For many, weekends are a time to relax and enjoy all that their city has to offer. For us? We often find that there is so much to do and take in throughout our beautiful region, we can’t fit it all in on our days off.
From photography to glass sculptures, our diverse art offerings rival major cities across the globe.
Along the Hillsborough River in the Tampa River Arts District sit the Tampa Museum of Art and the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts. The award-winning Tampa Museum of Art is the region’s largest museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art. The Florida Museum of Photographic Arts contains permanent collections, pieces from local community organizations, and traveling exhibits.
The Tampa River Arts District is also home to one of the country’s highest-rated outdoor fine art and fine craft shows, the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts. Every spring, roughly 300 talented artists are hand selected from an entry pool of more than 1,000 to showcase their works for the public.
From museums devoted to big-name artists like surrealist Salvador Dalí and glass artist Dale Chihuly, to incredible street murals adorning the buildings around St. Pete’s Central Avenue, art—and the cultures it celebrates—is all around you in St. Pete/Clearwater.
One of the area’s biggest draws for art lovers is The Dalí Museum — the largest collection of the surrealist’s work outside of Spain, housed in a crazy-cool building in downtown St. Pete. Peruse his gigantic masterworks, take a selfie in the Bubble Mirror, then have a snack and put your feet up in Café Gala. Another fantastic stop is the Chihuly Collection at the Morean Arts Center. Get lost in a swirl of classy glass sculptures, in a building designed to show off these amazing creations—and before you go, pop into the Morean Glass Studio and Hotshop to see resident artists creating glass art right in front of your eyes. Nearby, The Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg will give you your fix of fine artists, from the classic to the contemporary.
But there’s more than just gorgeous museums waiting for you. The outdoor art scene is nothing short of astounding. More than 70 murals have popped up in recent years on buildings in the Central Arts District in downtown St. Petersburg. Get a sneak peek of these gigantic public works by browsing the neighborhood on your own, or take the walking mural tour to hear the stories behind their creation.
Plan your trip around annual cultural events in historic Tarpon Springs, or catch the more frequent art celebrations and shows like the St. Pete Second Saturday Artwalk or the twice-monthly Gulfport Art Walk. You’re sure to find plenty of opportunities to feed your right brain and to grab a special souvenir at one of the many area art galleries.
Our music, film and theatre scene make Tampa Bay the perfect location for musicians, filmmakers, actors, and fans alike.
The largest facility of its kind in the southeastern United States, the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts brings new artists and commercial blockbusters under one roof. The Straz Center also houses the only accredited performing arts school in the region, the Patel Conservatory. Ruth Eckerd Hall and the Mahaffey Theater host Broadway shows, comedians, family-friendly shows, and the Florida Orchestra across the Bay in Pinellas County.
In the heart of downtown, the Amalie Arena is our go-to center for live music and entertainment. Offering more than 150 events every year, we have enjoyed top concerts such as U2 and The Rolling Stones and traveling events like Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus there.
Live music venues like The Ritz Ybor, Jannus Live, and the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre at the Florida State Fairgrounds sell out for big-name artists and music festivals throughout the year. During the spring, local acts and national headliners take the stage at Gasparilla Music Festival.
Following the weekend-long music festival, Gasparilla International Film Festival offers movie fans the opportunity to view films from a variety of genres as well as interact with and learn from filmmakers and actors. Often a host to films during GIFF, the Tampa Theatre remains an iconic venue for cinema locally and around the world. Rated one of the 10 best movie venues in the world by MPAA’s TheCredits.org, the Tampa Theatre shows classics in addition to modern box office hits.
Critically-acclaimed restaurants, breweries, clubs, bars, and the sixth largest casino in the world make up the fantastic lineup of our nightlife and dining features.
Dining options run the gamut from no-frills dives to top-rated, award-winning steakhouses and eateries. Whether it’s Cuban, Italian, Indian or Southern cuisine, we have the restaurants to satisfy your taste buds. Local fixtures The Refinery, Bern’s Steak House, SideBerns, and Columbia Restaurant have all been nominated as semifinalists for the national James Beard Foundation Awards. USA Today has also profiled our eclectic mix of restaurants, highlighting the top foodie recommendations, including Mise en Place and the now regional staple that started as a food truck, Taco Bus.
The food truck scene in Tampa Bay is unlike any other. We proudly hold the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest food truck gathering. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn also hosts monthly food truck rallies in downtown, and food trucks have become regulars at outdoor markets, festivals, and events.
Craft breweries are also popping up all over town these days. Named a top five craft brewery in the United States, Cigar City Brewing draws on the area’s brewing history dating back to the 1890s. St. Petersburg and the surrounding areas also offer a wide array of breweries, such as 3 Daughters Brewing and Green Bench Brewing Company.
For nightlife activities, join us in areas like South Tampa and Ybor City, home to popular bars and clubs. Just a short drive from downtown, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino offers table games, high-stakes poker, slot machines as well as a full-service spa, bars, and musical entertainment.
Dial up the heat at St. Pete/Clearwater’s waterfront restaurants, rooftop lounges, nightclubs and bars.
For fresh seafood and beach views, Clearwater Beach’s Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill serves one of the best grouper sandwiches around – add a serving of garlic crab fries for a flavor overload. You can also enjoy the quaint setting at Paradise Grille, where beach bites are served at picnic tables overlooking Pass-a-Grille Beach. Not far from the beach, you can start your night with a meal at the Best New Restaurant in Florida, The Mill, or try the farm-to-table trend at Farmtable Cucina. Brick & Mortar is a chic setting for New American Fare and elegant wine pours.
Quench your thirst at local breweries along the Gulp Coast Craft Beer Trail. It takes an hour to drive the trail from Tarpon Springs to St. Petersburg (with your designated driver in tow), not including the time you’ll spend taste testing stouts, pilsners and IPAs. Continue hopping around on St. Pete’s Central Avenue, a strip of popular local hang outs. The Oyster Bar serves up a brunch almost as energetic as its evening scene. Dog lovers, hang out on the colorful lawn of Dog Bar, where you can have a round of brews and your four-legged friend can slurp down ice water.
For an evening cocktail with an extra trendy vibe, order from The Mandarin Hide’s creative cocktail menu or swing by The Canopy at The Birchwood, a rooftop lounge overlooking downtown St. Pete. Another swanky spot, 360 Rooftop Bar at The Hotel Zamora, is perfect for enjoying craft cocktails while taking in panoramic views. Afterwards, you’ll want to show off your moves at The Wave at Shephard’s Resort. This lively club even has an outdoor tiki bar with an ocean-side dance floor.
Tampa Bay offers world-class attractions for all ages, from wild animal adventures to festivals dedicated to one of our most beloved fruits.
At Busch Gardens, we get up close and personal with exotic animals from all over the world before taking thrilling rides on top-rated roller coasters Cheetah Hunt and SheiKra. The Museum of Science & Industry, MOSI, is the largest science center in the southeastern U.S. with over 450 hands-on activities and traveling exhibits, including MythBusters and BODIES The Exhibition.
Just a few miles down the road is Lowry Park Zoo, the top-rated zoo in the country according to Parents and Child magazines. With over 1,500 animals and interactive exhibits, the zoo stands as an educational and entertainment landmark in our community.
Downtown Tampa boasts a variety of attractions as well, including the Glazer Children’s Museum and the Florida Aquarium, rated one of TripAdvisor’s Top 10 U.S. Aquariums. Nestled in the heart of the University of Tampa’s campus, the Henry B. Plant Museum offers visitors a look at the preserved architectural details of what was once the Tampa Bay Hotel during the 19th century.
Across the Bay sits a multitude of activities among the beautiful Florida beaches, including the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. The nonprofit dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of marine life is home to Winter, the dolphin who inspired the true story behind Dolphin Tale, as well as sea turtles, river otters, and sharks.
Once a year, we fall under the attack of pirates during Gasparilla Pirate Fest. At the Children’s Gasparilla Extravaganza, pirates invade iconic Bayshore Boulevard in a family-friendly parade, while the following Gasparilla Pirate Fest’s giant party shuts down Bayshore Boulevard for a parade that rivals Mardi Gras.
With mild temperatures year-round, we are able to host a multitude of outdoor events, festivals, and fairs. In early spring, Plant City hosts the annual Florida Strawberry Festival, which began in 1930. In addition to headline concerts, midway rides, and traditional fair food, thousands of visitors flock to the festival to enjoy Plant City’s world-famous strawberries. Food and wine events highlighting local cuisine as well as events and festivals on the sandy beaches fill out the area’s calendar of must-see events.