Have you ever gotten home and needed to book your next vacation? I recently did that and booked a 3 day weekend in Tampa to use my CityPass to explore Tampa solo. Looking for the right balance of relaxing and getting a load of fun by having the ability to visit 5 attractions in Tampa.
This is not just a guide to the best of Tampa, but it is a guide to how you can enjoy Tampa without having to do too much planning for a last-minute weekend in Tampa thanks to Citypass.Read more: A Weekend In Tampa For Foodies and Adventurers with CityPASS and The Epicurean Hotel
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What is Citypass Tampa?
Citypass operates in a few cities around the USA. I truly love them as they put together a few of a city’s top attractions and bundled it up into a package that truly is more affordable than buying everything separately.
Citypass Tampa is in my opinion one of the best because it includes Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, The Florida Aquarium, and ZooTampa, and you get to choose two more attractions that span between Tampa and Clearwater.
How long is CityPass Tampa good for?
The pass once activated is good for 9 continuous days. Also, from the date it was purchased, you have 1 year to use the pass before it expires.
However, as you will see the Citypass Tampa expands into nearby Clearwater and you will find it spread out over Tampa. That is why I needed to pick the best area to stay in Tampa as well as the best hotel for location, and food knowing I was probably going to want to eat a few meals at the hotel to relax at some point. I ended up choosing two attractions that were in Clearwater as well as the three that were included in the pass.
Is CityPASS Tampa worth it?
In my opinion, it is worth it based on the fact it included a day ticket to Busch Gardens, and I was able to see the holiday decorations as well as the village in Busch Gardens Tampa. Plus even if you just visit one other attraction like the ZooTampa or The Florida Aquarium it covers the cost of the CityPass and you still have three more attractions to go to!
A Weekend in Tampa with CityPASS
Tampa Bay is becoming more a more popular for a weekend getaway to experience the sports teams, theme park, beach, and range of activities that are considerably less crowded than in nearby Orlando, Florida. I enjoyed being able to go to Tampa during the shoulder season, experience some unique Florida Christmas festivities, as well as enjoy some amazing food. I started my adventure going to Busch Gardens Tampa. A weekend trip to Tampa can be the perfect escape for a beach, foodie, and cultural escape from nearby Orlando, Florida.
Day 1 Busch Gardens Tampa
The first day I arrived I went straight to Busch Gardens as I knew I was going to spend ample time there. It was amazing as opposed to much larger lines in Orlando theme parks, Busch garden Tampa wait times were surprisingly short and made it perfect to go on a Friday during the day. While I did not get to go on all 10 rollercoasters at Bush Gardens Tampa, it was more so because my body was only able to handle 6.
Also, I wanted time to explore the Busch Gardens Tampa Christmas Town as well as all of the beautiful holiday decorations throughout the park. This was the perfect time of year to visit Tampa with the CityPass for a weekend in Tampa because it allows you to go to the holiday events for the same price and ticket to enter the park.
The Holidays At Busch Garden
Busch Gardens Christmas Town goes from Nov 11- Jan 7 so use your pass wisely during this time. This means fewer people for all attractions since it is not always beach weather. Also, there are special holiday items, for food, and drinks, as well as the festive nature of the park during the holidays which make it extra special.
There is a lanyard you can get to save money on food and drinks with a choice of 5 items, or 10 items for nonpass holders, and a special 12-item pass for annual pass holders.
This evening was an early one for me and I passed out after dining at my hotel. This was going to be a long weekend in Tampa!
Day 2 Exploring Aquariums and the Gulf of Mexico with CityPass
The next day I visited the Florida Aquarium which I have never been to and always wanted to see as a Native Floridian. It is amazing because it dives deep into Florida nature and marine life. This is perfect for you to learn about the beaches, natural springs, and other wildlife that you see or don’t want to see (aka alligators) while you swim.
Again I am doubling down that this is the best time to visit because event the Florida Aquarium got into the festive spirit with lights and trees inside. I truly loved the Florida wetlands section of the aquarium and probably because the springs and mangroves are where I love to be.
I recommend you budget 2 hours here since it gives you enough time to go through the exhibits and listen to a ranger talk at the aquarium to learn more from an expert!
Explore Clearwater and St. Pete Beach
It is a different experience to the Clearwater Aquarium you can easily pair up with a dolphin boat tour. And yes this is ALL COVERED by the CityPass still!
One thing about Tampa and Clearwater is it is surrounded by water and that is why it is important on any trip I take to Tampa I make it on the water or in the water once. This trip was a bit too cold for me to swim in the ocean, but going on the Tropics Boat Tour to check out some dolphins was perfect. It was also something I never did before in the area. Sometimes it is nice to play tourist in my home state!
Shows me how much I actually love Florida and why I always come back.
Nightlife for a Weekend in Tampa
If you want a more chilled-out nightlife experience after grabbing a quick bite and getting ready for a night out I suggest possibly checking out Meat Market or Bar Taco for those looking for more of a bar restaurant vibe. Also, there is an option of going to a cute theater at CMXBistro Movie Theater.
However, if you want to go downtown there are options like going to an NHL game to see the Lightening in action as well as many new bars and restaurants on Water Street.
Where to stay in Tampa?
The best area to stay in my opinion is Hyde Park if you are looking to explore the Tampa attractions as well as the Clearwater attractions on the CityPass. More specifically I chose the Epicurean Hotel Tampa for a few reasons I will go into below.
The Epicurean has been on my list of hotels to stay in the Tampa Bay area because it is an Autograph Collection hotel Marriott property with a culinary focus. I appreciate the attention to detail in design, the carefully crafted menus at Elevage, and the new mocktail additions they have added joining the ranks of bars providing spirit-free options.
Also, when I go somewhere solo I like to stay at a place with life to meet others and be in a lively area. The Epicurean was bustling with activities that they constantly update on their calendar with specials as well as the Edge Rooftop Cocktail Lounge (perfect at sunset).
A Hotel Restaurant Locals Flock To
The Epicurean hotel Tampa restaurant is a place where even locals and visitors not staying at the hotel come to dine because it is delicious. Every day I woke up I had breakfast here and before I went to bed after a long day exploring Tampa and Clearwater I came back knowing I could get a great meal at Elevage.
I tried two amazing dishes that I highly recommend for dinner the Grass-fed smoked short rib and a recently added menu item from the secret menu the Homage to Bern shaved ribeye, caramelized onion, alpine, cheese onion jus, onion rings.
If you are a breakfast person like me you will love the varying menu options which have something for everyone. I tried something a little different as opposed to the classic breakfast and got the Huevos Rancheros. However, I got a side of the maple chicken sausage which I can highly recommend. Their coffee was also on point and I got an oat milk latte.
The Epicurean Sleep Dreaming Of Your Next Meal
The best thing about going to sleep at the Epicurean is dreaming about what you are going to eat at breakfast since dinner here was so good! Also, you will be dreaming because you will have a deep sleep with ultra-comfortable beds and a spacious room. There was so much attention to detail keeping up with the culinary theme including spoon-fork knife motifs on the pillows, foodie-inspired artwork, and other culinary books in the room like a book in my room about the nearby critically acclaimed restaurant Bern’s.
Another favorite thing the hotel provides guests with is an Illy coffee pod coffee maker. I truly love coffee so being able to have complimentary high-quality coffee is a must, especially for hotels of this caliber.
Of course, after all of that eating you may want to get some wellness in. Luckily there is a heated pool, spa, and gym at your disposal so you can build in some time to relax after exploring during an epic weekend in Tampa with CityPass. Not only that they have a very nice rooftop bar with a great view at sunset.
When is the best time to Book a weekend in Tampa?
Every weekend in Tampa is a great weekend in my opinion because there is always something happening. However, in terms of booking a weekend in Tampa to use a CityPass and stay in Hyde Park, I recommend a fall and winter getaway since the parks and attractions will have fewer people, and you won’t want to spend all your day at the beach and pool because of the weather, and it is perfect to get the most out of your CityPass since holiday happenings will be happening around the city and at Busch Gardens as well.
What are you waiting for? This is the perfect short escape and a hassle-free weekend in Tampa.
Want to learn more about the best things to do in Tampa? Check out my 3 Day Guide to Tampa Bay Area