Roadside Attractions in Tampa, Florida

Roadside Attractions in Tampa, Florida
Roadside attractions in Tampa, Florida, are not limited to roller coasters and restaurants. You can learn about the native flora and fauna of the Sunshine State, and also about the wildlife and culture of the world's ecosystems. The knowledge gained from these roadside attractions can make any vacation or foray more enjoyable.

Busch Gardens Tampa

The granddaddy of roadside attractions in Tampa, Florida, opened in 1959 as a free attraction that featured trained birds and animals performing in the shaded tropical gardens surrounding an Anheuser-Busch brewery. Busch Gardens has evolved into a full-fledged theme park, focused on the continent of Africa. The attraction features an array of wildlife-centered exhibits anchored by its Serengeti Plain--29 acres where a variety of animals roam freely in a habitat crafted to mimic their natural environment.

Visitors can observe the wildlife from different perspectives, such as the Serengeti Express Railway, the Skyride aerial tram or the Serengeti Safari truck tour. The park offers other wildlife-oriented exhibits, as well.

These include Jambo Junction, where animal experts trot out the park's "animal ambassadors" such as flamingos, lemurs, opossums and sloths to interact with visitors; Bird Gardens, in which more than 500 tropical birds flutter about a free-flight aviary; Jungala, a child-oriented attraction that allows safe, up-close experiences with wild animals; Myombe Reserve, a walk-through habitat featuring chimpanzees and gorillas; and Lory Landing, an interactive free-flight aviary where you can feed the birds.

As of Winter 2009, the price for a one-day park ticket is $74.95 for adults and $64.95 for ages three-19. Admission is free for children two and under.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
3000 E. Busch Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33674
(888) 800-5447

The Florida Aquarium

An anchor of the city's Channelside District, the Florida Aquarium is another roadside attraction in Tampa that will appeal to the outdoor enthusiast. The creators of the nonprofit Florida Aquarium designed the 250,000-square-foot attraction to follow a "drop of water from its underground source to the open sea," according to its website.

The Florida Aquarium has more than 20,000 aquatic plants and animals, including sharks, grouper, stingrays and seahorses. Certified divers can participate in a program in which they dive in the shark tank. The Bay Spirit, a 49-foot motorized catamaran, is available for cruises through the bay to observe local marine life.

General admission is $19.95 for adults, $16.95 for ages 60 and older and $14.95 for ages three-12 as of Winter 2009. Admission is free for ages two and younger.

The Florida Aquarium
701 Channelside Dr.
Tampa, FL 33602
(813) 273-4000

Lowry Park Zoo

One of Tampa's oldest attractions, the Lowry Park Zoo offers much for outdoors enthusiasts. Seven exhibit areas make up the not-for-profit zoo: Asian Gardens, Primate World, Free-Flight Aviaries, Native Florida Wildlife Center, Manatee and Aquatic Center, Wallaroo Station children's zoo and Safari Africa. According to the zoo, its mission is "to connect people with the living earth." The attraction accomplishes this not only through its animal exhibits, but also with a variety of educational programs. The Florida Environmental Educational Center holds 11 classrooms, a library and a lecture hall. The Safari ride is a behind-the-scenes tour of the Safari Africa habitat area.

As of December 2009, general admission is $19.95 for adults, $17.95 for age 60 and older and $14.95 for ages three-11. Admission is free for children two and younger.

Lowry Park Zoo
1101 W. Sligh Ave.
Tampa, FL 33604-5958
(813) 935-8552

Article Written By Gerard S. Walen

Gerard Walen started writing professionally more than 16 years ago. He's been published in "The Tampa Tribune," Sunbelt newspapers, the "Sarasota Herald-Tribune" and college publications. He wrote a story for the Hillsborough Community College "Triad" magazine that was named the 1997 ACP/LA Times Story of the Year. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in mass communications from the University of South Florida.

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