If there is one state in the U.S. unique for road-tripping, it’s Florida. And if there’s one city in Florida that is best for road-tripping, it’s Tampa. Why? Because Tampa is home to some of the state’s most diverse landscapes and attractions, all within a relatively small area. Now let’s get ready to go road-tripping through Tampa!
If you’re looking for beaches, city life, or nature, Tampa has it all. We’ve compiled the ultimate guide to help you plan your Tampa road trip. So whether you’re a local looking for a weekend getaway or a visitor from out of state, this guide covers you.
Included In The Ultimate Tampa Road-Tripping Guide
- Tips for planning your route
- Iconic adventures you don’t want to miss in Tampa
- Deciding on where to stay
- What kind of adventures can you plan (beach routes, parks, attractions)
- Dining suggestions
Tampa is home to some of the state’s most diverse landscapes and attractions, all within a relatively small area. If you’re looking for beaches, city life, or nature, Tampa has it all. This planning guide covers trip planning, destinations, optional features, driving tips throughout Tampa, and more, and we hope this is a valuable asset to you as we use this as our Tampa road-tripping guide too!
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Road-tripping Through Tampa
Tampa is a beautiful city located on Florida’s gulf coast. The city is full of history, culture, and entertainment. Tampa has many things to see and do, making it the perfect place for a road trip.
To plan the perfect road trip to Tampa, you must consider the following:
- Your budget – how much can you afford to spend on your 3 days of road-tripping through Tampa?
- Travel companions (age range of friends & family to sort through age-appropriate adventures for everyone)
- Size of the vehicle you will need to conquer your personal Tampa road-tripping guide
- The length of your trip (we suggest 3-4 days, the latter for more in-depth cultural experiences)
- What do you want to see and do while you are in the city? (adventures, museums, walking tours, beaches, etc.)
- How are you getting to Tampa?
Once you have considered these factors, you can start planning your route. Tampa is conveniently located on I-75, making it easy to access from so many different cities, and you can fly right into the Tampa International Airport, which is also convenient. If anyone you are traveling with is not nearby, the airport is easily accessible, and you can pick them up.
Plan Adventures, Then Plan Your Road-Tripping Through Tampa Route
Plan (and book/reserve) what you want to see and do before you plan your route, and then you’ll also need to plan where to stay. Doing things in this order will help you figure out how far or close you will be to each attraction when you start in the morning and end in the evening.
Doing this will help you find the best proximity to a resort, Airbnb, VRBO, or wherever you make your home base while road-tripping through Tampa. All this will help you tick off the boxes on your trip adventure bucket list and start exploring all the city of Tampa offers.
Now that we have that squared away let’s come up with a rough overview of adventures for you to add to your Tampa bucket list.
Things To Do And See In Tampa (Light Overview, Not Exhaustive)
There are various ways to approach adventure planning and road-tripping through Tampa and our list of things to see and do in Tampa will help you plan your trip!
- Take the scenic route and explore all that Tampa Bay offers.
- Go straight into the city’s heart and check out all the attractions.
Situated with Tampa Bay, you will find outstanding beautiful beaches among some of the best in the world. Do a Beach route and include the following:
- Clearwater Beach
- St. Pete Beach
- Caladesi Island
- Elliott Key
No matter how you plan your Tampa road trip, make sure to hit the things that interest you most, as Tampa is a beautiful city with much to offer, and you will have a memorable road trip. As part of your personal Tampa road-tripping guide, you will begin planning the adventure part of your trip.
This list is just a small sprinkling of things to do in the Tampa area.
- History lovers should visit the Tampa History Center.
- And you’ll also want to check out the Henry B. Plant Museum
- For a cultural experience, visit the Tampa Museum of Art.
- For a fun sea vibe, visit the Florida Aquarium
- Visit Busch Gardens for thrills and fun rides.
- Adventure Island is perfect for waterpark fun.
- Visit the Florida Aquarium – visit your favorite aquatic animals.
- Catch a game at Tropicana Field and watch the Tampa Bay Rays play.
- Stroll through Historic Ybor City – explore this lively district full of shops, restaurants, and nightlife.
- Soak up the sun at Clearwater Beach –a top-rated beach in the USA for sunning, swimming, and shell collecting.
- Take a riverboat cruise – see Tampa from the water on a cruise down the Hillsborough River.
- Take a scenic drive down Bayshore Boulevard – enjoy water and skyline views.
- Visit the Museum of Science & Industry – explore interactive exhibits on science and technology.
- Go on a safari at Lowry Park Zoo – see exotic animals from Africa, Asia, and Australia up close.
- Play golf at one of Tampa’s many championship courses – test your skills on some of the best greens in the country.
- Walk on the Tampa Riverwalk – a 2.6-mile (pedestrian trail) and discover culture, dining, and unique experiences.
- Take a haunted walking tour with one of many available to visit those ‘said to be’ haunted locations within city limits.
Prefer Park Adventures Only? Tampa Has Those Too!
This is the shortlist, as there are over 180+ parks to choose from, each open to the public and all with different amenities.
- Andersen Park: within Hyde Park
- Al Lopez Park: bike, bbq, hang at the fishing dock
- Ballast Point: Claim to fame: 600 ft Pier, splash pads, best of sunrises (Hillsborough Bay)
- Bayshore Blvd Linear Park Trail: 4.5 Miles (the world’s longest continuous sidewalk = claim to fame)
- Cotanchobee Park: Part of the Tampa Riverwalk
- Cypress Point Park: Disc Golf, Jogging, and a beach
- Perry Harvey Park: skate park, Gateway Sculptures, and a bit of cultural history
- WaterWorks Park: Ulele Springs, canoe, kayak, etc.
How To Navigate Route For Road-Tripping Through Tampa
Whether you are a novice road-tripper, a new driver, a new family, or have never been on a road trip but crave the experience, these navigating options will help you move through TAMPA without issue.
- Choose your route, and make sure to hit all the highlights.
- You’ll want to map out your route so that you hit all the highlights.
- keep in mind exactly how many days you have to complete your Tampa bucket list
Plan your activities, adventures, dining stops, and lodging using any of the following navigational methods
- use your Phone navigation app: Google Maps Maps
- Use Apple Maps
- Google Drive
- A paper map (Oh, em-gee, they do exist!)
- your vehicle’s nav system
Tips For Driving Around Tampa + Car Issues
If you have issues with your car: breakdown, malfunction, accident:
- Report it to your rental company (if you rented the car)
- Call AAA if you have that membership and own the car
- Do not leave the vehicle abandoned, as the TAMPA.GOV site discusses abandoned car protocol.
- Call the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine: local lawyers if you have been in a car accident.
Remember To Stock Your Car With Food and Beverages
I remember one road trip from Miami to Cape Coral, where we had no food or water in the car, plus miserable driving conditions from a monsoon-like storm on Alligator Row.
I vowed to warm everyone from that day forward to stock up their car with food and water before they embark on any road trip so you are always comfortable!
- granola bars
- stocked cooler with water and sandwiches
- fresh fruit
- cookies (keep them in the cooler because of the heat)
Of course, you’ll want to tailor your snacks to your personal preferences. But these are just a few ideas to get you started.
Tips For Planning Your Overnight Stay: Road-Tripping Through Tampa
You need to rest after a day of adventure, so planning where to stay each night is prudent. Determining what lodging is closest to your adventure mainstays is also one of our best suggestions!
When planning where to stay overnight in Tampa, consider these tips:
- First, you’ll want to find a comfortable and clean place.
- Second, you’ll want to find a safe place.
- Finally, you’ll want to find a site convenient to where you’ll be spending most of your time.
Tampa Road-Tripping Guide + Booking Suggestions For Lodging
- Use a hotel booking site like Expedia or Booking.Com
- try out a vacation rental such as VRBO
- Book an Airbnb
Pro Tip: Ask around, as insider knowledge and locals are the best suggestions for booking an excellent place to stay.
Restaurants to Experience While Road-Tripping Through Tampa
Here are 5 of the best restaurants in Tampa:
- The Columbia Restaurant – A Tampa institution serving authentic Cuban cuisine.
- Bern’s Steak House – A world-renowned steakhouse with an extensive wine list.
- Ulele – A modern Native American restaurant with a beautiful waterfront setting.
- The Refinery – A trendy farm-to-table restaurant with an eclectic menu.
- Datz – A popular comfort food restaurant known for its over-the-top dishes.
Best Road Trips From Tampa (Escaping Tampa For 1 Day Or Weekend)
Now in reverse, if you live in Tampa and want to escape for a day, there are many options for road-tripping from Tampa to other cities in Florida!
If you want to leave Tampa and road trip from it, you can take plenty of road trips from Tampa.
- weekend getaways from Tampa (Ft. Lauderdale, Okefenokee Swamp, Delray Beach)
- A Tampa road trip to Tallahassee
- Budget day trips from Tampa (Honeymoon Island State Park, Weeki Wachee Springs, etc. )
- Day Trips From Tampa (Kennedy Space Center, Cabbage Key, Clearwater Beach)
- One Tank Trips From Tampa: Saint Petersburg Sunken Gardens, Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, Walt Disney World, Rainbow Springs State Park (with tubing)
- Tampa To Beach Getaways: Siesta Keys, Holmes Beach, Anna Maria Island, Bonita Springs
Will You Use Our Road-Tripping Through Tampa Planning Guide?
Enjoy your time in Tampa and all it has to offer! From the beautiful beaches to the fantastic restaurants, there is something for everyone in Tampa. Whatever you do, you will indeed have a great time in Tampa! Tampa is a hidden gem in the Sunshine State.
One of the sunshine cities shines bright as a favorite destination, from stunning beaches to world-class museums. So round up your friends, pack your bags, and gas up the car—it’s time to explore Tampa!
Tell me what I missed in this article or what you need to know more about in the comment section below! ~ Dana Xo