Downtown Tampa has a rich and diverse history dating back to the early 1800s. The area was originally inhabited by the Tocobaga Native American tribe, who lived along the shores of Tampa Bay. In the mid-1800s, the area was settled by pioneers, who established a small village that would later become known as Tampa.
One of the most significant events in Downtown Tampa's history was the arrival of the railroad in the late 1800s. This led to a boom in commerce and industry, and the area quickly became the commercial and financial center of the region. By the early 1900s, downtown Tampa was a bustling city with a growing population and a thriving economy.
During the early 20th century, downtown Tampa continued to grow and prosper, with the construction of numerous landmark buildings, including the Tampa Theatre, the Floridan Hotel, and the Tampa City Hall. However, like many cities in the United States, downtown Tampa suffered during the Great Depression and the subsequent World War II years. The population declined, and many buildings fell into disrepair.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the city government began a revitalization effort to bring new life to downtown Tampa. This led to the construction of several new office buildings, hotels, and cultural institutions, such as the Tampa Museum of Art and the Straz Center for the Performing Arts. Today, downtown Tampa is a vibrant and bustling urban center, with a thriving business district, a lively nightlife scene, and a rich cultural heritage.
Top Tourist Attractions
Downtown Tampa has a variety of attractions that draw tourists from around the world. Here are some of the top tourist attractions in the area:
- Tampa Riverwalk: A 2.6-mile pedestrian trail that runs along the Hillsborough River, the Tampa Riverwalk offers stunning views of downtown Tampa and the river, as well as access to some of the city's top attractions.
- The Tampa Theatre: Built in 1926, the Tampa Theatre is a stunning example of Mediterranean Revival architecture and is a beloved local landmark. It hosts a variety of events and films throughout the year.
- Florida Aquarium: Located in the Channelside District, the Florida Aquarium is a state-of-the-art facility that houses more than 20,000 aquatic animals and plants. Visitors can explore exhibits showcasing Florida's marine life, take a Wild Dolphin Cruise, or even go on a behind-the-scenes tour.
- Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park: This 8-acre park is located on the banks of the Hillsborough River and features a playground, splash pad, dog park, and a large event lawn that hosts concerts and festivals throughout the year.
- Tampa Bay History Center: This interactive museum showcases the rich history of the Tampa Bay area, from the arrival of the Tocobaga Native Americans to the present day. Exhibits include a replica cigar factory, a pirate ship, and a 1920s-era streetcar.
- Glazer Children's Museum: Designed for kids ages 0-10, the Glazer Children's Museum offers hands-on exhibits and interactive play areas that encourage learning and exploration.
- Henry B. Plant Museum: Housed in the former Tampa Bay Hotel, which was built in 1891, the Henry B. Plant Museum showcases the history of the hotel and its role in Tampa's early development. Visitors can explore period rooms and exhibits on the hotel's guests and staff.
- The Straz Center for the Performing Arts: This world-class performing arts center hosts a variety of events throughout the year, from Broadway shows to opera to concerts.
- The Tampa Bay Lightning: Tampa's professional hockey team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, plays home games at Amalie Arena in the Channelside District. Catching a game is a popular activity for both locals and tourists.
- Ybor City: This historic district was once the center of Tampa's cigar industry and is now a popular nightlife destination, with numerous bars, restaurants, and clubs. Visitors can also explore the area's rich history at the Ybor City Museum State Park.
Tampa has a humid subtropical climate, which is characterized by hot summers, mild winters, and high humidity year-round. The city is located on the west coast of Florida, and its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico moderates its climate, keeping temperatures relatively consistent throughout the year.
Summer temperatures in Tampa typically range from the mid-80s to the low 90s Fahrenheit (28-33 degrees Celsius), with high humidity making it feel even warmer. Winter temperatures are milder, with average highs in the mid-70s Fahrenheit (23-24 degrees Celsius) and lows in the 50s Fahrenheit (10-15 degrees Celsius).
The rainy season in Tampa typically runs from June through September, with the city receiving an average of 50-60 inches of rain per year. Thunderstorms are common during the summer months, with occasional tropical storms or hurricanes affecting the area. From November to April, the city experiences drier weather, with lower humidity and less rainfall.
Overall, Tampa's climate is generally mild and pleasant, making it an attractive destination for visitors year-round. However, those planning a visit should be prepared for the heat and humidity during the summer months and the possibility of rain or tropical weather during hurricane season.
The city is situated on a peninsula that juts out into Tampa Bay, which is an inlet of the Gulf of Mexico. The city's downtown area is located on the eastern side of the peninsula, facing the bay.
To the north of Tampa's downtown area is the Hillsborough River, which runs through the city and eventually empties into Tampa Bay. The river is lined with parks and walking trails, and is a popular destination for boating and fishing.
Tampa is also home to several barrier islands, which are located just off the coast and provide miles of white sand beaches and clear blue waters. Some of the most popular islands include Clearwater Beach, St. Pete Beach, and Anna Maria Island.
To the east of Tampa, the terrain becomes more rural and includes forests and wetlands. The nearby Green Swamp is an important watershed and home to a diverse array of plant and animal species. Overall, Tampa's geography is defined by its location on the Gulf Coast and its proximity to the Hillsborough River and nearby barrier islands. The city's natural beauty and access to outdoor recreation make it a popular destination for visitors and residents alike.
Traveling to Tampa
Tampa sits right on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico. It is home of the NFL team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and they have a very upscale football stadium that anyone would love to be in watching a live game. There is a ton of things to do in Florida’s largest city on the Gulf Coast!
Things to do in Tampa
Bush Gardens is located in Tampa. Its is a HUGE upscale theme park that has lots of big roller coasters, Congo River Rapids, plenty of rides for the kids, shows, hands on interactions and almost 3,000 animals; most are exotic. Bush Garden tickets are around $80 for a single day ticket.
If you don’t feel like going to a full blown theme park Tampa has a really nice water park. Adventure Island has lots of big slides, pools and an area just for kids. There is a lot to do for every age.
The Florida Aquarium in Downtown Tampa is a full day of fun any day. They have lots of exhibits and you can even swim with fish and sharks.
The Museum of Science and Industry is amazing and is a place that has over 450 interaction exhibits. If you want to learn something new, hands on is the best to help you understand how things work. They have an exhibit that is 3D printing. If you don’t know what that is you HAVE to go let them show you. The Saunders Planetarium is a spectacular in itself. They have shows that show you the night sky in any time in the past. An IMAX theater is home at the MOSI and they offer different shows all the time, most about space or nature; if you’ve never been to an IMAX theater then you’ve never truly experienced high-definition pictures.
Dinosaur World (in Plant City) is a place anyone would love to visit, especially little boys. There are over 200 life size dinosaurs here that are waiting for you to hop on and get a picture with and some of them are animatronics. There is a Fossil Dig area where you can sift through sand and try to find one, they have cave exploration and much more.
Tampa has some of the prettiest Beaches in the world. This area on the Gulf Coast is world renowned for its white powdery sand. The beaches in this area isn’t like most beaches where the sand feels all gritty, the sand on these beaches literally feels like soft powder between your toes; it’s amazing! Beaches to try in the Tampa Bay area are: Clearwater Beach, Fort de Soto Park & Caladesi Island State Park. All of these beaches have beautiful aqua blue water just like you would imagine a tropical paradise to be. Don’t forget your sunscreen and apply it every hour, the Florida sun is very powerful and you can burn in 20 minutes if you’re not use to it; some will even if they are.
Shopping is a breeze really because everywhere you look there are shops, malls, boutiques and super stores. You shouldn’t have a problem finding anything that you need or want in Tampa, its a very big city.
Ybor City at nightTampa has a wonderful Dining selection and a great Nightlife! It is a big city and they accommodate many ethnic cuisines so you shouldn’t have a problem finding anything that your taste buds desire. Ybor City is a historic area in Tampa that they turned into rows of restaurants, lounges, shops, hotels and Inn’s. There are special events and attractions, art and entertainment and tours offered all the time. You have to go down there and check it out, you won’t be disappointed. I have have personally seen a few of those restaurants on shows like Food Network and The Cooking Channel because of their unique delicious dishes.
- For all the main attractions in Tampa there are usually coupons on the internet that can be printed out.
- Grab a coupon book from any hotel or most restaurants.
- The Florida Botanical Gardens is Free admission and you can spend hours there, take a picnic.
- There are actually 2 forts at Fort De Soto Park, that’s a lot to check out and its FREE.