Best Attractions near the Cruise Port in Tampa

Tampa's Cruise Port Surrounded by Top Area Attractions

With year-round warm weather and a beautiful location on the Gulf of Mexico, Tampa is a vibrant city with a rich history. If you're in town to catch a cruise, take the opportunity to experience some of Tampa's first-class amenities and attractions. Conveniently located close to downtown and historic Ybor City, the cruise port offers easy access to some of Tampa's most popular attractions - many are even within walking distance. After careful consideration, 10 Best has gathered ten of the best options located near the cruise port.

For amazing convenience, look no further than where you are, the Florida Aquarium is one of Tampa's most popular attractions and is literally surrounded by the cruise port. Extremely kid-friendly, the Aquarium is guaranteed to provide hours of fun for the whole family. If you have enough time, make sure to book a dolphin cruise.

If you like to walk, hook up with the Tampa Riverwalk that begins on the far side of Channelside Bay Plaza next to Cruise Port 1. This beautiful walk offers easy access to all downtown attractions including the Tampa Bay History Center, and if you walk far enough, the ultra-modern Tampa Museum of Art. In between are parks, interpretive displays, and lots of spots to grab a drink and a meal on the scenic waterfront.




Henry B. Plant Museum
Photo courtesy of Skye Rodgers

Built in 1891 by railroad magnate Henry B. Plant, this history museum is located in what was originally the Tampa Bay Hotel, an extravagant resort that drew such guests as Teddy Roosevelt and Babe Ruth. Now home to the University of Tampa, Plant's accomplishment is made all the more amazing when you realize that when it was built, the hotel was surrounded only by swampland. Now exquisitely restored, the hotel's striking minarets architecture, lavish furnishings and vibrant gardens provide a rare glimpse into the early years of Florida tourism. Sure, it makes returning to a modern-day hotel room a bit sad, but this Moorish beauty is a definite must-see.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: A former luxury hotel, the Henry B. Plant Museum showcases Tampa's gilded age and is located just a few minutes drive from the cruise port.

Skye's expert tip: Make sure you take in the beautiful grounds of the former hotel while you're there.

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Tampa Bay Water Bikes is located on the public docks adjacent to the Convention Center and Sail Pavilion in downtown Tampa. The perfect sightseeing option to get a water view of the city's iconic landmarks, water biking is easy and fun. Also available are BiYaks, or kayaks with pedals. Explore the Hillsborough River, Garrison Channel, and Davis and Harbour Islands. Anyone over the age of 8 is able to operate a water bike making this a great activity for the whole family. Safety gear and instruction is provided. Reservations are recommended and can be made online or in-person.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Explore Tampa's downtown from the water with a water bike rental located within walking distance of the cruise port.

Skye's expert tip: You can even bring your dog! They have dog life-vests available at no extra cost.

Read more about Tampa Bay Water Bike Company →

A highlight of the Tampa art scene, this beloved gallery is one of only a few museums in the US dedicated solely to photography. The museum is located downtown in the architecturally significant Cube, a soaring six-story atrium building. Promoting photographic art as central to our culture, the museum hosts exhibits of both historic and contemporary photography. Visitors to FMoPA are moved, mystified and inspired by the works of nationally and internationally known photographers, brilliantly displayed to emphasize the photographs' relevance to today's culture. The museum also offers gallery talks, "Photography at 5" happy hours, inventive family activities and a myriad of photography classes for all ages.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: The Florida Museum of Photographic Arts is a popular and unique Tampa museum conveniently located close to the cruise port.

Skye's expert tip: Plan ahead if you need parking as it can be limited and expensive in that area.

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More unforgettable experiences in Tampa


Ybor City Museum State Park
Photo courtesy of Skye Rodgers

Built to preserve and celebrate Ybor City's colorful history, this museum is a highlight of any visit to Tampa's national historic district. Once known as the "Cigar Capital of the World," cigars were big business and had an incredible economic impact on the area. Housed in the renovated historic Ferlita Bakery, the museum boasts both temporary and permanent exhibits that illustrate how the immigrant cigar workers and their families lived and worked, creating a unique social life and community institutions. Outside you can explore the peaceful 19th-century-style garden and tour a "casita," representative of a typical cigar worker's home.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Ybor City Museum is dedicated to neighborhood history and Tampa's cigar industry, just a few trolley stops from the cruise port.

Skye's expert tip: A good spot to get an overview of Ybor City before exploring the neighborhood on your own.

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Glazer Children's Museum

Kids have so much fun here that the adults end up accidentally having some as well. If you've never been to a children's museum, it's not like an adult museum. It's loud, rambunctious, and exciting for all kids. There are many hands-on exhibits designed for exploration, such as a kid-sized grocery store, airplane, and cruise ship. In other words, it's the best game of pretend they will ever experience. The best strategy is to let them guide you around the facility. You won't believe what your child will show interest in while they're here! Fun for the whole family, but kids under 11 or so will enjoy it the most.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: The Glazer Children's Museum will keep your kids occupied for days and it's convenient to the cruise port.

Skye's expert tip: During summer break, the museum offers extended hours to 8 pm daily.

Read more about Glazer Children's Museum →

The Tampa Museum of Art is a boldly designed riverfront museum housing six temporary exhibits and an extensive permanent collection of Greek and Roman antiquities and 20th-century sculpture. After browsing the galleries, visitors can wander through the serene riverfront sculpture garden before indulging in cool, creamy gelato at the Riverwalk Cafe. Check out their beautiful museum shop where you can find unique gifts and souvenirs of your visit. The museum is very much a part of the community and offers an extensive program of events from art classes to Buddhist meditation. Every Friday from 4 pm - 10 pm, the Tampa Museum of Art hosts Art on the House featuring pay-as-you-will admission.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Located just a few minutes from the cruise port, the Tampa Museum of Art specializes in showcasing the best of contemporary art.

Skye's expert tip: Check it out at night when the facade lights up with Villareal's Sky Tampa, a 14,000-square-foot LED installation that has become an iconic image for Tampa.

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Tampa Riverwalk
Photo courtesy of Skye Rodgers

The Tampa Riverwalk is a scenic exploration of the downtown waterfront and connects many of the city's most popular attractions, parks, and restaurants. The broad paved path follows the banks of the Hillsborough River and Garrison Channel and is easily accessible to everyone including the disabled, kids, and furry friends. There are also many ways to navigate the Riverwalk which accommodates walkers, joggers, and bikers. A few of the landmarks you will pass include the Heights Public Market, Waterworks Park, Tampa Museum of Art, Curtis Hixon Park, the Convention Center, and the Tampa Bay History Center. Along the way, you can discover numerous interpretive exhibits highlighting Tampa's history and public art exhibits. The path is almost 3 miles long, but there are plenty of spots to stop for a rest and grab a drink or a quick bite along the way.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: The Tampa Riverwalk is a scenic 2.5 mile walk along the downtown waterfront that provides easy access to many top area attractions.

Skye's expert tip: This walkway is the perfect introduction for first time visitors to downtown attractions and activities.

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Tampa Bay History Center
Photo courtesy of Skye Rodgers

The Tampa Bay History Center, a 60,000-square-foot waterfront museum, presents 12,000 years of Tampa Bay history through innovative, interactive exhibits that engage visitors of all ages. Visitors can explore a vast array of Seminole artifacts, learn about the Spanish conquistadors, browse a 1920s-era cigar store, and view over 1,000 Tampa cigar industry-related objects. There is a wonderful museum gift store where you can find unique Tampa souvenirs and if you're hungry, try the onsite Columbia Cafe. Sister to the famous Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City, this version serves many of the same Spanish delicacies.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Located a short walk from the cruise port, the Tampa Bay History Center give visitors an engaging overview of the region's fascinating history.

Skye's expert tip: This popular attraction offers great value for your money and even offers validated parking!

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Conveniently located close to downtown and adjacent to the Florida Aquarium, the American Victory Ship is one of Tampa's hidden gems. One of only four WWII ships that are fully-functioning, the Ship is a memorial to the dedicated men and women of the American Merchant Fleet. Almost all areas of the ship are open to investigation, including the bridge, weaponry, galley and mess halls, crew cabins and Captain's quarters, radio and gyro rooms, and much more. Visitors are given the unique opportunity to experience the living and working conditions of the sailors. Interpretive exhibits fill in the blanks through the display of artifacts, photos, uniforms and medals.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: The American Victory Ship, located next to Tampa's cruise port, provides a rare glimpse into life aboard ship during WWII.

Skye's expert tip: Twice a year, this unique museum leaves dock to take fortunate visitors on their popular Relive History cruises.

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Florida Aquarium

One of the best aquariums in the southeast, this 250,000 square foot attraction explores aquatic environments around the world featuring more than 20,000 plants and animals in both fresh and saltwater environments. Exhibits document the movement of water from wetlands to ocean and include a million-gallon coral reef display that houses over 200 species of fish. Other areas of the aquarium showcase river otters, alligators, and deep sea fish. Kids will love the "touch" experiences where they can get up close with stingrays, horseshoe crabs, urchins, and starfish. Also popular are the twice daily Penguin Meet & Greets featuring African black-footed penguins. A gift shop and restaurant are on the premises.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: The Florida Aquarium is one of Tampa's most popular attractions and is located adjacent to the cruise port.

Skye's expert tip: Make sure the kids bring their swimsuits so they can cool off in the newly renovated splash pad.

Read more about Florida Aquarium →


Meet Skye Rodgers

Skye is a freelance writer that adopted Tampa as her hometown over a decade ago and never looked back. As a native of Canada, Skye has happily embraced the no snow climate, and in her spare time...  More About Skye