Tips + Trends

4 Nights. 2 Cities—All Ages Welcome in Tampa and Orlando

Double up on fun, food and family in Tampa and Orlando, two of Florida’s most popular resort cities that are only 70 miles apart. Guided by our Top 10 list below, you can enjoy the best these two sunny cities have to offer in just four days:

TAMPA’S TOP 5

1. The World-Famous Beaches of Tampa and Clearwater

Take in Clearwater Beach, where you can treat yourself to miles of sugar-fine white sandy beaches. From Clearwater to historic DeSoto, get ready for a perfect day in the sun, and bring the whole family: Visitors frequently spot dolphins, manatees and other sea animals in their natural habitats.

2. Tip-Top Thrills

Head to Busch Gardens Tampa for great—and budget-friendly—entertainment. For kids who have graduated from the cartoon character age group, this park is prime for rides big and small, plus plenty of shows and typically shorter lines than Orlando’s theme parks.

things to do in tampa
Get close to animals at Busch Gardens. (Photo: Alamy)

3. Need a (Cat) Nap?

Tampa’s truly wild side comes out at Big Cat Rescue. Enjoy seeing big cats in their natural habitat, and learn all about their stories from passionate volunteers who serve as guides and caretakers for these gorgeous animals.

things to do in tampa
See the big cats in Tampa. (Photo: Getty Images)

4. Hidden Haunts for the Discriminating Foodie

From the largest wine cellar in the world, to perfectly crafted brews and great bar fare, take in Bern’s Steakhouse and Cigar City Brewing. Bern’s famous wine cellar contains more than 6,800 different selections with over half a million bottles. Great brews and small plates abound at another hot spot, Cigar City Brewing. Stop in for a tour and sample from a selection of more than two dozen beers on tap.

5. Events, Attractions for Every Interest

Seasonal events include the Gasparilla Pirate Festival, a century-old tradition held in late January; spring training for major league baseball teams like the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies; Amalie Arena, home of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning and great concerts all year long) and Clearwater Marine Aquarium (see Winter the dolphin, star of the movies Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2).

ORLANDO’S TOP 5

1. The Mouse’s House: Walt Disney World

It’s the “Happiest Place on Earth”—need we say more? Walt Disney World is the big draw for theme park aficionados who flock to its four distinctive sections, two epic water parks and Disney Springs dining, shopping and entertainment complex.

2. Butter Beer, Anyone?

At Universal Orlando, entertainment is for all ages. Between Universal StudiosFlorida, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Islands of Adventure, Wet n WildWaterpark and City Walk, adults and kids alike have their choice of action-packed day, from mind-blowing coasters and behind-the-scenes tours of movie favorites.

things to do in tampa
Whoop it up at Universal Orlando. (Photo: Getty Images)

3. That’s Entertainment: Disney Springs

Disney Springs offers a world of entertainment, including shopping, dining and shows on multiple stages. Think everything from live Latin music to retro-style bowling to headline performers at the House of Blues.

4. Iconic Views

The Icon Orlando, a 400-foot Ferris wheel with panoramic views, is a must for the whole family. You can also enjoy miniature golf, shopping and fine dining along this 11-mile stretch of the famous International Drive. To avoid traffic and parking fees, you can take the I-Ride Trolley service from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

5. Animals at Sea

SeaWorld Orlando is an animal-lover’s favorite, where you can learn about life under water with live shows and encounters, animal exhibits and rides. You can also enjoy a swim with dolphins at Discovery Cove or just have fun acting like a sea animal in the water park next door, Aquatica.