Home of exciting Busch Gardens, Florida Aquarium, ZooTampa at Lowry Park and lots of things to do on Memorial day in Tampa Bay. We've compiled some of the best things to do in Tampa Bay on this Memorial Day holiday.
Busch Gardens is a 335-acre, African-themed family entertainment and adventure park featuring thrill rides, live music, performances, and a multitude of exotic animals in natural habitat settings.
You can take a safari on Memorial Day to see animals grazing on the plains with reproductions of African villages and camps, and the Serengeti Night Safari is one of the most popular options. Several special animal encounters are available, including the opportunity to hand-feed kangaroos and giraffes; watch as park staff members tend to their patients at the Animal Care Center; and get up close to some of the favorite residents, including sloths and flamingos.
You'll find a wide variety of exciting things to do at the park, including kiddie rides and water rides, but Busch Gardens is best known for its roller coasters that are an extreme thrill experience. Several ticketing options for Busch Gardens including multi-park passes and packages that include in-park dining.
Tampa's Florida Aquarium has an exciting variety of animal habitats, exhibits, and activities to educate and entertain all ages during Memorial Day. The habitats are arranged to accurately represent a watershed area similar to the Tampa area so that visitors can see the wide variety of fish and ocean life.
You'll have the chance to get hands-on with invertebrates like starfish and anemones and even visit some land-dwelling residents like the lemurs.
Florida Aquarium admission allows you to skip any lines, and includes the outdoor Splash Pad, where kids can cool off. Also included are shows at the 4-D theater, where sensory elements are added to a 3-D film for a completely immersive experience.
For an extra charge, visitors can also experience behind-the-scenes tours and in-depth interactions, like swimming with sea turtles or meeting African penguins.
The facility formerly known as the Tampa Zoo at Lowry Park has been renamed, ever so slightly, to the ZooTampa at Lowry Park. Here, you'll find more than 2,000 animals in natural habitats, including animals from Africa, Asia, and Australia, as well as native Florida habitats, a primate area, and an aviary.
Also on-site is a large aquarium and three pools that are used to treat local manatees who are injured or ill. Get up close to some of the zoo's residents, including "backstage" opportunities with penguins and tortoises, as well as the chance to feed an Indian rhino.
Popular residents at the zoo include the African elephants, African penguins, Florida panthers, and the Bornean Orangutan. The park has some rides as well, including a safari ride through the African habitat, a mini-train ride, and a family-friendly roller coaster.
The zoo also hosts special programs and events throughout the year, and is as popular with locals as it is with tourists during Memorial Day.
The center of Tampa's Latino community, Ybor City is a National Historic Landmark District. It is named for its founder, cigar baron Vicente Martinez Ybor. He came to the region in the mid 1880s, after workers at his Key West plant threatened to unionize.
At one point, the Ybor cigar factory was the largest in the world with over 4,000 people hand-rolling more than 900,000 cigars a month. However, the Great Depression and machine rollers brought an end to the boom, and most factories were closed and demolished.
In more recent years, the area has experienced a revival and is home to many shops, galleries, restaurants, and cafes. Seventh Avenue in Ybor City, known in Spanish as "La Septima," features some of the district's most historical buildings, several of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Ybor City's Columbia Restaurant is the state's oldest and the nation's largest Spanish restaurant. This historic institution was established in 1905 by Cuban immigrant Casimiro Hernández, Sr. The Columbia is famous for its Spanish cuisine, dinner shows, and old-world architectural charm. Live entertainment includes flamenco and jazz in the café on Memorial Day.
If you are staying downtown during Memorial Day and are looking for a pleasant place to stretch your legs, head over to the Tampa Riverwalk. This 2.4-mile walkway winds its way along the waterfront, providing fantastic views out over the Hillsborough River. The Riverwalk starts at Sparkman Wharf and ends at the Armature Works — or the reverse, it just depends on where you start or finish.
The Riverwalk has a wonderful collection of public art along its length, ranging from murals to sculptures. Key Tampa attractions are also located on the walk, including the Florida Aquarium and the Tampa Museum of Art among others. For the kids, four playgrounds are available, two of which have splash pads.
If you work up an appetite or thirst along the way, a fine collection of restaurants have sunny patios that serve up tasty dishes and even better people watching. This is especially true at the end (or starting) points at Sparkman Wharf, where you'll find a fine mix of "container" restaurants or the Armature Works, where the dining options are primarily indoors in a beautifully restored industrial building.
The Museum of Science and Industry invites visitors to explore, learn, imagine, and immerse themselves in every aspect of science and technology. Starting with the basics of physics, math, and other scientific principles, exhibits expand into various subject areas.
Kids will love playing a giant game of "operation" as they learn about how the human body works and how technology helps people live longer, better lives. The Idea Zone has hands-on projects, and the Connectus exhibit gives visitors the chance to use cutting-edge technology before it is revealed to the general public.
Other exhibits include the opportunity to interact with extreme weather and explore a model of NASA's vision for human life off-earth. The museum has many other things to do as well during Memorial Day, like an exciting ropes adventure course, a life-size model of the Mercury spacecraft, and an IMAX theater.
Dining in Tampa on Memorial Day is a different experience than dining in other parts of Florida, and it's worth spending the time to find a few interesting places. The city is a cultural melting pot, and this is reflected in the cuisine. Spanish, Cuban, Italian, and other cultural influences, brought to Tampa through the immigrants that shaped the city's history, have created a dining experience that you won't find in other parts of the state.
Head to Ybor City for a taste of Sicilian at Casa Santo Stephano, set in a recently renovated building with a comfortable atmosphere. Dine on the main floor or head upstairs for an indoor and outdoor experience, where you can enjoy the sunset from the patio.
Less than a block away, don't miss a chance to see the Columbia Restaurant, a cultural institution in Tampa since 1905. This restaurant is one city block but still offers a quaint dining atmosphere with intimate and uniquely designed rooms, which combined can seat up to 1,700 people. The historic building's tiled floors and walls, balconies, chandeliers, historic photos, and daily flamenco shows, create a one-of-a-kind atmosphere. Despite the name, the food here is a mix of Spanish and Cuban.
Also worth checking out in Ybor City is La Segunda Central Bakery, another longstanding establishment in Tampa, which supplies locals and many of the best restaurants with breads and baked goods.
For fun and casual along with a great outdoor relaxed atmosphere, try the container restaurants at Sparkman Wharf for some takeout. You can find mouthwatering dishes, from hearty mains to gelato and ice cream. Health-minded diners can also find what they're after at places like The Naked Farmer or Fit Bowl. This also has dine-in restaurants, and looks out over the water. Another area for great dining options is the Armature Works.
Located on the Tampa Riverwalk near Armature Works, Ulele Restaurant is another great find. Set in the old Tampa Water Works building, the open and airy interior has a fantastic vibe and tasty offerings.
Sparkman Wharf is a wonderful waterfront gathering spot near the Tampa Aquarium. You'll find some of Tampa's most up-and-coming restaurants operating out of containers. Stroll by the containers and find what you want to eat, and then take your meal to the central courtyard and enjoy. One of the most innovative (and tasty) places is the Naked Farmer. Be sure to try one of the bowls of fine, locally sourced, fare on Memorial Day.
Depending on the day of the week, you may find a yoga class going on, a movie being shown, or live music being performed on the main stage. This is an outdoor space that locals use like a backyard, bringing their pets and enjoying a picnic while soaking up the atmosphere.
Parking is nearby at the Channelside garage, or walk to Sparkman Wharf along the Riverfront Trail. Next to the entrance to Sparkman Wharf is the dock where the Yacht StarShip dinner cruises depart from.