When you think of Tampa, you’d be forgiven for simply envisioning a summery dream. However, Christmas is celebrated all around the world, including this beachy town.
Whether you’re a local Tampanian or flying in from out of town for the holidays, you’ll find plenty of Christmas things to do in Tampa. We’ve created this guide of things to do in Tampa for Christmas so you can enjoy a truly magical season to the fullest.
It doesn’t matter that Tampa isn’t known for its snowfall – you’ll still get to immerse yourself in a glittering wonderland at the Curtis Hixon Park Winter Village.
You’ll find this magical town along the Tampa Riverwalk, where everything from the sights and sounds to the smells are exceptionally festive. Strap on your skates and glide across the ice rink, a wonderfully romantic thing to do in Tampa for couples, families, and friends. There’s also plenty of food stands selling delicious treats, including festive cocktails, gingerbread, and hot chocolate. Wander round the pop-up village to join in with carolers, shop for Christmas presents, and maybe even meet Santa!
Busch Gardens Christmas Town
Busch Gardens is known for its interactive safari park and exhilarating rides, but things get a little more festive at Christmas. An award-winning annual event, the Busch Gardens Christmas Town spreads joy to visitors and resident animals alike, making it one of the best places to go in Tampa for the holidays.
The Holly Jolly Express train is the starring attraction, taking passengers on a magical journey through the park. While aboard the holiday locomotive, you’ll pass rhinos, giraffes, and zebras, as well as many other animals that know Busch Gardens as home. Once you hop off at the platform, you can visit Rudolph and Santa in the workshop, before finishing off the event by admiring the parks many twinkling lights while whizzing up and down the rollercoasters.
Discover a winter wonderland filled with adventure when you visit Snowcat Ride. This alpine snow park has something for everyone, with icy activities ranging from the respectably tame to the wonderfully challenging.
The tubing slopes are always a hit. Whether you’re sliding solo or as a group, the sloping guides will strap you into your tube and send you whizzing down the hill. There’s also an ice skating rink with twists and turns to challenge your balance and direction, as well as a giant igloo with children’s slides and artificial snow for making snowmen.
Make sure you spend time in the Alpine Village for refreshments. Grab a sweet soda (or something a little stronger for adults) and toast s’mores around the campfire as you gaze at the stars above. It’s one of the most exhilarating Christmas activities in Tampa.
River of Lights Cruise
Experience Tampa Bay in the most magical way when you board the River of Lights Holiday Cruise.
Many of the most popular Tampa tourist attractions are by the water, and what better way to take in the sights than on a boat ride. This isn’t just any aquatic journey, however – it’s completely Christmas-themed. You’ll float beneath the illuminated bridges of Downtown, each strung with glowing lights throughout the season. The Captain of the ship is a wonderful entertainer, using whimsical narration to really engage travelers. There’s also on-board carol singers to serenade passengers, who are encouraged to join in and sing to their hearts’ content.
If you’re a fan of A Christmas Carol (be that the original or the Muppets’ version), then you’ve probably envisioned what a traditional Victorian Christmas is like. Well, now you can step back in time to experience it for yourself.
The Henry B Plant Museum is proud of its annual Victorian Christmas Stroll. What started as a small gathering became a large monthly event every December, welcoming many to experience a Christmas like never before. Visitors will delight in the varied themes within each room as they explore the museum. Marvel at antique toys, enjoy live music, and shop for presents all in one place.
Whether you’re looking for something sweet for yourself or hoping to gift a loved one a tasty treat, then Chocolate Pi is the place to go.
Specializing in chocolatey goodness, this artisan bakery is known for all things sweet and delicious. It’s a family-run establishment that uses the finest ingredients to recreate old family recipes. Pop in for a steaming cup of hot cocoa and a huge wedge of cake. You might be tempted by the vast selection of pi(e), or even prefer to take a box of macarons home with you. The baked goods of Chocolate Pie make for a wonderful dessert option at your Christmas meal with the family. Alternatively, a selection of sweet bites would make the perfect Christmas gift.
Casa de Montecristo
If you’re organizing a few Christmas drinks with some friends or family visiting from out of town, why not make it special by having drinks with a twist? Casa de Montecristo is first and foremost a Tampa cigar lounge, but it’s also full-service, meaning you can swill a sweet dram while you spend an evening puffing on a premium-rolled cigar.
If you’re not used to cigars, don’t worry – the staff are tobacco experts. They’ll guide you through their extensive list of wraps, and even suggest which drink you could pair it with. They even serve small bites, so you could make the evening a full event by getting food while you’re here. If you’re not into smoking yourself but know someone who is, then you can buy them their very own box of cigars for Christmas.