Hotel at a Glance: Hampton Inn & Suites Tampa East
Guests to the Hampton Inn & Suites Tampa East only need to drive a few minutes down the road to try their luck at the slots and table games at the Hard Rock Casino Tampa. The hotel provides plenty of ways to recharge after a night out, from a complimentary breakfast to a sun-kissed outdoor pool. You can also soak up the rays on Tampa’s famous beaches, which are just a half-hour drive west from the hotel.
- Recent recognition: Awarded TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence in 2014
- Fresh, hot waffles and eggs are part of the inn’s complimentary breakfast, served daily. If you’re pressed for time on a weekday, you can pack a to-go bag.
- Comfy accommodations: Guest rooms feature Hampton’s signature bedding, along with free WiFi and an HDTV. Choose a studio suite for a little extra room.
- Outdoor pool: Take a dip in the pool, surrounded by palm trees and a sundeck with lounge chairs.
- Break a sweat in the fitness center
Seffner, Florida: Live Oaks in Small Town Near Tampa’s Beaches
Just 15 miles from the heart of downtown Tampa, Seffner was once a completely rural town. Recent growth has transformed it into more of a suburb, but things still move at a more leisurely pace, with a landscape dominated by live oak trees and family-owned strawberry farms. Nearby Eureka Springs Regional Park features the county’s only botanical gardens surrounded by live oaks and walking trails. Or, head to Hillsborough River State Park, which winds around the Hillsborough River and offers the nature enthusiast walking trails, biking, fishing, canoeing, picnicking and kayaking.
Cruise about 30 minutes west of Tampa to explore Tampa Bay’s beaches. Given that Tampa Bay, St. Pete, and Clearwater combined have more than 15 white-sand beaches and nearly 250 sunny days a year, it should come as no surprise that Forbes magazine ranked Tampa the fifth best city in America for enjoying the outdoors.
Roller coasters and exotic animals share real estate at Busch Gardens Tampa, a theme park designed to evoke the thrills of an African safari. Like a bird diving after its prey, Falcon’s Fury—the park’s newest thrill ride—climbs 300 feet, pivots 90 degrees to face the ground, then plunges at 60 mph straight down. Back on solid ground, you can get up close and personal with more than 2,000 animals living in detailed replicas of their natural habitats. If you’re ready for a little fright night this Halloween, plan on attending Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream event, “Cursed”, every weekend starting September 26 through November 1.