Travel Guide | Florida

College Town Guide to Tampa, Florida

Ways To Enjoy Tampa in the Sunshine State of Florida

For college students seeking a stunning, exciting, and adventure-filled city to explore, put Tampa, Florida on your bucket list. The city’s two most prominent schools, the University of Tampa and the University of South Florida, have beautiful campuses and are packed with students who know how to take advantage of all Tampa’s wonders. Home to endless entertainment and picturesque sights, Tampa represents a perfect city for a college student’s vacation.

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For enriching cultural experiences in Tampa, visit one of the many art and entertainment venues in the city. The Tampa Art Museum and the Tampa Museum of Photography reside right in the Downtown area, and the nearby Straz Center shows everything from Broadway musicals to comedy shows to local plays. Slightly north of Downtown lies Ybor City, a historic and alternative district with art galleries, quirky shops, unique restaurants, and lively dance clubs. Also be sure to check out the lineups at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, because this outdoor venue is always hosting amazing concerts year-round.

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Outdoor Activities
Another way to enjoy Tampa is to bask in the gorgeous sunny weather and embark on outdoor activities. Visit Bayshore Boulevard, the world’s longest running sidewalk, to walk, run, or bike along the sparkling waters of Tampa Bay. Another lovely walking route is the Riverwalk, which stretches along the Hillsborough River and weaves through the skyscrapers of Downtown. Kayak, canoe, paddle-board, and boat rentals are dotted throughout the city you can enjoy Tampa’s outdoor scenery with an adventurous twist.

For a more relaxing day, Downtown Tampa is home to two gorgeous grassy parts. In front of the minarets of the University of Tampa lies Plant Park, a waterfront oasis of park benches, palm trees, and sunbathing spots. Across the river lies the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, which is great for picnicing, playing frisbee, and enjoying other outdoor activities.

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Florida weather may instill a desire for a beach day, and luckily the breathtaking turquoise waters of St. Pete Beach are only a 40 minute drive from Tampa. Near St. Pete is also Clearwater Beach, which is ranked one of the best beaches in the country, and is also only a 30 minute drive from Tampa. For a closer sandy experience, Tampa’s own Davis Island has a few beaches that are tiny, but still home to white sand and a relaxing ocean atmosphere.

Food and Drink
For amazing food and drink, visit South Howard Avenue, or “Soho”, to try one of the many delicious restaurants lining the street. Soho also contains numerous bars with cheap Happy Hours, and these bustling places are normally flooded with colleges students. Another great location for food and drink is the Tampa International Mall, which has everything from sushi, to Irish food, to healthy smoothies, to fancy cocktail bars.

The Downtown area also contains a huge variety of trendy food and drink venues. For a casual evening with great food and spectacular views of the city, visit Taps Restaurant Bar and Lounge on N. Ashley Drive. For a more upscale dining experience, visit Malio’s Prime Steakhouse, a fancy restaurant that overlooks the Hillsborough River.

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Other Attractions
Tampa is beautiful all year round, but college students may want to visit during the last week of January, which hosts the annual Gasparilla Pirate Festival. This weekend compels every Tampa resident to dress like a pirate, indulge in loads of food and drink, and party at the massive parade on Bayshore Boulevard.

Another fun place to visit in Tampa is Busch Gardens, a vibrant fusion of amusement park and roller coasters with wildlife and animal exhibits. For sports fans, there are numerous major league sports venues scattered throughout the city, and games happen all year round from the Rays (baseball team), the Lightning (hockey team), to the Buccaneers (football).

For even more excitement, take a 1.5 hour drive to Orlando and experience the magic of Disney and Universal Studios.
From the captivating beauty of the beaches and the lights of Downtown, to the various social opportunities in Soho or at Gasparilla, Tampa represents a charming oasis of vibrant culture and Floridian spirit. When they’re not soaking up the sun, college students are constantly embarking on some exciting adventure and immersing themselves in the life of the city.

College Town Guide To Tampa, Florida

Gabrielle Boucher

University of Tampa | 19 stories

After the most amazing study abroad experience in London, I've now graduated with a degree in International Studies and continue to travel during my post-grad life. My favorite travel memories include bartending in Peru, taking a cooking class in Thailand, swimming in waterfalls in Ecuador, wine tasting in Portugal, cliff jumping in Bermuda, and touring castles in Romania. I'm always on the hunt for new adventures, and always using writing as a tool to hopefully inspire others to explore the world.

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