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With blue skies and endless sunshine, a beautiful waterfront and vibrant culture infused with Cuban and Spanish influences, it’s no wonder that Tampa is such a wonderful place to visit. Tampa city is in Tampa Bay, in the heart of Florida’s Gulf coast. Known as the ‘Cigar City’, Tampa dares to be different and is home to Ybor City, its historic Latin quarter and former center of cigar manufacturing. Tampa is a hotspot for nightlife, dining and activities such as kayaking along the Hillsborough River or fishing.
With an eclectic mix of cultures, Tampa’s food scene is also impressive. There’s world class museums too, and regular festivals, concerts and events held in the city’s urban parks. The best thing about Tampa is that it’s just 30 minutes away from some of Florida’s best beaches, so you can enjoy both city and seaside vibes.
Base yourself in the city and spend your days exploring the Tampa Bay region (which stars Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater), feeling that warm Florida breeze fill the car as you cruise along.
Renting a car to drive around Tampa Bay is an excellent way to see all the best parts of the region, from Clearwater Beach to Tampa city itself. Traffic can be intimidating for the uninitiated, but these handy tips will help you out.
Situated along Central Florida’s “Nature Coast,” Crystal River is a must-visit when in the area. Three Sisters Springs is one of the few places in the USA where you can swim with manatees. Yep, real life manatees. This drive will take you about 1 hour 30 minutes, with plenty of pretty scenery along the way.
It might only be 3.5 miles long, but this scenic highway just 1-hour drive southwest of Tampa International Airport is a dream. The highway is on Anna Maria Island, taking you along the waterfront corridor for views of the blue waters and sandy beaches. While you’re on the island, be sure to take a dip at Bradenton Beach.
The scenic Courtney Campbell Causeway connects Tampa to Clearwater, a charming beach city just west of Tampa. The causeway runs along sea level and you’ll see sea life swimming in the mangroves and people fishing along the edge of the byway. Clearwater Beach is a 3-mile long barrier island on the Gulf Coast.
This famous yellow-cabled bridge offers fantastic views of Tampa Bay, stretching along the mouth of the bay for over 4 miles. You’ll cross over this bridge on the drive from St. Petersburg to Bradenton. As you drive over the bridge, you’ll spot vistas of Tampa and to the right you’ll have views of the Gulf of Mexico. You can even fish from the bridge; it’s one of the world’s longest fishing piers!
For a short scenic drive from Tampa, consider a trip to Honeymoon Island State Park. One of Florida’s best state parks, Honeymoon Island has more than four miles of beach along with a three-mile trail through a pine forest. You can park the car here, explore and then take a ferry to nearby Caladesi island for the afternoon.
Hop in the car and you’ll arrive in Boca Grande in under 2 hours. Located on Gasparilla Island off the Gulf Coast northwest of Fort Myers, this small residential community is simply stunning. There’s excellent fishing, hiking and biking to enjoy while you’re here. The drive from Tampa is pleasant and the sleepy small town atmosphere of the community will put you at ease.
The Ridge Scenic Highway, in Polk County, goes on for more than 38 miles along the Lake Wales Ridge. You’ll drive past orange groves, clear lake vistas and historical grand homes along the route. This is a laid-back part of Florida that feels like you’re stepping back in time.
Car rental is an average of just $33 per day in Tampa. Booking with EnjoyTravel.com guarantees you the lowest prices and reliable rental companies.