Explore Gulf Coast culture in Tampa, Florida
West Central Florida's largest city is also one of the state's most popular: Tampa. This locale is situated along the Gulf of Mexico, providing not only spectacular opportunities for water adventures and relaxation on the beach, but also warm breezes coming in from the Gulf Stream. Tampa car rentals can take you to nearby Saint Petersburg, where you'll find the beloved Tropicana Field, for a short excursion during your trip, but there's also plenty to see in the city limits. Be sure to visit these hot spots:
Hop in your Tampa rental car and drive about 30 minutes south to Saint Petersburg, where you'll find Tropicana Field. Established in 1990 and able to fit nearly 37,000 people, this facility is home to the Tampa Bay Rays, which played their first game here on March 31, 1998. With a price tag of more than $200 million, the facility is known for its top-notch amenities. Along with a dome to protect from the elements and top-of-the-line FieldTurf, it has a three-story sports bar, a restaurant where you can eat while watching the game and a private concourse called Beach at Tropicana Field that has an outdoor patio and palm trees, not to mention parking for 7,000 vehicles. The field is also used for Major League Baseball spring training as well as the beloved Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl.
Regarded as one of the best in the nation, the Florida Aquarium spans 250,000 square feet and houses more than 20,000 species of flora and fauna. Take stroll through some of the dozens of habitats to find cute penguins, lazy lemurs and ferocious sharks. Walk along the renowned Wetlands Trail and peek into alligator-infested waters, then go past a calm stream where otters frolic and play. One of the newest exhibits here is "Journey to Madagascar," which gives you a glimpse into the creatures that live in this environment - you'll find everything from hissing roaches to stunning chameleons. During your visit, take an exploration of the waters with a Wild Dolphin Cruise. This trip takes about 75 minutes aboard a 72-foot catamaran and lets you meet some of the 500 wild dolphins that call the bay home. For a more intimate experience with the sea creatures, sign up with an interactive dive program, such as "Dive with the Sharks" or "Swim with the Fishes."
Plenty of aquatic adventures can be had along the Gulf Coast, but those with youngsters or a preference for contained waters may want to make their way to Adventure Island. Drive your Tampa car rental to 10001 North Malcolm McKinley Drive and unpack the family for an afternoon of fun. The water park spans over 30 acres filled with clean beaches where you can lay out and relax or partake in a friendly game of sand volleyball. There are also plenty of thrilling rides, such as the Scorpion, Wild Surge, Bush Flyers and Skyride. The youngsters may enjoy the tamer rides - Big Bird, Elmo's Safari-Go-Round and Snuffy's Romp.