Located on the shores of the bay bearing its name, Tampa is known for its sunny climate, making it a top destination for summer activities. The entire Tampa Bay area includes everything from parks and beaches to wildlife-viewing areas and golf courses.
Whether you are a local looking for something fun to do or visiting for the weekend, here are some ideas of how you can spend your time in Tampa:
Lettuce Lake Park
A sprawling, 240-acre park located in the floodplains of the Hillsborough River, Lettuce Lake Park is a perfect place to acquaint yourself with the biological diversity that surrounds the city of Tampa.
Get there early for a free guided nature tour at 8:30 am on Saturdays and Sundays. A park ranger will take you from the Visitor Center into the hardwood swamp that comprises the majority of the park, pointing out interesting plants and animals along the way. The tour will lead you right up to the park’s pride and joy, a three-story observation tower that gives visitors a bird’s-eye view of the entire property.
Cypress Point Park
One of Tampa’s most under-utilized public spaces, Cypress Point Park is located right on the shores of Tampa Bay, giving you the opportunity to lay out on the white sandy beaches and soak up the sun’s rays.
Take a jog along the 0.9-mile paved trail or walk along the beach until you find the perfect fishing spot. There is no shortage of things to do at this beautiful park. Feel free to bring a picnic one evening and watch as the sun sets over the bay.
Old Memorial Golf Club
For those who are more worried about sand traps than sand dunes, head over to the Old Memorial Golf Club for a round on one of the premier courses in the region. Constructed in 1996, the course is known for its bold use of bunkering on its 18 holes.
Large swaths of sand undulate among grass fingers, creating an incredibly intriguing visual. But don’t worry, the sand at Old Memorial is easy to recover from, what you really need to watch out for are the water hazards!
Tampa Electric Manatee Viewing Center
The huge Tampa Electric power plant is in itself a sight to behold. Rising up from the shore at Apollo Beach, the plant has a long history of providing electrical power to the Tampa Bay area. However, the majority of visitors come to the site to see something else.
In 1986, people began to notice a huge influx of manatees to the waters around the plant. It turns out, these gentle giants of the sea were attracted by the clean, warm water that was flowing from the plant’s discharge canal. The plant had been cycling water from the bay to cool its systems, and the resultant warm water became a huge draw for the creatures.
As a result, the Manatee Viewing Center was established and the area was designated a manatee sanctuary. Bring the kids along for an up-close look at these majestic creatures.
[Image Sources: Rent.com – Lexington Park at Westchase, Tampa, FL; Flicker – VISIT FLORIDA Editor, j.s. clark, Nic Horton, Jenn and Jon]