From culture to rollercoasters, Tampa has a wealth of attractions to explore pre or post-cruise, writes Lina Molloholli
1. Ybor City
Once a hub of cigar manufacturing, Ybor City is a National Historic Landmark District that embodies the city’s rich cultural fusion of Cuban, Spanish and Italian influences.
Foodies can savour old-world cuisine on 7th Avenue, while history enthusiasts can stroll along cobblestone streets, admiring the 19th-century architecture adorned with colourful modern murals, before heading to Ybor City State Museum.
2. Gasparilla Pirate Festival
The Gasparilla Pirate Festival, which honours the legendary Spanish buccaneer José Gaspar, takes place in late January. It features a pirate ‘invasion’ of the city, where the world’s only fully rigged pirate ship sails into town as part of a dramatic flotilla. There’s also a grand parade and lively street parties.
3. Tampa Riverwalk
This 2.6-mile waterfront promenade follows the scenic Hillsborough River as it flows through the heart of the city. Perfect for walking or cycling, the Tampa Riverwalk connects landmarks such as the Tampa Museum of Art, Florida Aquarium and Glazer Children’s Museum. The promenade is the place to go for stunning sunsets, live music and some of Tampa’s best food trucks.
4. Busch Gardens
This safari-themed park combines the excitement of adrenaline-pumping rides with the beauty of a botanical garden. As one of the US’s largest zoological attractions, it’s home to more than 200 species of animals, including giraffes and tigers.
For thrill-seekers, there are nine of Florida’s most exciting rollercoasters, such as Cheetah Hunt and Falcon’s Fury.
5. Dolphin sightseeing
The Tampa Bay waters brim with sea life, including playful bottlenose dolphins that frolic in the bay. Visitors can take a guided boat tour or kayaking trip to spot sharks, sea birds, stingrays and sea turtles, all while enjoying stunning views of Tampa from the water.
PICTURES: Shutterstock/Gabrielle Maltinti, Sean Pavone, Viaval Tours, Jeri Bland