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Welcome to Cvent's Meeting and Event Planning Guide to Tampa Bay, where the sunny, warm weather invites visitors to discover the many treasures in this gem of a city. Fly seamlessly into Tampa International Airport (TPA), which is ranked number two in the Nation and number five in the World for customer service, according to Travel + Leisure magazine. Tampa Bay is known as a walking destination – and for good reason. With a compact downtown area and the Riverwalk that connects many sites at the riverside, getting from place to place is a breeze. There are several easy ways to get around the area. Water taxis on the Hillsborough River, streetcars connecting downtown to the Historic Ybor City, and rentable bikes all make traveling the city convenient, fun, and affordable.
Tampa Bay stands apart from the rest for conferences and conventions with a 600,000-square-foot waterfront convention center, over 24,000 hotel rooms, 198 hotels, and more than 119 unique Tampa Bay event venues. Consider having Tampa Bay as the backdrop for your next event by charting a private cruise for up to 600 people at the Yacht Starship, which docks in front of the Channelside Bay Plaza. Once business is adjourned for the day, the Tampa Riverwalk is one of the newest and most convenient destinations for travelers. The 2.4-mile paved waterfront path serves as a hub for dining, shopping, the arts, and leisure activities. It links five major hotels, eighteen historical monuments, four major museums, and numerous attractions including The Florida Aquarium, Channelside Bay Plaza, Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina, and the Tampa Convention Center.
Named one of the top 25 art destinations in the U.S. by AmericanStyle magazine, Tampa Bay is proud of its cultural heritage. Tampa Bay's public art collection is made up of more than 100 works of art, most of which are on display for Fourth Friday, a monthly night of arts, culture, and entertainment. Artwork is dispersed among buildings, parks, and streets, including Bayshore Boulevard, one of the most scenic roadways in Florida and also the longest continuous sidewalk in the world.
Tampa Bay is truly a culinary experience – Whether you delight in locally grown creative cooking or a world-famous Cuban sandwich, this is a place for food-lovers. Planners can take advantage of the authentic food scene the destination has to offer.
Historic Ybor City, part of the city of Tampa, is home to the Columbia Restaurant, the oldest restaurant in Florida and the largest Spanish restaurant in the world. It has remained in the same family since it opened in 1905. Today's operators represent the founding family's fourth and fifth generations. The Cuban-influenced menu and nightly Flamenco show make the Columbia Restaurant a must-visit any day. Seventh Avenue, which runs through the heart of Ybor City, is lined with restaurants offering a mix of flavors including American, Italian, Cuban, and Greek. Venture off of Seventh Avenue and you'll find even more dining options.
Near the University of Tampa, Oxford Exchange combines a restaurant, coﬀee and tea bar, shop, and bookstore in a unique environment. In Tampa Heights, Ulele offers meals inspired by Florida's native foods in a historic setting. Seminole Heights is becoming a center for adventurous eating. Ella's Americana Folk Art Café, lets you admire the owner's extensive collection of folk art while you eat. The Reﬁnery changes its menu every Thursday to feature new dishes. Rooster and the Till features an eclectic blend of tastes in an intimate space.
We encourage you to explore our city as we introduce you to the attractions that make our destination one of the greatest in the world. The people of Tampa Bay invite you to unlock the treasures of this rich cultural destination.
With a population of over 352,000, Tampa makes up a considerable portion of the second largest metro area in Florida, referred to as the Tampa Bay Area. The Tampa Bay Area, which comprises the Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater metro areas, is home to over 4.3 million residents.
Discover where it all began by exploring Tampa's Historic Latin Quarter, Ybor City. Stroll down the brick-lined streets and take in the scent of Cuban coﬀee roasting early in the morning or the rhythms of Latin music late into the night. Get active on the Riverwalk: Tampa's dynamic cultural venues, family oriented parks, and the city center's vibrant business community creating connectivity and eclectic synergy.
Whether you're catching a tailgate before a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game or a foul ball at a Tampa Bay Rays baseball game, you won't want to miss any of the action. Become a “believer” as the Tampa Bay Lightning take the ice. Experience all the excitement the baseball field, football stadium, and hockey arena around the area have to offer.
All average costs based on U.S. Government Per Diem rates as published by the U.S. General Services Administration.
Tampa Bay enjoys a subtropical/tropical climate, consisting of warm, wet summers and cooler, dry winters that last from October to February. The average high temperature is 82°F, and even in the winter the temperature remains warm with an average low of 63°F.
Tampa Bay has an agreeable climate year-round, but the best time to visit is during the late winter to early spring when temperatures are mild and precipitation is low.
Tampa Convention Center
Tampa Convention Center has the greatest of everything for any convention or meeting. Located on the waterfront in downtown Tampa, this 600,000-square-foot meeting facility offers 200,000 square feet of exhibit space, a 36,000-square-foot ballroom, and 36 additional meeting rooms, including ten waterfront rooms and even boat docking access. Just steps away from the convention center is the Riverwalk. For outdoor events there are 14,600 square feet overlooking the water, and the Garden, which seats 500 people. There’s always an excellent view from the convention center, with several large windows that offer a stunning backdrop of the waterfront and invites plenty of light indoors. There are plenty of hotels conveniently located around the center to accommodate attendees, such as the twenty-story Embassy Suites that is connected to the center by a skybridge. Amenities include an onsite business center, audio visual services, catering of banquets for groups of 60 to 6,000 by ARAMARK and 24-hours-a-day security. The center is also Wi-Fi ready and is an ENERGY STAR PARTNER. A 465-space garage offers sufficient parking with an average rate of $1.60 per hour and a maximum of $9.50 per day. Five additional garages are located within four blocks from the center, ranging from 140 to 2,600 spaces.
401 Channelside Drive
Tampa, FL 33602
Total Meeting Space - 660,000 Sq. Ft.
Tampa International Airport (TPA)
Approximate taxi fare: $33 USD
The Tampa International Airport ranks second in the nation for customer service and fifth in the world by Travel + Leisure magazine. The 3,300-acre airport has 59 active gates and over one million square feet of airside terminals that service over 18.8 million passengers annually. TPA has undergone a one-billion dollar renovation to include a 2.6 million-square-foot consolidated rental car center, a 1.4-mile automated people mover, and an expansion of the main terminal. Resembling a spoked wheel, the first of its kind in design, the complex consists of separate airside terminals attached to one central landside building. This makes it fast and efficient to get from gate to curbside. Tampa International Airport has approximately 23,000 parking spaces and offers free shuttle service from the economy garage. A monorail – the world's first to be operated completely by computers – also connects to the short-term parking. For easy accommodations, a Marriott Hotel is conveniently attached to the airport with 295 guest rooms.
Airline carriers serving Tampa International Airport
Tampa Union Station was built in 1912 and reopened in 1998 after $2.5 million spent in purchase and renovations. The station, which saw nearly 150,000 passengers in 2012, serves Amtrak’s New York-Miami Silver Star, trains 91/92, traveling between New York City, Georgia, and Florida. The station is open daily from 8:15 AM to 6:15 PM.
With ridership reaching 14.2 million in 2012, the HART line is one of the most popular and convenient ways to travel around Tampa Bay. Buses travel 27 local routes and 12 express routes to various locations around urban parts of Hillsborough County. One-way cash fares are $1.75 for local routes and $2.75 for express routes. Fare cards are available in one-day unlimited passes on local and limited express routes for $3.75 and in three-day unlimited rides visitor passes for $11.00.
Also operated by HART, the In-Town Trolley is a pleasant way to see and travel the city's most popular spots. Trolleys operate on a purple line. The purple line travels from Marion Transit Center to Dick Greco Plaza/Harbour Island, making stops that include Tampa City Hall, the Tampa Convention Center, the Tampa Museum of Art and the Tampa Theatre. The green line travels from the Performing Arts Center to the Channel District, making stops that include the Florida Aquarium and Garrison seaport. Purple line trolleys run every 15 minutes Monday through Friday from 6:00 AM to 8:30 AM and 3:30 PM to 6:00 PM. One-way cash fares are $0.25.
The first electronic streetcar lines in Tampa were built in 1892, and now electric streetcars are back, providing a unique and scenic way to travel in the city. A 2.7-mile route with 11 stops travels throughout downtown, Channelside, and Ybor City. The TECO line is expected to add a 1/3-mile extension running north on Franklin Street that will connect 35,000 people to every major downtown parking facility.
The streetcar system runs three vehicles: the air-conditioned standard car, the open-air Breezer car, and the Birney car, a fully-restored streetcar from the original Tampa line. The Birney car is available for special event rentals.
Streetcars run every 20 minutes Monday through Thursday from noon to 10:00 PM, Friday and Saturday from 11:00 AM to 2:00 am (1:30 AM northbound to Whiting Station) and Sunday from noon to 8:00 PM. Streetcars run every 30 minutes Friday and Saturday from 1:00 AM to 2:00 AM. One-way cash fares are $2.50. Fare cards are available in a one-day unlimited ride fare card for $5 and a three-day unlimited ride fare card for $11.00. Exact change is required.
Several taxi companies serve the Tampa Bay area, including Yellow Cab and United Cab. Travelers must call taxis to schedule or request a pick-up, except at the airport, where they can be found at the baggage claim area, or at special events. Taxi pick-up areas are also located in Ybor City near Centro Ybor. Sample taxi rates at Yellow Cab are $2.50 for the first 1/8 mile plus $0.30 for each additional 1/8 mile.
Several rental car services are available to travelers in Tampa Bay. Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar Car Rental, Enterprise, Hertz, National Car Rental and Thrifty Car Rental all have rental counters at the Tampa International Airport in the baggage claim area. Ace Rent A Car, Advantage RAC, Carl’s Van Rentals, E-Z Rent A Car, Fox Rent-A-Car, Payless, and U Save Auto Rental of Florida are located off the airport. New to Tampa, ZipCar, allows you to rent a car by the hour or day(s) in just four easy steps through your smartphone.
Tampa offers transportation off the road ways and gets you out on the water. Pirate Water Taxi is a fleet of entertaining pirate themed water taxis in downtown Tampa. With over 14 stops conveniently located along the Riverwalk, Channel District and Davis Island, hop on and off wherever your destination awaits. eBoats allows you to be your own captain on the water with one of these easy to operate electric boats. Each boat fits 10 guests comfortably. After a quick lesson, visitors can set off into the Hillsborough River and the downtown water ways. Rent by the hour at the Tampa Convention Center Docks. Tampa Bay Water Bike Company operates along the Hillsborough River. With a quick tutorial, the water bikes let visitors power their way to sites along the Riverwalk.
Approximate Taxi Fares from Tampa International Airport
Photo Credit: Robert La Follet
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