The Tampa Bay area averages over 300 days of sunshine per year, but that leaves 65 days of rainy weather. When rainy days do occur, they tend to be torrential (due to the tropical climate) and cause massive gridlock on the city's roads. Therefore, the best plan for a moist day is to visit attractions that cover as many of your needs as possible without having to travel.
A great rainy morning starts at the Museum of Science and Industry, across the street from the University of South Florida on Fowler Avenue. There are enough exhibits here to interest every member of the family. Some of the more popular exhibits visit the museum on a rotating basis. For example, MOSI recently hosted an exhibition of mummies and related artifacts. The permanent exhibits focus on basic scientific principles, like electricity and physics, as well as our local weather. The weather section actually includes a wind tunnel that lets you feel what it's like to stand in a hurricane.
Kids aren't the only ones who have fun at MOSI — Photo courtesy of Museum of Science & Industry
Once you've gone through the exhibits themselves, perhaps stopping off at the children's play area if you have some youngsters with you, it's worth taking in a film at the museum's IMAX dome theatre, the only one of its kind in the world. This is the greatest feeling of being surrounded by a movie that you will ever experience. The program for the theatre is made up mostly of child-friendly documentaries, but they will also occasionally show the hot Hollywood blockbuster, so check their website or the newspaper.
Malls are a popular rainy day solution no matter what city you're in. The best mall in Tampa is International Plaza, which houses Tampa's only Apple Store, Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton, and other high-end retailers on two floors of consumer goodness. Before you get your shop on, you might want to have lunch. IP has over 20 eateries between the mall itself and its adjacent Bay Street outdoor market (don't worry, it's still covered to keep you dry). Favorites like the California Pizza Kitchen and the Cheesecake Factory are included.
It's possible to spend more than just a rainy afternoon at International Plaza — Photo courtesy of International Plaza and Bay Street
Once you've shopped 'till you drop, it's time for dinner. The mall also has the Capital Grille, one of the best steakhouses in Tampa. You get the feeling that a lot of wheeling and dealing goes on at these tables, so much so that the restaurant is decorated with political artifacts from state and national figures. The Grille also prides itself on its seafood selections and inventive drink menu. Dessert is also not to be missed.