It’s a new year. Tie to put 2020 behind us and enjoy everything 2021 has to offer. So, what’s new to do in Tampa Bay? You will find a list of more than enough to fill your vacation or a local weekend away. Tampa Bay truly has something for everyone in your party.
Like Gems on a String
The Tampa Riverwalk links together downtown Tampa’s top attractions along a 2.6-mile waterfront walkway. At Sparkman Wharf, Tampa Bay’s favorite waterfront food hall, take in over-the-top artwork and enjoy a new spin on Tex-Mex with JOTORO Mexican + Tequila Kitchen, the NEW restaurant helmed by Michelin-star chef, Joe Isidori. At the North end of the Riverwalk, Tampa Bay favorite, Bake’n Babes brings their sweet treats to a NEW second location at Heights Public Market in the historic Armature Works building, which houses 18 unique dining options and counting!
Watch the sunset from Ulele or go for the 360-views at the reimagined Sail Plaza, just steps from the waterfront Tampa Convention Center. Go for a local classic like the Columbia Café at the Tampa Bay History Center, or something fresh, like the NEW Anchor & Brine waterfront restaurant located inside the beautiful Tampa Marriott Water Street.
Family Adventures and Lasting Memories
Take on Tigris, the tallest launch coaster in Florida, and see how old meets new in 2021 with the NEW Iron Gwazi, at Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay — the tallest, steepest, and the fastest hybrid rollercoaster in North America. Take a plunge and beat the heat at Busch Gardens’ water park, Adventure Island, with the NEW Solar Vortex ride.
At The Florida Aquarium, see the animals native to Florida waters with a NEW, modernized Florida Wetlands Trail exhibit, and hear how Atlantic Coral has been reproduced for the first time ever in human care in an effort to save the world’s 3rd largest coral reef. Find fun inspiration at the Glazer Children’s Museum with one-of-a-kind activities and NEW engaging exhibits offered regularly.
See how ZooTampa is helping the survival of endangered species like the white rhino and Florida panther, or you can meet their all-star vets and animal care specialists as seen in the TV series, Secrets of the Zoo, on Nat Geo Wild on Disney+. These efforts follow the opening of ZooTampa’s NEW multimillion-dollar Manatee Critical Care Center, where rescued Florida manatees are nursed back to health.
Culinary Discoveries Await
In Tampa Bay, the cuisine is just as unique and rich as our culture! Pay a visit to the oldest restaurant in Florida, The Columbia Restaurant, for traditional Spanish cuisine or an authentic Cuban Sandwich. Upscale favorite, Mise en Place, brings their selection of contemporary American cuisine to a NEW café located in Tampa International Airport at Airside F.
In the heart of Historic Ybor City, Latin influence meets coastal cuisine at Flor Fina, the NEW flagship restaurant at Hotel Haya. And in Midtown Tampa, enjoy local-inspired cuisine and sensational cocktails at Sal Y Mar, the NEW one-of-a-kind rooftop bar opening atop the NEW co-branded Aloft/Element Midtown Hotel.
Brunch is always an option in Tampa Bay. Visit the Oxford Exchange for fresh season dishes inside of an art-filled dining room. And indulge in Spanish flavors at South Tampa’s Bulla Gastrobar, with indoor/outdoor seating and rooftop Luna Lounge.
Arts, Culture, and Authentic History
NEW in 2021, experience the weird, the wild, and the most bizarre Florida folklore at The Peninsularium, a NEW immersive art attraction disguised as a typical roadside attraction. Learn about Tampa Bay’s pirate past at the Tampa Bay History Center, home to the Southeast’s ONLY center for the study of maps. For a modern view, the Tampa Museum of Art offers an extensive collection of contemporary art housed inside a stunning waterfront building.
Find a fragrance all your own when you visit The Candle Pour, Tampa Bay’s FIRST pour-your-own candle experience, located in South Tampa’s Hyde Park Village.
Shop ‘Til You Drop
Take in six city blocks of NEW high-end brands and beautiful local boutiques at Hyde Park Village. A major transformation has reimagined this popular outdoor shopping venue brimming with local vendors, street art, outdoor dining, and new shopping options.
At International Plaza, check out the extensive collection of NEW shopping options, along with other popular stores like Apple, Nieman Marcus, and 200+ other luxury brands. At Bay Street, International Plaza’s vibrant outdoor restaurant village, explore a colorful collection of dining options like Whiskey Cake and the NEW Alma.
Looking for a bargain? Tampa Premium Outlets are just north of downtown and offer luxury brands at affordable prices. And for the most Tampa Bay inspired products, the Unlock Tampa Bay Visitors Center in downtown offers a NEW selection of locally sourced items and souvenirs.
Wide Open Spaces
Take in the Florida sunshine with outdoor adventures and open-air experiences in Tampa Bay. Stroll the Tampa Riverwalk, where the NEW Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park has been recognized for the creative use of open space after a $35 million redevelopment.
Hit the ground running with Go! Running Tours Tampa to explore popular parts of the city on foot and learn something along the way with the NEW 7K Black History Tour.
See Downtown Tampa from the water with a kayak or paddle tour from Urban Kai SUP. Zip through the trees and conquer the 200-foot over-water suspension bridge at Empower Adventures Tampa Bay. And rain or shine, the fun doesn’t stop at Topgolf Tampa, with 3-levels, 102 bays, and a rooftop terrace.
Sit Back and Prepare for Takeoff
Your gateway to Tampa Bay is Tampa International Airport (TPA). Regularly included among the best airports in the country, for three consecutive years, Travel + Leisure has ranked TPA in the top 5 for its World’s Best Awards. In 2020, J.D. Power also named TPA the #2 Airport in North America for passenger satisfaction.
Alaska Airlines connected Tampa Bay to the West Coast in 2020, with direct service to Seattle and NEW flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco. United Airlines adds NEW connections to Tampa Bay, with service to Boston, Cleveland, New York- LaGuardia, and NEW nonstop service from Milwaukee. TPA also adds nonstop flights to North Carolina in 2021 with NEW daily service to Raleigh from JetBlue Airlines.
Every Day is Game Day
The biggest football game of all – Super Bowl LV – returns to Tampa Bay and Raymond James Stadium for the 5th time in February 2021!
2020 turned Tampa Bay into a City of Champions. The Tampa Bay Rays (MLB) won the American League and played in the World Series. Bolts fans became the #DistantThunder, cheering on the Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL), who captured the 2020 Stanley Cup. The Tampa Bay Rowdies (USL) were crowned the 2020 USL Eastern Conference Champions. And Raise the Flags for one of the most exciting teams in pro football, The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFL), who defend home turf at Raymond James Stadium.
Old Meets New in Ybor City
Step into the past, sip on café con leche, and see how Ybor City put Tampa on the map a century ago by becoming the “Cigar Capital of the World.” Stroll Historic 7th Avenue, or take the Ybor City Historic Walking Tour, where your guides will introduce you to the fun and fascinating history of the neighborhood. Visiting in October? You won’t want to miss the wildly popular NEW Ybor City Ghost Tours, to hear Ybor’s spooky stories, and visit some of the most haunted buildings in all of America.
Learn about Tampa Bay’s cigar history at J.C. Newman Cigar Company’s NEW cigar history museum. The oldest family-owned cigar factory, and last operating cigar factory in Ybor City, added the museum in 2020 as part of a multimillion-dollar renovation.
There is also new life in the historic Latin quarter. Celebrate the flavors of Sicily at the NEW Casa Santo Stefano restaurant, opening in late 2020 following a renovation to the century-year-old Ferlita Macaroni Factory building. For a fun time in Ybor City, the NEW Showbar is Tampa Bay’s ONLY dueling piano bar, or head over to the NEW Cearealholic Café & Bar, where childhood memories come to life with over 30+ cereals available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
It’s a Pirates Life
The scurvy krewe loyal to legendary pirate José Gaspar will blow you away when they sail Florida’s only fully functional pirate ship into downtown with colors flying and cannons blazing. The Gasparilla Invasion kicks off a series of events and family fun known as Gasparilla Season.
Explore the Tampa Riverwalk from the water with the popular Pirate Water Taxi, and their fleet of yellow and black vessels, including the NEW 100 passenger Captain Jack II with indoor/outdoor seating. Plan your own pirate voyage when you climb aboard the NEW Lost Pearl pirate ship.
Fans of the arts will find a trove of unique works of art at the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts, and film buffs will flock to see up-and-coming filmmakers show off their projects at the Gasparilla Film Festival.
Thousands of New Rooms to Choose
With over 1,000 NEW rooms added since 2019, and another 1,000 coming soon, the Tampa Bay hotel market is booming. In 2020, phase one of the multibillion-dollar Water Street Tampa development completed with the opening of the NEW highly anticipated JW Tampa Marriott Water Street, which welcomed its first guests in December and brings an added luxury option to the Downtown Convention District. NEW hotels continue opening their doors in Tampa Bay. a NEW Cuban inspired boutique property from Aparium Hotel Group, Hotel Haya, opened in the heart of historic Ybor City on 7th Avenue.
Elsewhere, a recent $700 million expansion brought 500+ NEW guestrooms and suites to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, and Tampa’s first dual-branded development, a NEW Hampton Inn/Home2 Suites Tampa Downtown, opened in the waterfront Channel District just steps away from Port Tampa Bay.
On the Horizon
Dual-branded properties continue to debut with a NEW Hyatt Place/Hyatt House opening in the center of downtown with ground floor retail space. The dual-flagged Aloft/Element is bringing exciting rooftop experiences in 2021 to the NEW $500 million Midtown Project. And the iconic foodie-focused Epicurean Hotel will undergo an expansion that will add 51 NEW guest room suites alongside the legendary Bern’s Steak House.