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Tampa Convention Center

Tampa Convention Center

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Sunshine Skyway Bridge

Sunshine Skyway Bridge

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Tampa, the west coast's business-and-commercial hub, has a sprinkling of high-rises and heavy traffic. A concentration of restaurants, nightlife, stores, and cultural events is amid the bustle. The city has really come into its own in recent years. The downtown Tampa waterfront features stunning views and excellent museums. Animal lovers flock here for attractions like Lowry Park Zoo, Busch Gardens, Big Cat Rescue, and Giraffe Ranch. Revelers will enjoy the strip of bars and clubs that constitutes Ybor City, a historic area with a heavy Cuban influence. The city also abounds with art museums, shops, and a wide array of restaurants. Downtown and Ybor City are both excellent spots to look for live music. Not too far out of town are some great golf courses and nature trails. Tampa is also a short drive from a long stretch of gorgeous Gulf Coast beaches.

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Things You Can’t Miss

Hands-On Fun at Tampa’s MOSI

The young — or young at heart — can try the Museum of Science & Industry’s zip line. Explore the science behind natural disasters in Disasterville.

Hands-On Fun at Tampa’s MOSI

Image Credit: ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy

Commune With Nature at Fort De Soto Park

Explore five interconnected islands of mangroves, wetlands and palm hammocks, which provide refuge to loggerhead sea turtles and 328 species of birds.

Commune With Nature at Fort De Soto Park

Image Credit: Larry Lynch / Alamy

Samantha's Pick (Do) Big Cat Rescue

I always miss my cat whenever I travel. I get my fix at this sanctuary with its beautiful bobcats, tigers, cougars and jaguars. Snuggling is discouraged.

(Do) Big Cat Rescue

Image Credit: Niels Busch / Getty Images

Samantha's Pick Barrier Island Bliss!

I love to stay right on St. Pete Beach. No matter what the hotel’s price range is, the beach is the same, with pristine white sand and warm Gulf water.

Barrier Island Bliss!

Image Credit: Franz Marc Frei / Getty Images

Find Paradise at Caladesi Island State Park

This completely natural island features what some consider the best beach in the world. As you’ll see, this isn’t the most controversial of opinions.

Find Paradise at Caladesi Island State Park

Image Credit: Raymond Gehman / Getty Images

Get Up Close at the Florida Aquarium

Feeling game? At Florida Aquarium, visitors have the opportunity to put on a wetsuit and go swimming with the 20,000 aquatic plants and animals on show.

Get Up Close at the Florida Aquarium

Image Credit: John Coletti / Getty Images

Take a Safari at Busch Gardens Tampa

It may be known for its hair-raising rides, but Busch Gardens is also one of the largest zoos in the country. See over 2,000 animals roam the open plains.

Take a Safari at Busch Gardens Tampa

Image Credit: Thomas Damgaard Sabo / Damgaard Photography / Getty Images

Don’t Miss the 19th Hole at Fox Hollow Golf Club

A round at the Fox Hollow Golf Club in New Port Richey is best followed with a bite to eat at the course restaurant. Be sure to get a table near a window.

Don’t Miss the 19th Hole at Fox Hollow Golf Club

Image Credit: Medioimages / Photodisc / Getty Images

Enjoy the Outdoors at Hyde Park Village

There aren’t many places in the U.S. where an open-air shopping mall could thrive, but Tampa just happens to have perfect weather all the time. Embrace it.

Enjoy the Outdoors at Hyde Park Village

Image Credit: Paper Boat Creative / Getty Images

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Must Reads Before You Go


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When packing for your trip, don't overpack. Light travel is much more enjoyable. These travel tips help eliminate items you don't need to keep your luggage in check.


Travel Photographers Share Their Secrets for Memorable Photos

Try these 10 easy tips from the pros on your next vacation.

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