Car Free Journey

Exploring Tampa: Part 2

Written by Steve Atlas

Car Free Journey: April, 2015

Last month, we began exploring Tampa, Florida. We included a brief introduction to Tampa, plus how to get there, best areas to stay, and how to get around without a car. (You can find this information in the March issue of Ecocities Emerging.) Now, let’s begin exploring Tampa.

How to See Tampa Without Your Car

The Hillsborough Area Rapid Transit Authority (HART) operates public transportation throughout Tampa. For detailed schedule and fare information, visit, or call the HART Information Line (813) 254-HART (254-4278): weekdays: 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., and weekends: from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Eastern Time).

(See our March Car Free Journey column for more details.)

USE HART to Visit Tampa Attractions

Here is a list of Tampa area attractions that are served by HART:

  • Busch Gardens – Routes 5, 18, 39
  • Lowry Park Zoo – Routes 41, 45
  • Florida Aquarium – Route 8, the TECO Line Streetcar
  • Channelside Bay Plaza (Dining, retail, Splitsville) – Route 8, the TECO Line Streetcar
  • Ybor City Historic District (Centro Ybor) – Routes 5, 8, 9, 12, 18, 46, the TECO Line Streetcar
  • International Plaza (Shopping) – Routes 15, 30
  • Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) – Route 6
  • Amalie Arena – Routes 4, 8, 19, In-Town Trolley, TECO Line Streetcar
  • David A. Straz Jr. Center – Routes 7, 10, 14, In-Town Trolley
  • Tampa Convention Center – Routes 4, 19, In-Town Trolley, TECO Line Streetcar
  • Tampa Museum of Art – Routes 7, 10, 14, In-Town Trolley
  • Tampa Theatre – Route 4, 6LTD, 8, 19, 30, In-Town Trolley, Metro Rapid
  • Glazer Children’s Museum – Routes 7, 10, 14, In-Town Trolley
  • University of South Florida – Routes 5, 6, 6LTD, 18, 57, Metro Rapid
  • Westshore Plaza (Shopping) – Routes 15, 30, 45, HARTFlex South Tampa
  • Raymond James Stadium (Home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) – Routes 7, 32, 36, 41, 45


Exploring Tampa

Tip 1: Purchase Tampa City Pass and See the Top Attractions Here.

These include: Busch Gardens, Florida Aquarium, Clearwater Aquarium (this will be covered in our upcoming column about St. Petersburg and Clearwater), Lowry Park Zoo, and a choice of either the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) or the Chihuly Collection (the Chihuly Collection will also be covered in our upcoming column about St. Petersburg and Clearwater).

This is a great choice if you want to focus on the top destinations and save money.

The $99 cost ($84 for children ages 3-9) is a 49% savings over individual admissions to the individual attractions. You can visit each attraction once during a nine-day consecutive day period that begins the first time you use the pass. You can also buy the pass at any participating attraction. For more details, or to buy the Tampa City Pass, visit

Here is information about the four City Pass Attractions in Tampa:

Busch Gardens: 10165 N McKinley Drive, Tampa, FL 33612, or call (888) 800-5447. E-mail any questions to

Busch Gardens’ many rides are well known, and sampling them can make for an enjoyable visit.

However, many visitors are not as aware of the many available animal preservation and viewing options. Here is some information about Busch Gardens’ animal programs that are open to the public:

Animal Care Center: Busch Gardens® welcomes guests to closely observe and even take part in the animal care experience in the Animal Care Center. From nutrition to treatments, X-rays to surgeries, much of Busch Gardens’ animal care is now conducted in guest view in this new state-of-the-art facility.

 Serengeti Plain®: This habitat is home to hundreds of exotic African animals, including reticulated giraffes, rhinos, wildebeests, antelope and ostriches, which can be seen from the Serengeti Railway, Skyride, Serengeti Safari® and various walkways. The 65-acre environment includes expansive berms; tiered and open landscapes covered with native and African grasses, scrub trees and shrubs; rock outcroppings and bluffs replicating natural formations; and naturalistic creek beds and mud banks.

Jungala®: Jungala is four acres of fun filled with up-close animal interactions, a three story maze of rope bridges and nets for kids to climb, two signature rides and live entertainment. Guests come face-to-face with orangutans and test their strength in a tug of war with a Bengal tiger. It’s an unforgettable adventure and an extraordinary mix of discovery and fun in the only jungle in the world that plays with you.

Edge of Africa®: This habitat offers a walking safari where guests can experience hippopotamus, lions, lemurs, meerkats and crocodiles in natural habitats themed around an abandoned African fishing village.

 Jambo Junction: The former Busch Gardens’® Nairobi Field Station now creates greater interactions between guests and the park’s animal ambassadors. At Jambo Junction, a name inspired by a Swahili greeting, guests feed animals while learning about husbandry and behavior training. Featured animals include Caribbean flamingos, lemurs, cuscuses, sloths and tamanduas.

Opening Night Critters: Busch Gardens® Tampa’s newest live stage show Opening Night Critters takes the stage in Pantopia Theater, featuring rescued dogs, cats, birds, a horse, a kangaroo and more. The stage hands in this fun family show quickly discover that working with these animals isn’t as easy as they had originally thought. Try as they might, they can’t get their costars to cooperate and when nearly all hope is lost, their kindness and compassion is rewarded when everything falls into place for a fun-filled, furry and feathered finale.

For information about additional tours (available at an additional cost), visit:

Our next City Pass attraction is the Florida Aquarium

The Florida Aquarium: 701 Channelside Drive, Tampa, FL 33602, or call (813)273-4000.

See why The Florida Aquarium, with over 20,000 sea creatures, is one of the top aquariums in the country!

Experience sharks, alligators, lemurs, penguins and much more! Rediscover adventure at the newly expanded Wetlands Trail where you will venture past alligator-infested waters to the river streams where playful otters explore.

Continue your adventure up to the Aquarium’s newest exhibit: Journey to Madagascar. Filled with ring-tailed lemurs, hissing cockroaches and colorful chameleons this exhibit captures the unique Island of Madagascar and the diverse animals that call it home!

Be sure to make a stop at Stingray Beach where you can touch stingrays and sharks. After exploring allthe exhibits inside, splash away outside at Explore A Shore: the outdoor water adventure zone for children!

Visitors can even experience the Aquarium in an up-close and personal way with added interactive guest-dive programs like ‘Shark Swim’, Swim with the Fishes,’ or ‘Dive with the Sharks’ where coming face to face with a Sand Tiger Shark is common place. Here, guests can actually become a part of the exhibit! (You must be 9 or older for Shark Swim, 6 or older to swim with the fishes and 15 or older to dive with the sharks).

The Aquarium also offers a 75 -minute Wild Dolphin Cruise aboard a 72-foot catamaran that departs from the aquarium on a daily basis – as long as the weather is decent. The cruise gives visitors a chance to check out some of the 500 wild dolphins that call the Tampa Bay home. (Reservations and additional fee are required for the Wild Dolphin Cruise).

Our next stop (with the Tampa City Pass) is the Lowry Park Zoo.

Lowry Park Zoo: 1101 West Sligh Avenue, Tampa, FL 33604-5958, or call (813) 935-8552

It’s easy to spend a morning, afternoon, or even most of a day here. There are eight different animal habitat areas, and it’s easy to get so overwhelmed that you don’t know where to start.

Our suggestion: stroll over to the “Plan Your Day” booth and pick up a map of the zoo. Look at the back of the map for shows and keeper talks. Then, plan your visit around the shows and keeper talks that interest you. It’s best to come in the morning, since most animals have more energy than later in the day. For an extra charge, you can view feeding times with the stingrays, lorikeets, or giraffes.

If you have limited time (as we did during our visit), start your visit is with a ride on the Africa Safari Train in the Expedition Africa habitat. This train takes you on a visit around the outside of the African Habitat. During your ride, you can enjoy viewing elephants, zebras, giraffes, rhinos, gazelles and cheetahs.

Our next attraction (included with your Tampa City Pass) is the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI).

Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI): 4801 East Fowler Avenue, Tampa, FL 33617, or call (813) 987-6000

One benefit that sets MOSI apart from most Science Museums is that the admission (included as part of your Tampa City Pass) included one IMAX shows, and you can purchase a second show for less than $5.

My wife and I enjoyed an IMAX show about whales, and left with a renewed love and appreciation for whales and how important it is to preserve them. Seeing this program made us feel that each of us can make a difference in preserving our environment for our children and grandchildren.

Do you enjoy roller coasters? Then, you may want to take a ride on the Flight Simulator ($5 per person).

My wife and I enjoyed the experience—at least most of the ride, until it got too exciting for us. I’m embarrassed to say that we had to pull the safety button a few seconds before the ride ended. However, if you are an experienced roller coaster rider, you will probably love this ride—the entire experience.

In addition to visiting the IMAX DOME Theatre on the 2nd floor (the only one in Florida), MOSI staff offer these additional tips to help you enjoy your visit to MOSI:

  • Visit 3D Printing the Future-the Exhibition¸ on the 2nd 3D has the potential to re-shape how we live, work and play.
  • Idea Zone©: MOSI’s inventor’s studio and makerspace, on the first floor, features engineer projects that spark your imagination and creativity. Here, you can use a variety of technologies, tools, and materials to design, build and play with ideas made real in this collaborative space.
  • Conquer your fears! For an extra charge, you can navigate through 35 treacherous elements in the Sky Trail Ropes ($7) , and then defy gravity on the 700-foot-long Sky Trail Zip Line ($10)
  • KIDS IN CHARGE: located in the adjacent building (next to the main MOSI building), this is (according to MOSI staff) the largest children’s science center in the United States.
  • MISSION MOONBASE: Here, you can view NASA’s vision for sustaining life on the moon.
  • Saunders Planetarium: The Go To Space Simulator Chronos projection system is capable of recreating the night sky from any time in the past, present, and future from anywhere in the planet in less than 20 seconds.
  • Imagination Playground, MOSI’s newest interactive experience, enables kids to engineer everything from robots to cities, using cubes, bricks, cogs, curves, and cylinders.
  • High-Wire Bike, located on the 3rd Don’t look down. Take a ride 30 feet in the air and conquer the longest high-wire bike in a U.S. museum.
  • MOSI OUTSIDE: The BioWorks Butterfly Garden (across from MOSI’s main entrance) can show you how wetlands naturally clean our water. Then glide with the free-flying butterflies, and see how many native species you can name. Then, visit the Richard T. Bowers Historic Tree Grove for a unique look at 16 trees that watched history happen.

A few other ideas for outings:

  • Take a stroll along Tampa’s Riverwalk. It’s a 2.5 mile stretch which extends from Ulele (u-Lay-Lee) to the Tampa Bay History Center in the Channelside district.  It was recently designated as a wet zone, meaning you can buy beer or wine at one of the eight restaurants along the Riverwalk and stroll along the water, going past the Straz Performing Arts Center, The Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa Convention Center, Sail Pavilion, Amalie Arena and winding up next to the history center.  There’s a good chance you’ll see some dolphins, paddleboarders, bikers and boaters along the way.
  • No trip to Tampa is complete without visiting Ybor City. Known as Tampa’s Latin Quarter for over a century, Ybor City is an exotic blend of aromas, flavors, sights and sounds with an outstanding nightlife scene.   Choose from a variety of cuisine – Spanish, Cuban, Italian, Greek and French – just by strolling down La Setima, the main street of the Historic District.  Share authentic tapas and a pitcher of Spanish sangria in a café atmosphere reminiscent of a Mediterranean village. There’s history and authenticity virtually dripping from every street corner. Founded by Vincent Martinez-Ybor as a cigar-manufacturing center, Ybor City today is one of only two National Historic Landmark Districts in Florida.  Red brick buildings, wrought iron balconies and narrow brick streets give it an old-world charm that is unlike anywhere else in Florida.
  • Take a ride on the TECO System Streetcar Line. The map, inside the streetcar, lists each station and what attractions and other points of interests are within walking distance of that station. For more information, visit
  • Visit the Pinellas County Gulf Beaches, using public transportation. If you are here during the week, you can take a commuter express PSAT (Pinellas Suncoast Area Transit) bus from Tampa.

On weekends and holidays, Greyhound operates two buses from Tampa to St. Petersburg. The round trip cost is $17. From Tampa, the bus leaves at 7:50 a.m. The return buses from St. Petersburg leave at 3:10 and 6:15 p.m.

Here are PSAT’s suggestions to enjoy a visit to the beach from Tampa:

  • Take HART’s 200x from HART’s Marion Transit Center to the Clearwater Mall, walk a short distance, maybe 120 yards,  to the PSTA transfer stop (just north of Target) and take PSTA route 60 west – to downtown Clearwater.  Most runs on the 60 end at the mall anyway, so that’s a pretty easy transfer.  However, every other hour the 60 makes a short loop to the east before heading back downtown. At the end of the line, the 60 will enter Park Street Terminal.

Here, you can transfer to either the Suncoast Beach TrolleySM or the Clearwater Jolley Trolley for the short and scenic trip out to Clearwater Beach. Full fare is $2.00 one way or $4.50 for an all-day pass, which is recommended since they will be taking four buses (round trip) on PSTA.

Clearwater Beach is full of shops, restaurants, activities and, of course, award winning white sands.

More information is available from the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce, visit St. Pete/Clearwater: Pinellas County’s visitors and convention bureau.

  • For a more laid back experience, one can take PSTA’s 300X from downtown Tampa and transfer to the PSTA Route 59 at the Checker’s Drive In at the corner of Ulmerton Road (that’s the road upon which both the 300X and 59 travel) and 49th Street. This is an on-street transfer, not at a terminal or transfer station. The 59 west will then take them to beautiful Indian Rocks Beach where travelers will find beautiful white sand beaches, shops, restaurants and activities. It’s more “low-key” than Clearwater Beach, but still a fun, friendly beach town.
  • For Weekend Visitors: If you take Greyhound into St. Petersburg, you need to walk about two blocks south to Central Avenue and catch PSTA’s Central Avenue Trolley, This Trolley will take you out to and along the spectacular St Pete Beach coast line all the way to famous Pass-A-Grille Beach. Along the way are Pinellas County beaches that perennially top Dr. Beach’s list of “Best Beaches” in the U.S. as well as world-famous resorts such as the Don Cesar, Trade Winds, Sirata, Postcard Inn, and many more.. For more information contact the wonderful and amazing Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce, which has its offices right along the Central Avenue Trolley route in St Pete Beach.

Biking Trails and Suggestions for Visiting Bicyclists

Eric Trull, Program Director of Coast Bike Share (, offers these tips:

When visiting Tampa there are two routes that everyone should visit, The Tampa Riverwalk and The Bayshore Trail. The Riverwalk is a badge of honor for our city, wrapping continuously around the southern and western edge of downtown. This path brings you through a number of our waterfront parks capped by two of the best restaurants in town. Ulele to the north and the Columbia to the south.

The Bayshore Trail, known as the ‘world’s longest sidewalk’ runs uninterrupted from Downtown Tampa south along Tampa Bay with unobstructed views and some of the most beautiful historic homes in the city. Both trails are not to be missed.

Additional Trails:

The Selmon Greenway meanders through the middle of downtown Tampa below and around the Selmon Expressway. It connects the Tampa Riverwalk on the West to Ybor City to the North by way of the downtown business district. The Platt and Cleveland Street Cycle Tracks, scheduled to open in spring of 2015, will connect bikers from west Hyde Park, the SoHo District, to downtown via protected bike lanes.

For more information about local bike trails, visit either:

or (from Tony LaColla)

Suggestions from Local Residents

Because Tampa is considered a car-oriented city, visiting without a car can be challenging. We asked two residents for their tips and other suggestions for visitors who don’t want to drive. Vance Arnett is a dedicated walker who frequently leaves his car in a garage for months at a time. Tony LaColla is a City Planner and President of the Historic Ybor Neighborhood Civic Association.

Vance Arnett offers these suggestions for visitors who want to walk and use public transportation:

My favorite places to take my weekend guests. Since we rarely drive we would meet our friends at their hotel downtown. We would then have breakfast either at the hotel or at Samaria on Tampa Street. There are four museums available within walking distance. There is the Children’s Museum right next to the Tampa Museum of Art. At the other end of Curtis Hixon Park on the River is the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts and across the river via the Kennedy Street Bridge is the Plant Museum at the University of Tampa. Further east on the River Walk is the Tampa History Museum where you can have lunch at the Columbia Café right on the River or you can walk over the Channelside Plaza and have lunch.

After an afternoon nap to recover from all the walking we will meet downtown and either take in a hockey game (October through April) see a concert at the Amalie Arena if the team is traveling or head over to Ybor for an evening of dinner and drinks and maybe a cigar afterwards. If you didn’t eat at the Columbia Café you can eat at the original Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City on the corner of 23 and 7th. All are easily reachable from the streetcar. We end with Sunday brunch downtown or in Ybor at La Creperie.

Tony LaColla adds these suggestions for visiting walkers:

Stroll along Bayshore Boulevard, take a tour of Ybor City (historic tour, food tour), walk along the Riverwalk from Channelside to Tampa Heights (Ulele/Waterworks Park)

Downtown Tampa Walking Routes Combining Fitness with Culture & Community: These are free twice monthly guided walking tours to various areas in downtown featuring public art, architecture, history and legends. Guest Tour Guides help bring the theme alive and local businesses are highlighted along the way. During the Walk Season (October – May) these walks are given on the the 1st and 3rd Fridays of each month from 12-1pm.

For more information, visit

Here are Tony’s suggestions for visitors with special interests who don’t want to drive:

Parks, zoos, and other natural attractions: Lowry Park Zoo, Busch Gardens, Florida Aquarium, Waterworks Park (small water park for kids)

Museums, and other cultural attractions: Tampa Bay History Center, Tampa Museum of Art, Ybor City State Museum, The University of Tampa

Families: Busch Gardens, Lowry Park Zoo, Curtis Hixon Park Downtown, Florida Aquarium Self-guided walking tours: (neighborhoods, parks etc.) –

Vance offers these additional suggestions for visiting walkers: “The best walks in town are definitely the entire length of the River Walk from the Channel District all the way 2.5 miles to the Waterworks Park and back with a cold drink at Ulele restaurant at the Waterworks. Also you can stroll the Riverwalk to the Platt Street Bridge and head south on the Bayshore Blvd. along the eastern edge of Tampa Bay. Finally, I love just walking to Ybor and exploring all the historic places, stopping in the Ybor museum and walking along the streetcar line past the Port back to downtown”

Vance Arnett’s Suggestions for an Adults-Only Weekend

Vance offers these ideas for a High End (kind of expensive) weekend without your children.

A Downtown Weekend Adventure without the Kids:

“Stay at the Le Meridian : This is the renovated old Federal Courthouse for Tampa. It is pricey but worth the funds if you want the romance and luxury. Located in the Downtown District within easy walking distance of the Street Car that connects you to Ybor City, Amalie Arena, and the Channel District and the Riverwalk.

“Friday night, I suggest Spain on Tampa Street for Dinner with drinks at Anise Gastro Bar afterwards or just walk back to the hotel for night caps at the bar in Le Meridian.

“Saturday Morning: Breakfast at Samaria in downtown and then hit the River walk to Kennedy Blvd for a stroll over to the Henry Plant Museum at the University of Tampa just across the River. This museum is the former Tampa Bay Hotel that originally was built at the end of the Railroad and has served Tampa for years. The museum is open from 10:00 – 5:00 pm Tuesday through Saturday and opens at 12:00 on Sundays. Take your time.The design and architecture of the building is part of the charm, and it is this building that give the University of Tampa and the Tampa Skyline its characteristic Moorish Spires.

“After the Tour walk back across the Kennedy Street Bridge and turn right on Franklin and head down to the Street Car Stop at Franklin and Whiting St. An all-day pass is $5.00. Ride the Streetcar to the last stop in Ybor City by the Park.

“Head south to Seventh Avenue and walk two blocks to Carmines for the best Cuban sandwich or other Cuban and Italian specialties. Don’t miss the Cuban Crab Cake if you like crab. A walk back through Ybor along 7th and 8th will give you the feel for the place. Catch the streetcar again at the Cardrecha Plaza Station near the west end of 8th by the Spaghetti Factory and ride it until Dick Greco Plaza.

“Jump off the Streetcar and have a drink at the Sail Pavilion next to the Convention Center and then walk back north on the River Walk to Curtis Hixon Park. From here, you can return to the hotel for a short nap. You had a Cuban sandwich, remember.

“For the Saturday night fun, I would get Uber or a cab to Bern’s Steak House on South Howard. Be sure to make a reservation just to be safe and you will enjoy one of the best Tampa has to offer at a reasonable price. Bern’s is not a super expensive place to have a great steak and is great value because the rest of your meal is included. Don’t forget a visit to the Dessert Room and you can take a tour of the kitchen and the wine room (one of the largest and most extensive in the country) before you head up to finish off the evening. You will be full of great food and wine but it is too far to walk back to downtown so I recommend Uber back to the downtown area and your hotel.

“On Sunday morning, I recommend a walk to the Marriott Waterside along the River Walk and have brunch. Then it is a nice walk to either the Tampa History Center or to the Florida Aquarium.”

Vance Arnett’s Suggestions for a Weekend with Children

“I would still recommend staying in downtown at the Hilton this time. On Friday evening I would recommend Pizza Barvarro (make a reservation the place is small) on Franklin Street. It is a short walk from the hotel. Be sure to check and see if there is something family oriented going on at Curtis Hixon Park.

“Saturday morning it is breakfast at First Watch or one of the other great places for families along Tampa or Franklin. After breakfast head over to the Glazer Children’s Museum (next to Curtis Hixon Park. Warning: it can be lame if the kids are nearing 12 years old.

“Here is an alternative with older children. Head over to City Bike ( and rent bikes for everyone to tour the city and head over to the Florida Aquarium, in the Channel District.

Get there by riding on the River walk, or just walk it. There are plenty of dolphin, fish, and sometimes manatee to see along the way. You will pass the Florida History Center which has great interactive displays about the history of Tampa. I would head back up to Franklin on the bikes or it is an easy walk for lunch to the Taco Bus. You can’t miss it on Franklin for the best tacos around. If you want to stay near the Channel District you can stop in the Channelside Mall and have lunch at Flambe.

“Once you are back downtown, take a break. I would get reservations at the original Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City. Take the streetcar or Uber as it is on the far end of Ybor City but is a great place for families to dine. Make a reservation so you get a table where you can see the Spanish Dancers. Or if Ybor is not to your liking, you can head to Tampa Bay Brewing Company in the Centro Ybor right on the Streetcar line for great family food and don’t worry about the name. For dinner it is definitely one of the family favorites.

“On Sunday on the way out of town stop at either the Lowry Park zoo, or you can do the theme park thing and hit Busch Gardens about 15 minutes north of downtown on Busch Blvd.” (HART serves both places.)

Vance Arnett’s Recommended Excursion for a Day Visitor who Drives

“Drive in on the Selmon Expressway to the Ybor City Exit at 22nd Street. I would park in one of the parking lots north of 7th. Stop number 1 for the streetcar is at Centennial Park. On Saturday the streetcar will start running around 11:00.

“I would take the streetcar toward the city. You will see most of Ybor and the Channel District to get your bearing ride it all the way to the end at the Whiting and Franklin Station. I would then walk straight up Franklin. The Streetcar will have Visitor Maps. That will give you a flavor for what I have suggested here. You will see that the Tampa Museum of Art and the Children’s Museum are to the right of Curtis Hixon Park. Walk toward the water and you will see the Riverwalk. Head toward the Channel District. Across the river you will see the University of Tampa and the Plant Museum.

“Keep walking past the convention center and you will find the Sail Pavilion, the Marriott

Waterside and then Amalie Arena across from Cotachoobe Park. At the end of the park is the Tampa History Center. Walk to the corner of Channelside Drive and Beneficial and you will see the Towers of the Channel District and Channelside Plaza. It is located adjacent to Cruise Ship Terminal 2. If you are there on Saturday or Sunday there will likely be a boat.

“Further up you will see the Victory Ship and the Aquarium. I would get back on the Street Car and head toward Ybor. Get off at the Street Car Society Station (Station 3) and walk back to 7th and stroll east back to where you parked. You will find lots of interesting places to eat, drink, and explore.”

For More Information

For Information about Tampa Attractions and Where to Stay:

The best single resource for visitors is .  When you are here, visit the Tampa Bay Visitor Center & Gift Shop, 615 Channelside Dr., Suite 101A, Tampa, FL 33602.
Or call them at: (813) 226-0293. You can also contact Visit Tampa Bay by mail: Write to:
   Visit Tampa Bay, 401 East Jackson Street, Suite 2100, Tampa, FL 33602
Phone: (813) 223-1111 or (800) 44-TAMPA, Fax: (813) 229-6616

For General Questions, send an e-mail to:
For Information about Local Bus and Streetcar Fares and Schedules
The Hillsborough Area Rapid Transit Authority (HART) operates public transportation throughout Tampa.

For detailed schedule and fare information, visit, or call the HART Information Line (813) 254-HART (254-4278): weekdays from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Eastern Time). For information about the TECO System Streetcar Line, visit


Steve Atlas welcomes your comments and suggestions for future columns.

E-mail Steve at

About the author

Steve Atlas

Steve Atlas, author of two published books about parenting, has written newspaper columns and magazine articles about travel, career change, home-based business, parenting, and sales skills. Steve's column, “Single Parent Hotline,” was a weekly feature of Gannett News Service for several years. He has also been a contributing editor to Selling Power magazine. Currently Steve’s primary interest is reducing dependency on private automobiles. In addition to being a public transit advocate and author (since 2008) of Car Free Journey, Steve’s e-book: "Car Free at the Beach", and several reports he has written about Car Free Living can be viewed at


  • Tampa’s bikeshare program got started this spring, in the downtown area. You can use them to go anywhere the TECO streetcar or the trolley go. (Poor duplication of service, I know). Alternatively, you could stay at the Epicurian hotel and rent their bikes to ride to any of the restaurants in SoHo, then across a bridge to downtown, where the above-mentioned transport systems are available, or you could keep pedaling.
    Check out the water taxi too!

    • Hi Jen, Thanks so much for the comment about Tampa’s bikeshare program. It is a great program. More information about the Bikeshare program is in Part 1 of the Tampa Car Free Journey column. I didn’t include the Epicurean hotel as a good choice because it is difficult to get there by public transportation–especially on the weekend. Do you have information about the water taxi? Can you send me a link? Thanks.

      • Steve,

        Thanks for your reply! I didn’t see part 1 of your series, was meaning to go look it up. I’m glad to hear you included Coast bikes. I’d like them to make it, despite the summer heat and the distances in a sprawly city!

        I haven’t used the water taxi myself, but I want to get around to it because I’ve heard good things about it. Their website is

        I’m really glad to see someone having the fortitude to write about carfree Tampa. I’ve lived in small university towns or Germany most of my adult life, so Tampa has been a really difficult place for me to be. As for getting to a hotel, with luggage, I guess I include the occasional taxi as part of a non-car owning lifestyle, but I can see that you may need to be stricter than that for your series.

        Best wishes to you and your efforts to promote car-free Tampa!

        • Jen,

          Thanks for getting back to me. I am always looking for new communities, cities, and vacation destinations that are good getaway choices for visitors who don’t want to drive. Do you have any suggestions (US and Canada only at this point, please)? If you liked Vance Arnett’s comments, (I am always looking for local residents in whatever place I spotlight. If you would consider sharing tips in a future column about another city or vacation destination, please e-mail me privately. ) Thanks again for taking the time to share your comments