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Service Attendant
Jan 22, 2009
Tampa, FL
The following information is some which I offered a user in the general forum who was traveling north from south Florida aboard the Silver Star, and inquired about making a two-day stopover in Tampa without renting a car...

Tampa has some nice things to offer visitors via Amtrak, and depending on your plans, you may not even need a car. Many historical, cultural, and family attractions are conveniently located within about a one mile radius of your arrival point, Tampa Union Station. The station is roughly centered between the districts of Ybor City, Channelside, and downtown. All three areas are connected by the TECO Line Streetcar, so getting around them is a cinch.


Amtrak can be the best way to get to Tampa, particularly for those who are attending events in the downtown area or who are embarking on a cruise from the Port of Tampa. Cruise passengers can arrive the night before and sleep soundly at one of the many hotels close to Tampa Union Station and the port. Then hop on the streetcar with your suitcases and ride right up to the cruise terminals at Channelside!




LODGING Near Union Station

There are several hotels which are a short ride from Tampa Union Station. The streetcar doesn't call at the station, so a taxi will be the easiest/quickest way to get from the station to your hotel immediately after your arrival. Some of the hotels may provide a shuttle service, though I really don't know for certain.


  • Downtown: Marriott Waterside, Sheraton Riverwalk, Hyatt Regency, Embassy Suites, Courtyard, Residence Inn, etc.
  • Ybor City: Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Don Vicente de Ybor Historic Inn

Convention goers may wish to stick to downtown lodgings nearer the Convention Center. If you are looking for value and convenience, however, I would recommend the Ybor hotels. They will be less pricey than the downtown hotels, and Ybor City has the most to offer in terms of places to eat.


DINING Near Union Station

There are several popular restaurants in Channelside near the cruise ports. But from a dining stand point, nothing compares to the myriad of choices you will find in Ybor City. There is something for every taste and price level, ranging from Hamburger Mary's, to Mema's Alaskan Tacos, to the Columbia (oldest and largest Spanish restaurant in the USA, with nightly flamenco shows!), and anything in between.


Incidentally, there are no food vendors at Tampa Union Station itself, nor any within reasonable walking distance. All the options mentioned above are within a one-mile radius of the station.


ACTIVITIES Near Union Station

In Channelside you'll find:

  • The Florida Aquarium
  • SS American Victory Museum Ship
  • Tampa Bay History Center
  • Yacht Starship Dinner Cruise
  • Channelside Bay Plaza (shopping, dining, entertainment complex & IMAX theater)

Downtown Tampa has:

  • Straz Performing Arts Center
  • St. Pete Times Forum (home of the Tampa Bay Lightning)
  • Glazer Children's Museum
  • Tampa Museum of Art
  • The Tampa Theatre (glamorously ornate 1920's Mediterranean style cinema palace)
  • H.B. Plant Museum @ University of Tampa (built 1891, Moorish revival hotel topped in silver minarets - a National Historic Landmark)

Ybor City includes:

  • The Ybor City Museum State Park
  • Ybor City Visitor Information Center
  • Segway Experience at Ybor City
  • Centro Ybor (shopping, dining, entertainment complex, movie theaters, and the Tampa Improv)
Ybor is known as the epicenter of Tampa's nightlife, so beyond restaurants, you'll find lots of pubs, nightclubs, and concert venues that come alive after dark. There are many cigar stores as well, recalling Ybor's origins as a cigar industry boom town beginning in the 1880's. Built by thousands of immigrants from Spain, Sicily, Cuba, Romania, and elsewhere, this "Latin quarter" is today a recognized National Historic Landmark District. Ybor also hosts major annual events such as Guavaween, and the Sant' Yago Knight Parade.





Of course, there are some popular attractions that are located away from downtown, such as:

  • Busch Gardens
  • Lowry Park Zoo (named one of the best zoos for children in the country)
  • Adventure Island
  • MOSI (Museum of Science & Industry)
  • Raymond James Stadium
  • Florida State Fairgrounds
  • Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

The zoo is about 10 - 15 minutes away from Tampa Union Station by car, while Busch Gardens, Adventure Island, and MOSI are about 20 - 25 minutes away. Cab fares for these attractions should be fairly reasonable. The other destinations are farther away, so depending on your plans, you may wish to get a rental car. I would not generally recommend trying to reach those places by HART public bus, especially during weekends, as service is much less frequent.


How far is tampa Amtrak station from Raymond James stadium .

MARC Rider

Apr 5, 2011
Baltimore. MD
The Hamtpton Inn in Ybor City will shuttle you to Union Station. They might pick you up, too, but the two times I visited, I just took a cab. I think it was less than $10.


Train Attendant
Jan 13, 2018
I landed in Tampa on a broken cruise ship, and I was shocked at the taxi price to get to Orlando. I booked a thru bus return for a few bucks and dumped the ticket back.


Service Attendant
Jan 23, 2020
The Hamtpton Inn in Ybor City will shuttle you to Union Station. They might pick you up, too, but the two times I visited, I just took a cab. I think it was less than $10.
To maybe breathe some life into this thread, there is now a new Hampton Inn within walking distance of the station (like three or four blocks, depending on how you count them), at Meridian & E. Kennedy:

Hampton Inn Downtown / Channel District

Also a Publix is now even closer, at Twiggs & Meridian, kind of between the Hampton Inn and the station. Great place to stock up!


Service Attendant
Jan 23, 2020
thanks for the info, storing tips for the cruise season next fall
YW. The new hotel and Union Station are within walking distance of the cruise ship terminals too (at least T6, the northernmost one; T2, the southernmost one, might be a bit of a hike with a lot of luggage but the hotel shuttle should be able to take you).

Hopefully there will still be a cruise ship industry. :(