If you need a break, Tampa, Florida is the place for you. Spring Break in Tampa offers warm weather, beautiful beaches, fresh seafood, the great outdoors, and more. Home of Clearwater Beach, which was named the number one beach in the United States in 2019, did you know that Tampa has 20 other beaches worth visiting? If beaches aren’t your thing, Tampa also has outdoor activities for nature and animal lovers, international cuisine and tons of hidden gems in their museums. In anticipation for Spring, I’ve partnered with Hotels.com to share the top reasons why you shouldn’t miss out on visiting Tampa.
Why Spring Break in Tampa
Over 21 million people land at Tampa’s International Airport (TPA) every year so you won’t have trouble finding a flight that fits your schedule. Southwest, American, and Delta are some of the busiest airline carriers that fly to Tampa. Plus, in 2019, Tampa International was ranked one of the busiest airports with the cheapest fares. While Spring Break is the most expensive time to travel, you can find deals to Tampa January to June, but start planning early. Alternatively, September to December are the most affordable months. During this time you can find hotel deals and fewer tourists.
With so many flights, you can book your trip to Tampa any time of the year. But it’s especially great for Spring Break because it’s not as crowded as other Florida destinations like Orlando or Miami. Yet, it offers authentic eats (more on that later) and a party scene.
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Fun in the Sun
Tampa is a small urban city but has so much access to beaches and sun. The weather in Tampa is warm all year round but expect cooler temperatures in the winter. For example, from January to April, the lows are 50°F while the highs reach the 80s. The warmest months are from May to October with temperatures up to 90°F. However, summer is humid so springtime offers a good balance.
Best Fun in the Sun Activities in Tampa:
- Visit Clearwater Beach
- Honeymoon Island State Park
- Treasure Island
- Book a boat tour
- Explore the amusement parks like Bush Gardens and Adventure Island
Nature’s All-Around You
Tampa has diverse landscapes with natural, green spaces perfect for hiking, bird watching, and camping. If you love animals you can see many species at the Florida Aquarium, Manatee Viewing Center (free), the Big Cat Rescue, or Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo.
One of the best places to explore the outdoors is the Hillsborough River State Park. Hillsborough is one of Tampa’s oldest parks with almost six miles of trails in the forest and along the rapid river. Alternatively, you can hike the Manatee River Trail. This six and a half-mile trail showcases Tampa’s botanicals and rugged landscape.
Best Tampa Activities in Nature:
- Camping or glamping in Tampa parks
- Hiking at Hillsborough River State Park or Manatee River Trail
- Private Big Cat tour (book early, these fill up fast)
Tampa Bay has everything from award-winning restaurants to authentic international cuisine. With options to accommodate any budget, Tampa has luxury and budget-friendly hotels and resorts in the most popular parts of town like Tampa Riverwalk, University of Tampa or Ybor City.
After you soak up the sun at Clearwater beach, get dressed up for a nice dinner at the Caretta on the Gulf. Caretta is the only American Automobile Association (AAA) Four-Diamond restaurant in Clearwater. The chef offers fresh and seasonally inspired meals so there are always new dishes on the menu. You can eat indoors or outdoors and get an amazing view of the Gulf. For dinner, Caretta has a full menu plus a chef tasting menu with wine pairings and dessert. On Sunday the restaurant offers a popular brunch buffet with traditional breakfast favorites like omelets and waffles. Or you can have lunch with fresh seafood.
For some delicious Spanish food, check out Columbia in Ybor City or Ulele on Tampa’s Riverwalk. Columbia is the oldest restaurant in Florida, owned and operated by the same family since 1905. The restaurant’s menu is vast with traditional beef, pork and seafood dishes made the good old fashioned way. There are several locations in Florida, but the flagship restaurant is in Ybor City, Tampa’s historic district. Columbia is in a beautiful building with hand-painted tiles, antique furniture, and rich fabrics. Go for the food, decor, and the Flamenco show offered in the main dining room every night except Sundays.
Found on Tampa’s Riverwalk, Ulele (pronounced You-lay-lee) features recipes from Native Americans. This restaurant is all about family, local, and organic experiences. The food comes from family-owned, independent companies and the wines are from family-owned wineries in the United States and Spain.
Popular affordable eats in Tampa include Taco Bus, Jimbo’s Pit BBQ, and Bamboozle Cafe. Taco Bus offers Mexican cuisine at affordable prices and stays open late. What started as a food truck is now a brick and mortar location in downtown Tampa. Jimbo’s Pit BBQ offers large portions near the airport so you can enjoy it right off the plane. Jimbo’s is known for their ribs cooked in secret seasoning and the homemade apple pie. Lastly, Bamboozle Cafe serves Vietnamese and Asian fusion dishes in downtown Tampa. Their healthy and affordable food is served with special attention to detail.
At night Tampa turns up the music in dozens of night clubs. Some offer hip-hop and terrace views while others offer Sala lessons and Latin vibes. There are several nightclubs in Ybor City including The Castle, where “Everyone is welcome, and nothing is taboo.” With different themed nights, check Castle’s website before you go so you know how to dress. You can also check out Club Syke, which is known for popular visits from hip-hop and reggaeton DJs. The club allows anyone 18 and up to enter so there may be a younger crowd.
If you are looking to chill out, checkout Crowbar, also in Ybor City. This bar features a diverse mix of live music including rock, jazz, indie, metal, and reggae. For more options, here is a list of the top ten nightclubs in Tampa, from a local expert.
Now that you know where to go, where to stay and what to do, get your group together and start planning your Tampa Spring Break trip!
Danielle Desir is a financially savvy traveler, 5x author, and podcaster. She paid off $63,000 of student loan debt in 4 years, bought a house at 27, and has traveled to 27 countries. She refuses to let her financial responsibilities hold her back from living life on her terms. Listen to The Thought Card Podcast here.