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The city of Tampa is the county seat of Hillsborough County and the largest city in West Central Florida.
Tampa has a humid subtropical climate. Its situation on the Gulf of Mexico allows the warm Gulf Stream to create mild winter weather. However, cold snaps do occur in winter in Tampa occasionally, bringing temperatures at night around freezing. Temperatures in the teens, and snow, have been recorded. However, this is very rare. From spring through fall, weather is very warm and humid, sometimes making the weather unpleasant for outdoor activities.
Tampa, Florida, seen from the historic Ybor district.
Tampa International Airport (TPA), located near the waters of Tampa Bay along I-275. TPA is served by Hillsborough Area Regional Transit, which goes between the airport, Marion Transit Center in downtown Tampa, and the Northwest Transit Center.
Saint Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport (PIE)is an alternative only fifteen miles away, generally serving smaller routes and discount airlines.
Tampa's Amtrak station is located at 601 Nebraska Avenue in downtown Tampa. Amtrak's Silver Service runs daily from New York City or Miami to Tampa. The train journey through Florida offers great views, but be aware that, whtile Amtrak reports an 80% on time rate, the scheduled times, particularly on the southboand trains, can be hours before the actual time of arrival, and there are limited options for rescheduling.
Tampa is served by several national bus companies. Tampa's Greyhound station is at 610 Polk Street in downtown Tampa, from which it has several daily routes to nearby towns as well as to Orlando, Miami, and points beyond.
Cruise ships from five cruise lines operate from Tampa, mostly to Caribbean islands and Mexico. The Tampa cruise terminal is on the Ybor channel downtown.
What to see
Channelside. Entertainment complex in the revitalized Channelside district near the Port of Tampa. Numerous upscale restaurants, several mid-range chain restaurants and bars, an IMAX movie theater and a trendy bowling alley.
Florida Aquarium, 701 Channelside Drive. Channelside district, just east of downtown. Fabulous aquarium following a drop of rain from a swamp through Florida's aquifer, to its rivers and out into the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean.
Tampa Museum of Art, The new Tampa Museum of Art is located in downtown Tampa on the Hillsborough river at 120 W. Gasparilla Plaza.
Tampa Theatre, 711 Franklin Street. Opened in 1926 and located right downtown, the Tampa Theatre is a historic movie palace featuring a wide range of independent, foreign, and documentary films on a daily basis.
University of Tampa. Formerly the Tampa Bay Hotel built at the turn of the 20th century by railroad magnate H.B.Plant, the beautiful old building is now used as the administration building and classrooms for the University of Tampa.
Davis Islands and Harbour Island are adjacent to downtown and both worth exploring for their beautiful waterfront areas, historic and upscale housing stock, and dining/nightlife in their main streets.
Busch Gardens, McKinley Drive. More than just an amusement park -- also a top-notch zoo. Expensive, but a very enjoyable day -- rides, shows. This is a fun place for all ages, kids, teens, and even adults. It has a family friendly atmosphere with lots of things to do and see. The scenery is amazing; it has a feel of different places as you travel throughout the park. Rides vary from a huge merry go round to the famous rollercoaster, Montu.
Lowry Park Zoo, 1101 West Sligh Avenue. One of the top-rated zoos in the country, featuring children's areas, restaurants, a manatee hospital, and first-rate encounters with animals from around the world.
Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI). Hands-on children's science museum, including an IMAX dome and stellar revolving exhibits. Great way to spend a day with the family.
University of South Florida. The main campus for this university. Blossoming from five buildings in its opening (1960) to 164 buildings on the Tampa campus alone, this beautiful college is now educating more than 29,000 students. With beautiful greenery, fountains, and named the “top architecture school in Florida” by the Florida Board of Architecture and Interior Design in 2002.
What to do
Walking tour of Ybor City — , the Ybor City State Museum offers a 60 minute walking tour of Ybor City highlighting the cigar industry's impact on the area, historic cottages/businesses, and tours of the YC State Museum & YC Cigar Museum.
Gasparilla Pirate Festival is an annual event consisting of several parades, live entertainment, and fireworks. The event is also known as the Mardi Gras of Tampa, and normally takes place on the last two Saturdays in January.
Guavaween offers daytime events and nighttime parade on the last Saturday in October in Ybor City.
Sant'Yago Knight Parade is an illuminated nighttime parade that takes place one Saturday in February in Ybor City.
Several film festivals take place at the Tampa Theatre several times a year.
Read the Tampa Tribune -- Tampa has some sort of event going on nearly every weekend, especially in the spring and early summer. Art festivals, a terrific Renaissance festival, street festivals -- take advantage of the great weather and enjoy our city.
Surprisingly, ice skating is a popular activity in the Tampa Bay area. The Tampa Bay Skating Academy in nearby Oldsmar has two NHL-sized ice surfaces. Other well-known rinks include Sunblades Center and the rink in Westfield Countryside Mall, both in Clearwater.
Lettuce Lake Park between I-75 and the University of South Florida has boardwalks that go through a nearly pristine area with 700 year old cypress trees, alligators, egrets and herons.