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Tampa Bucket List: 8 Things to do in Tampa Bay

Tamba Bay

For a relatively small city, there are still a lot of fun attractions and activities you can put on your Tampa bucket list. There are over 165 beaches and parks, a theme park, a zoo, an aquarium, and several museums and cultural facilities.

Tampa Bay is a huge natural harbor that has become popular with all kinds of water sports enthusiasts, from people who enjoy kayaking to those who love to paddle around on a stand-up paddleboard.

With so many attractions and things to do, you won’t have any problems finding things to do that you can strike off your Tampa bucket list.

Here are some activities you need to put on your Tampa bucket list:

  1. Visit Painting With a Twist
  2. Watch a live opera
  3. Take a helicopter ride
  4. Fly a fighter jet
  5. Sky dive indoors
  6. Cycle on water
  7. Go on a Speed Boat Adventure

#1. Paint a masterpiece

Have you ever dreamed of painting as well as Leonardo da Vinci and creating a modern-day Mona Lisa? Well, now you can! At Painting With A Twist, you learn how to paint with step-by-step lessons from a Tampa-based artist in this fun art studio.

Go with a group of friends or go alone and make new friends in the public paint classes. In the relaxed environment at Painting With A Twist, you can sip wine while creating your very own unique work of art under the guidance of an experienced art teacher.

You can visit this Tampa bucket list activities multiple times since this studio also hosts private parties, so you can hold a girls-night-out, bachelorette party, stag party, baby shower or anything right there. Imagine the bride to be creating an impressionist painting of her fiancé! Whatever the event, it will be original.

#2. Watch a live opera

Have you ever heard Plácido Domingo singing on the TV and wondered what he would sound like live? Add some class to your Tampa bucket list by visiting the world-renowned  Straz Center for the Performing Arts.

A renowned American opera company called Opera Tampa is based at The Straz Center and performs operas like La Boheme and Un Ballo in Maschera to introduce European high culture to an audience of 2,600 people in The Straz’s Carol Morsani Hall.

The Straz is one of the largest performing arts complexes in the southeastern US and features a broad variety of world-famous musicians. Every year, there are over 4,000 musical events ranging from Broadway shows to classic rock. They even host stand-up comedians. The Straz also runs a selection of educational classes and workshops in the Patel Conservatory.

#3. Take a helicopter ride

Have you ever flown in a helicopter? It’s an exhilarating experience that everybody should definitely add to your Tampa bucket list. The ability to hover over buildings like a bumblebee is a miracle of modern technology. With its mix of modern tower blocks, nature preserves, and marine features, Tampa is a perfect place to take a helicopter tour.

There are a number of helicopter tour companies operating around the Tampa Bay area, like Old City Helicopters and Heli Aviation. You could fly high over the downtown area and over Tampa Bay in search of dolphins. Or you could take in some of the famous beaches leading to Shell Key Preserve and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

#4. Fly a fighter jet

Have you ever dreamed of being a real-life top gun? You can on a fighter jet experience in Tampa. Soaring through the sky at the speed in the cockpit of an aircraft designed for speed, maneuverability, and winning dog fights.

At 450 mph, the scenery of the Sunshine State will blur beneath you. But you’ll certainly cover more ground than any other tour in Tampa.

This unique Tampa bucket list experience is not for the feint-hearted…and also not for the poor. At around $2,400 for a ½-hour flight, it’s not the cheapest experience you’ll ever have. But it will probably be the most exciting and memorable one.

#5. Sky dive indoors

Have you ever considered skydiving? The idea of jumping out of an airplane at 13,000 feet and leaving your fate to a silk disk and a few ropes is terrifying to many. However, there is a way to experience the exhilaration of freefall without the danger of a real parachute jump. It’s called indoor skydiving.

You can experience indoor skydiving at the iFly Indoor Skydiving Center in Tampa. Using a powerful, vertical wind tunnel, the effects of freefall are simulated in a safe environment. This means that your children can experience skydiving before they’re old enough for a real jump.

Why not take a group of friends and family along? The skydiving equipment is surrounded by a transparent screen so your family can laugh at you while you’re struggling to stay the right way up.

#6. See big cats

This Tampa bucket list item is perfect for Netflix fans. Tigers, lions, leopards, and panthers are beautiful but deadly. While some people may dream of owning a “pet” tiger like in Tiger King,  in reality, big cats were never meant to be housetrained. If you’re fascinated by big cats, you can see one of the largest collections of dangerous felines in the world at Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, which is owned and operated by Carole Baskin.

Big Cat Rescue has been rescuing, housing, and rehabilitating large felines since 1992 and are active in the conservation movement. In Tampa, they host over 100 wild cats from 11 different species.

Guided tours are available, so you can practice your wildlife photography, learn about the habits and habitats of big cats, and see how the keepers feed and rehabilitate their “guests”. Typically, you’ll see mountain lions, cougars, bobcats, tigers, and lions.

#7. Cycle on water

While we all know it’s impossible to walk on water, what about cycling? Yes, you can cycle on water! Just hire a water bike from the Tampa Bay Water Bike Company.

These stable water bikes are a unique way of exploring Tampa via the Hillsborough River and connected waterways. And because they are human-powered, they’re ecologically friendly. The company also offers tandem water bikes, so you can ride with a friend.

The company welcomes water bike riders of all experience levels and ages. You can hire water bikes by the hour or get cheaper rates for fixed longer periods. Why not give water cycling a try?

#8.  Speed Boat Adventure

Tampa Speed Boat Adventures is FUN for the whole family and must-do Tampa bucket list activity!

Take a fully narrated speed boat tour through 15 miles of Tampa Bay and the St. Pete waterways for a once-in-a-lifetime view of the beautiful Florida coast. Located in serene Tampa Bay, this amazing tour takes you past many Florida sights, like the beautiful National Wildlife Refuges, historic Fort De Soto Park, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, and more.

You may see pods of bottlenose dolphins, manatees, sea turtles and numerous varieties of local birds and other wildlife. Your guide is here to point out awesome sights and share fun facts about the area. 



 Overall, your trip to the area will make some memorable moments for you to treasure.

For more travel inspiration and destination guides, check out Outside Pursuits.

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