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Where to Stay in Tampa
Downtown Tampa is where you’ll find some of the city’s finest hotels, but since Tampa is the major business hub for Florida’s West Coast, some of these hotels are more oriented for business travelers than pleasure seekers. However, points of interest in this area include the Tampa Museum of Art, the must-see Florida Aquarium and the upscale shopping district of Hyde Park Village, so you’ll have plenty to see if you choose to stay here.
Another substantial lodging district is located in northeast Tampa near Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and the Museum of Science and Industry, two of the most prominent tourist attractions in the area. Some of the best Tampa hotel deals can be found in this area, as your options primarily consist of mid-range and economy chain hotels.
Other areas in Tampa where you’ll find several hotels include Ybor City, the nightlife district just north of Downtown, and near the Tampa International Airport. As the airport is situated right on the edge of Tampa Bay, some of the closest hotels offer stunning views and waterfront access.
Tampa Hotel Tips
The hotels located closest to the action of Downtown Tampa and Ybor City primarily consist of finer chain hotels like Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt Regency. The largest of these are closest to the Tampa Convention Center, which also happens to be right on the bay, so you may get a great waterfront view by reserving a bayside room on one of the higher floors. Many of these hotels also have on-site spas, destination dining and modern fitness facilities. Few economy hotels exist Downtown, but there are several spread widely through the surrounding Tampa Bay Area.
There are also several true beach resorts in the area, but these aren’t located in Tampa itself. They’re mostly located just 20 miles west on a collection of ten narrow barrier islands that line the Gulf of Mexico. All of these beaches have resorts ranging from elaborate and expensive to quaint and charming, but you’ll find the best variety in Clearwater Beach, North Reddington Beach and Treasure Island.
Tampa Hotel Recommendations
When staying Downtown, the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel and Marina provides some of the most plush accommodations in a premium location. It’s situated right on the Channel Riverwalk within short walking distance of great Downtown restaurants and bars, and its amenities include a full-service spa and a beautifully decorated rooftop swimming pool.
Slightly farther away is the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, a great place to stay for late-night partiers. Like most casino hotels, the Seminole Hard Rock offers a variety of on-site dining and nightlife options, a luxurious spa and 24-hour gaming. Private cabana rentals are also available at the large outdoor pool.
If you’ll be spending lots of your time at Busch Gardens, the nearby Best Western All-Suites Hotel is a family-friendly place with an outdoor pool, game room, tiki bar and spacious accommodations throughout. And if you’re looking to get a little closer to the gulf beaches, try nearby St. Petersburg’s Don Cesar Beach Resort. It’s on the higher end in terms of room rates, but you’ll enjoy one of the most elegant resort experiences in the area.
Since there’s so much more to the widespread Tampa Bay Area than Tampa itself, you’ll almost certainly want to rent a car if you’re taking a flight to Tampa. Most national car rental agencies have facilities right at Tampa International Airport. If you won’t be renting a car, it’s easy to get a taxi at the airport, but there are several shuttle routes that offer more competitively priced transportation to nearby hotels.
Downtown Tampa is the only area where it’s fairly easy and efficient to get around using public transportation. The In-Town Trolley, operated by Hillsborough Area Regional Transit, connects Downtown hotels with the convention center, Harbour Island, the Tampa Museum of Art and other destinations. It also links up with the TECO Line Streetcar System, a collection of historic electric streetcars that run throughout Downtown, Harbour Island and Ybor City. One-way fares are just a quarter for the trolley and $2.50 for the streetcar, but unlimited ride passes are also available.