Tampa Aldermans Ford Park: Famous with canoeists who cruise the Alafia River, this 1141-acre park provides activities that reach beyond the banks of the river. You'll also notice paths to bike or walk on, and a boardwalk system invites views of the local flora and fauna. Picnic areas along the water offer a quiet resting spot for those wanting to escape the city and take in the area's natural beauty.|
Busch Gardens: This theme park is separated into 10 sections that showcase exotic animals, roller coasters, and live entertainment. While you're there, head for "Border of Africa" and come face-to-face with hyenas, lions and crocodiles; visit "The Congo" and check out water rides and white tigers; take the kids to "Land of the Dragons" and let them explore the fairy tale attractions.
Truethrill-seekers should also plan a ride on SheiKra, which reaches 70 mph through its 200-foot, 90-degree backward descent. Whatever your fantasy, it will be met at Florida's biggest west-coast park, which also includes one of the better zoos of nation.
Florida Aquarium: Set along the waterfront, this awesome attraction (housed in a structure modeled after a giant scallop shell) explores Florida's native sea life in a number of places. More than 4,300 plants and animals are represented, highlighting both fresh and saltwater environments.
Exhibits document the movement of water from wetlands to ocean and contain a million-gallon coral reef exhibit that houses fish of all kinds. Twice each day, divers feed sharks living in the aquarium, and other exhibits showcase sea life from around the world.
Henry B. Plant Museum: Housed in the former Tampa Bay Hotel, a Victorian-era amusement inspired by the Alhambra, this museum documents Tampa's history and improvement. Special displays showcase the city's role in the Spanish-American War and chart its progression from resort town to modern-day metropolis.
The museum also offers European and Asian artwork as well as period furnishings from the hotel's heyday. During the Christmas season, visitors can stroll during the historic museum accompanied by candlelight.
Lowry Park Zoo: Situated on 24 landscaped acres, this zoo houses animal from four continents in areas reminiscent of their natural habitats. Environments for primates, Asian animals, and creatures native to Florida coexist with a bird aviary, a petting zoo and an aquatic center that shelters manatees and helps injured ones recuperate.
Tampa Museum of Art: This striking, riverside museum has an awesome collection of classical Greek and Roman artwork - one of the country's best. It also congratulates itself on 20th-century American acquisitions containing photographs, works on paper and sculpture.