Unlock Tampa Bay in 2017
October 11, 2016 by Kevin Wiatrowski
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Discover Florida’s Most diverse destination: fantastic food, superb shopping & amazing adventures
New Iceland Air service; new airport experiences
New in 2017, Iceland Air joins Tampa Bay’s list of international carriers, which includes daily British Airways flights from London Gatwick. New flights to Cuba on Southwest Airlines begin Dec. 12.
Award-winning Tampa International Airport wraps up a $1 billion expansion with new options for shopping and dining. Bask in Tampa Bay’s sun on the new outdoor dining terrace while watching flights come and go. New Customs technology and a new rental car hub and tram system make it easy to get on with your visit.
Tampa Riverwalk: Walking, biking paradise
The 2.4-mile (4km) Tampa Riverwalk links popular downtown attractions like gems on a string. You’ll find hotels, restaurants, museums, and festival parks.
After dark, the Riverwalk becomes a canvas for shifting colors of light, joining downtown’s bridges and the Tampa Museum of Art in the nightly display.
If you would rather ride than walk, rent a ride from Coast Bike Share, which has stations along the Riverwalk.
New in 2017, Fourth Friday includes discounts, tours or free admission to Riverwalk attractions.
Returning in 2017: The Riverwalk will host the biennial Lights on Tampa art festival in February.
Florida’s hub for craft beer, artisan cocktails
Great drinks are part of Tampa Bay like sunshine and hand-rolled cigars. Our local brewers produce award-winning drafts found only here. Cigar City Brewing Co. ranks among RateBeer’s best craft brewers in the world. New in 2017, Rock Brothers Brewing blends beer and music at its Ybor City site. Brew Bus runs beer-tasting tours from its own brewery in hipster-friendly Seminole Heights.
Try cocktails at Florida Cane Distillery where the signature vodka comes from Florida-grown sugar cane.
Or mingle with the locals in the intimate confines of Cigar City Cider & Mead. The menu changes regularly and the drinks are made on site.
Take your taste buds on a tour of Tampa Bay
Creative chefs have earned Tampa Bay a spot on every foodie’s must-try list. Travel & Leisure ranks us among the most creative food scenes in the U.S. The Refinery, ranks among the Top 10 Eco-Conscious Restaurants in the U.S. James Beard-winning Bern’s Steak House houses the world’s largest private wine collection.
Test your courage at Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay
Cobra’s Curse sends your whole family swooping and spinning through an Egyptian archeaological dig.
Half way up Falcon’s Fury, North America’s tallest drop tower, your heart starts to beat faster. Soon you’re looking straight down at the ground 335 feet (102 meters) away. Then things get really wild.
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay has 300 acres (121 hectares) of thrill rides, stage shows, wildlife — all a short trip from downtown. Need to slow down? Travel into the sprawling Serengeti Plain to visit rhinos, zebras, and gazelles. You can even feed a giraffe.
A century of handmade cigars, Cuban history
A century ago, Ybor City (“EE-bore”) was the Cigar Capital of the World. Skilled tabaqueros still roll cigars by hand along Seventh Avenue. Smoke one while sipping a café con leche before enjoying Ybor City’s restaurants or nightclubs. Sample a Cuban sandwich, which was invented in Ybor City.
Lots of options for every kind of shopper
Anyone looking for a little retail therapy will find all kinds in Tampa Bay. The region’s premiere shopping destination,
International Plaza & Bay Street, has 200 luxury shops.
NEW in 2017, open-air Hyde Park Village near downtown is expanding, adding restaurants and high-end retailers.
Simon Premium Outlets’ Tampa Premium Outlets stands just 20 minutes north of downtown in rapidly growing Wesley Chapel. It has nearly 100 retailers, including Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH, Michael Kors, and shoe stores galore.
Looking for something crafty or unique? A multitude of weekend markets make Tampa Bay a shopping centerpiece.
Florida’s only destination with CityPASS
For less than half the normal cost of a ticket, CityPASS gets you into some of Tampa Bay’s most popular attractions.
Fly like a falcon at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. Dive with sharks or play outside in the NEW in 2017 2-acre water zone at The Florida Aquarium. Come face to face with manatees at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, named the best zoo in the U.S. by Parents magazine. Build robots or ride a bicycle 40 feet (12 meters) above the ground at MOSI, the Museum of Science and Industry.
CityPASS costs $99 for adults, $89 for children 3-9 years of age -- a 51% saving compared to buying all the tickets at full price.
Your Gateway to the Gulf of Mexico
Port Tampa Bay hosts four cruise lines: Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian America and Holland America. They make Tampa Bay the ideal port of departure.
Add a day to your stay to enjoy the destination “Porthole” magazine named its Best Kept Secret. The TECO Historic Streetcar will carry you to Ybor City. The Tampa Riverwalk and The Florida Aquarium are steps from the gangway.
New in 2017, Port Tampa Bay will host the Monsters of Rock series of cruises.
New in 2017, Carnival has added two five-night trips from Tampa Bay to Cozumel, Mexico.
Tampa Bay’s a hot spot for meeting manatees
November to April, the Manatee Viewing Center at the TECO Big Bend Power Station shelters hundreds of manatees. An observation deck and nature trail are a great place to watch Florida’s State Marine Mammal.
All year long, you can meet manatees at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, which includes an underwater manatee viewing area and a hospital to rehabilitate injured manatees and return them to the wild. Manatees also turn up frequently along the Tampa Riverwalk and Bayshore Boulevard.
A waterfront full of wonders
Where the river meets the bay, downtown abounds in ways to get out on the water. New in 2017, the Cross Bay Ferry will link Tampa and St. Petersburg from November to May. Trips depart from the Tampa Convention Center.
Pirate Water Taxi stops at downtown’s popular spots on its daily runs up and down the Hillsborough River.
Reserve a trip with iTrekkers and set out in search of fantastic fishing in sight of downtown’s towers. Or leave the city behind and paddle with Canoe Escape among moss-draped cypress trees minutes from downtown.
Avast! There be pirates here!
Each January, the scurvy crew of legendary pirate José Gaspar sails into Tampa Bay with cannons blazing. Get into the spirit by pulling out your best pirate gear to greet Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla as they lead the country’s third-largest parade down scenic Bayshore Boulevard past 300,000 cheering fans.
The invasion aboard the nation’s only fully functioning pirate ship, kicks off Gasparilla Season: 8 weeks of parades, festivals (arts,
music, and film), and sporting events.
Home away for every type of traveler
Tampa Bay’s supply of hotels has something for every traveler.
NEW in 2017, European visitors will find a familiar name — AC Hotel by Marriott — among Tampa Bay’s hotel.
On the horizon: New hotels for downtown, West Shore, Ybor City, and the Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay area.