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Children playing in the surf at sunset near St. Petersburg, Florida
Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater
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Winter the Dolphin (with a prosthetic tail) at Clearwater Marine Aquarium
© Clearwater Marine Aquarium
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Cobra’s Curse, the spinning roller coaster at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida
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Why settle for one sun-soaked Florida destination, when you can visit three?

The Tampa Bay area—encompassing the cities of Clearwater, St. Petersburg and Tampa—has an average 361 days of sunshine each year and subtropical winter temperatures that hover in the 70s (low 20s Celsius). Border this sunny paradise with miles of white-sand beaches and the clear blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and you’ve got all the ingredients for a grand getaway.

Busch Gardens Tampa®

Busch Gardens Tampa®, the ultimate family adventure, offers thrilling rides, one of the largest zoos on the continent, Broadway-style shows, Sesame Street® Safari of Fun for the little ones, and much more. Among the park’s draws for thrill-seekers is Falcon’s Fury, North America’s tallest freestanding drop tower. Like its bird of prey namesake, the ride pivots 90 degrees midair, putting passengers into a heart-stopping facedown dive position. An instant later they plunge 300 feet (91 meters) straight down.

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The Florida Aquarium

The nearby Florida Aquarium is home to some 20,000 marine creatures, including sharks, otters, penguins and alligators. Visitors will also encounter ring-tailed lemurs, hissing cockroaches and colorful chameleons in the Journey to Madagascar exhibit. After exploring the displays inside, families with kids can splash away at Explore A Shore, the outdoor water play zone for children.

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Lowry Park Zoo

If fun is in your nature, don’t miss Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, the top-attended zoo in the southeastern United States. Visit animals from Africa, Asia and Australia—no passport required. Feed a giraffe, then hop aboard the Expedition Africa safari ride for an up-close look at the resident elephant herd. Also find Florida’s treasured species, like the endangered manatee (Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo operates the only nonprofit manatee hospital in the world).

Before heading off to explore Clearwater or St. Petersburg, plan a stop at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), a hands-on science museum that also houses the Sky Trail Ropes Course and Zip Line and Florida’s only IMAX DOME Theatre.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Clearwater Marine Aquarium is home to two movie stars: Winter, the injured dolphin whose inspiring story is chronicled in the hit movie Dolphin Tale and its sequel, Dolphin Tale 2, and Hope, Winter’s companion. Take a behind-the-scenes tour and learn about the aquarium’s marine-life rescue work and then catch the free boat shuttle or trolley to Winter’s Dolphin Tale Adventure, a museum of actual movie sets and props.

The arts take center stage in St. Petersburg, where you can visit The Dalí Museum, dedicated to the works of Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali, or head to the Morean Arts Center. The Morean is the hub of St. Petersburg’s arts scene. The Morean Galleries showcase rotating exhibitions of contemporary art in all mediums, while the Glass Studio and Hot Shop features live glassblowing demonstrations and a gallery full of beautifully crafted glass art. Last but not least is the Chihuly Collection, where guests view magnificent works of art and breathtaking installations by world-renowned artist Dale Chihuly.

Money-saving Tip:

The Tampa Bay area is one of 11 American destinations offering the CityPASS program. Each Tampa Bay CityPASS ticket booklet saves travelers nearly half off combined admission to Busch Gardens Florida and four additional attractions: The Florida Aquarium, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, Clearwater Marine Aquarium, and a choice between the Chihuly Collection presented by the Morean Arts Center and the Museum of Science and Industry.