Within Walking Distance
Ybor City, the most atmospheric neighborhood in Tampa, Florida, is just north of the cruise terminal. For an introduction to the city’s cigar-making legacy, start with a rolling demonstration at the Gonzalez y Martinez Cigar Factory. At the Ybor City Museum State Park, local stogie history is on full display.
Meet penguins, sea otters, and sharks at the Florida Aquarium on the waterfront south of where cruises from Tampa depart. The aquarium emphasizes local habitats and features a dramatic simulation of a reef dive. Just across Channelside Drive from the cruise terminal is the Channel District, filled with shops, restaurants, and movie theaters.
Beyond the Port Area
The riverside Henry B. Plant Museum, inside the colossal Victorian-era Tampa Bay Hotel, is the city skyline’s defining feature. Railroad magnate Plant built the hotel as a resort palace and today the museum recreates the history of this Gilded Age relic. The collections of the Tampa Museum of Art, in a silver structure across the river from the Plant Museum, hold a range of art from Greek antiquities to modern artists like Chuck Close and Cindy Sherman.
St. Petersburg is Tampa, Florida’s sister to the west. Boat trips leave from the lively St. Petersburg Pier. On your tour of Tampa Bay, you’ll most likely spot wild dolphins, fat manatees, flying pelicans, and various shore birds. Close to the pier, the Dalí Museum has more works by the Surrealist master than any other collection.
The number one attraction near your cruise from Tampa is Busch Gardens to the north. Truck along the plains of a transplanted Serengeti, see cheetahs race in front of you in the blink of an eye, and ride twisting gravity-defying roller coasters. For more low-key thrills near Busch Gardens, paddle the Hillsborough River on a canoe or kayak through the Wilderness Park, a preserve known for alligator and ibis sightings.
Beaches in Tampa
Tampa’s nearest beaches are on the west coast of St. Petersburg. The white sands occupy a series of barrier islands, starting in the south with Pass-a-Grille and St. Pete Beach; moving up north to Redington Beach and Sand Key Park; and culminating in the white sands of Clearwater Beach. Caladesi State Park Beach, accessible only by ferry, is renowned for its wide-open sands and snorkeling.
Shopping in Tampa
To purchase aromatic cigars, check out 7th Avenue in Ybor City, lined with shops selling renowned brands. Atmospheric Hyde Park Village is a cluster of 50 stores in a historic neighborhood. Shops here include upscale men’s and women’s clothiers as well as chocolate shops and pet boutiques.
Dining in Tampa
The top place to eat is Bern’s Steak House, where the massive cuts find their match in the wine list’s length. It’s in Hyde Park, home to the best eclectic local restaurants. Centro Ybor has tempting restaurants in the middle of the Ybor City and is the scene of comedy clubs and live music. Columbia Restaurant in Ybor does double duty, with delicious Cuban food and sultry flamenco shows.