Lots of fun in the sun, but you might learn something too!

Scott Sterling

By , Local Expert, Tampa
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Most people who visit Tampa Bay on vacation are looking for the nearest beach as soon as they step off the plane. Granted, the beaches are consistently ranked as some of the best in the nation, and there's nothing wrong with a little R & R. But here's a tip: it gets hot here in the summer. 75% of the year is beautiful, which is why we've included some world-class outdoor attractions on this list, such as Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and the Lowry Park Zoo. We even have the nation's longest continuous sidewalk in Bayshore Boulevard, an exercise haven that doesn't require a membership. But we know our summer visitors would like some...  Read more »

  • 1

    Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

    Local Expert Tip: "Try to avoid visiting Busch Gardens on summer afternoons. If there is lightning detected within a certain distance of the park, the rides are shut down (even if it's not currently raining at the park)."

  • 2

    Florida Aquarium

    Local Expert Tip: "Make sure the kids bring their swimsuits and a change of clothes. The splash pad located toward the rear of the building is guaranteed to get their energy out."

  • 3

    Museum of Science & Industry

    Local Expert Tip: "The IMAX dome theater sometimes shows Hollywood action movies in addition to the usual documentaries. Check the newspaper to see if the latest blockbuster is playing there. You haven't been to a theater like this before."

  • 4

    Lowry Park Zoo

    • Type: Zoos
    • Neighborhood: Lowry Park

    Local Expert Tip: "Going in the morning is a good idea, especially in the summer. Not only do you avoid some of the heat, but the animals tend to be a little more lively."

  • 5

    Salvador Dali Museum

    Local Expert Tip: "The museum is best experienced on a tour with a docent, simply because most of his work is so "out there" that it helps to have someone give some of the back story."

  • 6

    Glazer Children's Museum

    Local Expert Tip: "If you think you might visit more than once, a membership may be worth the expense. Kids don't get tired of coming here multiple times and it's a great excursion for them."

  • 7

    Tampa Bay History Center

    Local Expert Tip: "If you can't make the authentic Columbia restaurant in Ybor City during your stay, the Columbia runs a cafe in the History Center that serves much of the same food."

  • 8

    Bayshore Boulevard

    Local Expert Tip: "A pit stop about halfway down the boulevard, in the restaurants on either Bay to Bay or Howard is more than acceptable. A person needs to refuel when tackling the nation's longest sidewalk, right?"

  • 9

    Tampa Museum of Art

    Local Expert Tip: "The museum's cafe, Sono, can be accessed through an entrance that is admission-free. Overlooking the river, it may have some of the best ambiance of any restaurant in town. And since it's operated by Mise en Place, you know the food will be excellent."

  • 10

    Hillsborough River State Park

    Local Expert Tip: "During the winter, it's not unheard of for our famous manatees to make their way upriver to the park. Your best bet would be to rent a canoe and go down the river a little bit, away from the picnic areas."



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