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Tampa is a uniquely interesting city and the only large population center on Florida's west coast. The unusual town name legendarily comes from the language of the Calusa tribe, meaning "sticks of fire." Some historians believe that name was taken as a tribute to the high number of strong lightning strikes hitting this area during the stormy summer months. Coincidentally, Tampa's world championship hockey team is known as the Lightning – go Bolts!
There are heaps of cool activities to do in Tampa that are close to your University of South Florida apartment or just a relatively short drive away. Whether your parents and family are coming to pester you, or you've got best friends from high school in town for a good time, here are some ideas for fun things to do that should appeal to almost everyone!
Close to Home
If you don't feel up to a long car ride with mom and dad, there are still interesting things to do in North Tampa right around USF:
- USF Botanical Gardens – Located on Pine Drive on campus, near Fowler Avenue, this verdant park features thousands of rare and exotic flowers and plants, as well as a fully functioning apiary. The gardens also have a gift shop where you can buy local honey, orchids, succulents, organic skincare products, and much more.
- Busch Gardens & Adventure Island – Originally opened in 1959, Busch Gardens is an African-themed amusement park just a few blocks from USF. They have one of the largest zoological parks in the country as well as several top-notch and terrifying roller coasters. Their water park, Adventure Island, is fun for all ages in the hot summer months, offering breathtaking water rides as well as the Rambling Bayou, a lazy river ride that's perfect for relaxing. These parks also offer generous Florida resident discounts.
- Golf – If your visiting loved ones are itching to hit the green, there are plenty of golf options near you. USF has its own course, The Claw, at 46th Street & Fletcher Avenue, considered to be excellent for beginners. Rogers Park Golf Course on North 30th opened in 1947 and had the first African American head golf pro in the United States. If you're feeling fancy, head over to the Tampa Palms Golf & Country Club in New Tampa for a truly elite experience. Their 18-hole championship course sits on a certified Audubon sanctuary and an elegant clubhouse.
- Hillsborough River State Park & USF Riverfront Park – Friends or fam visiting from up north? Take them to see an example of real Florida at one of these stunning riverside parks. Kayak and canoe rentals are available and there are loads of places to enjoy a picnic lunch, sunbathe, or catch some fresh local fish. Both parks also have miles of trails that are excellent for hiking and walking. Watch out for alligators!
Just a Little Further
These iconic Tampa Bay attractions are a little bit of a drive from your apartment near USF
, but totally worth it for the awesome experiences you'll enjoy with your family and friends.
- Downtown – Downtown Tampa is a vibrant yet welcoming area of town with lots to do. Check out the Henry B. Plant Museum on the beautiful University of Tampa campus. Visit the Glazer Children's Museum, the Tampa Museum of Art, and the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, all located on the Riverwalk. Rent cute electric scooters and enjoy the beautiful scenic views of Old Tampa Bay on the way to the world-renowned Florida Aquarium. Clench the day with a stop at Sparkman's Wharf, a unique waterfront pavilion with shops, a beer garden, and a luxurious recreational lawn.
- Ybor City – The only neighborhood on the west coast to be designated a National Historic Landmark, Ybor City was founded in 1885 as a community for the rapidly growing influx of Cuban, Spanish, Italian, and German immigrants – the result is an architecturally interesting, walkable neighborhood featuring a variety of museums, restaurants, shops, bars, and nightclubs. Check out the Columbia Restaurant, founded in 1905 and one of the oldest restaurants in the entire US.
- The Gulf Beaches – This will be the longest drive from the USF, but so amazingly worth it. Clearwater is the most northern of our beaches and has a bustling pier and shopping area, as well as pristine white sands. Follow Gulf Boulevard south past more residential beaches, like Indian Rocks and Redington, to Madeira Beach, for its laid-back vibe and spectacular turquoise water. Older and younger family members will enjoy a stop at John's Pass and Fisherman's Alley, a cool boardwalk with beach-themed shops and restaurants. St. Pete Beach, Pasadena, and Pass-A-Grille are all renowned for the beauty of these neighborhoods and the fun beach bars.
Tampa is just bursting with fun things to do and enjoy with your visiting loved ones. Keep checking ApartmentsforBulls and get more ideas for date nights, family outings, festivals, and much more around your USF apartment!