One of Florida's largest cities, Tampa has a broad range of interests and is a bustling business center for the region with a thriving downtown commercial and office infrastructure and one of the country's larger seaports. It is also a cultural, entertainment and sport center offering museums, performing arts, theme attractions and professional sports.
The downtown area is set within a collection of modern skyscrapers. Here, the Museum of Art displays a fine collection including exhibits of Greek and Roman antiquities, and 20th-century American art. The Bay Performing Arts Center is a great venue for concerts, dance, ballets and Broadway style performances. The restored Tampa Theater, built in 1926, also offers musical performances and films.
Nearby, the impressive glass-domed Florida Aquarium is home to thousands of marine creatures and bird life. This multi-million dollar facility displays both fresh and saltwater habitats. Habitats are organized into wetlands, bays and beaches, coral reefs and offshore. A spectacular rainbow of color and marine life can be enjoyed at the enormous coral reef aquarium where tropical fish, sharks, rays, eels and other exotic creatures can be seen. The scale and variety of exhibits is quite interesting.
Moving out from the downtown area one will find Busch Gardens, the areas largest theme park. Busch Gardens ranks among Florida's best attractions. The African-themed entertainment park features a unique mix of thrill rides, adventures, live entertainment, and up-close exotic animal habitats. No less than five adrenaline pumping roller coasters are on-site including the new wooden, double-dueling coaster named Gwazi where its occupants are hurled past each other at combined speeds reaching 100 miles per hour. Other exciting and interesting rides include the Congo River Rapids - a swift water ride on a 12 person circular raft, Akbar's Adventure Tours - a fun simulator adventure, the Stanley Falls log flume, and the Tanganyika Tidal Wave jungle boat tour which climaxes in a heart-stopping 55 foot plunge. Many other rides offer varying degrees of thrills and interests for the whole family.
Near Busch Gardens is the Museum of Science and Industry also known as MOSI. One of the largest science centers in the southeast, this fascinating facility is filled with interesting exhibits and hands-on activities. On-site is an IMAX dome theater with an enormous all-engulfing screen that shows awesome films. A rather unusual exhibit is the hurricane tunnel/room which permits one to experience hurricane force winds.
Also in this same area is the wet and wild Adventure Island. This water based theme park is a real treat in Florida's hot summers. Enjoy a variety of water flumes and slides, lagoons and children's water playgrounds.
Lowry Park Zoo is a 24-acre park with hundreds of animals. The zoo has a Florida wildlife center that features native animals including the alligator, the Florida panther and other wetland creatures. One of Lowry Park's more popular attractions is the Manatee and Aquatic Center.
In its heyday Ybor City was once the cigar capital of the world where thousands of Cuban, Spanish and Latin workers produced cigars in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The area still retains its Latin legacy with it Spanish-style architecture, wrought iron balconies and cobblestone streets. Today, the area is a shopping and entertainment district with many shops, restaurants, bars and clubs.
An active sports town with several professional sports teams in
the area. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers NFL football team play at
the Raymond James Stadium during the season from August to
January. The Tampa Bay Lightning National Hockey League team
play at the Tampa Bay Times Forum from October to April. Major League
Baseball team Tampa Bay Rays play at Tropicana Field in
St. Petersburg (across the bay) from April to September.