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Tampa blends the bustle of a commercial hub with the subtropical charms of a winter resort. The city is the Tampa Bay Area’s cultural center as well, with a buzzy restaurant scene, art museums, and theaters. As you’d expect, given the winter and spring tourism, activities for visitors with relaxation on the brain are plentiful. But Tampa is a locals’ town, too, as you’ll discover by meandering around the hip neighborhoods of Seminole and Hyde Park or joining the joggers on the 2.6-mile Riverwalk, which cuts through the heart of town. Many visitors spend at least one day beach-hopping on the Gulf Coast, migrating from Clearwater Beach to Indian Rocks Beach and Treasure Island.
There are plenty of direct flights from around the United States to Tampa International Airport (TPA). Amtrak’s Silver Service and Palmetto train lines connect Tampa to New York and Miami, as do Greyhound buses and several motor coach companies. You can rent a car at the airport or at rental sites around the Tampa Bay Area, or take the bus, an airport shuttle, or a rideshare to your destination.
Driving is the most convenient way to explore the broader Tampa Bay Area, but in the central city you won’t need a car. Along with an extensive public bus system, there are a number of ways to get around downtown Tampa, including the TECO Line Streetcar, free Downtowner shuttles, a water taxi, and bike shares.
Although locals may sense more subtle shifts in the weather, there are two major seasons in Tampa: a hot, rainy summer and a perfectly pleasant fall, winter, and spring. From June to October, the temperatures peak in the 90s Fahrenheit during the day and cool to the 70s at night, which isn’t very cool at all. Thunderstorms are frequent, tropical storms regularly pass through the area, and the humidity skyrockets.
From November through May, the heat settles down into more comfortable ranges — 60s and 70s Fahrenheit — and the rains come infrequently. You’ll want to pack a light jacket for the evenings, and perhaps a few sweaters in case December and January see one of their occasional cold snaps, but there’s a reason many people spend the winter here.
A historic Cuban American enclave that is now the center of LGBTQ+ life in Tampa, Ybor City blends the old and the new in colorful and charming ways. You can take a cigar tour to learn more about the neighborhood’s best-known industry, eat at least one of the Cuban sandwiches that may have originated here (Miami begs to differ, naturally), and explore the area’s abundant nightlife.
Just 35 minutes west of Tampa, you’ll find a chain of slender barrier islands and some of the Gulf of Mexico’s most stunning beaches. Clearwater Beach offers the white sands and warm waters you’d hope for, along with restaurants, bars, and tourist services. Just north of Clearwater is the undeveloped Caladesi Island State Park, where you can steer a kayak through the mangroves or wander along nature trails.