Tampa Sports & RecreationTampa Bay area fans have the option to root for a home run; slap high-fives after a touchdown; count down the time during a power play; watch dogs chase a stuffed rabbit; or applaud as a favorite horse makes a photo finish. Plus, year-round warmth and a varied system of waterways and public parks make the region a true haven for outdoor and adventure travel enthusiasts.
Baseball Fans of professional baseball have more than their fair share of teams to cheer on in Tampa, including the city's own Major League Baseball team, the Tampa Bay Rays of the American League. They’re at bat April through September at Tropicana Field, 1 Tropicana Dr., in St. Petersburg. Are you wondering why this Tampa team doesn’t actually play in their home town? They’ve played at Tropicana Field since their inception in 1998, but their lease with the city doesn’t expire until 2027; until then, phone (888) 326-7297 for tickets. You can also catch spring training for the Rays in March at Charlotte Sports Park, 2300 El Jobean Rd., in Port Charlotte; phone (941) 235-5010 for ticket information.
In spring, New York Yankees’ fanatics can travel to catch the team’s major and minor league games in Tampa. The MLB team plays at George M. Steinbrenner Field, 1 Steinbrenner Dr., from late February through late March. The facility's 10,000-seat stadium, fronted by a life-size bronze statue of the Yankees’ former owner, is a replica of New York's old Yankee Stadium, which closed in 2008. Minor league's Class A Tampa Yankees (a New York Yankees affiliate) play April through August; for information phone (813) 875-7753 or (813) 879-2244.
Two other MLB Grapefruit League teams hold spring training on the Pinellas Peninsula: the Philadelphia Phillies and the Toronto Blue Jays, both of which have minor league affiliates that play ball locally. In summer the Phillies' Clearwater Threshers train at Clearwater's Spectrum Field, 601 Old Coachman Rd., and the Dunedin Blue Jays work out at Florida Dunedin Stadium, 373 Douglas Ave. in Dunedin. Both teams play a full minor league schedule; phone (727) 467-4457 for the Threshers or (727) 733-0429 for the Blue Jays.
FootballThe NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2003 Super Bowl champs, play at Raymond James Stadium, 4201 N. Dale Mabry Hwy.; for ticket information phone (866) 582-2827. You can also take a stadium tour Monday through Thursday and some Fridays at 2:30 (a fee is charged); phone (813) 350-6500 for details. The Outback Bowl is played here on New Year's Day.
HockeyThe NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning, winners of the 2004 Stanley Cup, hit the ice at Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Dr., early October through mid-April. For information and tickets phone (813) 301-6600.
Horse RacingThe only Thoroughbred track on Florida's west coast, Tampa Bay Downs, 11225 Race Track Rd., attracts horse racing devotees from near and far. The track has year-round simulcasting and holds live races Friday through Sunday, Wednesday and some Thursdays from early December to early May; post time is 12:25. For more information phone (813) 855-4401 or (866) 823-6967.
Note: Policies vary concerning admittance of children to pari-mutuel betting facilities. Phone for information.
BicyclingTampa's busy roadways generally are not conducive to safe bicycling; however, scenic Bayshore Boulevard is a delightful exception. It offers a breezy ride along the western shore of Hillsborough Bay with pretty water views as a backdrop. Suncoast Parkway Trail parallels the toll road of the same name between the Veterans Expressway and State Road 50, and is generally separated from it by a buffer zone of plants and trees.
Cruise the periphery of Downtown Tampa; there are bike lanes on Tampa and Jackson streets and Nebraska Avenue, and more than 250 bike racks and parking are scattered through the area. If you don't have a bike, rent one from downtown's City Bike Tampa, 212 E. Cass St.; phone (813) 225-1777. Rental fees range from $10 per hour to $45-149 weekly, depending on style of bike; phone (813) 225-1777. There's also Coast Bike Share, which has dozens of hubs throughout downtown Tampa where its bright blue bikes are stationed. Rental fees start at $8 per hour or $15 monthly (for 60 minutes of use per day); phone (813) 999-3300 for information.
You can also take a leisurely trip on foot or by bicycle or scooter along The Riverwalk, a wide paved path which runs along the banks of the Hillsborough River, beginning near The Florida Aquarium and passing the Tampa Bay History Center, Amalie Arena, the Tampa Convention Center and MacDill Park. It then goes past Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, the Tampa Museum of Art, Glazer Children's Museum, the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, and ends near Water Works Park and Spring. If you get a flat tire, take advantage of the walk's two bike repair stations. There's also plenty of signage along the walk to guide you.
Just south of downtown, peddle bayside on the Davis Islands Trail, beginning at Channel Drive and ending at Severn Boulevard near a seaplane basin next to Peter O. Knight Airport.
Fishing During Your TripThe waters of Hillsborough County yield bass, bream and perch. Lake Thonotosassa, northeast via SR 582, attracts freshwater fishing enthusiasts, and the docks off Davis Islands offer ample casting sites.
The central Gulf Coast offers some of the best saltwater fishing in the state. Boats can be chartered for inshore and offshore saltwater and freshwater fishing at Clearwater Beach and in other coastal communities.
In March and April, the Gulf of Mexico yields grouper, amberjack and king mackerel; in May and June, it's red snapper season. In November and December, head to the coast for gag grouper.
If you plan to fish on your vacation, freshwater and saltwater fishing licenses are sold at tackle shops, sporting goods and discount department stores and the county tax collector's office; phone (813) 635-5200 for information.
GolfWith dozens of golf courses to choose from and weather that allows for year-round play, the Tampa Bay area is a true golfer's paradise and a great place to find things to do with friends. Some of the public and semiprivate courses include Babe Zaharias, 11412 Forest Hills Dr., (813) 631-4374; Bloomingdale Golfers Club, 4113 Great Golfers Pl. in Valrico, (813) 685-4105; The Claw at USF, 13801 N. 46th St., (813) 632-6893; Heritage Harbor, 19502 Heritage Harbor Pkwy. in Lutz, (813) 949-4886; Lake Jovita, 12900 Lake Jovita Blvd. in Dade City, (352) 588-9200 or (877) 481-2652; Northdale, 4417 Northdale Blvd., (813) 962-0428; Pebble Creek, 10550 Regents Park Dr., (813) 973-3870; Rocky Point, 4151 Dana Shores Dr., (813) 673-4316; Rogers Park, 7910 N. 30th St., (813) 356-1670; Saddlebrook, 5700 Saddlebrook Way in Wesley Chapel, (813) 973-1111 or (800) 729-8383; TPC Tampa Bay, 5300 W. Lutz Lake Fern Rd. in Lutz, (813) 949-0090 or (866) 752-9872; and Westchase, 11602 Westchase Golf Dr., (813) 854-2331.
Hot Air BallooningTampa has its fair share of things for couples to do, as well. A champagne brunch accompanies hot air balloon flights that take off at sunrise and offer breathtaking views of the Tampa Bay area. For fares, flight schedules and departure locations phone Big Red Balloon Sightseeing Adventures, (813) 969-1518. You can also take to the skies with American Balloons in Land O' Lakes or Celebration Aviation; phone (813) 243-9507 and (813) 884-5610 respectively.
Jogging and WalkingSunny weather encourages both visitors and locals to enjoy the outdoors. Four walking trails with a combined distance of 7.3 miles wind through scenic hardwood hammocks at Hillsborough River State Park about 12 miles northeast to 15402 US 301 N.; phone (813) 987-6771.
For a sweeping view of Hillsborough Bay, nothing beats the 4.5-mile Bayshore Boulevard Linear Park, which begins at Columbus Statue Park and ends at Gandy Boulevard. The 10-foot-wide sidewalk is peppered with fitness stations along the way, and chances are you'll spot manatees and dolphins in the bay. On the opposite side of the street, you'll see Hyde Park's beautiful million-dollar homes.
In downtown Tampa, the Riverwalk runs alongside the Hillsborough River and passes numerous attractions, local restaurants, parks and hotels. The 2.5-mile walkway is open to pedestrians and runners.
Pound the asphalt on the 12-mile Upper Tampa Bay Area Trail in northwest Hillsborough County. The partially shaded trail begins at Memorial Highway and Montague Street with the northern terminus at Suncoast Parkway and W. Lutz Lake Fern Road; there are several water kiosks and benches on the trail. Phone (813) 801-6729 for a map and more information.
Commune with nature at Sydney Dover Equestrian Trails, 535 N. Dover Rd. in Apollo Beach, where you might be joined by hikers, runners, cyclists and horseback riders on 7.5 miles of smooth, wide grass and sand trails; phone (813) 757-3802.
TennisThe city-operated tennis facility at Hillsborough Community College, 4001 W. Tampa Bay Blvd., has 41 hard and clay courts; phone (813) 348-1173. There are eight lighted clay courts at the Sandra W. Freedman Tennis Complex, 59 Columbia Dr. on Davis Islands just south of downtown Tampa; phone (813) 259-1664. Cal Dickson Tennis Center, 4000 Watrous Ave. has eight courts open to the public; phone (813) 259-1893. For a complete list of playing courts, phone Tampa Parks and Recreation Department at (813) 274-8615.
Water SportsWhile there are two public beaches on the Tampa side of the bay— Ben T. Davis Beach, 7740 Courtney Campbell Causeway (SR 60) near the airport, and Picnic Island Park, 7409 Picnic Island Blvd. near Port Tampa—it's the Gulf beaches that draw lovers of water sports. Favorites are Caladesi Island State Park , Clearwater Beach, Fort De Soto Park and St. Pete Beach.
Hillsborough County parks also offer aquatic variety. Swimmers can dip into refreshing 72-degree spring water year-round at Lithia Springs Regional Park, 3932 Lithia Springs Rd.; phone (813) 744-5572. The springs feed the Alafia River, the county's most popular canoeing destination; launches are available in Lithia Springs Regional Park and in Alderman's Ford Regional Park, off CR 39 near Lithia at 9625 Canoe Launch Rd.; phone (813) 757-3801.
Picnic Island Park, 7409 Picnic Island Blvd., near the original encampment of Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War, beckons boaters, swimmers, picnickers and anglers to its beach, pier and bay waters. The park is south of the Gandy Bridge (US 92) near MacDill Air Force Base and is accessible via Commerce Street; phone (813) 274-8615.
John Chesnut Sr. Park, 2200 E. Lake Rd. in Palm Harbor, accesses 5-mile-long Lake Tarpon; it allows motorized boats and is popular with water-skiers and users of personal watercraft. There's also a canoe trail (for non-motorized boats only), an elevated boardwalk that leads to a lookout tower, a dog park and playgrounds. Swimming is prohibited.
Paddle a rented canoe or kayak on Class II rapids at Hillsborough River State Park, 15402 N. US 301, or bask in the sun on the poolside lawn and cool off in the 1/2-acre swimming pool. Catch some bass, bream and catfish in the river, or just gaze at the bucolic view from a 1938 suspension bridge; phone (813) 987-6771 for information.
Other Fun Things to DoFor enthusiasts of trapshooting (a type of clay pigeon shooting), the Tampa Bay Sporting Clays, 10514 Ehren Cutoff in Land O' Lakes, offers 260 acres of courses through palmetto and pine woods with one five-stand sporting clay and three wireless eight-station courses. There's also a 3D stationary archery course with 15 stations; phone (813) 929-6200.
AAA’s in-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. To pass inspection, all hotels must meet the same rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. These hotels receive a AAA Diamond designation that tells members what type of experience to expect.
Sales tax is 8.5 percent in Hillsborough and 7 percent in Pasco County. An accommodations tax is 6 percent in Hillsborough County and 4 percent in Pasco County.
(813) 231-6130; Sheriff (813) 247-8200
AdventHealth Carrollwood, (813) 932-2222; AdventHealth Tampa, (813) 971-6000; Memorial Hospital of Tampa, (813) 873-6400; Tampa General, (813) 844-7000.
201 N. Franklin St., Suite 102 Tampa, FL 33602. Phone:(813)226-2752 or (800)448-2672
Commercial domestic and international flights entering Tampa land at Tampa International Airport (TPA). Several commercial airlines and private planes use St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport (PIE). Private and corporate planes have access to Albert Whitted Airport (SPG) in St. Petersburg and Peter O. Knight Airport (TPF) in Tampa.
Hertz, which offers discounts to AAA members, is at the car rental center at Tampa International Airport, (813) 874-3232; St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport, (727) 532-4801; and at St. Pete Beach, (727) 360-1631; or phone (800) 654-3080.
Tampa's Amtrak station is at 601 N. Nebraska Ave. in downtown Tampa, behind historic Union Station. Daily service is offered; phone (813) 221-7600 or (800) 872-7245. Bus service to Union Station is available via HART routes 9, 12 and 400; phone (813) 254-4278.
Greyhound Lines Inc. is at 610 E. Polk St. in Tampa; phone (813) 229-2174.
Major companies include United Cab Co., (813) 777-7777, and Yellow Cab Co., (813) 253-0121.
HART serves Tampa and its immediate suburbs, including shopping malls and area attractions. Service also includes the TECO Line Streetcar System, which makes 11 stops along a 2.7-mile track between downtown Tampa and Ybor City. For HART bus and streetcar fares and schedules, phone (813) 254-4278.