampa is a well-visited location for artists on tour. There is a good chance that your favorite band or artist will play in Tampa on their next tour. See a concert or stay at the Hard Rock Casino for an eventful evening!
If you want to get in touch with nature, visit the Hillsborough River State Park. This state park offers many things to do like hiking, canoeing, and camping.
Pros of Staying in East Hillsborough:
- Great area to see concerts
- Affordable hotel options
- Home to a 4,000-acre state park
Con of Staying in East Hillsborough:
- Aside from large venues like the amphitheater and casino, there aren’t too many attractions
- You’ll need a car to get around
- You’ll have to drive on the highway to get around East Hillsborough
📚 East Hillsborough Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Concerts or Casinos
- ✨ Best Hotels – Seminole Hard Rock Hotel • TownePlace Suites by Marriott • Holiday Inn Express & Suites
- 🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in East Hillsborough
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – Pool Bar & Grill ($$$), 301 Family Restaurant ($), Edna’s Soul Food Grille ($)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – Aubi & Ramsa, Eastside Lounge
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre, Hillsborough River State Park
North Tampa is a great neighborhood to stay in for solo travelers or families looking to visit major tourist attractions like Adventure Island or Busch Gardens. The University of South Florida is also located in North Tampa.
In addition to theme parks, North Tampa also has other notable attractions like the Museum of Science and Industry and the USF Contemporary Art Museum. The South Florida Botanical Gardens are also located near the South Florida Campus.
If you are looking to ride a roller coaster and expand your scientific knowledge, North Tampa might be the best neighborhood in Tampa for your stay!
Pros of Staying in North Tampa:
- Very close to big attractions like Busch Gardens
- Many affordable hotel options
Con of Staying in North Tampa:
- You’ll need a rental car to get around this area
- Can feel touristy
- It’s not centrally located to other Tampa neighborhoods
📚 North Tampa Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Adventure Seekers
- ✨ Best Hotels – Hampton Inn & Suites Tampa North • Hyatt Place Tampa Busch Gardens • SpringHill Suites Tampa North
- 🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in North Tampa
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – Shawarma Asham ($), Fork It Up 813 ($$), Khan Murjan ($$)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – Yuengling Brewing Company, Paddy Wagon Irish Pub
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – Busch Gardens, Adventure Island, South Florida Botanical Gardens
Tips for Staying in Tampa
Prepare for the Weather When Packing for Tampa
While Florida is known for its sunshine, Tampa’s weather can change on a dime. Pack sunscreen to protect your skin from the direct sunlight you’ll experience. But, Tampa is also susceptible to many afternoon rainstorms so make sure to bring a raincoat or umbrella.
For more, see my guide to the best time of year to visit Tampa.
Create a List of Things You Want to Do in Tampa
It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of attractions that Tampa has to offer. Do some research and create a list of things you want to do when you’re in town.
Be aware of your itinerary before deciding where to stay in Tampa. If you want to try fun restaurants and bars, consider staying in Seminole Heights or South Tampa. If you want to spend your trip at theme parks like Busch Gardens, stay in North Tampa.
Want to explore some other areas near Tampa when you’re here? Check out my list of best day trips from Tampa Bay.
Leave Room for Adjustment When Planning Your Tampa Itinerary
Creating an itinerary before your trip will allow you to maximize the number of things you’ll be able to do.
Leave some room for flexibility in your plan, though. Unexpected events like a thunderstorm might mean you have to change your plan for that day!
Plan the Mode of Transportation you will use
Ensure you plan your transportation. Do you plan to rent a car? Or just get around by carshare services like Lyft or Uber? Understanding your mode of transportation can influence where to stay in Tampa.
If you aren’t going to rent a car, I suggest staying in one of the walkable Tampa neighborhoods like Channelside.
Make Reservations Ahead of Time
Ensure you are making reservations for any restaurants or attractions that might sell out. Famous restaurants like Bern’s Steakhouse tend to book out months in advance.
Check out this Tampa Bay CityPASS that bundles together entry tickets for multiple must-see Tampa destinations.
FAQs About Where to Stay in Tampa
What is the best area of Tampa to stay in?
Downtown Tampa is the best area of Tampa for first-time visitors. The downtown area offers many waterfront views and attractions that are unique to Tampa.
Should I stay in Downtown Tampa?
Is Downtown Tampa walkable?
Downtown Tampa is considered a walkable area of Tampa. There are many hotels, restaurants, and attractions within walking distance.
Where is the Tampa airport located?
Making the right decision on where to stay in Tampa can greatly improve the quality of your trip! Thanks for reading along as I went over the different areas and neighborhoods of Tampa.
Planning more Florida trips? Check out Katie’s guide to where to stay in Orlando.
(Featured Image Credit: Wangkun Jia / Shutterstock)
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