Tampa is a favorite vacation destination for many. And while some travelers believe it’s best to go in summer, get the necessary vitamin D boost, and face the horrific humidity like a warrior, others suggest going in winter for a pleasant Christmas celebration and cooler temperatures.
Neither group is wrong. However, ultimately, the best time to visit Tampa depends on your personal expectations, preferences, availability, and budget.
We’ll help you see how all of these relate to each season in the city, so that you can make up your mind and plan your Tampa trip accordingly.
The Best Time to Visit Tampa
Nothing beats the October-December period in Tampa. In October, the temperature is in the range of an average low of 70.2°F and an average high of 83.1°F.
December, although officially the first winter month, is still quite pleasant, with an average temperature fluctuating between 72°F and 58.1°F.
While large parts of the US take out their winter boots, coats, and sweaters, Tampa residents and visitors are still fairly comfortable with lightweight jackets and close-toed shoes.
Visiting Tampa this time of the year means skipping the uncomfortable humidity and hot weather conditions common for summer, and enjoying some of the clearest skies of the year.
If you happen to be in Tampa in October, visit the annual Oktoberfest (check out last year’s event here). This event is where American and German cultures meet; there’s a lot of beer, live music, Bavarian games, and dirndls.
This annual sand sculpting exhibition is worth checking out as well.
It gathers sand sculptors from around the world with ambitions to create stunning, larger-than-life sand masterpieces. Organizers promise visitors an “outSANDing” time. Many festive events take place during the holiday season too.
We recommend the Enchant Christmas in St. Petersburg for a truly enchanting winter wonderland. Another great event worth attending is Tampa’s largest lighted boat parade, which usually takes place the Saturday before Christmas on the Hillsborough River.
The Tampa Bay Festival of Lights features a plethora of immersive activities, holiday displays, and many opportunities for Insta-worthy snaps.
Cheapest Time to Visit Tampa
The cheapest time to go to Tampa is during the months of January and September.
January marks the end of a busy Christmas season, winter break is over, so pupils go back to school and overall winter travel plans seem to wane.
This is why in this period, hotels offer attractive packages and finding good flight deals is a piece of cake. Plus, the weather is still enjoyable in January — temperatures are in the range of an average high of 67.8°F and an average low of 53.4°F.
September notes a similar situation — the summer season is coming to an end and schools are ready to welcome kids back, which allows for enticing accommodation deals and airfare discounts.
The temperature fluctuates between 88.7°F and 76.1°F. Although seemingly slow months, January and September still have their share of dynamic events and things to do.
For example, in January, Southwest Florida’s Largest 10-day Cultural Arts & Music Festival takes place, known as Tampa Bay Black Heritage Festival. If you’re traveling with kids, then Children’s Gasparilla is a free event worth adding to your list.
Established back in 1947, Children’s Gasparilla is the largest children’s event in the United States. September notes the easy-going GeckoFest event.
It features a street celebration with numerous activities, live music, more than 200 vendors, costume contests, street performers, and a parade. A proper way to mark the end of summer.
Least Busy Time to Visit Tampa
Being the windiest month of the year, February in Tampa sees fewer events, crowds, and activities.
But if you want to visit Tampa when it’s least busy, don’t let a bit of wind stop you! Plus, humidity is low, the air is fresh, and the temperature varies between 56.7°F and 71.8°F.
This month is when the Florida State Fair takes place — guaranteed fun for everyone. Runners will be pleased to hear about the St. Petersburg Distance Classic annual race and the Gasparilla Distance Classic event.
Also, this month is perfect for visiting art centers, theme parks, museums, and other major attractions — not only can you expect reduced prices, but also fewer queues.
Restaurants and bars and less busy too. Finally, if you decide to hit the beach and bask in the sun, don’t let the wind fool you — you still need an SPF cream.
Worst Time to Visit Tampa
While there’s no wrong time to visit Tampa, there are certain months that you may want to avoid if you want to secure that perfect trip. These include June, July, and August.
June marks the beginning of summer and, with that, large crowds of travelers, prices over the roof, and an influx of beach-goers. The average temperature varies between 88.9°F and 76.8°F.
July is also warm — the temperatures are in the range of an average high of 89.6°F and an average low of 78.4°F. August is the hottest summer month, with the average temperatures ranging between 79°F and 90.3°F.
Consistent humidity is another “summer bonus”. Even if you don’t pay attention to it in the weather forecast, you’ll definitely feel it.
Yet, these months are probably the best months for the most enjoyable beach experience. Going to water parks can also help you fight the heat. However, know that whatever it is you do, there will be big queues and high prices.
If you happen to be in Tampa for the Boom by the Bay event (which is Tampa Downtown Partnership & the City of Tampa’s official annual 4th of July event), get ready for social media-worthy fireworks, marvelous 2.5 mile-long activities, food trucks, drinks, kid games, live entertainment, and a waterfront boat parade.
Mid-August marks the beginning of Bier Fest, where beer devotees can enjoy seasonal offerings from well-known breweries, try new recipes, and attend live music events.
The bravest are also welcome to try out the epic coaster rides in the park. The not-so-brave can stick to the brews and simply enjoy the event.
Things to Consider
Now that you know the best time to visit Tampa, here are more things worth considering:
- If you want to avoid large crowds, don’t visit Tampa during public holidays. Some popular ones include Memorial Day, Labor Day, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve.
- If you think rain can ruin your Tampa itinerary, don’t visit in August. It’s officially the wettest month.
- Don’t underestimate the sun. Treat it the same regardless of whether you visit Tampa in January or July — in many countries, leaving the sunscreen at home is acceptable, but Florida isn’t one of them. Not taking the sun seriously may result in your tan turning into a burn in the wink of an eye.
- Don’t underestimate lightning storms either. Florida may be known as the Sunshine State, but it’s infamous for its thunderstorms too. Do you know that Florida ranks the highest for lightning-related fatalities in the United States? Most of these storms happen in summer — sometimes even daily. If you find yourself in the middle of a storm or you notice one that doesn’t seem to be close to you just yet, take it seriously and get indoors till it subsides.
- Pack mindfully. Yes, we already said you don’t need winter boots or scarves if you visit Tampa, but layered clothing isn’t such a bad idea, especially if you visit in the transition seasons, when the days are hotter but the nights see lower temperatures.
- Always check for the latest hurricane information. At any time, there are certain US cities that are at a higher risk than others of experiencing a hurricane. Tampa is one such city.
- Passes will save you money (and time!). Some passes worth getting are:
- Sunpass, which can save you 25% on tools and help you travel smoothly;
- Tampa City Pass, to secure admission to the following five attractions: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, The Florida Aquarium, ZooTampa at Lowry Park, Clearwater Marine Aquarium, The Tropics Boat Tours Dolphin or Sunset Cruise or Museum of Science & Industry;
- Tampa Riverwalk Attraction Pass, which helps you save BIG on the major attractions along the Tampa Riverwalk.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is Tampa so popular?
Tampa is popular due to many reasons — below we share the most relevant ones:
- Top-notch sandy beach experience. You can read more about specific Tampa beaches later on in the FAQ section.
- Attractive weather conditions. Tampa boasts 246 sunny days per year (the US average is 205). Winters tend to be quite mild too.
- Fewer crowds. Especially compared to other Floridian cities, such as Miami or Orlando. When you visit Tampa, you can truly sense the local atmosphere without feeling as though you’re getting “lost” in large crowds of tourists. That said, Tapa is far from being ignored by travelers — in fact, in 2021 alone, it was visited by 14.8 million visitors.
- Numerous outdoor activities. Tampa has many parks, two of the largest being Lettuce Lake Park and AI Lopez Park. The city offers great areas for fishing, hiking, canoeing, and, of course, all kinds of water activities.
- Great wineries. Some most prominent wineries include Tarpon Springs Castle Winery, Keel and Curley, Aspirations Winery, Florida Orange Groves Winery , Two Lions Winery, and Murielle Winery. The best thing is that apart from the wine tasting, you can always buy a few bottles as a liquid Tampa souvenir and stock up.
- Word class neighborhoods. We’ll share some of them further below.
How many days do I need in Tampa?
We recommend spending at least three days in Tampa.
Here are some suggestions for your itinerary:
- Day 1: Spend the whole day on the beach. We suggest Clearwater Beach, as it was recently named “Best Beach in America”. You can relax with coffee and a book, or if you want a more adventurous day, opt for paddle boarding or parasailing.
- Day 2: Head over to the Tampa RiverWalk. This 2.4-mile trail is abundant in activities and attractions, such as The Florida Aquarium, Tampa Bay History Center, Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, Straz Center for the Performing Arts, and Glazer Children’s Museum (perfect for those traveling with kids).
- Day 3: Visit unusual locations to spice up your Tampa journey. For instance, if you want to add some Cuban vibes to your trip, go to the Jose Marti Park (Little Cuba). As they say, it’s a chance to visit Cuba without needing a passport. You can also visit the Ybor City Museum State Park and learn a thing or two about the history of Ybor city, and go to Tampa Bay Brewing Co, the oldest Tampa-based brewery.
Is Tampa an expensive city?
According to RentCafe, the cost of living in Tampa is 4% lower than the national average and 5% lower than the state average. However, as a traveler, this tells you nothing about your potential expenses there.
So, here’s how much money you need per day to visit Tampa, depending on your travel style:
- $52 (for budget-minded folks);
- $136 (suitable for mid-range spenders);
- $372 (necessary for a high-end Tampa experience).
What is the nicest part of Tampa?
Tampa has several nice neighborhoods as vibrant as the city itself. Here are some of our recommendations:
- Hyde Park is famous for its recognizable tree-lined streets, entertainment areas, vibrant night scene, and quaint bungalows. It’s located near the best shops and restaurants in the city as well.
- SoHo is one of the trendiest areas in Tampa. Its nightclubs, bars, art shops, and high-end dining places make SoHo much more than just a neighborhood.
- Bayshore Beautiful is truly a beautiful neighborhood to see (or even better, live in). If you ever move to Tampa, this area is certainly going to be one of your top three choices. Being just a few minutes from downtown Tampa and close to most highways is what makes Bayshore Beautiful so desirable.
- A family-friendly neighborhood with a small-town vibe, Palma Ceia is known for its low crime rate, large housing, and brick roads.
- Beach Park is reserved for the wealthy. It has “Old Florida” vibes, and it’s close to the Tampa International Airport.
- Davis Islands is for people who want (and can afford) a lavish lifestyle. Here you can find celebrities, athletes, and the richest Tampa residents. Although it does seem secluded compared to some other neighborhoods, its calm atmosphere and overall privacy make it worthwhile.
Is Tampa a safe place to vacation?
In general, Tampa is a safe city for visitors — it’s safer than 20% of all US cities. However, like with every other city, a certain level of caution is advised. There are always risks of scams, pickpockets, and phone thefts.
Does Tampa have good beaches?
Not only does Tampa have good beaches, but it’s also home to award-winning ones (we already mentioned Clearwater Beach)!
Apart from this one, here are five other Tampa beaches that are worth the visit:
- Ben T. Davis is the nearest beach to the airport and downtown. It’s also the largest public beach, and it’s hands-down one of the best beaches for those who wish to play volleyball.
- Fred Howard Park has a sandy beach, turquoise water, and breathtaking sunsets. You can also observe endangered wildlife, such as eagles, tortoises, ospreys, and even manatees!
- Known for its pink hotel The Don CeSar, St. Pete Beach is the best beach option if you’re traveling with people with different interests. Its powdery white sand, water sports options, shops, restaurants, and fancy beach cabana rentals allow visitors to enjoy different activities throughout the day.
- Being one of the most secluded Tampa beaches, Egmont Key Beach is accessible only by ferry (or a private boat). Note that no bathrooms or any other facilities are available, so make sure you’re up for such an experience before you decide to spend your beach day there.
- Lastly, Madeira Beach is perfect for visitors who want to lay all day on the beach or swim in the clear waters. That said, if you feel like taking a walk or doing something more active, you can visit St. John’s Pass Village (it’s connected to the beach quite nicely), and spend some time dolphin-watching, jet skiing, visiting restaurants, or engaging in authentic retail shopping. By the way, you can always take a virtual tour first, and then decide whether it’s worth visiting.
How do you get around Tampa without a car?
There are many ways to get around Tampa without a car — here are the most popular ones:
- Bikes. Having been recognized as a bike-friendly community by the League of American Bicyclists, Tampa provides hundreds of rentable coast bikes across the entire city for people who want to get around in an affordable, yet fun way.
- Scooters. Three popular vendors are Spin, Lime, and Bird.
- Pirate Water Taxi. Prices start at $20 for adults, $15 for children (ages 2-12), and the annual pay costs $199.95.
- Downtowner. It covers Tampa Heights, Harbour Island, and Downtown Tampa. That said, checking for recent info or updates is always advisable.
- Teco Line Streetcar. Operates every 15 minutes and rides are free thanks to a Florida Department of Transportation grant. Useful info: Thanksgiving and Christmas are the only days of the year when the streetcar isn’t running.
- Hart Bus. Fares start at $2.
Is Tampa as fun as Miami?
It depends on how you define fun and what your expectations are. In general, both Tampa and Miami offer a lot to travelers. For example, Miami is better for thrill-seekers and party-goers.
It has a much more vibrant night scene, it’s pedestrian-friendly, and there’s a lot to see and do. However, it’s also more expensive than Tampa.
On the other hand, Tampa is better suited for travelers seeking a laid-back experience and a beach holiday. It’s much more suitable for family activities too. If possible, we recommend visiting both, so you can see for yourself which one is better for you.
Over to You — Book Your Trip Today!
On the whole, the best time to visit Tampa is in the October-December period. The temperatures are comfortable, humidity isn’t an issue, and there’s a lot going on in the city.
If you’re on a budget, consider visiting in January or September. Also, most lodging options have lower rates during these two months of the year, and if you’re lucky, you can find some reduced flight fares.
February is known as the windiest month of the year in Tampa, which makes it unattractive to both Tampa residents and out-of-town visitors. This means fewer queues, empty-ish streets, better accessibility to major attractions, and more accommodation options.
If you can, try not to visit Tampa in June, July, or August. The heat and the humidity could render all major plans a terrible ordeal; prices are far from affordable, and all places seem to be crowded — from beaches and restaurants to zoos and random museums.
That said, it’s up to you to analyze the pros and cons of going to Tampa in each season, and see what works for you and your fellow travelers. And now that you know everything about the best time to visit Tampa, you’re ready to book your exciting trip!