Written by Amerigo Caffo
Edited by Carly Richwagen
Are you thinking about a trip to Tampa, FL? Are you looking for
I think you're covered. Between Clearwater Beach and St. Pete Beach there are plenty of opportunities to dine, play a game of CornholeOnWater in the clear water or volleyball on the sand. Clearwater Beach has been consistently named one of Florida's best beaches because of its white, pristine sand and entertainment opportunities nearby. St. Pete Beach also offers its share of bars and restaurants, many allowing beach attire to dine!
If you're looking to soak in all the Tampa area has to offer, Busch Gardens theme park and Adventure Island waterpark are great for days away from the beach. Both are family-friendly and have rides and activities for every member of your group. Busch Gardens is known for its roller coasters however, and the Kumba Roller Coaster has been voted the world's best coaster by enthusiasts! The park is also home to hundreds of animals, ranging from birds to elephants and giraffes. Between the kid-friendly shows and attractions and thrilling rides, Busch Gardens should definitely be included on your trip to Tampa.
If you fly into Tampa International Airport you might be surprised at its newest additions and upgrades. Since 2011, plans for massive renovation of the airport have been put in place, and ground broke for the project on November 20, 2014. This makes the renovation the airport's largest since 1971. The price does not come cheap either, as it will cost nearly $1 billion to complete.
Tampa International Airport is world-renowned for being one of the cleanest and easiest airports to navigate. What makes this renovation so necessary is that it will bring TPA up to its international name. However, I never found myself in a huge rush to get to the airport hours before my flight to look around in the shops and restaurants, seeing as there is currently a small selection of both. Now, with this massive project to be completed come 2017, you can be sure that I, amongst many others, will find time to explore the 65 new restaurants and shops that the airport will have to offer.
The renovation is broken down into three phases. The first phase will entail expanding the main terminal so that new additions such as lounge areas and outdoor terraces will add a more relaxed feeling for travelers. However, one of the most astounding parts of this first phase is the rental car center. On a recent trip to the Grand Canyon, I flew into Phoenix, Arizona, to rent a car and drive through the mountains. Upon arrival, I was expecting to find the rental car center attached to the airport, as usual. But, in fact, it was located off of the airport grounds, and a free shuttle bus took me to an expansive rental car center with multiple garage levels. This is what I see TPA mirroring. The airport's new rental car enter will be located 1.4 miles from the airport's main terminal, and a free shuttle bus will take travelers to the cars as well.
As astonishing as it is to hear about the 2.6-million square foot rental car center, the most exciting part of this phase which will affect the most people is the addition of 65 new restaurants and shops. Interestingly enough, the restaurants and shops being added are primarily locally owned! This includes Hyde Park News, The Shoppes at Bayshore, Bay Coffee & Tea Co., Cigar City Brewing, RumFish, and our beloved Ulele! Of course, chain restaurants and shops will also be added. P.F. Chang's, Chick-fil-a, Burger 21, Pei Wei, PDQ, Yogurtology, Victoria's Secret, Swarovski, Shop HSN, and The Body Shop are all planned to be added by 2017. Phases 2 and 3 include new construction of the airport's Marriott hotel, rebuilding the FAA flight control tower, and new airside gate D--which means more international flights!
Seeing such positive growth throughout Tampa gives me hope for the metropolis that I know we are gradually becoming. Tampa's population is increasing by thousands each year, as more visitors see that they can have access to all of the big-city amenities with the feeling of a smaller town. According to the United States Census Bureau, in the last ten years, Tampa's population has increased by over 25,000 residents. While not incredibly large in growth, it is meaningful. Visitors to Florida typically plan on a beach vacation as well, so make sure that you bring along a Cornholeonwater set to your destination! Next time Tampa International Airport is on your flight route, visit the new shops, restaurants, and terminal renovations as a window to what our beautiful city holds outside the walls of the airport. Happy travels!