Things to Do in Tampa: Before or After Your Cruise

A cruise leaving from Tampa gives you and your family and friends a great opportunity to explore this exciting city along Florida’s Gulf Coast. As you might already be aware, there are plenty of cruise activities waiting for you onboard a cruise ship. But there are plenty of things to do in Tampa as well; both before or after your cruise.

If you are planning a cruise to the Caribbean, The Bahamas, or another exciting location, consider arriving in Tampa a few days early for a weekend getaway before your cruise vacation, or staying in Tampa a few extra days after your cruise. This will give you ample opportunity to visit a few of Tampa’s famous attractions, try delicious cuisine, and do some souvenir shopping before you go back home.

view of tampa skyline from across the bay during the sunset

Sightseeing and Attractions in Tampa

Tampa is of course home to famous theme parks, not to mention beautiful beaches, but there are plenty more things to do in Tampa–from relaxing parks and miles of trails and nature preserves, history centers and museums, and theatre and nightlife, you’ll have no problem finding something for everyone to enjoy.

Local Aquarium

A fun destination to visit with your family before your Tampa cruise, this aquarium is the largest in Tampa and one of the best in the country. In addition to the vast array of marine life on display, the aquarium also features many interactive programs and exciting and unique exhibits.

family of 3 looking at a shark through a glass at the local aquarium in tampa

Lowry Park Zoo

This 63-acre family-friendly zoo gives you the opportunity to see animals from all around the world. A large number of animal exhibits, fun rides, interesting and entertaining shows, and much more make this zoo a must-stop visit.

children feeding a giraffe at the local zoo in tampa

Nature Preserves

Consider visiting some of the nature preserves in and around Tampa, where you’ll be able to take in the breathtaking, natural beauty of Florida, while also spotting local wildlife. Trails in many of the nature preserves offer the opportunity for walking, hiking, biking, and skating.

girl hiking a wooden trail in tampa park

Local Architecture and Scenery

If you enjoy the exercising, you’ll want to take the time to jog along Bayshore Boulevard, where you’ll be treated with views of historic multi-million-dollar homes. You can also bike, skate, or walk leisurely along the boulevard, and there are certainly plenty of opportunities for dazzling photos. Also offering great photos and a relaxing atmosphere is the Tampa Riverwalk, which is close to the Museum of Art and a fun waterfront park.

 

locals walking across the tampa riverwalk during the afternoon

Shopping in Tampa

Tampa is definitely a hotspot for shopping–a number of plazas, shopping villages, and indoor malls can be found in the city, offering a plethora of goods to suit all tastes and budgets. Consider visiting some of the shopping areas listed below and you’ll discover tons of unique shops and major retailers.

woman stopping a taxi as she shops near a beach in tampa

Hyde Park Village

This shopping village cleverly mixes together national retailers and locally owned businesses, resulting in a great outdoor space for shopping, relaxing, and even enjoying local music events that take place on a regular basis.

International Plaza and Bay Street

If you enjoy mall shopping, you will not want to miss this upscale, exciting destination. Boasting some of the best shopping in Tampa, the International Plaza also features plenty of restaurants and lots of areas for exciting and entertaining nightlife.

Just south of Tampa is Ellenton, where you’ll find an enormous outlet mall featuring over 130 stores, and located right near the airport is an indoor mall is filled with plenty of stores where you’ll be able to do some great shopping without spending a lot of money.

What to Eat in Tampa

When looking for dining in Tampa, you’ll easily find plenty of choices and all types of cuisine. But you’d be missing out on some fantastic local fare if you didn’t try some of the dishes Tampa is well known for.

Cuban Sandwich

For lunch, consider a Cuban sandwich. It won’t be hard to find the most popular and famous sandwich in Tampa. Any reputable sandwich shop will offer them, as well as restaurants all throughout Tampa. Served on a type of Cuban bread in the form of a baguette, a traditional Tampa Bay Cuban sandwich features salami, roast pork, ham, mustard, and Swiss cheese.

fresh cuban sandwich served with a pickle in a tampa restaurant

Grouper Sandwich

If you favor seafood over deli meats, you won’t be disappointed if you select the grouper sandwich instead of a Cuban sandwich. The succulent fish is usually battered and fried, and can be served with any number of condiments or accompaniments, depending upon where it is ordered.

Stone Crab

For dinner, you’ve got to try the stone crab. Typically served chilled along with a traditional mustard dipping sauce, it can also be found in soups, stews, and other mouth-watering dishes.

black plate of stone crabs served with lemons and tartar sauce from a tampa restaurant

The Tampa Roll

The Tampa Roll is also for seafood lovers–a sushi roll based on the port of call, the Tampa Roll features fried grouper, seaweed, and mayonnaise. It is easy to find at pretty much any sushi restaurant in Tampa.

There is, of course, lots more to do and see in this wonderful city, and spending some time exploring and sightseeing is a great way to kick off or finish up an amazing cruise from Tampa!