From animals to enjoying the outdoors to great food, there’s always something to do in Tampa. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend all your time in one spot. Spending time in the Champa Bay Area (check out our sports teams while you’re here, if you get a chance) lets you see and do plenty of activities. Here are some day trips from Tampa to help you explore.
2.5 miles of paved waterfront allows visits to walk or bike along the Hillsborough River in downtown Tampa on Riverwalk. Once a part of town where few ventured after business hours, it’s now a bustling place to get out and enjoy the weather. Along the way are plenty of places to eat and grab a drink (you can get a to-go cup!) or just enjoy the views. Be sure to look for the University of Tampa across the river – it’s distinctive minarets are hard to miss.
Formerly called Channelside, Sparkman Wharf is a newly redeveloped area near the Port of Tampa. Grab a bite to eat from one of the restaurants, a beer from the biergarten and get a seat for waterfront views and a relaxing time.
Tampa Bay History Center
Located at the end of Tampa Riverwalk, the Tampa Bay History Center is a 60,000 square foot building that includes the history, culture and heritage of the Tampa Bay area and Florida. Permanent exhibits include information about the indigenous people, the Tocobaga and Timucua, who originally inhabited the area, the cattle history of Florida, a Tampa Bay timeline and the pirates who used to roam the waters of the state. Afterwards be sure to visit the Columbia Cafe, an offshoot of the famed Columbia Restaurant and is located inside the museum.
Located in the port district, the Florida Aquarium is 250,000 square feet of underwater habitats and exhibits. Stop by to learn about the wetlands of Florida, more about coral reefs, bays and beaches and see all the animals that inhabit those areas.
You can’t visit Tampa without a visit to Busch Gardens. Combination conservation zoo and amusement park, Busch Gardens lets you experience 16 rides, more than 200 species of animals, shows and special events like Howl-O-Scream and Christmas Town.
ZooTampa at Lowry Park
There are plenty of places to see animals in Tampa, but ZooTampa at Lowry Park is the only place where you can get an up close view of manatees in the city! You’ll also see hippos, rhinos, elephants and orangutans in addition rides at the park.
Ybor City Museum State Park
Dating back to the 1800s, Ybor City was known for being the center of the cigar rolling industry. The Ybor City Museum State Park tells the history of the workers and others who lived within the 1 square mile district that’s located right in the middle of Tampa.
30-45 Minute Day Trips From Tampa
Hillsborough River State Park
Just outside of Tampa is Hillsborough River State Park, an escape from every day bustle. 3,000 acres on the Hillsborough River, it offers kayaking, camping, hiking and a suspension bridge you have to cross to believe.
Distance from downtown Tampa: 22 miles
You’ll never think you’re in the middle of downtown St. Petersburg when you visit Sunken Gardens. A former Florida roadside attraction, the gardens are a peaceful place to explore and relax.
Distance from downtown Tampa: 22 miles
Caladesi Island State Park
Often voted one of the best beaches in the country, Caladesi Island State Park has no development and is a great place for shelling. Only accessible by boat, it’s very quiet and not overcrowded like other local beaches can be.
Distance from downtown Tampa: 27 miles
Sponge Docks – Tarpon Springs
Home to the largest Greek American population in the United States, Tarpon Springs was the heart of the sponge industry. Some sponges are still harvested in the Gulf of Mexico and there are museums and great Greek restaurants to enjoy.
Distance from downtown Tampa: 28 miles
Day Trips From Tampa Up to 1 Hour Away
Sarasota & The Ringling Museum
The Ringling Museum is the former home of the founders of the Ringling Bros. Circus. Home to museum of fine art, a circus museum, gardens and the original owners’ home, it’s easy to send all day here.
Distance from downtown Tampa: 60 miles
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
Don’t miss out on a day trip from Tampa to Weeki Wachee Springs. Home of the world famous mermaids, Weeki Wachee is a natural spring and one of the deepest in the state. There are underwater mermaid shows, an animal show and boat ride down the Weeki Wachee River. One of Florida’s original roadside attractions, it’s well worth the visit.
Distance from downtown Tampa: 55 miles
With a singing towner, gardens, an estate tour and nature trails, you could spend hours exploring Bok Towers. There’s also a restaurant to grab a bite to eat and something to drink.
Distance from downtown Tampa: 66 miles
Share on Pinterest!
Disclosure: Some links in this post are affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase the item, My Cornacopia will receive an affiliate commission at no extra charge to you.