Tampa has some nice things to offer visitors via Amtrak, and depending on your plans, you may not even need a car. Many historical, cultural, and family attractions are conveniently located within about a one mile radius of your arrival point, Tampa Union Station. The station is roughly centered between the districts of Ybor City, Channelside, and downtown. All three areas are connected by the TECO Line Streetcar, so getting around them is a cinch.
Amtrak can be the best way to get to Tampa, particularly for those who are attending events in the downtown area or who are embarking on a cruise from the Port of Tampa. Cruise passengers can arrive the night before and sleep soundly at one of the many hotels close to Tampa Union Station and the port. Then hop on the streetcar with your suitcases and ride right up to the cruise terminals at Channelside!
LODGING Near Union Station
There are several hotels which are a short ride from Tampa Union Station. The streetcar doesn't call at the station, so a taxi will be the easiest/quickest way to get from the station to your hotel immediately after your arrival. Some of the hotels may provide a shuttle service, though I really don't know for certain.
- Downtown: Marriott Waterside, Sheraton Riverwalk, Hyatt Regency, Embassy Suites, Courtyard, Residence Inn, etc.
- Ybor City: Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Don Vicente de Ybor Historic Inn
DINING Near Union Station
There are several popular restaurants in Channelside near the cruise ports. But from a dining stand point, nothing compares to the myriad of choices you will find in Ybor City. There is something for every taste and price level, ranging from Hamburger Mary's, to Mema's Alaskan Tacos, to the Columbia (oldest and largest Spanish restaurant in the USA, with nightly flamenco shows!), and anything in between.
Incidentally, there are no food vendors at Tampa Union Station itself, nor any within reasonable walking distance. All the options mentioned above are within a one-mile radius of the station.
ACTIVITIES Near Union Station
In Channelside you'll find:
- The Florida Aquarium
- SS American Victory Museum Ship
- Tampa Bay History Center
- Yacht Starship Dinner Cruise
- Channelside Bay Plaza (shopping, dining, entertainment complex & IMAX theater)
- Straz Performing Arts Center
- St. Pete Times Forum (home of the Tampa Bay Lightning)
- Glazer Children's Museum
- Tampa Museum of Art
- The Tampa Theatre (glamorously ornate 1920's Mediterranean style cinema palace)
- H.B. Plant Museum @ University of Tampa (built 1891, Moorish revival hotel topped in silver minarets - a National Historic Landmark)
- The Ybor City Museum State Park
- Ybor City Visitor Information Center
- Segway Experience at Ybor City
- Centro Ybor (shopping, dining, entertainment complex, movie theaters, and the Tampa Improv)
Of course, there are some popular attractions that are located away from downtown, such as:
- Busch Gardens
- Lowry Park Zoo (named one of the best zoos for children in the country)
- Adventure Island
- MOSI (Museum of Science & Industry)
- Raymond James Stadium
- Florida State Fairgrounds
- Hard Rock Hotel & Casino