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Tampa Bay Shore Excursion Tips

Tampa Bay waterfront
Water taxis take visitors along the Tampa Bay waterfront. Credit: Pixabay license

Tampa Bay offers plenty of great shore excursions, but few of them are near the Port Tampa cruise docks.

Instead, cruise visitors will have to drive a bit to get to the best attractions. The best and nearest option is the Channel District, which is about nine miles northeast of the cruise port.

The district is a major shopping, dining and entertainment development with waterfront restaurants, public boat docks, the Florida Aquarium, an IMAX theater, Amalie Arena, the Tampa Bay History Center, an outdoor plaza with concerns and much more.

Once there, visitors can take the “pirate” water taxi to various points along the Tampa Bay waterfront including Manor Riverwalk, Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, Julian B. Lang Park and Harbour Island. Tickets are $29 for teens and adults with discounts for young children.

Other major attractions nearby include Glazer Children’s Museum, 110 W. Gasparilla Plaza, and Tampa Museum of Art, right by the children’s museum at 120 W. Gasparilla Plaza. Tickets for the children’s museum are $16 each. Tickets for the museum of art are $20 with discounts for seniors and children.

Anyone wanting more excitement can go to Busch Gardens Tampa, 10165 N Malcolm McKinley Drive. It’s a 335-acre theme park with rides, shows, roller coasters and animal encounters. The park is 18 miles or about 30 minutes northeast of Port Tampa. Tickets start at $89.99.

ZooTampa at Lowry Park, 1101 W Sligh Ave., lies within a few miles of Busch Gardens. The 56-acre zoo with more than 1,100 animals attracts more than 1 million visitors annually. Tickets start at $44.95 with discounts for children.

Zipline lovers can fly down a series of five zipline cables at Mobbly Bayou Wilderness Preserve. Other activites include a suspension bridge, high ropes course and an auto belay jump.

Like most of the major Florida cruise ports, visitors can go on fishing charters for prices starting at about $500 to $600 per group.

Beaches Near the Cruise Port

The closest major beach to Port Tampa is Ben T. Davis Beach, about 25 minutes away on Old Tampa Bay. Route 60 going west from the docks will take visitors to Davis Beach and onward to Clearwater Beach if Davis isn’t appealing enough.

Clearwater Beach is an easy and popular choice. It is about 40 minutes west of the cruise docks. Caladesi Island State Park is just north of Clearwater Beach and takes 50 minutes to get there.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
September 07, 2022

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