Located 2 hours north of Cape Coral, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is a top-address for fans of elephants, rhinos and co. A lot has happened since its humble beginnings when the zoo was managed by the University of Tampa. Today, Lowry Park Zoo houses many species from all over the world and features family-friendly rides, animal encounters and exciting events for the whole family. More than one million guests come here every year, making Zoo Tampa one of the Sunshine State’s most popular places for animal lovers.
ATTRACTIONS & AREAS AT ZOO TAMPA
Of course, the 1.300 animals are the zoo’s main attraction. These animals live in zones that represent different habitats and continents, so a walk through the zoo resembles a journey around the world. Starting point is in Asia, where Indian rhinos, Malayan tigers and moon bears are kept in large, authentic enclosures. This section of the park is also home to the primeval-looking Komodo Dragons.
In this area, visitors can tour the Dark Continent under magnificent thorn trees. Safari Africa houses iconic savannah-dwellers like giraffes, zebras and elephants, as well as antelopes and guenons. In addition to cute penguins from the Arctic, guests can also see a little star: Holly Berry, a baby hippo that was born in 2017, is the newest member of the zoo’s hippo family.
Gibbons, chimpanzees and orang-outangs are swinging from branch to branch at the Primate World, while the zoo’s feathered friends populate the free-flight aviary. Here, you can watch tropical species like hornbills, toucans and birds of paradise flying over your head. Visitors who look carefully will also notice sloths in the canopy. Two times a day, the Spirits of the Sky Raptor Show lets you witness the amazing feats of condors, owls, bald eagles and other birds of prey.
FLORIDA, ASIA, MANATEE CIRCLE, WALLAROO STATION, ROARING SPRINGS, ETC.
ZooTampa is a perfect spot if you want to discover Florida’s biodiversity. North American species include wolfs, bears, skunks and turtles, as well as Lucy, a female panther that was rescued as a cub and nursed back to life by the zoo.
In addition, ZooTampa offers the chance to watch iconic manatees – not only behind glass walls. Many injured manatees are brought to the zoo’s Manatee Critical Care Center for treatment.
The Wallaroo Station showcases the animals of Australia and is particularly suited for children: Here, little guests can get close to cute koalas, wallabies, parrots and a slithering woma python. Afterwards, it is time to try out the exciting rides: The zoo features a merry-go-round, a kids´ train and a miniature roller coaster. If you do not mind getting wet, you should hop onboard the white-water ride Roaring Springs. With such exciting options, it is no surprise that ZooTampa was named America’s most family-friendly zoo in 2009.
In addition to the aforementioned areas, the zoo offers many other attractions, among them a Carousel Circle where young children can ride their favorite animals.
ZOO TAMPA: DINING OPTIONS
If your walk through the zoo has made you hungry, do not worry: Scattered around the park are food stalls selling nachos, pretzels, hot dogs, pizza and many other snacks. The Sweet Shoppe offers donuts and homemade ice-cream, and for a hearty meal, have a seat at the International Bistro with its Italian specialties and fresh seafood.
ZOO TAMPA: TICKETS AND OPENING HOURS
The zoo is open everyday from 9.30 am to 5 pm.
Tickets cost 37 USD for adults and 27 USD for children aged 3–11. If you reserve your ticket in advance, you can save up to 5 USD. There are also “Pay for a Day” offers: Just pay the regular ticket price once, and you can visit the zoo as often as you want for the rest of the year.
If you want to get up-close to your darlings, you can book a number of animal encounters: Take your selfie with a cute koala, feed a giant turtle, rub a penguin’s back or play zookeeper at the giraffe enclosure for a day.
ZOO TAMPA: EVENTS
No matter the season – there is always something going on at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. Families will love the Toddler Tuesdays, where little guests are entertained with songs, stories and fun games. If you are interested in the protection of species, you should visit the monthly talks at the Zoo University. And thanks to “Yoga in the Wild” you can even join a fitness class under the watchful eyes of the zoo’s animals.
On Halloween the park is decorated with pumpkins, while the costumed staff and the haunted house create a spooky, yet child-friendly atmosphere. In November and December, the 50 feet Christmas tree gets visitors in the right mood for the festive season, and Santa Claus welcomes children at his Christmas Village.
ZOO TAMPA – MAP AND ROUTE PLANNER – PLAN YOUR TRIP NOW
Calculate your Route to Tampa´s Zoo at Lowry Park
Address for your navigation system: 1101 W Sligh Ave, Tampa, FL 33604, USA
Since 1995, the Florida Aquarium in Tampa has been showcasing the beauty of our planet’s oceans, rivers and lakes. Here, diverse marine ecosystems are displayed behind glass walls. In addition, guests can dive with sharks, play zookeeper in the penguin habitat, enjoy family-friendly infotainment at the 4D cinema, and splash around on the water playground.
The Florida Aquarium is located in Downtown Tampa’s Channel District, right next to the Hillsborough River.
ANIMALS AT THE FLORIDA AQUARIUM
The 7.000 plants and animals are the aquarium’s main attraction. At the “Wetland Trails” everything revolves around Florida’s native species. Here, you cannot only watch fish otters gliding through the water. The authentically designed mangrove habitat also houses pelicans, spoonbills and the Sunshine State’s famous alligators.
“Madagascar” presents the diverse wildlife of Africa’s largest island. Playful lemurs are swinging from branch to branch in a true-to-life replica of the island’s jungles. Smaller inhabitants like Madagascar tortoises and giant cockroaches can be spotted in glass terrariums.
If you always wanted to pet a stingray, you can do so at the “Bays and Beaches” zone with its touch pool. In the open ocean, the aquarium’s 300 pound grouper would be a highly sought-after trophy for fishermen. Here, the giant shares his habitat with bizarre toadfish, aptly named lookdowns and spindly garden eels. In this strange underwater world, green turtles are the most normal-looking animals.
Fans of documentaries like “Planet Earth” might already know the luminescent jellyfish called Moon Jellies. At the Moon Bay, you cannot only see these animals up-close, but also touch them. The “No Bones Zone” houses equally fascinating creatures, among them colorful starfish, anemones, sea cucumbers and sea urchins.
The Florida Aquarium takes great pride in its tiger sharks. These marine predators populate an aquarium that holds a whopping 500 gallons of water – together with silvery barracudas. Other aquariums are tilted inwards. This way, you can look up and watch swarms of fish and huge manta rays glide past you. Australian seahorses are found at “Dragons Down Under”, and fans of “Finding Nemo” can admire colorful clownfish in the “Waves of Wonder” zone.
In addition, the Florida Aquarium also houses:
- Nurse Sharks
- Moray Eels
MORE ATTRACTIONS AT THE FLORIDA AQUARIUM
Not only fish are allowed to swim at the Florida Aquarium. At the Splash Pads, an extensive water playground, little guests can splash around with fun fountains and master a jungle gym with obstacle courses. Visitors who want to get up-close to their favorite animals should book the Swim & Dive to snorkel with giant groupers, turtles and (harmless) sharks.
If you want to explore the open ocean while keeping your feet dry, you should have a seat at the 4D cinema. In addition to life-like 3D effects, splashes, fog, wind, artificial snow and even smells will take you on a journey to exotic lands. Adults can go on a virtual dive with Great White Sharks, and children follow the cute Octonauts on their trip to the Amazon.
By the way: Even though the aquarium does not house dolphins, fans of the gentle mammals have come to the right place. Two times a day, visitors can join the Wild Dolphin Cruise for 17 USD and observe groups of playful dolphins off-shore. If you want to pet, feed and learn more about cute penguins, you should purchase the Penguins: Backstage Pass for 31 USD.
On the Behind the Scenes Tour for 12.50 USD, visitors get to know the hidden side of the aquarium. All activities can be booked online together with regular tickets.
OPENING HOURS AND TICKETS AT THE FLORIDA AQUARIUM
The aquarium is open daily from 9.30 am to 5 pm. On-site parking costs 5.50 USD.
Online ticket prices depend on the day of your visit and how many days you book in advance. Tickets for adults range between 25–31 USD. Children aged 3–11 receive a discount of 4 USD, senior citizens pay 2 USD less, and children aged 3 or under visit the aquarium for free.
If you want to get 54% off your ticket, you should buy the Tampa City Pass. With this pass you can also visit the theme-park Busch Gardens, ZooTampa and the Museum of Industry & Science.
EVENTS AND SPECIAL OFFERS AT THE FLORIDA AQUARIUM
Thanks to a jam-packed event calendar, there is always something going on at the Florida Aquarium. Visitors who are interested in marine ecosystems and the conservation of species should visit the Evening Tide Talks. And if you want to have a nice workout before the aquarium opens, you can sign up for the Yoga class “Flow with the Fishes”.
On Halloween, the Florida Aquarium attracts visitors with its spooky decoration. In addition, children can go trick-or-treating, watch divers carve pumpkins underwater and receive 50% off their entrance fee if they come fully costumed.
The aquarium is also a perfect place for gourmands: During the Sea Grapes, Wine and Food Festival in April, guests can try more than 100 fine wines, as well as culinary treats provided by local restaurants. And if an ice-cold stout or lager is for you, then you should visit the Brews by the Bay festival with more than 100 sorts of beer.
Of course, guests can also host their own event at the Florida Aquarium – from birthday parties and corporate events to conferences and weddings. And if you are looking for some lavish fun on the water, you can rent the aquarium’s party boat.
DIRECTIONS TO THE FLORIDA AQUARIUM IN TAMPA
The Florida Aquarium can be reached from Tampa Airport in about 20 minutes. Guests in Sarasota need 60 minutes, and getting there from Cape Coral takes about 2 hours.
Tampa’s Waterfront has undergone a remarkable transformation, from run-down warehouses in the 1970s to today’s modern, pedestrian-friendly boardwalk. The Riverwalk is not only perfect for a stroll by the water. It also connects Tampa’s most popular attractions, idyllic parks and top-rated restaurants. Whether you want to see marine animals at the Florida Aquarium, taste Caribbean flavors at the Columbia Cafe or cross beautifully illuminated bridges after dark – you can easily spend the whole day on the Riverwalk without feeling bored.
ATTRACTIONS ON THE TAMPA RIVERWALK
Tampa’s famous boardwalk measures a whole 2.5 miles in length – no wonder that there is so much to see here. Your perfect starting point is the Tampa Convention Center in the South. From here, you can walk your way up north and take a look at the Amalie Arena. This impressive stadium can seat more than 20.000 people and is home to the ice hockey team Tampa Bay Lightning.
If you want to learn more about the city’s past, you should visit the adjacent Tampa Bay History Center. This museum features exhibitions about Florida’s native people and the first pioneers in the Sunshine State, while also showing a cigar store from the year 1920. Thanks to interactive exhibits, the History Center is perfectly suited for children.
Speaking of little visitors: The Glazer Children’s Museum offers child-friendly infotainment and experiments showcasing the different branches of science. Equally popular with families is Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park with its extensive green spaces and playgrounds. Canine companions run around freely at the dog park, while their owners unwind with a beautiful view of Tampa’s skyline.
By the way: If you want to see Tampa’s Riverwalk from the water, you should go paddleboarding on the Hillsborough River. Kayaks are available for rent at the Tampa Convention Center.
More attractions on the Tampa Riverwalk include:
- Florida Aquarium: home to more than 20.000 marine animals, among them sharks, turtles and penguins
- Florida Museum of Photographic Arts: art center with countless works by American and international photographers.
- American Victory: original battleship from World War II, open to the public
- Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park: large recreational area with playgrounds and a Splash Zone – perfect on hot days
- David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts: Tampa’s hotspot for musicals, operas and classical performances.
Visitors arriving by car can park their vehicle at parking garages near the Riverwalk. Parking north of Kennedy Boulevard is free on the weekends and after 6 pm on weekdays.
RESTAURANTS ON THE TAMPA RIVERWALK
Hungry guests have come to the right place: The boardwalk is full of culinary choices – from pizza, steaks and Caribbean dishes to American comfort food.
Florida’s cuisine has been strongly influenced by Spanish and Caribbean flavors. A perfect place to try “Floribbean” specialties is the Columbia Cafe, a true Tampa original since 1905. This upscale restaurant serves Cuban Sandwiches, tender suckling pig and Mahi Mahi filet in lavish surroundings that are reminiscent of Tampa’s Golden Age.
Fresh seafood in all varieties grace the menu at Harpoon Harry’s Crab House, and the Malio´s is known for its prime steaks. For the perfect start to your day, have a seat at the First Watch, a breakfast restaurant serving sweet waffles and pancakes. Looking for a healthy option? Then, the Tampa Salad Company is your ideal choice.
In Tampa, you cannot only dine on land, but also go on a Food Cruise with the Starship Yacht. This floating restaurant serves gourmand dishes and is perfect for birthday parties, weddings and big corporate events.
ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS ON THE TAMPA RIVERWALK
If you want to see all attractions the boardwalk has to offer, you should spend a whole day here. Thankfully, there is no reason to drive back on the same day: Tampa’s Riverwalk offers enough accommodation options for every taste and budget.
Not only visitors of the Tampa Convention Center love to stay at the Marriott Waterside Hotel. In addition to 700 rooms, this 4-star-hotel features a rooftop pool, a spa and fitness center and 3 restaurants. The numerous awards speak for themselves: If you want to reside in style on the Riverwalk, this is the perfect place for you.
For a particularly nice view of the Hillsborough River, book a night at the brand-new Aloft Tampa Hotel with its pool terrace. This waterfront hotel also amazes guests with its modern and spacious rooms.
At the Barrymore Hotel Tampa Riverwalk, theater fans can stay close to the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. And if you want to stay fit during your vacation, the Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk with its gym is worth a closer look. This 3-star-hotel is also known for its barbecue restaurant by the water.
Visitors who want to stay longer should check out the apartments overlooking the boardwalk on the other side of the river. The Manor Riverwalk Luxury Apartments, for example, combine the privacy of your own home with the amenities of a luxury resort.
EVENTS ON THE TAMPA RIVERWALK
No matter the season – there is always something going on at Tampa’s Riverwalk. A definite highlight is the Tampa Riverfest in May with its culinary treats, family-friendly activities and live concerts. At the same time, the Taco Fest celebrates the diverse flavors of Mexico, and the Wiener Dog Derby takes place at Curtis Hixon Waterfront.
On Halloween, little visitors fill their pockets with candy before having a meet and greet with cute monsters and superheroes. Snow is rare in Tampa, but if you want to get into festive mood, you should visit the 36 feet Christmas Tree during Holiday Harbour in December. Another feast for the eye awaits visitors at the Lighted Boat Parade when beautifully decorated boats race against each other on the Hillsborough River. On July 4 Tampa’s Riverwalk is illuminated by a 20 minute long display of fireworks.
Southern Tampa is home to one of the city’s most popular shopping destinations. At the Hyde Park Village, you can browse through luxury boutiques, enjoy culinary treats, join fitness classes and even craft your own gifts. A cinema and many exciting events make Hyde Park Village the perfect place for your whole family.
What stores are available at Hyde Park Village?
Thanks to 60 different stores, customers are guaranteed to find the right product at Hyde Park Village. The focus lies on high-quality clothing sold in American and international boutiques. Women are spoilt for choice at Anthropologie, Canvas Fashion Gallery and Francesca´s, while Salt Pines provides outfits for men. Looking for a new tie? Then visit ELLA BING Haberdashery. Social Status sells stylish sneakers and streetwear, while the newest Latin American designs are presented at Boho Hunter. Your top-address for sportswear is Surf Outfitter by Jack Rabbit, and Bonobos offers a variety of comfortable pants and loungewear.
Beauty products fill the shelves at Aveda Level Salonspa and Bluemercury, Downtown Dogs is the go-to place for pet owners, and Paper Source features gift ideas for many occasions. Alternatively, get creative yourself and craft a souvenir for your loved ones at Color Me Mine, or create your own candle at Candle Pour.
Shopping is not the only pastime at Hyde Park Village Tampa. The CineBistro combines the newest blockbusters with fine dining. Here, movie fans are not limited to popcorn and soft drinks. Instead, you can order gourmet dishes and fine wines from the comfort of your seat. And if you want to stay fit on vacation, check out the fitness and yoga classes at Lululemon and VKNG Fitness.
- Brooks Borthers
- Canvas Fashion
- Ella Bing
- Salt Pines
- Social Status
- Sunni Spencer
- Vineyard Vines
- The Cambridge Club
Hyde Park Village Offers & Events
It pays to frequently visit the official website www.hydeparkvillage.com. Here you will find the newest sales and offers, as well as exciting events for the whole family.
A farmers´ market is held on the first Sunday of every month, selling fresh produce from the region and hand crafted jewelry, accompanied by the sound of live music.
In October, renowned local artists present their works at the Hyde Park Village Art Fair, and if you are looking for the perfect Halloween Decoration, you can buy pumpkins of all sizes at the Pumpkin Patch. During Christmas season, when the Hyde Park Village is illuminated by festive lights, Santa Claus stops by to take photos with his little fans.
Posie´s Flower Truck, a true Tampa original, visits the mall every Wednesday and Friday. Then, you can buy flowers for every occasion from her converted Volkswagen bus. And if you always wanted to start doing Yoga, you should join the free courses held at Lululemon every Sunday.
Hyde Park Village Restaurants – A huge selection for every taste guaranteed!
Shopping trips on the fresh air can make you hungry – no problem thanks to a wide range of culinary choices at the Hyde Park Village. Timpano is known for their tender steaks, fresh seafood and homemade pasta. Fans of American comfort food get their fill at On Swann and Goody Goody, one of Tampa´s oldest burger restaurants.
The Bartacto not only attracts guests with its colorful decoration, but also with Mexican, Asian and Mediterranean flavors. Crispy pizza and Italian wines grace the menu at the Forbici. Speaking of which: The Wine Exchange lets you order 40 fine wines by the glass, so you can sample first before making your choice. Fans of authentic pubs should have a pint at Irish 31, and Buddy Brew Company is the perfect spot for your daily dose of caffeine.
A customers´ favorite is the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM. Just swipe your credit card and choose from a wide range of delicious muffins to go.
- Buddy Brew Coffee
- Clean Juice
- Goody Goody
- Irish 31
- Meat Market
- On Swann
- Sorrento Sweets
- The Hyppo
- Wine Exchange
Hyde Park Village Quick Tour Video
Hyde Park Village – Location, Directions, Parking and Hours
The Hyde Park Village is, as the name suggests, near Hyde Park Tampa and right on the Selmon Expressway.
The shopping areal is located at W Swann Ave. The village is open Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 8 pm. On Sundays closing time is 5 pm.
1602 W Snow Ave, Tampa, FL 33606
weekdays 10:00 am to 8:00 pm
Sunday 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Overview of travel times from other cities
- Cape Coral – 2,25 hours
- Captiva Island – 3 hours
- Daytona Beach – 2,25 hours
- Fisher Island – 4,5 hours
- Fort Lauderdale – 3,75 hours
- Fort Myers – 2 hours
- Key West – 7 hours
- Miami – 4 hours
- Naples – 2,5 hours
- Palm Beach – 3,5 hours
- Pine Island – 1,25 hours
- Sanibel Island – 2,5 hours
- Venice – 1,25 hours
Hyde Park Village FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
What is Hyde Park Village?
Hyde Park Village is a more upscale, open-air shopping district near Hyde Park, Tampa.
When did Hyde Park Village open?
Hyde Park Village opened in 1985.
Where can I park at Hyde Park Village?
Parking garages are available on Swann Avenue and S. Rome Avenue across from CineBistro, Oregon Avenue and W. Swann Avenue, or on Rome Avenue and Snow Avenue. On-street parking is $ 1.5 an hour Monday through Sunday between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Can I take my animals to Hyde Park Village?
Yes, for example you can take your dog with you to Hyde Park Village. Find out more here.
Which hotels are near Hyde Park Village?
The more upscale Epicurean Hotel is a few hundred meters away from Hyde Park Village. Alternatively, we recommend taking public transport to downtown. The choice of hotels there is very large.
You cannot decide between animals and rollercoasters? Then, visit Busch Gardens, one of the biggest zoos in the USA. Zebras, giraffes and antelopes populate a vast savannah. Lions and tigers can be observed behind glass, and a jungle area lets you get close to African primates. In addition, Busch Gardens features 17 rides: from relaxing merry-go-rounds to the Iron Gwazi with top speeds of 75 mph. Thanks to this variety, there is something for everybody at Busch Gardens Tampa.
Busch Gardens Tampa in a Nutshell
The history of Busch Gardens dates back to the year 1959 and starts – rather untypically – with a brewery. In addition to their production facility, Anheuser Busch had the idea to open a 15-acre garden for visitors. Flamingos and birds of prey were the first animals, quickly followed by African species like rhinos, giraffes and chimpanzees in 1965. The first ride opened 8 years later, and in 2004, Busch Gardens´ “SheiKra” even held the title of Florida´s biggest rollercoaster.
While the park grew, its origins faded: The brewery closed as early as 1995. In 2009, ownership went to the SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment Division, and the last insignia of Anheuser-Busch disappeared later that year. Busch Gardens still sees a lot of expansions – like the Iron Gwazi. This mega coaster was scheduled to open in 2020. However, due to Covid, visitors had to wait until March 2022.
Location and Directions
Busch Gardens is located in North Tampa, 2 miles from the Interstate 275. Reaching the park by car from the city center can take 15 to 30 minutes – depending on the time of day. Please note that parking at Busch Gardens is not free. Instead, fees of 30 USD per vehicle apply if you do not own an annual pass.
Alternatively, you can take the Mears Shuttle Bus, which is free for Online ticket holders. The shuttle picks up guests at various locations in and around Orlando. Due to high popularity, you should make your reservation early, though.
Reaching the park with public transport is another alternative – albeit not the fastest one: Buses from central Tampa usually take 42 minutes or more.
The opening hours at Busch Gardens vary according to the season. Most of the time, the park opens at 10 am and closes from 5 to 9 pm, so it is a good idea to check the times on the official website. There, you can also see which attractions are temporarily closed due to repairs or renovations.
Tickets and Prices
On-site, the average price for a single Busch Gardens ticket is 115 USD. However, we advise you to buy tickets online. This way, you can save up to 50 % – for example, during the Busch Gardens Flash Sales. You will also see a calendar with prices on particular days: While weekends are the most expensive times, tickets are often sold for 30 USD less during the week.
In addition to single tickets, there are many upgrades, add-ons and packages:
- For 40 USD more, you can enjoy discounts on food and drinks with the All-Day Dining Pass.
- The Any Day Ticket allows you to visit the park at any time you want – for 132 USD. You will have 6 months to redeem this ticket.
- If you want to visit Busch Gardens more than once per year, you should buy the Fun Card for 132 USD.
- Annual Passes come in different varieties and cost between 159 and 417 USD.
- With the 40 USD fast pass “Quick Queue”, you can skip the lines at Busch Gardens´ rides.
- The Two, Three and Four Park Tickets allow you to combine Busch Gardens with other parks: namely, SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica Orlando and Adventure Island.
Coupons are another way to save money when visiting Busch Gardens. You can find them on websites like groupon, retailmenot and couponfollow.
Busch Gardens Tampa – Attractions
Busch Gardens features a wide variety of attractions – ranging from native and exotic animals to rides for every taste.
Busch Gardens Tampa features a whopping 12,000 animals. They belong to 200 different species and can be found in authentically designed areas:
Measuring 64 acres – or 48 football fields – Serengeti Plain takes up a majority of Busch Gardens. Here, iconic African species like giraffes, zebras, antelopes and ostriches live amongst tall monkey bread trees. There are rhinos, too – including “Winnifred”, a baby that already weighs 220 lbs. If you want to see these animals up-close, you should book a ride with the open Safari Bus. Giraffes in particular are everything but shy and like to stick their necks down to visitors. Alternatively, you can watch animals onboard the “Serengeti Express” train – albeit from a greater distance.
Edge of Africa
Edge of Africa is the second area that houses African animals – including lions. Only glass walls separate these majestic cats from visitors, so you will have a chance to admire them up-close. Hippos can be observed above and below the water; meerkats poke their heads from dugouts, and the laughter of hyenas echoes through the area. Crossing the fishing village “Egypt”, you will reach another predator: cheetahs that demonstrate their agility in a large enclosure.
Where grassland makes way for dense jungle, The Nairobi area houses two species of primates: Gorillas live in a family tribe and build “beds” from the vegetation that abounds in their enclosure. Not far from them, you can watch our relatives, the chimpanzees, while crocodiles populate an artificial lake. Admittedly, Busch Gardens´ penguins might seem a bit out of place here. However, this African penguin species feels right at home in the Sunshine State.
A colorful spectacle awaits you in the Bird Gardens, as they are home to parrots. To be more precise, you will see Lorikeets: Australian specimen that flutter about in a large enclosure and love sugary treats – perfect for visitors who want to feed them. Right next door, Florida´s flamingos present their purple plumage, and further south, you can watch kangaroos and wallabies.
Pantopia – formerly known as Timbuktu – is famous for its Arabic architecture. However, amidst authentic clay huts and markets, you will also find animals: Asian elephants roam a vast enclosure and often splash around in their pond. You want to learn more about these gentle giants? Then, the Elephant Insider Tour is perfect for you.
Southeast Asian vibes await you at Jungala. Here, you will see Bengal tigers that are among the largest tiger species – reaching up to 10 feet. Unlike many other cats, tigers love to swim and can be observed above and under water. Another attraction are the Orangutans: As these apes only cover short distances on the ground, their enclosure features “o-lines” for climbing and swinging from branch to branch.
Busch Gardens Tampa is home to 17 rides – ranging from rollercoasters and wild water rides to freefall towers and play areas for children.
If you love to scream in excitement, the rollercoasters at Busch Gardens are perfect for you:
- Montu holds the record of North America´s biggest inverted coaster. Here, visitors dangle in the air for extra-thrills.
- Not far from its name giver´s enclosure, you will find Cheetah Hunt: the park´s longest thrill-ride with top speeds of 62 mph.
- An even faster ride awaits you at SheiKra: This rollercoaster reaches up to 70 mph and boasts an almost vertical plunge.
- Tigris imitates the power of a big cat – catapulting guests into the air with 60 mph.
- Extra-strong G-forces are guaranteed by the Scorpion with its 360-degree loop.
- Florida´s legendary steel coaster Kumba not only features rapid turns, but also 3 seconds of absolute weightlessness.
- The wagons at Cobra´s Curse change their spin depending on the weight of the passengers. This way, every ride will be different.
- Iron Gwazi is the pinnacle of excitement. Opened in 2022, this colossus boasts a height of 206 ft, near vertical drops and up to 76 mph.
Do you want to cool off on a hot day? No problem, as Busch Gardens features two wild water rides. Congo River Rapids simulates a boat ride on Africa´s untamed river – including chutes – while Stanley Falls Flume sends you down a waterfall. Afterwards, you can dry off by riding the park´s two freefall towers. In addition to the family-friendly Wild Surge, there is Falcon´s Fury: a monster that drops its passengers from a height of 335 feet. For a more relaxed experience, man the Skyride cable car to soar above Busch Gardens and watch animals in the distance.
Busch Gardens is not only suited for adrenaline junkies. The park also features many attractions for children – among them, a charming merry-go-round with carnival vibes, a water playground and the rather tame rollercoasters SandSerpant and Air Grover. If you really want to treat your little ones, take them to Sesame Street Safari of Fun: Here, children can let loose on a bouncy castle, walk over rope bridges and cuddle with their heroes from Sesame Street. Elmo, the Cookie Monster and Co. offer interactive shows where little visitors can join in on the dancing.
Busch Gardens Tampa – Shows and Events
No matter the season – thanks to a wide variety of shows and events, there is always something to see at Busch Gardens:
- The Food & Wine Festival in spring offers culinary treats and selected wines.
- Or do you prefer a tasty lager? Then, the Bierfest in summertime is perfect for you.
- On the Fourth of July, visitors can see one of Tampa´s biggest fireworks at Busch Gardens
- Trick or Treating and costume parades are organized on Halloween.
- During Kid´s Weekends, little guests can get close to their heroes from Sesame Street.
- Christmas Town amazes with festive lights, holiday treats and the figureskating show “Holiday on Ice”.
Busch Gardens Tampa – Restaurants and Shops
Animal encounters and thrilling rides make you hungry? Then, you have come to the right place! Busch Gardens Tampa is home to 10 restaurants, cafés and bars for every taste:
Guests who prefer American cuisine cannot go wrong with the burgers and chicken tenders at Zagora Café. Oasis Pizza serves Italian specialties, the Dragon Dog features gourmet hot dogs, and barbecue rips are a favorite dish at the Zambia Smokehouse. Afterwards, treat yourself to some ice-cream at Moroccan Delights – or have a drink at the Giraffe Bar while watching Busch Gardens´ long-necked animals.
Of course, there is no shortage of shops: At the Marrakesh Market, you will find oriental souvenirs. African wood carvings fill the shelves at Nature´s Kingdom, and several other stores offer merchandise with the Busch Gardens emblem. Alternatively, visit the Build-A-Bear Workshop and create your own stuffed animals.
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to go to Busch Gardens?
The prices depend on the season and the particular day. On average, tickets sell for 115 USD at the park. If you buy them online, though, you can save up to 50 % with discounts like the Busch Gardens Flash Sales.
What can you do at Busch Gardens?
Covering an area of 336 acres, Busch Gardens is home to more than 200 animal species – including giraffes, lions, apes and colorful parrots. In addition, there are 17 rides for every age, as well as restaurants, shops and a Sesame Street-themed children’s area.
How much time do you need at Busch Gardens Tampa?
Busch Gardens Tampa ranks among the biggest theme parks in Florida, so simply walking through it will take at least 1.5 hours. Due to long queues at the rides, you should stay for a minimum of 4 hours – or 6 hours if you want to experience everything this park has to offer.
How far is Busch Gardens from Orlando?
Busch Gardens is located 83 miles from Orlando, so motorists should account for a 1.5 to 2.5-hour drive – depending on the time of day.
Should I get the Busch Gardens Fun Card?
With the Fun Card, you can visit Busch Gardens as often as you want within a year. However, unlike annual passes, Fun Cards do not come with free parking.
Can I bring water bottles into Busch Gardens Tamp
While food and drinks – with the exception of baby food – are not allowed at Busch Gardens, you can bring your own water bottle. If you have allergies or special dietary requirements, you should contact park security at the entrance.
Tampa Information & Travel Tipps – learn what makes Tampa the ideal place for your next vacation.
Best Sights and Attractions
With a population of 385.430, Tampa is Florida’s third-largest city. In recent years it has enjoyed a rapid growth, which speaks volumes about the quality of life: Tampa attracts people with its cosmopolitan vibes and varied shopping opportunities, without feeling too big or over-crowded. The beach is never far away, and there is no shortage of family-friendly attractions such as theme parks, waterparks, zoos, aquariums, museums and sports stadiums. Tampa’s new boardwalk is perfect for walking and jogging, and nature lovers have ample opportunity to observe Florida’s wildlife at extensive reserves nearby.
Getting to Tampa could not be any easier thanks to the city’s international airport. But of course, you can also take the car from Cape Coral, which only takes 2 hours.
Your day of sightseeing should begin on Tampa’s Riverwalk. No expense was spared to create this 2.5 mile long boardwalk running next to the Hillsborough River. Starting point is the Tampa Convention Center. Walk past the futuristic Amalie Arena – home of the ice hockey team Tampa Bay Lightning – and through scenic Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park before taking a rest at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. Here you can enjoy a beautiful view of Tampa’s modern skyscrapers.
The River Walk is perfect for a stroll at night, when its bridges are beautifully illuminated. It also connects Downtown Tampa’s most famous sights, such as the Museum of Art: With its perfectly geometric form made of glass and aluminum and the colorful fiber-optic lights, this building is a true eye-catcher. Inside, the museum displays contemporary paintings, sculptures and photos, as well as antique pottery and statues.
Just a stone’s throw away, the Glazer Children´s Museum features family-friendly, interactive exhibitions. Here, children can build Lego machines, play firefighter, explore a climbable model of the water cycle and create miniature storms at the weather station.
If you are interested in the city’s past, you should visit the Tampa Bay History Center. Here you will learn all about Florida’s native inhabitants, early settlers, infamous pirates and Tampa’s once-thriving cigar industry.
Looking for some watery fun? Then grab your swim trunks and head over to Adventure Island: This 74 acre waterpark features 9 slides – among them the aptly named Gulf Scream with top speeds of 25 mph. At the 56 feet tall Riptide guests slide down head first, and of course, you can always just relax in the lazy river or the wave pool.
More attractions in Tampa include:
- Busch Gardens: a family-friendly theme park with a zoo and safari park, exciting roller coasters and fluffy Sesame Street characters
- Museum of Science and Industry: the largest science museum in the southeastern US, housing a planetarium and interactive exhibitions about medicine, space travel, robots, paleontology and much more
- ZooTampa at Lowry Park: a zoo with more than 1.300 animals from all continents, among them rhinos, hippos, komodo dragons, primates, penguins and wallabies
- Florida Aquarium: home to 13.000 aquatic animals like sharks, octopuses, sea otters and turtles
- Henry B. Plant Museum: an opulent Victorian hotel with original furniture and decoration from the late 19th century
- Raymond James Stadium: Tampa’s state-of-the-art football stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Tampas Best Beaches and Nature Reserves
For many people, being close to the beach is a main reason to visit Tampa or even live there. For example, Clearwater Beach with its fine, white sand, crystal-clear water and excellent cleanliness is just a 35 minute car ride away. Here, guests enjoy a wide variety of watersports, restaurants, boutiques and beach resorts. Of course, you will hardly find Clearwater Beach empty. Every year, Spring Breakers flock here to party, although the numbers cannot compare with destinations like Daytona Beach or Panama City.
If you are looking for peace and quiet, you should visit the equally beautiful Indian Rocks Beach 6 miles to the south. Ben T. Davis Beach, Tampa’s biggest public beach, is comfortably located near the airport, and dogs can cool off at the Brohard Paw Park & Beach. The barrier island Sand Key is not only a place of natural beauty, but also perfect if you want to collect colorful sea shells.
Not only newlywed couples love Honeymoon Island. Here you can enjoy 4 miles of pristine beaches and observe pelicans, herons and fish eagles on a hike. Honeymoon Island is also an ideal place to watch dolphins from the shore. You do not need a boat to get here, as the island is connected to the mainland by bridge. The car ride from Tampa takes about 40 minutes.
Another spot for beach lovers is Treasure Island. Only 6.000 people live in this tropical paradise known for its fine sand and untouched dunes. The water is not just amazingly clean, but also teeming with fish, so do not forget to bring your snorkeling gear.
If you want to go for a hike amidst lush natural surroundings, you should visit Lettuce Lake Park 20 minutes north of Tampa. These 240 acre wetlands are home to water birds, squirrels, tortoises and even alligators. Thanks to wooden boardwalks, you can explore the area without getting your feet wet. Climb the park’s observation tower for a scenic birds-eye view.
Situated just 20 miles to the north is Hillsborough River Park. Challenging rapids make for a perfect kayaking spot, but the park is also ideal for camping, picnicking, cycling, swimming, horseback riding and hiking. History fans should visit Fort Foster: Here, reconstructed fortifications tell the dramatic tale of Florida’s Indian Wars.
Shopping Opportunities Galore
Florida´s third-largest city offers shopping opportunities for every taste and budget.
Take the International Plaza Bay Street, for example – a shopping haven with more than 200 stores. Here you will find everything from fashion boutiques like Louis Vuitton and Hugo Boss to sportswear, beauty products, shoes, watches, jewelry and the newest Apple phones. Hungry customers can choose from 16 restaurants and cafés.
Hyde Park Village offers high-end shopping in idyllic surroundings. In addition to elegant fashion boutiques, delis and top-rated restaurants, this shopping arcade also features the world’s first cupcake ATM: Just swipe your credit card and get your delicious cupcake at any time of the day.
Bargain hunters should visit the Tampa Premium Outlets. This shopping complex is not only known for its Italian-themed architecture. It also houses more than 110 stores offering discounts of up to 50%.
Looking for a more traditional shopping experience? Then Ybor City is the place to go. Once known as America’s Cigar Capital, this authentic neighborhood still harbors many stores where you can buy hand-rolled cigars. Ybor City is also perfect if you want to try Caribbean specialties such as the famous Cuban Sandwich.
Climate and Weather
Tampa features a tropical climate with dry winters and humid summers. In winter and spring, temperatures range around 23 degrees Celsius, but can easily drop to 10 degrees in winter nights. In some years low temperatures can even lead to frost. Snow, however, is very rare and was last recorded in 1977.
Most precipitation falls in summer, with an average of 10-14 rainy days from June to September. Tampa Bay is known as America’s “Lightning Capital” for a reason: Thunderstorms are an almost daily occurrence in the summer months, mostly in the afternoon. During rainy season, humidity levels increase, and temperatures reach up to 33 degrees Celsius. Luckily, a cooling ocean breeze provides some relief. For guests who want to go swimming, this season is ideal, as water temperatures range around 27-29 degrees in summer. If 21 degrees is not too cold for you, you can still go for a swim in January.
Vacationers looking for pleasant temperatures, low rainfall and moderate humidity should visit Tampa in the months of April, October or November.