TAMPA BAY, FLORIDA [ ABN NEWS ] — A dynamic and diverse region, Tampa Bay enjoys an excellent quality of life. From the waterfront location to the Southern hospitality of its residents, the area takes prides in its vibrancy and welcoming spirit. The only city to be invaded by a band of pirates during the annual Gasparilla celebration, special events and festivals are part of the area’s cultural fabric. From balloon rides, strawberry farms and lush nature to walkable neighborhoods, the region’s character is hard to match. It easily blends its rich, cultural heritage with big-city style. With much to experience, one quickly discovers an exciting, authentic metropolis.
Discover Your Daring in Tampa Bay’s Outdoors
Tampa Bay visitors have a number of choices when it comes to discovering the area’s outdoors and natural wildlife. With a record 361 days with sunshine per year, visitors have the daily opportunity to explore outdoor adventures from paddleboarding to diving with the sharks.
• Have a unique “eco-tourism” experience. Go kayaking or canoeing in one of the scenic, tranquil waterways – a paddling paradise. Explore the Hillsborough River through the 16,000-acre wilderness park and discover natural Florida. See birds, turtles and gators on a two-hour to full-day downstream paddling adventure.
• Observe endangered Florida manatees in their natural habitat. When the bay’s water temperature falls below 68 degrees Fahrenheit, the shy and gentle manatees gather in the warm waters surrounding TECO’s Manatee Viewing Center. From the Florida-friendly butterfly gardens to a 900-foot tidal walk and hurricane simulator, the Viewing Center has been a signature environmental education facility for the area since 1986.
• Explore the paved and off-road trails and greenways. Cyclists, hikers, walkers, runners, inline skaters, and equestrian riders can experience over 100 miles of trails. Whether going for a stroll or looking to exercise, it’s a great way to enjoy the natural wonders of Tampa’s urban, suburban and rural environments.
• Dive with the sharks at The Florida Aquarium. A unique opportunity for certified SCUBA divers, age 15 and older, dive into the Aquarium’s largest tank—the Coral Reef Exhibit—which features warm clear water teeming with massive sharks, moray eels, barracuda, a green sea turtle and more! For a little less adventure and more of a soothing escape, Swim with the Fish or take a water excursion to see dolphins in their natural habitat.
• Experience stand up paddleboarding. Choose from adventure tours along the Hillsborough River or Tampa Bay to be one-on-one with marine life, yoga and exercise classes on the stand up paddle board, or lessons for those who are new to the fastest-growing water sport in the world.
• Be a crew mate on Capt. Gus’s Crabby Adventures. Learn how to bait and pull crab traps on your tour and then end the tour with cooking and eating your own blue crabs and stone crabs bay side.
• Test your rowing skills on a dragon boat tour. You can even compete in the official race held each April! This year marked the 10th annual Tampa Bay International Dragon Boat Races where local, national and international teams participated.
• Captain your own speedboat. Speedboat Adventures offers exhilarating speedboat tours of Tampa Bay. A knowledgeable guide narrates the tour through a radio mounted in the speedboat as you discover Tampa Bay and its diverse marine life.
• Explore the bay on an electric boat. eBOATS TAMPA charters environmentally friendly electric boats or ‘eBoats’ for rides up the Hillsborough River. Stop and explore the numerous attractions in Downtown Tampa, take a guided tour, or picnic onboard as you watch the sunset.
• Learn to fish like a pro. Fishing charters such as Bueno Fishing help newbies navigate the tides and professionals experience the deep sea.
• Ride a hot air balloon over scenic Tampa Bay. Book your ride with a reservation center such as Big Red Balloon Sightseeing Adventures, Tampa Hot Air Balloons or Tranquility Balloon Rides and discover Tampa Bay’s landscapes, wildlife, and waterfront from a new perspective!