When people think about vacationing in Florida two cities often come to mind: Miami and Orlando. We’ve all heard about the beaches in Miami and of course, there is plenty to do in Orlando, but there is a destination that is often overlooked when compared to the aforementioned cities, and that is Tampa.
Sure, its beaches are not as glamorous as those in Miami, and sure, Tampa is not the hub for Earth’s most renown theme parks… but you know, exploring sometimes is about getting to know those less popular destinations and trust me when I tell you: Tampa may not be Miami or Orlando, but there is still a lot to see here, so come on, let’s see what Tampa has to offer!
But first, as with most city-based traveling, you should plan how you’ll get to the places you want to experience, as all destination-cities have nice things to see and do, but they tend to be spread all around. A great option is to rent a car, since this allows you to travel to any destination you find interesting in the city, and allows you to make your travel itinerary without having to depend on the availability of cabs, and/or public transport.
Bush Gardens Tampa Bay
Let’s begin with a little bit of adrenaline, remember when I told you that Tampa was not the hub to the world’s most famous theme parks? Well… that does not mean it doesn’t harbor some amazing amusement parks with thrilling roller coasters! I’m talking about the Bush Gardens at Tampa bay. This park offers a pleasant combination of amusement park and zoo with an African theming. There are 200 animal species to see and also fast and thrilling rides such as the Cobra’s Course, and the Falcon’s Furry, there is something for everyone in this park!
The park opens from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm and has a parking fee of USD 25 that can be paid in advance on the park’s webpage. The park is open all year round but keep in mind that some attractions may be occasionally closed for maintenance.
Ulele pronounced (You-lay-lee) is a restaurant named after a Native American princess. The restaurant has a native American motive and strives to serve great local food made only with ingredients found in Florida as they become available. The restaurant also offers craft beers made on-site, and wine from family-owned wineries. So, if you’re hungry for some local food, you shouldn’t miss this one.
However, be aware that even though the food isn’t overly expensive, it is not what you’d call inexpensive, so save it up for special occasions.
Costumers describe it as having a great atmosphere, attentive staff and an incredible view of the Hillsborough River. The menu includes delicious dishes such as Shrimp and grits and lobster roll sandwiches!
The restaurant has a valet parking service that customers have rated as great, so if you’re coming by car that’s a plus.
Remember when I told you that Tampa didn’t have the kind of glamorous beaches that you can find in Miami? Well… that’s because the next destination is a beach like no other beach, not even those in Miami!
Siesta beach is a beautiful beach made out of bone-white sand, the water is clear, and the weather is usually perfect for making a sandcastle, enjoying a swim or a game of beach volleyball. Now, what makes this beach special is the sand. Most sand on beaches all around the world is made out of pulverized coral, however, the sand of this beach is made from 99% crushed quartz (that’s what makes the sand so white) what this means is that it doesn’t matter how hot it might get, this sand won’t get hot as the white particles reflect the sun’s rays.
Vacationers report it to be relaxing, great for kids, and overall beautiful. Now, the beach is not in Tampa proper, however, it’s just a 1 hour to 1 hour and a half drive from Tampa, depending on the traffic. Public transportation is just not an option as it would take 15 hours to get to Siesta Beach from Tampa! If you want to visit Siesta Beach during your vacations in Tampa, I highly recommend you to use a rental car, finding one is easy as there are websites that help you compare the different rental car options until you find one that is both perfect for your vacations and your wallet.
And there you go, next time you visit Florida, give yourself a chance to explore Tampa, it might not be Miami or Orlando, but you don’t need it to be in those places to have a great Florida vacation!