The second most populous metropolitan area in the state of Florida is the Tampa/St. Petersburg/Clearwater MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area). Just over 4 million people call the area home, and with good reason. The Tampa Bay area is a beautiful place; in 2008 it was ranked the 5th best outdoor city by Forbes Magazine.
The lowest temperature ever recorded in Tampa was 18 degrees, in 1962. Average temperatures range from the low 50s in January to around 90 in August with high summertime humidity. High temps in the summer, coupled with sea breezes from both the Gulf and the Atlantic Ocean, provide afternoon thunderstorms throughout the season. The Tampa Bay area has been dubbed the “Lightning Capital of North America”. Don’t let that bother you, though. If you feel uneasy about inclement weather, visit in the fall, winter, or spring. The area has a definite and pronounced “rainy season”. From June to September, rain accumulation averages 26 inches annually, while the remaining eight months average a mere 18.6 inches.
No matter what time of year you choose to visit, there is always something to do in the Tampa Bay area. If art and culture are what interest you, visit the Tampa Theatre, the Tampa Museum of Art, or the Straz Center. You may also enjoy walking or driving around the city taking in the beautiful architecture.
There are many museums dotting the landscape. Among them is the Museum of Science and Industry. Housed within are several floors of science related exhibits, a planetarium, and the only domed IMAX Theater in Florida.
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention some of the more tourist geared locations in the area. Situated on 335 acres, the Africa-themed Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay, is a fun-filled theme park featuring roller coasters and interactive wildlife exhibits.
The Lowry Park Zoo’s 56 acres are home to more than 1,700 animals. The zoo was voted the #1 Family Friendly in America by Child Magazine and is recognized by the state as the center for Florida wildlife conservation and biodiversity.
The Florida Aquarium hosts over 20,000 species of aquatic life including plants and animals. The 250,000 square foot facility is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Exhibits are arranged in order to display life as experienced by a drop of water falling into a freshwater spring, and migrating out into the open sea.
Speaking of water, Adventure Island is 30 acres of water rides, attractions, and dining experiences. It is part of the SeaWorld family of parks and features ten exciting water rides to help cool off those hot, summer days.
In addition to all of this, and much more, the Tampa Bay area is home to numerous festivals and special events. Sprinkle in a smattering of professional sports including the Tampa Bay Rays, Buccaneers, and Lightning and you’ve found a sports fanatic’s paradise.
No matter what you’re into, Tampa has something for you. All on a direct flight from Destin/Ft. Walton Beach, FL from the Northwest Florida Regional Airport aboard Vision Airlines with 3 non-stop flights per week to the St Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport (PIE)
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