Getaway Guide: Weekend Trip To Tampa

September 21, 2012 9:00 AM

Busch Gardens (Source:

The Gulf Coast offers an experience uniquely different to the coastal cities of the Atlantic, and Tampa is the star attraction. Its central position on the west coast of Florida makes it easily accessible for a weekend getaway. Visiting Tampa will be a step into a more laid-back atmosphere; however, the city is not slow by any means. A weekend getaway to Tampa will offer all the perks tourists love yet will make you feel like a local at the same time.

Getting There

Interstate 75 makes driving to Tampa very easy. It’s the only route you need and I-75 can be accessed from right here in town. The highway cuts across the state from east to west via Alligator Alley. The drive will take you through other popular cities on Florida’s west coast including Naples and Sarasota. In about four and a half hours, you can get to Tampa for a weekend of fun.

A Stop Along The Way

Myakka River


Myakka Canopy Walkway
Myakka River State Park
13208 State Road 72
Sarasota, FL 34241
(941) 361-6511

Price: $6 per vehicle up to eight people/$4 single-occupant vehicle or motorcycle/$2 general park access

This treetop trail is the first of its kind in the nation. From 25 feet in the air, you can get an incredible view of nature and wildlife throughout the park. Among the sites you can see on the walkway include wetlands, treetops and birds like eagles and hawks. The 100-foot path takes about 30 minutes to complete and makes for a relaxing, scenic stroll.

Where To Stay

Quality INN


Quality Inn Suites near Fairgrounds/Ybor City
4955 E 18th Ave
Tampa, FL 33605
(813) 623-6000

This property is budget friendly while providing excellent services. Guests will find in-room amenities like high-speed wireless internet access and refrigerators. The hotel provides its guests with free continental breakfast and free newspaper delivery during their stay. There’s also a heated pool on the premises. Its close proximity to local attractions like Busch Gardens and the Florida Aquarium makes it a convenient place to stay in the city.

Embassy Suites Tampa – Downtown Convention Center

Embassy Suites


513 S Florida Ave
Tampa, FL 33602
(813) 769-8300

For guests seeking a more upscale hotel experience, this Embassy Suites property will exceed their expectations. This is an all-suites property featuring modern designs and upgraded amenities. All guests are treated to a cooked-to-order breakfast and a cocktail reception each day of their stay – both free of charge. Special touches to each suite include marble countertops in the bathrooms, high-quality bedding from Serta, cable/satellite service and high-definition TVs.

Related: Best City Escapes From South Florida

Where To Eat

Firehouse Grill


The Firehouse Grill and Pub
8814 N 56th St
Tampa, FL 33617
(813) 980-2147

This locally-popular restaurant has been rated as having the best wings in the Tampa Bay area. The atmosphere is typical of a local bar and grill: casual and unassuming. Its menu includes staples like burgers and the infamous wings. The Firehouse Grill is open daily for lunch and dinner and remains open until at least 2 a.m., making it an excellent late-night spot.

Bern’s Steakhouse



1208 S Howard Ave
Tampa, FL 33606
(813) 251-2421

A superior fine-dining experience can be had at this upscale restaurant. Being a steakhouse, you can expect a good slab of meat. But steak is not the only thing Ben’s does well. This establishment offers both a standard and seasonal menu. The wine list and its on-site wine cellar are extensive in their selections. The restaurant even has a designated dessert room featuring gourmet creations of ice creams, tarts and chocolate desserts.

What To Do

Busch Gardens


Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
10165 N McKinley Drive
Tampa, FL 33612
(888) 800-5447

As part of the Sea World Parks system, Busch Gardens is a multi-faceted amusement park complex that provides the quintessential Tampa experience. There’s a section with rides for the adventure enthusiast and the Sesame Street Safari of Fun for families with kids. You can see exotic animals like cheetahs and peacocks or watch an exciting ice show. With on-site dining and shopping, everything you need or want to experience is at the park.

Related: Best Florida Resident Discounts

The Castle


The Castle
2004 N 16th St
Tampa, FL 33605
(813) 247-7574

Open since 1992, this nightclub has grown into a must-see venue in the popular area of Ybor City. The Saloon is The Castle’s original club space and still functions as the one of the main gathering areas. The Main Hall has the modern nightclub vibe many look for – several video screens and a large dance floor (even a couple of raised dance platforms). Several nights a week, the club has themed events and specials.

For nearly 20 years, Shawanda James has been actively involved in creative writing in Miami, Florida. In addition to her work as a freelance writer, she is actively seeking publication for her debut novel and collection of poetry. Her work can be found at