The city of Tampa is located on Tampa Bay near the Gulf Coast of Florida. In 2008, Tampa was ranked as the fifth best outdoor city, and in 2009, it was ranked the fifth most popular city where people want to live, according to Pew Research Center. The area has very pleasant weather with hot summers and cool winters. Tampa’s economy centers around tourism, agriculture, health care, finance, technology, and entertainment, and the Port of Tampa is a major employer. The following list of attractions will enable you to get acquainted with your new hometown.
Busch Garden is a theme park that offers much more than thrill rides. It takes you to the wilds of Africa to see the animals and their beautiful habitats. While it has several world-class roller coasters and other rides that will give you an adrenalin rush, Busch Gardens also boasts a wealth of live entertainment and more than 12,000 animals in one of the largest zoos in North America. There are many things to do and see here including watching a cheetah run, petting kangaroos, or taking a safari on the Serengeti Plain. You can take in the sights at Busch Gardens by overhead cable car, a train ride, and zip-lining over the jungle. There are rides that are suitable for thrilling the little ones. You can even watch the animals be fed. The park is open every day of the year except when it’s occasionally closed for upgrades and maintenance.
Tampa Theatre was built in 1926 as one of the most extravagant movie theaters in the U.S. Its famous atmospheric design complete with a lavish interior Mediterranean courtyard that includes gargoyles, statuary, and flowers is a trademark of the architect, John Eberson. The theater also has a realistic night sky that twinkles with stars. It was at the center of Tampa’s cultural life, and today, it is a special landmark for the community. The venue was restored to all of its former glory in the early ’70s and is still an important part of the city’s cultural program. The Tampa Theatre hosts more than 600 events every year that include classical films, concerts, corporate events, special events, educational programs, and tours. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo
Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is one of the most popular zoos in the southeastern U.S. It was started in 1930 as a refuge for Florida’s native species and grew over the next four decades. Today, it is a public/private partnership that is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. It focuses on conservation and environmental matters as a resource for the city as well as educates visitors, conducts research, and provides recreational facilities for the community. Considered a family-friendly zoo, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo encompasses 54 acres in a tropical setting. It participates in managing threatened and endangered species and contains the largest variety of endangered Florida wildlife in the world. Visitors can watch the veterinarians care for the manatees and other animals, many of which are returned to the wild. The zoo is divided into areas such as Africa, Asia, Australia, and Florida. It also is the first zoo to operate a childcare center that enrolls children from 1 to 5 years old.
Tampa Bay History Center
The Tampa Bay History Center is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution and contains permanent and temporary exhibitions of 12,000 years of Florida history on three floors. As a Smithsonian affiliate, the center can draw on more than 130 million artifacts for its temporary exhibits. It boasts state-of-the-art, interactive exhibitions and provides educational experiences for people of all ages. In 2012, it was deemed a Silver LEED building by the U.S. Green Building Council. Permanent exhibits at the Tampa Bay History Center include Florida’s First People, which features artifacts from the Tocobaga and Calusa tribes; European Exploration, which details the arrival of Spanish and French explorers to Florida in the 16th century; and Cigar City, which recounts Tampa’s cigar industry and immigrant communities. Preserving Eden: The Florida Photographs of Clyde Butcher is a temporary exhibition that depicts the natural history of the state in such beautiful splendor that the artist hopes they will influence the viewers to help save the area’s natural beauty.
Tampa River Walk
The Tampa River Walk is a paved open trail that runs along the Hillsborough River. It also passes through downtown and the Tampa Arts District, Curtis Hixon Park, Glazer Children’s Museum, Tampa Museum of Art, and many more notable locations. Along the path, you will find bronze busts of important local people who have influenced the development of Tampa. Work on the Tampa River Walk began in the 1970s. It is 2 and ½ miles long and links the main attractions in downtown Tampa. You will find restaurants as well as museums along the way, and it is a glorious walk during the day or at night when the lights reflect in the water. Whether you want to get in a morning run or sit in a café and watch others jog, it’s a great place to relax amid beautiful scenery.
Big Cat Rescue
When you take a tour of Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, your fee goes toward the care of big cats that have been rescued from abusive situations. Big Cat Rescue is one of the largest accredited sanctuaries for exotic cats and has more than 80 tigers, lions, bobcats, cougars, and leopards. The first cats were rescued in 1992, and most of them were either orphaned or in abusive performing situations. Big Cat Rescue aims to end the trade in exotic cats through education and legislation.
Adventure Island is a water park extraordinaire with more than 15 thrilling attractions including Colossal Curl, which carries you high above the island to Rambling Bayou, the slow river cruise. Adventure Island even has a white-sand beach volleyball court for play or practice. If some of the water slides are a bit too much for the little ones, there are areas at the park like Splash Attack and Fabian’s Fun Port that will give them plenty to do.
Datz is a gastropub that serves excellent craft beer, bourbon, and sandwiches that are served on house-made bread. This award-winning restaurant aims to please by offering a traditional steak-and-eggs breakfast with house-cut potatoes, their own special mac and cheese, chili dogs, and a huge variety of sandwiches served on their famous bread. Datz offers a huge selection of craft beers and wines to complement your meal as well as amazing, innovative cocktails and imported items. The brunch menu will whet your appetite with many different takes on eggs Benedict and crème brûlée French toast. You can also get a variety of egg sandwiches on fresh bread. Datz also serves a selection of salads that come with grilled chicken, smoked Gouda, butternut squash, and other ingredients.
Northeast of downtown Tampa is the historic neighborhood of Ybor. At the turn of the 19th century, it was the home of cigar manufacturers and many immigrants from Spain, Cuba, and Italy. The area was mostly abandoned after World War II, but it has been reclaimed as a nightclub, restaurant, and entertainment district. It’s a designated National Historic Landmark that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and it contains Columbia Restaurant, one of the top 50 All-American Icons in the country. In the ’80s, Ybor City was a refuge for artists, and many buildings were converted into nightclubs, restaurants, and bars. Today, the community contains a family-oriented mall with movie theaters and a Hillsborough Community College campus. (Photo Credit: https://yborcityonline.com)
Ulele is a restaurant and brewery that uses fresh, local fruits, vegetables, and seafood from around Florida in the tradition of the Native Americans from the region. It is located on the Hillsborough River next to the Ulele Spring and adjacent to the Water Works Park. The restaurant offers extensive lunch and dinner menus and home-brewed craft beers that pair perfectly with the cuisine. Located at 1810 North Highland Avenue in a beautifully restored historic building, Ulele is a family-friendly restaurant with a special menu for children. You can eat al fresco or in a private dining area. There are vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options to accommodate those with special diets.
Once you've completed your move to Tampa, you and your family will have access to myriad outdoor activities including water sports, fishing, and golf. You’ll be just a short drive away from the major Orlando theme parks and right next door to Tampa’s own famous ones. The city cares about its historical heritage and promotes culture with its live entertainment and museums.