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Welcome to Tampa

Voted 'best city for twenty-somethings'

Tampa Bay is on the west coast of Florida, a short drive down from Orlando and not too far from Miami. Tampa Bay is the residential side of the state and as such you'll find fewer tourists. Happily, there is plenty to do in this pretty part of the world for all your Tampa holidays!

From its early days as a fort, Tampa has attracted adventurous types who like the outdoor life a home or holiday in Florida is all about. Tampa and the Tampa Bay region have outdoor dining down to a fine art; even the upmarket restaurants generally have an outdoor option and the effect is a casual, happy atmosphere.

Better yet are the many outdoor attractions. Chief amongst these outdoor areas is the Lettuce Lake Park, a delightful wilderness area just 10kms from the city centre. Pack a picnic lunch and walk the boardwalk that provides a dry path through a pristine swamp. A 3 story wooden tower gives a panoramic view of the lake and Hillsborough river. You'll see alligators and birds galore.

Tampa holidays are all about the sunshine because the weather is just so nice for most of the year. Whatever the season, pack your swimmers. The beaches are great and you should plan on jumping aboard a boat tour into the Gulf waters to test your fishing skills.

And because this is Florida... there's a theme park just around the corner! Busch Gardens has all the fun of the fair without the crowds Orlando attracts. Busch Gardens of Tampa Bay is a zoo, a safari park and a theme park all rolled into one.

Tampa is a fun, energetic, yet quieter side of Florida; you're close to Orlando, yet far from the madding crowds in a smart, sophisticated city.

Information & Facts

Climate

Tampa, given its location, has a somewhat tropical climate. You're hot during summer where the temps will get to an average of 30-34C and warm in winter where temps will be around 20C.
The real weather to watch out for is lightening during a summer storm and the occasional hurricane belting in from the Gulf.
Spring and autumn are warmer or cooler variations of summer and winter. The most rain falls during the rainy season which runs from April through October.

Eating Out

Cheap, expensive and everything in between.

Tampa is outdoor dining. There's barbeque, drive through (!) and plenty of fast food options. The mid range dining options are plentiful because you're away from the more touristy side of Florida. The waterfront area has plenty to choose from - budget and mid range.

The budget options - head downtown and sample the delights at Paninoteca Mediterranean. Light, pasta, pizza - what more do you need? They're at 519 N Franklin St. Staying downtown, if you want lovely, fresh Vietnamese; try Bamboozle Cafe at 516 N Tampa St.

Mid price options - they have a love for all things Italian in Downtown Tampa, and one of the better ones is Pizzaiolo Bavaro at 514 N Franklin St. You're in the home of the burger and you haven't tried burgers until you've done a Five Guys. There's a branch at 777 N. Ashley Dr.

Splurge - one of the many things the US does really well is steak. A good steak restaurant is an institution in whatever town you're in. Tampa's claim to steak fame is at 1208 S Howard Ave. Bern's Steak House do every steak imaginable with a first class steak chef on the grill and the sauces are out of this world. This is a big night out at a fine dining establishment.

Sightseeing

Tampa is adventure and quiet relaxation

Tampa and the Tampa Bay area is a relief after the craziness of Orlando. If you love the theme parks however, fear not, they have a big one. If you love excellent dining, fresh food and good, local produce they have it in spades and if you want to get a little closer to nature than a theme ride display, Tampa is your place.

Busch Gardens - this is Tampa's answer to the competition up the road and it's a goody. Busch Gardens are a well laid out theme park, plus a zoo and a safari park. All your big, scary, monster rides are here, plus the pleasures of large grounds, wide open spaces and live critters. The food deals are good and the lack of crowds (generally) will have you smiling.

Big Cat Rescue - Tampa may not be the wide open plains of the Serengeti but it is home to Big Cat Rescue, the largest facility of its kind in the US. They shelter large cats that zoos and wildlife parks can't for whatever reason. But they've gone a step further and opened up a tour area so people can see - and contribute - to the cats. The guided tour is excellent, giving out reams of information and it's a wonderful afternoon out - particularly if you strike feeding time.

St Pete Times Forum - this giant stadium is home to a couple of teams and it also does the occasional concert. New renovations have made it an excellent venue so if you're in town and there's a game on, check it out.

Tampa Electric Manatees - the viewing centre where you'll see these amazing creatures is about 14kms from the downtown area and is a great way to see an endangered species.

Beer - who doesn't love a beer tour? Lots of free samples, behind-the-scenes, samples, more stuff about beer and samples to end the tour. The Yuengling Brewery is a micro place on North 30th Street and they brew a renowned refreshment of the malt variety. Best of all - it's free!

The must see - the Lettuce Lake Park area is a short drive from downtown Tampa, but a million miles from care. Take in the specially constructed boardwalk which takes you across swampland below in complete safety. Sure, there are snakes and alligators - out of reach - and that's the beauty. You get to see nature up close and personal, without the nasty side effects! Take a picnic lunch and see some of Florida's famed wildlife in its natural habitat. You'll love it.

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