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Blick auf die Skyline von Tampa, Bild: Sean Pavone / shutterstock

Tampa Bay in Florida: Culture and nature on the Gulf of Mexico

Tampa Bay, a bay on the Gulf of Mexico, is located on the far west coast of the Florida peninsula. A total of 100 smaller and medium-sized rivers flow into the bay from the surrounding area, where not only nature lovers but also culture lovers get their money’s worth. The big cities of Tampa, Saint Petersburg and Clearwater attract visitors with all kinds of attractions, such as museums or aquariums. We have compiled some of the best sights in the region.

The Salvador Dali Museum in Saint Petersburg

Salvador Dali Museum in Saint Petersburg
Salvador Dali Museum in Saint Petersburg, Image: travelview / shutterstock

The Salvador Dali Museum in Saint Petersburg originates from a private art collection of the married couple Eleanor Reese Morse and Albert Reynolds Morse. Since the Second World War, the two industrialists have been collecting more and more works by the Spanish artist. When the collection finally became too large for the private premises of the two art lovers, they decided to transfer it to a museum building, which was to be made accessible to the general public at the same time. Dali himself opened the Salavador Dali Museum in Florida in 1971. Today, the collection, which is considered the largest Dali collection outside Europe, comprises around 2150 works by the artist. In addition to oil paintings, these include graphics and watercolors, drawings, sculptures and photographs. Since 2011, the museum has no longer been located in the old factory buildings of the Morse family, but in a futuristic-looking new museum building.

The Sunken Gardens

Also in Saint Petersburg is the Sunken Gardens, a beautifully manicured botanical garden area that has been attracting visitors for more than a century. More than 500 tropical and subtropical plant species can be admired here. There is also a Japanese garden and a succulent garden. Water lilies alternate with palm trees and fruit trees. The Sunken Gardens can be visited on your own or with a guided tour. The stars of the garden area are certainly the Chilean flamingos, which have been at home in the Sunken Gardens since 1956.

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The Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge

Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge, Tampa
Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge, Image: Norm Lane / shutterstock

If you like it a little more original, visit the Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge on the outermost headland of Tampa Bay. Visitors can only get there by boat or ferry, which makes the journey seem adventurous. You will be greeted by the Egmont Key Lighthouse and the ruins of Fort Dade, a defensive structure from the American-Spanish War. Bird lovers have the best opportunities to observe a whole range of songbirds and seabirds here. In addition, the area is populated by the Georgia gopher tortoise. This is a rare species of tortoise that is only found in Florida. However, the area does not only attract animal lovers and those hungry for education. Local day-trippers like to come to sunbathe, swim, and picnic on the quiet beaches of Egmont Key.

The Florida Holocaust Museum

German tourists in particular are attracted to the Florida Holocaust Museum . The fifth largest Holocaust museum in the USA is located in Saint Petersburg and was founded by Holocaust survivor Walter Lobenberg, who came from Frankfurt am Main. Among other things, an original railway carriage from Poland, in which the victims of the Holocaust were taken to concentration camps, is exhibited here. The historical exhibition is spacious and extends over three floors. Starting with the time of the Weimar Republic, the Holocaust is traced up to the Nuremberg Trials, and is examined in an informative and critical way. The history of anti-Semitism itself is also dealt with in a multi-layered way. The exhibition concludes with a look at the present, where today’s racism is addressed.

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The City of Tampa

If you want to experience typical American nightlife on your trip, you should stay in the city of Tampa for at least one night. The Channel District, Ybor City and SoHo districts are popular nightlife areas. In addition to numerous bars, clubs and restaurants, there are heaps of casinos, such as the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, where you can lose your house and farm, but also win. The Tampa Theater is not a theater, but a gigantic cinema that has been showing arthouse cinema and film classics since 1926 in addition to Hollywood productions. Often there are also live concerts by local and international music greats to be heard in the cinematic premises. If you’re really in the mood for theatre, you’ll find it in Tampa. The David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, the Gorilla Theater, and the Stageworks Theater are all considered excellent theater stages. The Tampa Opera even enjoys a worldwide reputation. In a survey, Tampa’s nightlife was ranked sixth in the entire USA .

The Florida Aquarium

Especially those traveling with children appreciate the Florida Aquarium, which is located in Tampa. The aim of the educational aquarium is to accompany its visitors on a kind of guided journey of a freshwater drop from Tampa to the Gulf of Mexico, which spreads out in front of Tampa Bay. To do this, you are taken into the underwater world, including the coral reef, by means of a 1,900,000-liter tank. The aquarium’s exhibition deals with the topic of environmental pollution and shows how it contributes to the destruction of the underwater world. Scientifically, the Florida Aquarium, and all its guided tours, is highly serious, as it is operated in close cooperation with the Department of Marine Biology at the University of Miami .