The city of Tampa lies in central Florida on the Gulf Coast. At Tampa Bay, visitors can enjoy numerous water sports from fishing and waterskiing, to boating and kayaking. Meanwhile, the vibrant city area offers families a range of phenomenal local eateries, as well as a zoo, amusement park, and aquarium. Book a stay at one of many cozy Tampa vacation rentals today. That said, check out a few fun, friendly neighborhoods that are the highlights of Tampa.
1. Hyde Park, Tampa
The Hyde Park neighborhood lies between Hillsborough Bay to the east and the Selmon Expressway to the west, creating a triangular-shaped area that has everything a visitor could want from water access to urban living. Hyde Park Village, a quaint shopping center, boasts a center park surrounded by shops, boutiques, and restaurants. Pick up some food from The Hyppo or Bartaco and enjoy it at the park’s fountain. A 4.5-mile walking path runs along the bay, perfect for a late afternoon stroll along the water.
2. Downtown Tampa
If enjoying the full range of the local flavor is your purpose, stay in the downtown Tampa area. Surrounded on three sides by the Hillsborough River, Garrison Channel, and Ybor Channel, you don’t have to go far to enjoy the water. Take a stroll out on the pier at Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park, or hire a water taxi for a sunset tour of the bay. The Curtis Hixon Park is another public waterfront area. The fenced in the area offers a place to bring your family pet or enjoy a concert in the park. After relaxing in the sun, stroll over to Samaria Cafe, L’Eden Cafe, or Bavaro’s Pizza for some grub. Give your kids an exciting afternoon, and stop by the Florida Aquarium or the Glazer Children’s Museum.
3. Ybor City, Tampa
Add more than a little cultural flavor to your trip by getting a rental in Ybor City, the Latin Quarter of Tampa just northeast of the downtown area. Not only does this area boast some truly ethnic food, such as Gaspar’s Grotto and Due A Mici Pizzeria, thanks to the heavy immigrant influence, but it’s also considered a National Historic Landmark District of which there are only three in Florida. Take a historic tour of the old cigar factories and workers houses that employed Latino and Italian workers back in the 1800s, a great educational experience for the kids.
4. Seminole Heights, Tampa
Head up to northern Tampa at Seminole Heights for a bit of the Bohemian. Scour the markets for antique pieces, or visit the Phoenix Glass Studio and Gallery for some mind-blowing works of art. Stop at Bo’s Ice Cream for a cone, and insert a little history into family time at the 60-year-old establishment. Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is a short car ride away. Considered the top zoo for kids, it has 60 acres and upwards of 1,000 animals. Kids can see their favorite four-legged beasts like elephants and tigers, and get hands-on experience with others, such as lorikeets, stingrays, and wallabies. While you’re in the area, take a day at Busch Gardens, an African-themed amusement park featuring animals, rides, and live shows.
5. Culbreath Bayou, Tampa
If you’d rather enjoy water over an urban jungle, head west of Hyde Park to Culbreath Bayou. This neighborhood nestles up against Old Tampa Bay featuring waterside vacation rentals with boat docks. Take the family boat out for a little adventure among the marshy bayou waters, or putter out further into the bay for some waterskiing and fishing.
6. Belmar Shore, Tampa
Head south along the coast to Belmar Shore, another neighborhood that features waterside houses and plenty of water. After a full day of boating with the family, head to West Shore Boulevard where all the major eateries and stores are located. Pick up some pizza at Westshore Pizza, or feast on good ole American fare while listening to live music at Green Iguana. Hop onto the nearby Gandy Boulevard, and spend a day at St. Petersburg.
7. Palma Ceia, Tampa
The other side of the Tampa peninsula lies the Hillsborough Bay along which many great neighborhoods are located such as Palma Ceia. Located just south of Hyde Park, this area is characterized by a walking and jogging path that travels the length of the bay, a good place for a family stroll. Spend time swinging a club at the Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club while the kids swim in the pool.
8. Bayshore Beautiful, Tampa
Bayshore Beautiful is located directly south of Palma Ceia. Also on the Bay, Palma Ceia provides a public boat launch at Ballast Point Park along with a fishing pier. After spending a day on the water, take a lunch break at the park’s picnicking area, or opt for some grub at Taste of Boston, located in the park.
9. Harbour Island, Tampa
If you want the best of both worlds—downtown life and waterside vacation rentals—go to Harbour Island, located just across Garrison Channel from downtown Tampa. Many houses boast docks for boats, or you can hire Tampa Fishing Charters to take you out on the water. A number of eateries allowing you to stay on the island for meals, or you can hop across the channel on Franklin Street or Beneficial Drive for some downtown fun.