While physical gifts are nice, giving someone an experience is a great way to make 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 like, the Tampa area has a plethora of places to help spark interest. Our experiential holiday gift guide will help you create unforgettable memories this holiday season.
Book a hands-on cooking class
Located in Hyde Park, Sur La Table offers a range of cooking classes. Attend a themed evening class and learn to create cuisine such as lobster dumplings, Thai cuisine, and Italian specialties. You can also satisfy your sweet tooth by learning how to create French donuts and pastries. For those who want to learn basic cooking skills, they also offer courses such as knife techniques and cast iron cooking. Other cooking class options include Cozymeal and AJ’s Kitchen Drawer.
Tampa Bay Beer 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 chance to hike some of the state’s best breweries and earn incentives as you go. It’s a fun way to experience new breweries during a day or an evening. Buy one for the beer lover in a lifetime, then visit breweries together throughout the year.
Treat yourself to specialized themed events that give you the chance to enjoy multi-course tastings with award-winning chefs. The Epicurean Theater is located in the chic Epicurean Hotel, a great place to continue your evening with drinks. See what’s on the schedule here.
For the theater lover
Straz Center and Ruth Eckerd Hall
Broadway is back! The Straz Center offers an exciting lineup of shows for 2022, including Dear Evan Hansen, Frozen, and Hamilton. At Ruth Eckerd you can catch to crush, To rent, and traveling shows such as Dancing with the Stars. Other shows at both venues include off-Broadway musicals, plays, stand-up comedies, and The Florida Orchestra. Individual tickets and subscriptions are available.
Improvisation and side dividers
The Tampa Improv and Side Splitters are two of the best comedy clubs in the Tampa area. Located in Ybor, the Improv has a schedule of upcoming shows that include stand-ups from TV and movie personalities, as well as open mic nights. Side Splitters, which has locations in Carrollwood and Wesley Chapel, also has show lineup for 2022, including late-night TV comedians and traveling comedy troupes. All three locations also offer a full menu of food and drink.
For the theme park fan
Busch Gardens and Adventure Island
There is 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 shows. There are also tons of special events throughout the year that are included 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 waterslides, Rapid Racers and Water Remix, in 2022. The new Hang Ten Tiki Bar is a great place to relax after splashing around and checking out the new experience. of snorkeling in virtual reality. Both parks offer day tickets, Fun Cards and annual passes.
Thrilling roller coasters, shows, and aquatic animal encounters can be found at SeaWorld Orlando. There is also a plethora of events throughout the year such as the Seven Seas Food Festival, St. Patrick’s Day Celebration, Cinco de Mayo, Craft Beer Festival, and Christmas Celebration. The park offers day tickets, fun cards, and annual passes.
Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay
Whether you love the magic of the movies or the roller coaster, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure have you covered. Visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, experience the thrill of the Hulk roller coaster, escape through New York City with Jimmy Fallon and face off against 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 day tickets, annual passes, and specials for Florida residents.
For the animal lover
This award-winning zoo is a must visit for any animal lover. The habits of the fauna are distributed in Africa, Asia, Australia and Florida. Visit the elephants, feed the giraffes, and watch the manatees swim. There are also exhibitions and shows. ZooTampa also hosts several annual events such as Creatures of the Night and Christmas in the Wild. They also run several fundraising events such as Zoo Brews, Karamu Gala, and Sunset Safari (not included in admission). ZooTampa offers day tickets and annual passes. An encounter with an animal is also an excellent complement!
Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA)
CMA is best known for rescuing and rehabilitating the late Winter the dolphin (we miss her!), Who received a prosthetic tail after her rescue in 2005. The recently expanded aquarium houses have saved marine animals such as as dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, otters, pelicans and stingrays. You will be able to participate in animal encounters and enjoy live presentations. There are also traveling exhibitions such as Legends From The Deep, which will remain at the CMA until January 31, 2022. Day tickets and memberships are available.
In the Breeze Ranch
Treat your partner to a horseback ride on a natural trail or, for more seasoned riders, an advanced trail. For a more romantic setting, you can take an evening stroll after 6 p.m. They also offer the possibility of swimming with the horses in their stream fed by a spring.
For the lover of relaxation
ResortPass day pass
ResortPass allows you to visit local hotels and resorts for a day to enjoy all they have to offer without reserving an overnight stay. It’s the perfect way to plan a day of the day that’s not too far from home. Visit the website, find your location, and browse all participating hotels. Some hotels also offer passes that are available as a monthly subscription so that you can make daytime relaxation a regular part of your monthly routine.
Some of our favorite options:
- Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa: Pool and beach access, plus 10% off bike rentals and spa services, and more
- Le Don CeSar: Pool and beach access, reduction 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 day at the spa! Treat yourself to a romantic couple’s treatment or plan an epic day of relaxation for your partner to enjoy alone. Check out our article on Tampa Bay’s Best Spas Perfect for Couples for more ideas.
For the adventure seeker
Tampa Water Bike Company
Take part in one of the most unique ways to explore downtown Tampa and its waterways. Choose your own path across the Hillsborough River on your own water bike or enjoy a tandem ride for two.
It is the perfect experience for thrill seekers. Guests can take part in a two-hour zipline adventure that sends them over 3,000 feet of water and land reserves. Cross a 200-foot wooden suspension bridge and take part in an aerial obstacle course, while taking in panoramic views of Tampa Bay. The sunset zipline tour is the perfect gift for a little extra romance.
This motorhome rental site offers you the possibility of renting a motorhome for trail running or having it delivered and installed in your campsite. Whether you want something big enough to travel with the family, or something small and comfortable for two, it’s a great way to experience campsites across the country, and it’s especially convenient for those who want the feeling of camping without having to ‘the rough. “
Nautical club of freedom
This membership-based boat rental club gives you access to boat rentals at over 300 locations across the United States, Canada and Europe. With a plethora of locations in the Tampa Bay area, it’s perfect for a weekend boating day with friends or a romantic sunset cruise. Find out about membership options here.
For the craftsman
Paint with A Twist and the Pinot 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 opportunity to create a painting on canvas. Paintings can be chosen online and reserved in advance. You will also be able to bring food and drinks to enjoy while they paint. Painting with a twist has also designated nighttime events, and Pinot’s Palette has options for painting wine glasses, vases, and cookie jars. Both locations have multiple locations in the Tampa Bay area.
Color me mine
Located in the heart of Hyde Park, Color me Mine is a pottery workshop where customers can paint their own ceramic pieces, from ring dishes to carvings. After painting, the pieces are glazed to lock in the painting and can be picked up for guests to keep and display. It’s a great option for dates, girls’ nights, or to make and give as a gift.
The Pouring Candle
Create your perfect scent at The Candle Pour in Hyde Park. Guests can choose from over 100 different scent oils to create their own personalized candle to take home. Once they’re created, they should sit for around two hours, which creates the perfect opportunity to enjoy the plethora of food, drink, and shopping around Hyde Park.
Photo credit: Empower Adventures Tampa Bay