48 Hours In: Tampa

Welcome to the first in our series of destination highlights called 48 Hours In. Once a month, we’ll share some of the great things about the cities served nonstop by airlines at RDU so that you can plan your own 48-hour-getaway. 

Tampa Bay at dusk.

Tampa Bay at dusk.

In less than two hours you could be a world away from the Research Triangle Region with a non-stop flight to Tampa via Delta or AirTran/Southwest. Here’s a quick look at things you can do in Florida’s third largest city.

Go Outdoors

With its sub-tropical climate, the obvious choices for activities in Tampa are anything outdoors..

  • Take a kayaking trip down the Hillsborough River, where you’re almost guaranteed to see birds, turtles and even alligators.
  • Try stand-up paddleboarding in Tampa Bay, one of the world’s fastest growing watersports.
  • View the manatees at the Tampa Electric Company’s Manatee Viewing Center during the winter.
  • Experience the blast of a hurricane’s winds in the center’s simulator.
  • Soar high above the city in a hot air balloon.
  • Charter a deep sea fishing adventure in the Gulf of Mexico.

Go Back In Time

History enthusiasts will certainly love the variety of historical attractions in Tampa.

  • Explore the old-world charm of Ybor City, a national historic landmark district with its red brick buildings and iron-wrought balconies.
  • Watch craftsmen practice the art of hand-rolling cigars in the district.
  • Dine at the Columbia Restaurant, Florida’s oldest, which has been serving Spanish cuisine since 1905.
  • Take in a show at the Historic Tampa Theatre, which harkens back to the Roaring Twenties with a Wurlitzer performance before each show.
  • Visit the Henry Plant Museum to see art and décor from the early 20th Century.

Go Shopping

No 48-hour getaway would be complete without time to shop. Tampa offers numerous options.

  • Palma Ceia. Visit some of the area’s top boutiques as you walk on red brick roads shaded by enormous oak trees.
  • Hyde Park Village is known for many street festivals and outdoor shopping experiences throughout the year.
  • Channelside Bay Plaza is a shopping, dining entertainment plaza on the waterfront.
  • Fresh-Air Markets. Tampa has several fresh air markets specializing in specific types of food or retail items located in pedestrian friendly areas of the city.

Go Find a Thrill

For more adventures, explore these options.

  • Swim with the fish or dive with the sharks during special programs at The Florida Aquarium.
  • Ride the breath-taking coasters at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.
  • Take in a game. Tampa is home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tampa Bay Rays. You can also watch the Tampa Bay Lighting hit the ice (but it’s only good when the Carolina Hurricanes are in town, we should add).

When you go, remember to book your non-stop flight via AirTran/Southwest or Delta Airlines. Air Tran/Southwest offers three daily non-stop flights while Delta offers one.  I add my thanks to Visit Tampa Bay for all of the great exploration ideas.  What’s your favorite thing to do in Tampa? Tell me below!

About Andrew Sawyer

Andrew Sawyer is the External Communication Specialist for the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority and is the main writer for RDU’s website, electronic communication and airport publications. He’s also the primary face behind RDU’s social media channels. Andrew also assists with many other things, from media relations to event planning. In fact, he has an advanced degree in "other duties as assigned."
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2 Responses to 48 Hours In: Tampa

  1. I would add three things: the Clearwater-St.Pete beaches (the water is calmer than the Atlantic side), Lowry Park Zoo (went there a lot as a kid), and the Dali museum (largest collection outside of Spain). Great idea on the series’ concept there are so many great non-stop destinations from RDU.

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