Tampa City Guide: Neighborhoods & Things to Do
Tampa is a sprawling city with numerous attractions and amenities. Many of the neighborhoods in the city are affordable, some having a cost of living that’s lower than the national average. Yet, the neighborhoods are highly rated and have some of the highest livability scores in the nation. Fun fact about the city – you can visit Cuba without leaving Florida. Cuba officially owns Jose Marti Park, which was gifted to Cube in the mid-1950s. The Park is named after a Cuban poet and patriot who spent most of his life working to liberate Cuba. If you want to immerse yourself in the rich culture, history, heritage and sunshine of the area, check out our Tampa city guide to find the apartment of your dreams.
Tampa city highlights
Why is Tampa such a great city? The following list will show you what’s in store when you move to Tampa. These events, sites and attractions aren’t just great for tourists – they fill residents of the area with pride.
- Tampa Theater: The theater has been a centerpiece of Tampa for nearly 100 years. Originally built in the mid-1920s as a movie palace, it’s a lovely place to visit simply for a Florida history lesson. But the theater is still in operation today! You’ll be able to watch the latest foreign films, documentaries and indie masterpieces in the plush red seats.
- The Tampa Museum of Art: The museum is one of the most interesting you’ll ever experience. The floors are made of stone. The ceilings are translucent and have fiber optic lights. Inside the museum are exhibit display rooms and lecture halls. Kids can learn how to watercolor while their parents enjoy learning about Roman sculptures or other art exhibits.
- Busch Gardens Tampa: Animal exhibits, bumper cars, zip lines and roller coasters – this amusement park has everything! You can get up close and personal with some of the wildlife, climb to observation decks nestled in the treetops, get some tasty treats, watch a movie, enjoy a concert and more. And don’t forget to pick up a souvenir at the gift shop.
- Tampa Bay Downs: Horse racing is one of those things that most of us watch on TV but few of us ever get to see it in person. As a resident of Tampa, you’ll get to spend a day at the races whenever you like. The arena is slightly outside Tampa city limits, but the trip is worth it. You can watch from the stands or in lounge rooms that have the race on TV screens. Snacks are available and you can make bets if you’re feeling lucky.
- Empower Adventures Tampa Bay: Do you crave fun and adventure? Do you thrive off adrenaline-pumping activities? Then, you need to visit this destination where you’ll get to do some zip-lining, walk across suspended rope bridges and make your way through obstacle courses. You’ll need to plan in advance as reservations are required but it’s a great place to enjoy the Florida skyline and get your thrills in, too.
Tampa city guide to the best neighborhoods for renters
You’re ready to move to Florida and are confident that our Tampa city guide will help you find the best apartment for your needs. But how do you know which neighborhood to choose? Below, we break down some of the features of the best neighborhoods in Tampa so you can find the one that suits your needs, wants, budget and personality the best.
Downtown Tampa is part of the Tampa business district. AreaVibes.com gives it a higher-than-average livability score, mainly for the urban amenities, cost of living and housing. The cost of living is about 8% less than the national average, while rent is about 10% less. If you’re wondering about the amenities, you’ll be pleased with what Downtown Tampa has to offer: The Tampa Museum of Art, Glazer Children’s Museum (with interactive exhibits), The Straz Center (for live plays, musicals and opera) and a plethora of global eateries.
Hyde Park is an upscale neighborhood that’s renowned for its nightlife. You’ll find cocktail bars, global restaurants, steak houses and fine dining opportunities. The Hyde Park Village Shopping Center provides visitors with an eclectic mix of merchandise, from indie boutiques to international chain stores. The cost of living in the area is nearly double the national average.
Another highly livable Tampa neighborhood is New Tampa. This is a residential neighborhood that’s known for its beautiful golf courses and hiking trails through the Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Reserve. If you’re an adventure seeker, you can visit the New Tampa Nature Park to have a go at their climbing wall or to go zip lining. Upscale restaurants dot the neighborhood. You can find coffee shops, chain restaurants, upscale American dining and Asian cuisine. Big brand clothing stores fill the strip malls in the area, too.
Do you love Tampa’s historic district? Do you dream of living near the water? Then, Southwest Tampa should probably be one of the neighborhoods to check out for apartments. Southwest Tampa is a dense urban-suburban neighborhood. Most people in the area own their homes. Still, with lower-than-the-national-average rental costs, over 46% of residents choose to rent. The neighborhood is known for its gorgeous homes, indie restaurants, boutique shops and of course, the historic district.
Looking for a funky, bustling area for the whole family? The Channel District is perfect. You and your kids will be able to visit the Florida Aquarium to see sharks and go on dolphin cruises. Head to Amalie Arena for a hockey game or concert. High-rises abound, housing shops, eateries and residents. The area is pedestrian-friendly and there’s so much to do on the waterfront for recreation with family and friends. Visit Sparkman Wharf for even more fun – from colorful murals to an outdoor theater and lightning games to creative restaurants and more.
The main attraction in South Westshore is the Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club. There, pros and amateurs mingle and play, enjoying the beautiful greens and vistas surrounding them along the way. The number of renters and homeowners in the area is almost equal. And with rent costs around the national average, South Westshore is a great place for young families and those who are just starting out.
Middle-aged homeowners make up the majority of residents in the area. However, there are quite a few families in the area, too, and with exceptional schools and plenty of parks, you’ll find that it’s a great place to raise your family, too. Rental costs are on par with the national average, making this one of the more affordable Tampa neighborhoods.
Tampa Heights is the city’s oldest suburb but as of late it’s experiencing a renaissance. Repurposed warehouses are home to some incredible shops. For instance, you’ll find the Heights Public Market Food Hall at Armature Works. There, you’ll be able to purchase cocktails, ramen, coffee, pizza and more from independent vendors. The neighborhood is also home to several art galleries that display the works of local artists. The cost of living in the area – particularly rental prices – is below the national average.
In Bayshore Beautiful the crime rate is low, the schools are excellent and the amenities are amazing. The cost of living is higher than average, with rental prices coming in at almost double the national average. And less than 20% of residents in the area rent. However, you’ll find that the apartments available in the area are high-end and well-maintained, as is the neighborhood as a whole. It’s also just over 15 minutes to get to Downtown Tampa.
As a resident here, you’ll be surrounded by pastel-colored, Mediterranean-style structures that were built in the 1920s. You’re sure to find your favorite café or pub in the area as there are many clustered in the area. There are plenty of green spaces, too – some with playgrounds for the kids. And let’s not forget, it’s an ideal place to spend time on a sandy beach, soaking in the sun and admiring the boats owned by neighbors and visitors alike.
Harbour Island is luxury living at its finest! You’ll find homes of all kinds here – from single-family properties to enormous estates, from simple apartment complexes to condos in high-rise buildings. You can become part of the Yacht Club, fill your evenings with time spent at fine-dining restaurants and night clubs and spend your days shopping high-end boutiques and taking a break in a quaint neighborhood coffee shop.
Tampa Palms is a lovely neighborhood for families. Residents say the area is pet-friendly, safe and well-maintained. Most families in the area rent their apartments, the cost of which is just slightly higher than the national average. There are numerous green spaces to spend time with pets and kids or to plan get-togethers with family and friends while enjoying the sunshine, ponds and palm trees.
Seminole Heights – located in Central Tampa – is a historic neighborhood full of old-style bungalows. It’s one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Tampa and has a bohemian, hipster vibe. It’s full of young families, professionals and creatives. Glass art is popular in this neighborhood, and you can often find glass-blowing demonstrations by local artists. Every month, the Second Sunday Morning Market pops up on the front lawn of the Hillsborough High School, which hosts over 100 vendors selling plants, local produce and gourmet foods.
Over 15,000 people live in this Hillsborough County neighborhood, made up mostly of families. Rental costs are just under the national average, depending on the type of apartment you’re looking for. To see what kind of selection the neighborhood has, be sure to check out our Tampa city guide. Residents in the area like the easy commute to Downtown Tampa and say there are a lot of amenities that are within walking distance.
Residents of Ybor Heights appreciate the low cost of living in this area, which is approximately 15% lower than the Tampa average. Rental costs are also below the national average. Residents also appreciate the short commute to Downtown Tampa (less than 10 minutes). The schools in the area earn very high ratings, too. People who live in the neighborhood say it’s quiet and safe, with well-kept yards and friendly neighbors.