Whether you’re in the mood to go a little wild (visiting the animals, that is) or up for some culture, Tampa and Hillsborough County have plenty to keep you entertained.
Even better, you don’t have to put miles on a car doing it. Use area transit, and let someone else do the driving.
It’s easy to get up close and personal with animals on land and in the water in this area. Busch Gardens is probably the most well-known of Hillsborough County’s attractions, and taking a bus (Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority routes 5 or 39) to this popular attraction has the advantages of allowing you to skip the hassle of parking — and the cost of $18. Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo has 56 acres filled with more than 1,200 animals and is accessible via routes 41 or 45.
Aquatic adventures await at the Florida Aquarium, as well as the Tampa Electric Manatee Viewing Center. At the latter, visitors can watch manatees swim through the water plant.
“At the Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach,” U.S. News and World Report Travel says, “manatees seek refuge in the power station’s discharge panel, where clean, warm Tampa Bay saltwater flows.”
Take an inexpensive bus ride (on HART route 31) to see this free attraction.
The Tampa Theatre ranks No. 1 on TripAdvisor’s “top attractions in Tampa” and No. 2 on “best things to do in Tampa” from U.S. News. View a classic film in this gorgeously ornate theater built in 1926, attend an event like the 2016 WineFest or Downtown Partnership’s Fourth Friday, or just stop in for a tour to see the memorable art and architecture. Avoid having to find a parking spot by taking any number of lines that run through the downtown hub area.
Cinebistro at Hyde Park Village (route 4), Studio Movie Grill (routes 12, 45), and Regal Cinemas Citrus Park 20 (route 39) are just some of the other theater options in Hillsborough County.
While you’re downtown, there are plenty of sites to visit. More culture awaits you at museums, including the Henry B. Plant Museum, which began as a grand and luxurious hotel and now stands as a gateway to “the late Victorian period, the beginning of Florida’s tourist industry, and the early years of the city of Tampa,” according to its website.
The children's museum
The Glazer Children’s Museum caters to the interests of young visitors. As U.S. News points out, many of the county’s attractions are outdoors, so if rain or other inclement weather threatens, this indoor spot is a fun and educational way to entertain little ones.
The Tampa Riverwalk is also downtown, and it provides a relaxing venue for strolling and taking in all the sights. There are a number of tasty choices for dining, whether casual or more upscale.
For an entertaining blend of old and new, visit Ybor City. “Once the cigar capital of the world, Ybor City is now a thriving community,” according to TripAdvisor. Day or night, there’s plenty of entertainment, shopping and delicious food. Take HART routes 5,8,9,12, or 18 to get there.
Easy access to all areas
There’s so much to do in the Hillsborough County area, and it’s easy to get anywhere you want to go using OneBusAway Tampa, which provides easy access to real-time arrival information for the buses you ride every day. The trip planner includes is easily accessible, with availability via smartphone app, text, and touchtone phone.