While physical gifts are nice, gifting someone with an experience is a great way to create lasting memories. It could be an annual pass to their favorite theme park, tickets to their favorite show, or a culinary adventure.
No matter what you’re into, the Tampa area has a multitude of places to help peak any interest. Our experience-focused holiday gift guide will help you create unforgettable memories this holiday season.
For the Foodie
Book a Hands-On Cooking Class
Located in Hyde Park, Sur La Table offers an array of cooking classes. Attend a themed date night class and learn how to create cuisine such as lobster ravioli, Thai food, and Italian specialties. You can also satisfy your sweet tooth by learning how to create doughnuts and French pastries. For those who want to learn basic kitchen skills, they also offer classes such as knife skills and cast iron cooking. Other cooking class options include Cozymeal and AJ’s Kitchen Drawer.
Tampa Bay Ale Trail
The Tampa Bay area has one of the largest craft beer scenes in the country. The Tampa Bay Ale Trail is a “passport” that gives you the opportunity to make your way around some of the best breweries in the state and earn incentives as you go. It’s a fun way to experience new breweries on a day date or an evening out. Purchase one for the beer lover in your life and then visit the breweries together throughout the year.
Indulge in specialty themed events that give you the chance to enjoy multi-course tastings with award-winning chefs. The Epicurean Theatre is located within the swanky Epicurean Hotel, a great spot to continue your date night with drinks. See what’s on the calendar here.
For the Theatre-Goer
Straz Center and Ruth Eckerd Hall
Broadway is back! The Straz Center has an exciting lineup of shows for 2022 including Dear Evan Hansen, Frozen, and Hamilton. At Ruth Eckerd, you can catch Stomp, Rent, and travelling shows such as Dancing with The Stars. Other shows at both venues include off-Broadway musicals, plays, stand-up comedy, and The Florida Orchestra. Individual tickets and season tickets are available.
Improv and Side Splitters
The Tampa Improv and Side Splitters are two of the Tampa area’s premier comedy clubs. Located in Ybor, the Improv has a calendar of upcoming shows that include stand-up by TV and movie personalities, as well as open mic nights. Side Splitters, which has locations in Carrollwood and Wesley Chapel, also has a lineup of shows for 2022 including comedians from late night TV and travelling comedy troupes. All three locations also have a full food and drink menu.
For the Theme Park Fan
Busch Gardens and Adventure Island
There’s something for everyone at Busch Gardens! The park is home to some of the best roller coasters in the world, as well as over 200 species of animals and live entertainment. There are also tons of special events throughout the year that are included in with admission such as the Real Music Series, Mardi Gras, Food and Wine Festival, Howl-O-Scream, and Christmas Town. Adventure Island is now open year-round with heated pools and will open two new water slides, Rapid Racers and Water Remix, in 2022. The newly opened Hang Ten Tiki Bar is a great place to hang out after splashing around and checking out the new virtual reality snorkeling experience. Both parks offer single day tickets, Fun Cards, and annual passes.
Thrilling coasters, live entertainment, and aquatic animal encounters can be found at SeaWorld Orlando. There is also a multitude of events throughout the year such as the Seven Seas Food Festival, St. Patrick’s Day Celebration, Cinco de Mayo, the Craft Beer Festival, and Christmas Celebration. The park offers single day tickets, Fun Cards, and annual passes.
Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and Volcano Bay
Whether you’re into movie magic or roller coasters, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure has got you covered. Visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, experience the thrill of the Hulk roller coaster, escape through New York with Jimmy Fallon, and come face to face with dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. If water parks are your thing, you can make waves at Universal’s Volcano Bay. You can slide down thrilling water slides, relax in the lazy river, or splash around in the wave pool. All parks offer single day tickets, annual passes, and Florida resident specials.
For the Animal Lover
This award-winning zoo is a must-visit for any animal lover. The wildlife habits are spread out into Africa, Asia, Australia, and Florida. Visit the elephants, feed the giraffes, and watch the manatees swim. There are also exhibits and live entertainment. ZooTampa also hosts several annual events such as Creatures of the Night and Christmas in the Wild. They also have several fundraising events such as Zoo Brews, Karamu Gala, and Sunset Safari (not included with admission). ZooTampa offers singe day tickets and annual passes. An animal encounter is a great add-on, too!
Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA)
CMA is best known for the rescue and rehab of the late Winter the dolphin (we miss her!), who received a prosthetic tail after she was rescued in 2005. The recently expanded aquarium houses rescued marine animals such as dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, otters, pelicans, and stingrays. Guests can participate in animal encounters and enjoy live presentations. There are also travelling exhibits such as Legends From The Deep, which will remain at CMA until January 31, 2022. Single day tickets and memberships are available.
In The Breeze Ranch
Treat your partner to a horseback ride down a nature trail or, for more seasoned riders, there is an advanced trail. For a more romantic setting, you can take an evening ride after 6pm. They also offer opportunities to swim with the horses in their spring-fed creek.
For the Relaxation Enthusiast
ResortPass Day Passes
ResortPass allows you to visit local hotels and resorts for a day to enjoy all that they have to offer without booking an overnight stay. It’s the perfect way to plan a daycation that’s not too far from home. Visit the website, search your location, and browse through all of the participating hotels. Some hotels also offer passes available as monthly memberships so you can make daytime relaxation a regular part of your monthly routine.
A few of our favorite options:
- Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa: Pool and beach access, plus 10% discount on bike rentals and spa services, and more
- The Don CeSar: Pool and beach access, discount on water sports rentals
- Tampa Marriott Water Street: Rooftop pool access, poolside service, discounted parking and more
Give your partner the gift of relaxation by booking a spa day! Splurge on a romantic couples treatment, or plan an epic day of relaxation for your partner to enjoy solo. Check out our post on the best Tampa Bay Spas That are Perfect for Couples for more ideas.
For the Adventure Seeker
Tampa Water Bike Company
Partake in one of the most unique ways to explore Downtown Tampa and its waterways. Choose your own path through the Hillsborough river on your own personal water bike or enjoy a tandem ride for two.
This is the perfect experience for thrill seekers. Guests can take a two-hour ziplining adventure that sends them over 3,000 feet of water and land preserves. Travel across a 200 foot wooden suspension bridge and partake in an aerial obstacle course, all while taking in the panoramic views of Tampa Bay. The sunset zip lining tour is the perfect gift for a little added romance.
This RV rental site gives you the opportunity to rent a camper to trail or have it delivered and set up to your campsite. Whether you want something large enough to travel in with the family, or something small and cozy for two, it’s a great way to experience campsites across the country, and it’s especially convenient for those who want the feel of camping without having to “rough it.”
Freedom Boat Club
This membership-based boat rental club gives you access to boat rentals in over 300 locations in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. With a plethora of locations in the Tampa Bay area, it’s perfect for a weekend boat day with friends or a romantic sunset cruise. Check out membership options here.
For the Crafter
Painting with A Twist and Pinot’s Palette
You don’t have to be a professional artist to create a one-of-a-kind masterpiece! Painting with A Twist and Pinot’s Palette are instructor-led classes that give you the chance to create a painting on canvas. Paintings can be chosen online and booked ahead of time. Guests can also bring food and drinks to enjoy while they paint. Painting with A Twist also has designated date night events and Pinot’s Palette has options to paint wine glasses, vases, and cookie jars too. Both places have multiple locations in the Tampa Bay area.
Color me Mine
Located in the heart of Hyde Park, Color me Mine is a pottery studio where guests can paint their own ceramic pieces from ring dishes to sculptures. After painting, the pieces are glazed to lock in the paint and can be picked up for guests to keep and display. It’s a great option for date nights, girls nights out, or to make and give as gifts.
The Candle Pour
Create your perfect scent at The Candle Pour in Hyde Park. Guests can choose from over 100 different fragrance oils to create their own custom candle to take home. After they’re created, they need to set for about two hours which creates the perfect opportunity to enjoy the plethora of food, drinks and shopping around Hyde Park.
Feature image credit: Empower Adventures Tampa Bay