Sports and Recreation

The Tampa Bay area is home to several professional sports teams. The Tampa Bay Rays baseball team plays home games at Tropicana Field in nearby St. Petersburg, Florida. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the National Football League play host to visiting teams at Raymond James Stadium. Hockey fans can enjoy home games of the Tampa Bay Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum in downtown Tampa. The New York Yankees of the American League hold their spring training in the Tampa Bay region.

The Tampa Bay area is home to nearly 100 private and public golf courses. Vacationers can reserve tee times by contacting the public courses directly. Several of the popular vacation packages offered by tour companies include hotel stays at or near the most popular country clubs and public courses.

Chartering a fishing boat is another popular activity for visitors to the Tampa Bay area. A large number of charter services operate all year and offer hourly, daily, or weekly rates. The service is overseen by experienced boat pilots. Most charters depart from the Tampa or St. Petersburg waterfront.

The region is home to several outstanding botanical gardens. Visitors can choose from a number of day trips to outlying areas where these gardens are located. One of the most popular gardens in the metro area is the University of South Florida Botanical Gardens, located right on the campus. Visitors will find no end to the amazing collections of exotic flora on this 10-acre site. Orchids, carnivorous plants, majestic palms, and butterfly exhibits are just a few of the delights found at this extraordinary tourist destination.

Canoe and kayak tours are another popular outdoor recreational activity in the Tampa Bay area. Several tour companies offer daylong ecotourism packages. The Hillsborough River is one of the most exciting canoe adventures in Florida. The wilderness park covers more than 16,000 acres and is home to alligators, turtles, and cranes. Canoe tours last from two hours to an entire day.

Busch Gardens is the area's most popular destination for tourists. The park is a wonderful combination of amusement rides, nature study areas and museum exhibits. Educational shows and movies are constantly presented on both stage and screen, and the kid-friendly activities include Treetop Trails, Serengeti Railway, and King Tut's Tomb. There are numerous animal attractions such as the Animal Care Center, Bird Gardens, Cheetah Run, and Edge of Africa.

Many of the visitor attractions in the Tampa Bay area are accessible by ground transportation included in a tour package. For example, certain packages that contain passes to Busch Gardens may also include admittance to Sea World in Orlando, with bus transportation from Tampa.