Five Reasons To Visit Tampa This Summer

May 10, 2014 8:00 AM

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

From museums to amusement parks and everything in between, there is something for everyone in the Tampa Bay area to enjoy in the summer. For the young and the young at heart, the Tampa area offers activities to please the masses.
Big Cat Rescue
12802 Easy St.
Tampa, FL 33625
(813) 920-4130

Big Cat Rescue is a 70-acre sanctuary dedicated to rescuing abused and abandoned tigers, bobcats, lions, cougars, lynx, leopards and other big cats. Over 100 big cats that were abandoned, orphaned, abused or retired from performing acts call this sanctuary home. Many of the cats at Big Cat Rescue are on the endangered, threatened or extinct in the wild lists. Enjoy guided tours where you can see the animals roaming the sanctuary while also learning about the plight of the big cats and how you can help keep them from becoming extinct on our planet. Tours start at $36 per person. Come prepared to walk as these are walking tours only. For medically needy persons, space on a golf cart is available for an additional small fee. Come out and enjoy a nice walk in the sanctuary and see the animals up close.

SS American Victory Mariners’ Memorial And Museum Ship
705 Channelside Drive
Tampa, FL 33602
(813) 228-8766

The SS American Victory is a 455-foot-long, nine-deck Victory class merchant ship built in 1945 to deliver food, machinery, vehicles and medicine to war-torn areas of Europe and the near east as part of an American relief project. This World War II era steamship served her country during the Vietnam and Korean wars as well. This 61-year-old ship is open to self-guided tours where visitors can see the galley, sleeping quarters, hospital, weapons room, cargo room, engine room and more. The SS American Victory is one of only four of World War II’s remaining fully functional ships that are still seaworthy. The SS American Victory, in addition to being a museum, offers a six-hour cruise that includes breakfast, lunch and a simulated attack by enemy aircraft. This is a great educational and fun experience for the entire family.

Tampa Firefighters Museum
720 Zack St.
Tampa, FL 33602
(813) 964-6862

The Tampa Firefighters Museum is dedicated to preserving the culture and history of the Tampa Fire Department through exhibits, education, seminars and children’s workshops. The museum offers interactive, hands-on fire safety and emergency awareness activities. Additionally, the museum offers a venue for wedding receptions and rehearsals, banquets, meetings and parties. Come out and discover the history and dedication of Tampa Bay’s firefighters at the Tampa Firefighters Museum.

Related:  Best Exhibits To Visit This Summer In Tampa Bay

University of South Florida Botanical Gardens
12210 USF Pine Drive
Tampa, FL  33620
(813) 974-2329

USF’s Botanical Gardens contains 16 acres of trees, shrubs, flowers and more. There are over 3,000 types of animals, plants and natural habitats. The gardens are also used as a botany lab for USF students to study medical botany. The botanical gardens are open seven days a week and admission for children is only $3, with adult admission being $5.

Florida Aquarium
701 Channelside Drive
Tampa, FL 33602
(813) 273-4000

The Florida Aquarium is one of the premier family destinations in the Tampa Bay Area. There are over 20,000 plants and aquatic animals to see at the Florida Aquarium. Interactive exhibits allow visitors to touch a bamboo shark and sea stars. There is also a water adventure zone for visitors to enjoy. Educational shows abound in the Florida Aquarium. Additionally, visitors can swim with the fish while certified scuba divers can dive into tanks with sharks and fish. Admission costs range from $18.95 up to $49.90 depending on the tour package purchased.

Related: Best Summer Vacation Activities In Tampa Bay

Katherine Bostick is a freelance writer covering all things Tampa Bay. Her work can be found on