Submitted by Sarah Fisher
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Visitors Guide to Tampa, Florida, USA
The city of Tampa is situated on the western coast of the state of Florida in the USA. With a thriving commercial seaport and many waterfront areas, Tampa is also close to a number of notable beaches, such as Clearwater and St. Pete. Located across from St. Petersburg and within easy reach of Orlando, the city has much to offer visitors, including many historic sites, family attractions and major sporting venues. Tampa currently has a population in excess of 300,000 and covers more than 110 square miles / 285 square kilometers.
Tampa also features a wealth of shopping centers, together with restaurants, bars and a healthy nightlife. Much of city life is centered around the downtown area, which contains the Port of Tampa and the Waterfront district. With two universities, many entertainment venues and the outstanding Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, the city has earned itself a reputation for being Florida's cultural center.
Tourist attractions in Tampa are extremely impressive, with many superb beaches nearby making Tampa the perfect holiday destination. Facilities include imposing landmarks and monuments, museums and art galleries, many must-see sights and family attractions, recreational activities, and a number of large parklands and gardens. Top attractions include Busch Gardens, which is one of the best theme parks in the whole of Florida, with thrilling rides combined with a vast zoo.
Also worth a visit in Tampa are the Florida Aquarium, Dinosaur World, the Weeki Wachee Springs, the extremely historic Sacred Heart Catholic Church and the Raymond James Stadium, which regularly hosts major professional football games and is the home ground of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Throughout the year the city regularly features many exciting festivals, including the extremely popular Gasparilla Pirate Festival, which is held each year during January and always attracts large crowds.
Around Tampa, public transport is well ordered and the city is easy to reach by road, with nearby highways and interstates. Greyhound buses operate within Tampa and travel to a number of Florida cities, including Orlando and Miami. Other popular modes of transport include Amtrak trains, inner-city streetcars and taxis, which should generally be booked in advance.
Tampa International Airport (TPA) stands around 7 miles / 11 km from the city center and is an important transport hub, regarded as one of America's most efficient airports. With many passengers arriving each day, Tampa Airport offers a range of convenient ground transport, such as shuttle buses, taxis and car rental options.
Being a popular and sunny coastal city, with many exceptional attractions, it comes as no surprise that Tampa offers an array of hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, and affordable accommodation. Some of the most popular hotels in the city can be found in the heart of the downtown district, close to facilities such as shops and restaurants. Also, a number of waterfront hotels in Tampa offer exceptional coastal views and are extremely desirable, although the hotel rates often carry a premium, particularly during the high season, which is from January to April. Weekend and summer rates are usually reduced and this is a good time to find discounts.
Tampa has an abundance of restaurants, which are readily available and suit every palate. Restaurants, cafes and bars have developed greatly in recent years, due to the rapidly expanding tourism trade and busy seaport. Concentrated around the central areas of Tampa, in the Hyde Park neighborhood - particularly along South Howard Avenue, the waterfront and throughout the lively Ybor district, most types of cuisine can be found in Tampa, including fast food at large food courts in shopping malls, traditional Hispanic eateries and exclusive seafood restaurants along the coastline.
The city offers a diverse shopping destination, with a large and varied selection of shops and stores. Facilities in Tampa include many designer outlets, well-known department stores, top boutiques and shopping malls. Popular shopping areas include the city's historic and cultural areas, the Centro Ybor Mall - which is located in the Ybor Historic District, and Old Hyde Park Village in Tampa's Old Hyde Park district, where you will find a mixture of modern stores, specialty shops and art galleries, in a particularly scenic setting.
Tampa features warm and sunny weather, with pleasant breezes from the ocean. Temperatures during June through August are at their hottest and can attain highs of around 33°C / 91°F. Winter and spring are warm seasons and many people choose to visit the Tampa area at this time of the year. December and January are the coldest months with daytime temperatures remaining extremely mild and warm, generally around 22°C / 72°F, although lows of 15°C / 59°F may be experienced.