As one of America’s biggest draws when it comes to beach holidays, Tampa Bay is a massive vacation hotspot, with plenty of sun and a party atmosphere that prevails throughout the year and kicks up a notch during the summer months. From luxury cruises and what borders on an obsession with golf to a more laid back experience bird watching or learning how to roll a cigar, you’re unlikely to find yourself refined to the beach, though.
Tampa is – slowly but surely – gaining something of a luxury edge, especially in the newfound resort style destinations, and prices are sliding up accordingly. If you can afford it, you’ll find this a great spot to grab some high-class wines or charter your own boat and wallow in summer sumptuousness. For the less well off, the natural surroundings are more than enough to keep you busy, with splashing dolphins and lazy manatees, pier fishing and even a relatively affordable selection of spas to keep your holiday full of magic moments.
Of course, the sub-tropical plant life here is an essential feature, too, and you can see plenty of it from the top of the seemingly endless roller coasters found in holiday spots like Adventure Island, Discovery World and of course Orlando’s SeaWorld. If you prefer something a little more cultured, you’ll find museums specializing in everything from cigars – a local fascination, perhaps developed through proximity to Cuba – to originals by infamous modernist Salvador Dali and the tropical gardens and bizarre architecture of the Henry B. Plant Museum.
A visit to Ybor City during the day reveals a whole new side to the club district. The Cuban sandwiches in Ybor are the best in the city.
It wouldn’t be Tampa, of course, without an abundance of professional sport, all of it followed with a passion that makes the experience special. Take your pick from the Buccaneers (Football), Rays (Baseball), Storm (Arena Football) and Lightning (Hockey), each of which bring their own edge, and are best enjoyed with a large beer and an even larger hot dog in hand.
In many ways Tampa is quintessentially American, offering all the perks you might expect from a holiday spot, coupled with a welcoming and upbeat atmosphere and ample surprises along the way.
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