Busch Gardens Africa : Opened in 1959 as a hospitality attraction for visitors to a local Anheuser-Busch brewery, this theme park has grown into Tampa Bay’s biggest marquee attraction. With high-adrenaline roller coasters and acres of animal habitats, it manages to be both pastoral and thrilling.
The Florida Aquarium : The Florida Aquarium highlights the variety of the state’s abundant marine life in 250,000 square feet of exhibits. More conceptually driven than most state aquariums, the Florida Aquarium is thematically designed to trace the path of a drop of water from underground springs to the ocean.
Ybor City : In the late 19th century, this was a company town filled with cigar factories. Today, there are still dozens of active cigar-rollers plying their trade in the storefronts of dozens of beautiful historic buildings. At night the area is one of Tampa’s most vibrant nightlife districts.
Salvador Dalí Museum : Located on St. Petersburg’s waterfront, this museum is home to more than 1,000 of Dalí’s original works and more of his extra-large surrealist masterpieces than any other museum in the world.
Tarpon Springs : Drawn to the region in the late 18th century to work as sponge divers, the large Greek community here still actively sponge-dives; they’ll take you out on a boat to show you how it’s done. From the white stuccoed buildings to the numerous offerings of spanakopita, Tarpon Springs feels more Hellenic than Floridian.
Caladesi Island State Park : Every year, a professor who goes by the name “Dr. Beach” picks a list of the best beaches in the United States. Every year, the quiet white-sand beaches on Caladesi Island — a small barrier island north of Clearwater reachable only by ferry — end up at or near the top of the list.
Crystal River : In the winter, manatees flock to the constant-temperature springs that feed the Crystal River, but thanks to some local herds that stay nearby, one can snorkel along with sea cows any time of year.