We traveled to the Tampa/Siesta Key area 2/24 to 3/2, spending 2 nights in Tampa. We're a family of 4, 2 parents, 2 kids (11 and 8).
We flew in on Southwest, which was a pleasure as always, but then they lost my suitcase. But actually, they didn't. We later found out that someone had taken my suitcase at baggage claim by accident. She returned it the next morning, but it was a bit of a bummer not to have my stuff the first night.
We stayed at the Homewood Suites in Tampa-Brandon. We love the Homewood Suites chain because it has a pretty good free breakfast and decent suites at an affordable price. This Homewood Suites was located in a big commercial area, lots of malls/shopping/restaurants. Not very picturesque. But it was good when we thought we had to replenish my wardrobe. :)
My complaint about this Homewood Suites is that they didn't have Wifi in the rooms, just in the public areas.
We spent the first day (after picking up my suitcase at the airport) at the Lowry Park Zoo, which is a terrific zoo. We went to see the koala because my daughter loves koalas. My favorite part was the giraffe feeding. It was pricy ($3 a leaf of lettuce), but the look on my son's face when he was face to face with the giraffe, feeding it, was priceless.
Dinner was a Denny's near the hotel. My kids are not very adventurous. :)
The next day, we decided to check out Ybor City. We ended up running into some sort of street festival with loads of booths and vendors and food and music. It was a bit hot, but we walked around and got some food and ate it in the garden of the Ybor City HIstorical Museum, which we also visited. We also went to the Italian Club, which was pretty neat. I hate to say this, but I think I would have enjoyed Ybor City even more without the festival. We could have wandered around a little more without distractions. But we still liked it a lot.
We left Ybor City and headed to Siesta Key, but not before stopping by the Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach. This is a very nice center right next to the power plant that produces the warmer water that draws the manatees. It's in a weird spot, but that's where the manatees go. :)
I liked Tampa, though Florida in general weirds me out with all its spanking new retail space. :)