Best Outdoor Activities in Tampa

Tampa's Most Popular Land and Water Outdoor Adventures

Tampa's beautiful weather makes it the perfect place to get outside and enjoy some fresh air and sunshine. Luckily, there is no end to the activities visitors can enjoy, from fishing to biking to kayaking. Not to mention world-class golfing and pristine beaches which are featured in their own top 10 lists! See here for beaches and here for golf courses.

To explore the city there are several memorable urban trails perfect for walking or biking, including the Tampa Riverwalk. This wide, paved pathway takes you on a 2.6 mile waterfront tour past many of the city's top attractions, including shady parks, world-class museums, and upscale dining options. 

You'll find that many of Tampa's outdoor activities center around the city's waterways. Whether you want to be in it, on it, or fishing things out of it, you can easily find what you're looking for. One popular way to get out on the water is paddle-boarding. To set out on your own adventure, visit Urban Kai, a local paddle-board shop that also provides rentals, lessons, and fitness classes.


Tampa's Urban Kai is a stand-up paddleboard store located on the Riverwalk at the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel. In addition to selling paddleboards and gear, they offer rentals, fitness classes, and adventure tours. If you're in town and want to explore the Hillsborough River while getting some amazing exercise, this is the place for you. If you're already experienced, you can rent a board and head out on your own, or you can sign up for classes. Their fitness classes are great for an intense core and upper-body workout as well as for developing balance. You can even join the new trend and try yoga on a paddle board.

Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: Urban Kai provides paddle board rentals, lessons and fitness classes on the calm waters of Tampa's Hillsborough River.

Skye's expert tip: If you're looking for a one-way journey, board rental can include drop-off and pick-up services.

Read more about Urban Kai →

Ballast Point Park and Pier
Photo courtesy of Skye Rodgers

Named for the spot where arriving ships would off-load their ballast to enter the harbor, Ballast Point Park and Pier is located in a quiet neighborhood of South Tampa. It features a wonderful splash park for the kids, a large playground area, shade trees and picnic tables. One of the most impressive features of the park is the view of the downtown skyline and Davis Islands. There is a long pier that juts out into the Bay and a conveniently located bait shop if you wish to try your hand at fishing. Alternatively, you can grab a bite at the Taste of Boston restaurant. The food is good and you can sit outside and enjoy the views. There is also a boat dock and ramp.

Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: A fishing rod, a long pier and an expansive view of the downtown Tampa skyline await visitors to Ballast Point Park.

Skye's expert tip: There is a bait shop that will rent you all the fishing gear you need, but you have to clean your own fish.

Read more about Ballast Point Park and Pier →

Tampa's Pirate Water Taxi travels the city's downtown waterways and offers visitors and residents an easy and convenient way to visit downtown parks, museums, restaurants, and other attractions. The large, comfortable vessels offer seating for up to 46 and have restroom facilities. There is also a limited beverage menu available on-board including beer and wine. There are currently 17 stops and guests can hop on and hop off all day for one low price. Time to navigate between the farthest stops beginning at Rick's on the River and ending at the Columbia Cafe on Garrison Channel is approximately 45 minutes to an hour. Check their website for maps of the stops and a handy guide to the nearby attractions. Tickets can be bought at any stop, just look for their distinctive yellow and black sign on the docks along the route.

Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: The Pirate Water Taxi offers a scenic and convenient way to explore Tampa's downtown attractions - a perfect alternative to walking when it's hot!

Skye's expert tip: If you show your wristband, you can receive discounts at many attractions and restaurants along the route.

Read more about Pirate Water Taxi →

Hillsborough River State Park
Photo courtesy of Skye Rodgers

To see the natural beauty of Florida without having to drive far out of town, Hillsborough River State Park is your best bet. Located upriver from downtown Tampa, in northeastern Hillsborough County, this is one of Florida's oldest and most popular state parks. The list of things to do here is expansive, starting with both full-facility and primitive camping. Canoes and kayaks can be rented to go down the river. In contrast to most segments of the Hillsborough River which are slow moving, the river here has a rare section of fast-moving water with Class II rapids. There are also numerous picnic areas, a public pool, and numerous hiking trails where, if you're lucky, you will be able to spot some native Florida wildlife.

Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: Kayaking, hiking, swimming (pool), and camping, are just a few activities available at Tampa's Hillsborough River State Park.

Skye's expert tip: For fun, take a spin on a rented tandem bike. There is a rental/gift/coffee shop located deep in the park.

Read more about Hillsborough River State Park →

Lettuce Lake Regional Park
Photo courtesy of Skye Rodgers

Lettuce Lake Regional Park is located along the Hillsborough River about half an hour north of downtown Tampa. The river at this point is in its natural state, untouched by houses and development, giving visitors a chance to experience the natural Florida landscape. The park features 240 acres of wooded picnic areas, a playground and a paved path for bikes and joggers complete with a fitness course. A haven for nature lovers and bird watchers, the park features an amazing 3,500-foot boardwalk and observation tower where visitors can view a variety of wildlife. Visit the interpretive center for exhibits on the local birds, vegetation, and animals. Saturdays and Sundays at 8:30 am the park features a free guided nature walk. You can also explore the river by canoe and kayak as the park features a boat launch and rentals.

Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: Lettuce Lake Park features several ways to enjoy Florida's beautiful natural landscape including an extensive boardwalk, observation tower and canoe/kayak rentals.

Skye's expert tip: The cost for park entrance is only $2 per car, but heads up - it is cash only.

Read more about Lettuce Lake Regional Park →


eBoats is an electric boat rental company that operates out of a kiosk on the docks in front of the Tampa Convention Center. Renting one of these charming boats is a wonderful way to explore Tampa's harbor, feast your eyes on some of the largest and most beautiful houses in town, and head up-river to explore the bridges, parks, and landmarks that line its banks. The 21-foot, electric boats are quiet, eco-friendly, covered, and only go about 6 mph. They are safe and easy to operate for almost anyone, but if you have concerns, you can spend a little additional money and get a Captain to do the steering for you.

Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: Get on the water with eBoats and enjoy a leisurely boat ride and private exploration of Tampa's downtown waterways.

Skye's expert tip: Reserve 24 hours in advance to secure your boat as well as to make sure there are staff to assist you onsite.

Read more about eBoats Tampa →

Coast Bike Share provides a convenient and environmentally friendly transit option in Tampa's most popular neighborhoods. With bike hubs located in downtown, Hyde Park, and Ybor City, visitors can grab a bike and explore many of the city's most popular attractions. To get started, simply visit the website, and sign up for membership. Short-term visitors can get a pay-as-you-go hourly membership, while longer-term visitors may wish to select a monthly membership which includes one free hour of riding per day. While you won't win any races, the cruiser style bikes are sturdy, safe, and vandalism resistant.

Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: With conveniently located bike hubs, Coast Bike Share offers a no-hassle way to explore Tampa's most popular neighborhoods.

Skye's expert tip: Download their app on your smartphone for a map of all the bike hubs and how many bikes are currently located at each hub.

Read more about Coast Bike Share →

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 are provided. Reservations are recommended and can be made online or in-person.

Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: Beat the heat and explore Tampa's downtown waterways by taking a ride on a Tampa Bay Water Bike conveniently located next to the Convention Center.

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 →

Bayshore Boulevard
Photo courtesy of Skye Rodgers

Yes, a sidewalk is one of Tampa's best attractions. Running from just north of MacDill Air Force Base to downtown Tampa along Hillsborough Bay, the sidewalk that runs along Bayshore Boulevard is the longest continuous sidewalk in the US. It is also south Tampa's unofficial gym, where at all hours of the day you can find many people walking, jogging, biking, and rollerblading down the nearly flat pavement. With the water on one side and some of Tampa's most expensive real estate on the other, the scenery can't be beaten. It's also the location of our most important celebration, the annual Gasparilla parade in late January.

Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: Walking, jogging or biking down Tampa's famous Bayshore Boulevard is a popular local pastime that affords beautiful views of the bay and downtown.

Skye's expert tip: There is not much shade along the route, so make sure to wear a hat and sunscreen.

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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 2.6 miles long, but there are plenty of spots to stop for a rest or to grab a drink and quick bite along the way.

Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: Perfect for first time visitors, Tampa's downtown Riverwalk winds along the picturesque waterfront linking access to the city's top attractions.

Skye's expert tip: Explore by bike ($5/per hour) with convenient self-serve rentals available at several spots along the Riverwalk.

Read more about Tampa Riverwalk →


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