Tampa is tempting for a last-minute, budget-friendly summer escape

Tampa, frequently overlooked for its glitzier neighbors like Miami and Orlando, offers a budget-friendly vacation destination for those looking for a last-minute summer escape from the hustle and bustle of the DMV. The city’s beautiful beaches, vibrant arts scene, unique activities and attractions, and rich cultural history — combined with the availability of inexpensive flights — make it an attractive option for travelers looking to save.

Often for less than $200 roundtrip, low-fare carriers Spirit, JetBlue, and Frontier offer daily flights between the DC area and Tampa International Airport (TPA), making it easy for last-minute planners to find a flight that fits their schedule and budget.

Once in Tampa, visitors will find lots of affordable activities and attractions. For starters, the city is just minutes from some of Florida’s best beaches, such as Clearwater Beach and St. Pete Beach, where you can enjoy sunbathing and swimming without spending a dime. Nature lovers can also enjoy the Hillsborough River State Park, which has a nominal entrance fee and offers wonderful wildlife viewing along its four hiking trails, which total 7.3 miles.

Culturally, Tampa does not disappoint. The city has a burgeoning arts scene with many galleries and live music venues. It is also home to many world-class museums, including the Tampa Museum of Art and the Museum of Science & Industry.

Additionally, Tampa’s historic Ybor City neighborhood is a must-visit. Known as Tampa’s Latin Quarter for its Cuban and Spanish influences, Ybor City offers a rich cultural experience with its vintage shops, art galleries, and authentic Cuban restaurants. A free streetcar service runs between downtown Tampa and Ybor City.

For those traveling with children, Tampa offers many family-friendly attractions like the Florida Aquarium, Glazer Children’s Museum, ZooTampa at Lowry Park, and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

Tampa visitors can explore many of the city’s attractions at deeply discounted prices by purchasing a Riverwalk Pass or CityPASS.

Foodies will also love Tampa for its diverse culinary scene. From fresh seafood shacks on the beach to food trucks downtown, there are plenty of affordable dining options. A recent study by Yelp and Skyscanner found that Tampa has the most highly rated and affordable restaurants per 100,000 residents. And for those looking to splurge, Tampa now has multiple Michelin-starred restaurants.

With the greatest concentration of craft breweries in Florida, beer fans will also enjoy exploring the Tampa region’s more than 20 local breweries offering tours and tastings. With a free Bay Crafted Pass, visitors can unlock prizes by checking in at participating breweries and distilleries around Tampa Bay

Learn more about all that Tampa has to offer at VisitTampaBay.com.

Troy Petenbrink

Troy, also known as The Gay Traveler, is a well known travel and food writer. His has been a regular contributor to a variety of outlets including National Geographic, Travel Channel, DCRefined, CBS Local, and Metro Weekly. He also appears on local Washington news outlets as a travel expert.

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