Now’s the time to plan your conquest of Florida’s most diverse destination
For family fun, a couple’s escape or a weekend with friends, Tampa Bay’s got plenty of options
Get up close with dinos & rhinos
Got one of those kids who can’t read yet but knows a Dilophosaurus from a Diplodocus? Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo has the perfect experience for you. “Dinos Alive!” creates a garden of earthly frights — terrible lizards of all shapes and sizes. They’re animated and scientifically accurate (look for the feathers), making this trip back in time as close to the real thing as you can get without breeding them yourself from 100 million-year-old DNA found in preserved mosquitos. Hmm. Where have I heard that before? While you’re at it, drop in on the zoo’s extensive collection of living animals — including a rhino you can feed by hand and giraffes you can meet eye-to-eye.
For more Cretaceous creatures, visit Dinosaur World just off Interstate 4 east of downtown.
See Venus, Rodin and David – all in Lego®
“The Art of the Brick,” a world-renowned installation by Los Angeles-based artist Nathan Sawaya brings some of the world’s most famous artworks (and a few Sawaya originals) to life in Lego® bricks. The exhibit will visit Tampa Bay from June 23 to September 4, setting up at the former District 3 entertainment space in downtown. Sawaya’s sculptures have won praise for the way he turns ordinary Legos into replicas of famous works of art, including Girl with a Pearl Earring, the Venus de Milo or Rodin’s The Thinker. The exhibit also has a life-size T. Rex skeleton and Yellow, Sawaya’s famous sculpture of a man ripping his chest open as hundreds yellow Legos pour forth. The show is free.
Scream on Cobra’s Curse
Put your courage to the test with a ride on Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay’s newest ride. Located in the park’s Egypt section, Cobra’s Curse family spin coaster lifts each eight-person car straight up nearly 80 feet in the air before sending your group zipping along nearly a half-mile of track. The first third of the ride, you’ll face forward. Then you’ll face backward. The final third of the ride, you’ll spin freely in a frenzy of fun.
Take in the Tampa Riverwalk
Downtown’s urban icon runs 2.4 miles along our sparkling waterfront. It’s the perfect venue for walking, strolling, paddle-boarding, or riding a bike. Discover the best that downtown has to offer as you explore the trove of restaurants, hotels, public art, and cultural experiences strung like gems along this linear park. Buy a special cup at participating restaurants, and you can do your strolling with an adult beverage in hand.
Have Fun at Fourth Friday
Downtown’s newest party brings thousands of people out as the sun goes down to soak up Tampa Bay’s cultural attractions. A special wristband gets visitors free or discounted admission to the Tampa Museum of Art, Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, and Tampa Bay History Center. Take a tour of the historic Tampa Theatre and stick around as twilight grows for a show at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts. Along the way, you’ll find plenty to eat and drink along the Tampa Riverwalk.
Go out After Dark
Sometimes the best way to enjoy summer is after the sun to goes down. Summer Nights at Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay (and Island Nights at nearby Adventure Island) lets you chill out with DJs joining the parks’ thrills. Ybor City’s clubs and cafés come to life after twilight, turning Seventh Avenue into a parade of see-and-be-seen. Downtown’s daytime bustle yields to a mellow city where lighted art installations make the night welcoming. Pause on the Tampa Riverwalk to watch “Agua Luces” paint the bridges over the Hillsborough River a rainbow of colors. The Tampa Museum of Art (above) becomes a work of art itself, with “Sky: Tampa” washing across its façade.
Feel the Icy Chill
Here in Tampa Bay, we love a cool drink on a hot day. Start with an iced coffee at one of our home-grown coffee shops. When the sun is high, beat the heat with a true piece of Tampa Bay history: a cold beer. Florida’s first commercial brewery opened here in 1897, and B-E-E-R has been part of our D-N-A ever since. Indulge your taste buds in Florida’s hub for craft brewing. With 26 brewers spread from Apollo Beach to Odessa to Ybor City, you’ll find one nearby. Or hop on Brew Bus for a guided ride among them. After hours, try cider and mead or cocktails made with locally distilled spirits.
Make a Splash
Tampa Bay knows how to keep its cool when the mercury rises. Rent a paddleboard or a water bike and hit the sparkling Hillsborough River. The Tampa Riverwalk and The Florida Aquarium (right), have splash pads and play fountains to keep you cool.
Start your day at Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay with a white-knuckle ride down the Congo River Rapids. Adventure Island’s Colossal Curl and lazy river make a splash of another kind. Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo offers Wallaroo Station, an Australian Outback-themed water zone. Or chill out without getting soaked, by pondering the cool blue of The Florida Aquarium’s Coral Reef – those fish lower your temperature and your blood pressure at the same time.
See a summer concert
With several major venues and loads of local bands, Tampa Bay has no shortage of great music during the summer. Let’s consider a sampling:
At Mid-Florida Credit Union Amphitheatre: Jimmy Buffett (June 3); Chicago & the Doobie Brothers (June 29); Styx, REO Speedwagon & Don Felder (July 18); Counting Crows & Matchbox 20 (August 15); Green Day (September 5).
At Amalie Arena: Alabama (May 28); Rod Stewart & Cyndi Lauper (July 8); Shawn Mendes (July 25); Ed Sheeran (August 29).
At Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay: Summer Nights includes live music and fireworks each night.
Looking for something on a smaller scale? Downtown’s Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park hosts Rock the Park concerts on the first Thursday of each month. The free shows start at 6:30 p.m.
Dine Around the Town
Tampa Bay is a food-lovers dream, with plenty of chances for dining al fresco. Settle in to watch the sun set over the Hillsborough River at Ulele at the Tampa Riverwalk’s northern end. Catch a breeze off the river at Sono Cafe, part of the Tampa Museum of Art. People-watch from patio of legendary pirate bar Gaspar’s Grotto on Seventh Avenue in Ybor City. Or sample a taste of Tampa Bay’s past with the reborn Goody Goody hamburger joint in Hyde Park Village. A piece of Goody Goody’s butterscotch pie is a perfect way to wrap up a summer day in Tampa Bay.
It turns out air-conditioning was invented here in Florida (naturally). Celebrate by dropping into downtown’s historic Tampa Theatre (right) to catch a classic or indie flick in the coolness of Tampa Bay’s coolest building. Yes, those are clouds moving across the ceiling of the ornate 1926 movie palace — the first building in Tampa to have air-conditioning.
Take to the air – inside – at iFly, Tampa Bay’s only indoor skydiving facility. You can keep the kids entertained with a trip to the Glazer Children’s Museum or MOSI, the Museum of Science and Industry. They’ll also find plenty to do and learn during their summer break at the Tampa Bay History Center.