Avast, ye quarterbacks!
The Tampa area offers more access to great football than perhaps any other city on our list. Besides the NFL's Buccaneers, there's the University of South Florida, a growing Big East program. The Florida Gators are just two hours away in Gainesville. The NFL's Dolphins, Florida State and the Miami Hurricanes are each four hours away. And the USA Today No. 4 high school team, Manatee, is 50 minutes away in Bradenton.
If you go ...
White sand beaches such as those at Clearwater and Treasure Island are only a half-hour away from Tampa's own sparkling bay. Bike along Bayshore Boulevard. Explore Ybor City’s Cuban influence and popular nightlife, including pirate-themed Gaspar’s Grotto and the Improv’s comedy shows. Tackle a 48-ouncer at Shula’s Steakhouse (owned by Hall of Fame Dolphins coach Don), or the varieties of crab at Cooter’s. Catch your own dinner sportfishing, or just watch the manatees and dolphins with Captain Gus’ Crabby Adventures.
If golf is your game, try the economical Babe Zaharias Municipal Golf Course, once owned by the famed athlete and founding member of the LPGA. Or improve your swing at the Arnold Palmer Golf Academy World Headquarters.
For family fun, the Florida Aquarium hosts penguins and 20,000 other aquatic animals and plants. Africa-themed Busch Gardens is not just an amusement park but also one of the nation’s largest zoos. The much-anticipated Glazer Children’s Museum just opened. And Disney World is only an hour and a half away in Orlando.