Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   United States (
-   -   Tampa - weather? What to see? (

hawaiimoon05 Aug 18th, 2004 05:59 AM

Tampa - weather? What to see?
Hi guys,

I'm going down to Tampa this weekend and I was wondering if anyone could tell me what the weather is like. The weather channel says isolated thunderstorms, but I didn't know if that meant that it rains throughout the day or there are a few bursts and then it is sunny?

Also, any recommendations for places to go, things to see?


Tandoori_Girl Aug 18th, 2004 06:08 AM

I'd say it's unpredictable this year. Usually we have afternoon showers but there's been a spate of day-long, even week-long showers this summer. At this time my newspaper predicts afternoon showers all weekend so you could be spared the mornings (and probably most of the afternoons). But you should check the weather channel before you leave for the best analysis.

What do you like? Tampa is a tri-city area with Clearwater and St. Pete. There is much to offer in this area of a million people. Museums. Plays. Beaches. Music. Sports. Nature.

Pick your passion first to get your best recommendations from the locals.

hawaiimoon05 Aug 18th, 2004 06:14 AM

Thanks! Well I'm going down with my fiance, and we're 25, like nightlife, beaches and great restaurants! Someone in a previous post that I found through a search mentioned the Dali museum which sounds like a great alternative in case it rains. Is Busch Gardens a park for kids with rides, or is it fun for people our age as well?

Blacktie Aug 18th, 2004 06:23 AM

Suggest Salt Rock Grill in Indian Shores (on Gulf Blvd.) - reserve.

Captain K's for dancing (avoid the food!) - locals and out of towners - skip if cigarette smoke bothers you - next to St. Pete Beach, where the brudge crosses into Treasure Island.

The beach! Suggest Sunset Beach - near Capt. K's.

Have a great time!

Patrick Aug 18th, 2004 06:51 AM

Tandoori Girl has answered your weather question well, except in case you aren't aware, the weather is HOT and HUMID right now. Whether it rains or not, right now expect the air to feel very hot and steamy.

mclaught Aug 18th, 2004 07:05 AM

Busch Gardens is a good theme park for adults, it has three really good roller coasters if you're into that sort of thing. Ybor City at night is probably worth a visit if you like the nightlife. Plan on it raining for about an hour or so each day, but as noted above, this summer has been a little "off" and the rain has been all over the board. If you'd like to go to a nice beach, check out Ft. Desoto. If you like the crowd, go to Clearwater Beach instead. The Devil Rays are in town this weekend, they're playing Oakland, so if you like baseball, that's an option. There's plenty to do to keep you busy for a weekend, just a matter of figuring out how you want to spend your time.

Patrick Aug 18th, 2004 07:26 AM

One more comment. People usually pair beaching with afternoons. Forget that in Florida in the heat of summer. The beaches are best early in the morning and around sunset. Avoid them at 2 in the afternoon!

hawaiimoon05 Aug 18th, 2004 07:34 AM

Thanks so much everyone. This is so helpful. I think that Ybor City sounds awesome.

One more question - we're staying at the Hard Rock Hotel and the Grand Hyatt - any comments, either positive or negative on those?

We're in town for a wedding and decided to make a vacation of it and the prices worked out so that it was significantly cheaper to spend one night at the Hard Rock before switching to the Grand Hyatt which is presumably nicer.


Patrick Aug 18th, 2004 07:59 AM

The Grand Hyatt is a great property as many of us have often raved. Splurge for a sunset dinner at Armani one night. Oystercatchers is great too. I personally don't know the Hard Rock in Tampa.

floridawannabe Aug 18th, 2004 09:19 AM

Make sure you take a boat ride in the Gulf. Sunset cruise or dolphin watching boat rides are fabulous. Dali Musuem is good, and the Pier in downtown St Petersburg, is nice. You can take a boat ride from there too. Tampa has a good aquirium to visit too, small but neat.

hawaiimoon05 Aug 18th, 2004 11:05 AM

That sounds great!! Any recommended companies for the sunset cruise?

mclaught Aug 18th, 2004 11:17 AM

Keep in mind that the Hard Rock is on the other side of Tampa, you're pretty much just as close to Disney as you are to Clearwater Beach (travel time, that is, not mileage). So if you're planning on heading over to the beach, plan on at least an hour to get there. For a sunset cruise, go to, do a search for Clearwater Sunset Cruise or Clearwater Dolphin Encounter and you'll find some options.

hawaiimoon05 Aug 18th, 2004 11:27 AM

We're an hour away?? That's not good... Is the Grand Hyatt closer? We're spending tomorow night at the Hard Rock, then the rest at the Hyatt. We would like to fit in the beach, Ybor City and perhaps a theme park. How does this look?

Friday - drive from Hard Rock to either Busch Gardens or Epcot, return to Hyatt at night for dinner at Armani's

Saturday - drive from Hyatt to beaches (all in Clearwater?), spend Sat. evening in Ybor with dinner at Columbia for flamenco show.

Sun. - plan day activity once we get there, sunset cruise in the evening...

mclaught Aug 18th, 2004 11:48 AM

The Hyatt is closer, probably 25-30 minutes from having your toes in the sand. While Clearwater Beach isn't the only beach in Pinellas County, it is the closest to the Hyatt, you simply take Hwy 60 west until you end up on the beach. However, there is an entire county worth of beaches to choose from. If you don't mind the crowds, Clearwater is a good all-around choice. BTW, Hard Rock may not be a full hour away from the beach, but it could be a good 45 minutes assuming normal traffic.

Busch Gardens is only about 5 minutes away from the Hard Rock, for that reason alone, I'd recommend going there instead of heading to Orlando. It closes at 6:00 this Friday, though, so plan on getting there early.

Instead of going to the beach on two different days, maybe you could try to do the sunset cruise and the beach all in the same day. That will save you some driving aggravation. So maybe find something else to do Saturday and do the beach and cruise on Sunday. Just a thought.

FormalAttire Aug 18th, 2004 11:53 AM

Beach time? Think Treasure Island, a fast 25 minutes from the TIA area. Use I275, exit 5th Av, then south to Central, and straight west on out to the beach. White sand like you cannot imagine.

mclaught Aug 18th, 2004 11:54 AM

Forgot to add, Ybor City is a late arriving crowd. There is plenty to do before 9 or 10, but if you want to see the really "interesting" people, you're going to have to wait a little later. Also, if you're into shopping, you could kill some time on Saturday at Old Hyde Park Village in South Tampa, or if you go to the Dali Museum in St. Pete, you could check out Baywalk and possibly the St. Pete Pier.

hawaiimoon05 Aug 18th, 2004 11:55 AM

Thank you so much - you've all been so helpful! Two more questions (sorry):

- We're not interested in going on rides - is there much else to do at Busch Gardens?? I haven't been able to get the info. from their site that I am looking for. Is there an overall park entrance fee, or can you pay for different attractions?

- And if we decide to retire to the Grand Hyatt in the early afternoon, is there a nice outdoor pool that we can enjoy?

Thanks so much!

OO Aug 18th, 2004 12:04 PM

Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is new, located in the Seminole reservation. I haven't seen it, but my husband has and says it's very nice. It's an easy drive from there to Ybor, as it is from the Hyatt to Ybor, and an easy drive to Busch Gardens.

The Hyatt is on Tampa Bay, 40 minutes to Clearwater Beach, and a hard drive due to the congestion on Hwy 60 and bridge construction in Clearwater. A far easier drive, IMHO, equal travel time but longer mileage-wise, is the drive either to St. Pete Beach or Ft. Desoto--almost all interstate and a snap to do. Ft Desoto routinely makes Dr. Beach's list of best beaches in the US. It is lovely, a state park with showers, changing facilities, restrooms and picnic tables, but you'll have to bring your own food. If you decide on Desoto, head to the north end of the beach, last parking lot--plenty of facilities and it's a bargain--.35 entry fee and no charge for parking.

If you are interested in getting out on the water, there is a boat that leaves from Pass-a-Grille (St. Pete Beach) and goes to Shell Island. They too have a sunset cruise.

You will need reservations for both Armani's and Oystercatchers. Oystercatchers is the more casual of the two, and both face the water. Armani's (Northern Italian) is on the 14th floor overlooking the bay, Oystercatchers is a freestanding seafood restaurant in the casita section of the hotel, directly on the bay. Armani's used to be coat and tie, but dress code has been relaxed. No jeans or shorts, though, and most people still dress pretty well.

Be sure to take a walk down the boardwalk in early morning or late evening to see the birds inthe mangroves...ibises, roseate spoonbills, herons, egrets etc. The tiny thumbnail sized things you might see scooting along the boardwalk running from you are not, as some people think, spiders, but tiny little crabs!

I've got to add too, my husband is GM at the Hyatt. :) Hope your weekend is terrific...if you'd been here last Saturday we would have been evacuating you and I can guarantee you better weather than that this weekend!

OO Aug 18th, 2004 12:37 PM

There are two pools. The smaller of the two is by the main tower, and the 2nd one is out by Oystercatchers in the casita section (small villas) on the bay reached via the boardwalk. Most people seem to prefer OC's pool.

I'm not that big a fan of rides either, but Busch is part amusement park, part gardens, part zoo. Still...if you really don't care for rides, the entry fee is pretty steep.

enjoylife Aug 18th, 2004 06:26 PM

Go to the Salvador Dali Museum, eat great Greek food in Tarpon Springs and check out the Manatees at Homossasa Springs.

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 09:03 PM.