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A Nice Place to Stay
Tampa is a big tourist destination, but it is also a college city. There are all different things to take into consideration when booking. Some may want a suite type of room, free breakfast, a gym, or a Starbucks in the lobby. Some families look for pet-friendly hotels (because what college kids doesn’t want a visit from their pet?), hotels where they can earn points or even hotels on the beach. That being said, you need to know that Busch Gardens is just 2 miles south of campus, so many hotels that advertise for their close proximity to the park, are also close to the school.
Many of the hotels listed below offer a special USF rate. If you choose one of these hotels, state that you are visiting the University of South Florida. Some offer free shuttle service to the campus.
For those traveling with pets, the hotels that are pet-friendly include La Quinta Inn Busch Gardens, La Quinta Inn & Suites USF Busch Gardens, Hyatt Place Busch Gardens, Holiday Inn Express USF- Busch Gardens, Embassy Suites by Hilton USF, Holiday Inn & Suites Busch Gardens, Home2 Suites by Hilton USF, Quality Inn & Conference Center, Extended Stay America, TownePlace Suites by Marriott, Residence Inn by Marriott Tampa North and Wingate by Wyndham at USF. Be sure, when making reservations, you tell them you are traveling with a pet. Some have fees.
Among the many options of places to stay, the most convenient to campus is probably the Embassy Suites located at 3705 Spectrum Boulevard (813-977-7066). It’s directly on campus and is a Hilton property. As a Hilton Honors member, I love this place. And who doesn’t like Embassy Suites full breakfast, and complimentary appetizers and happy hour drinks? They also offer free transportation to local parks and museums. It may be on the higher price side because of its location, but well worth it. You need to book in advance because this is a popular stay for both USF families, as well as Busch Gardens and Adventure Island visitors.
Not too far from campus are two additional Hilton owned properties both of which you can earn those awesome Hilton Points.
Hampton Inn & Suites – 3333 East Busch Boulevard, Tampa, FL. 813-605-5233
Hilton Garden Inn – 13305 Tampa Oaks Blvd, Temple Terrace, FL. 813-342-5000
Home2 Suites by Hilton USF 11606 North McKinley Drive, Tampa, FL 813-750-8844
For the Marriott families, when booking online, look for special USF rates. If making reservations by phone, please ask for the USF rate.
Courtyard by Marriott
Residence Inn by Marriott – 13420 N. Telecom Parkway, Tampa, 813-972-4400
Fairfield Inn & Suites 12260 Morris Bridge Road, Temple Terrace, FL, 813-989-0007
TownePlace Suites 6800 Woodstork Dr, Tampa, FL (813) 975-977
Some of these are conveniently right off of I-75 and are a direct route from campus. Like I said before, there are lots of options, being that it is also a tourist area. You can find hotels in all price ranges from The Hyatt Place, Clarion Hotels and Conference Center,
IHG Hotels: Holiday Inn
Choice Hotels: Quality Inn, West Wing & La Quinta
La Quinta Inn & Suites (across from the USF campus). 3701 East Fowler Avenue, Tampa, FL, 813-910-7500
Quality Inn – Busch Gardens/USF (5-minute drive) 2701 East Fowler Avenue, Tampa, FL., 813-971-4710
West Wing Hotel, an Ascend Hotel – 2501 E Fowler Ave, Tampa, FL, (813) 559-8000
Wingate by Wyndham (across from USF campus), 3751 East Fowler Ave., Tampa, FFL 813-867-2878
Best Western All Suites Hotel – Busch Gardens/USF (5 minute drive), 3001 University Center Drive, Tampa, FL., 813-971-8930
Other Things to Think About
If you want to be in the heart of downtown Tampa, there are great hotel choices that offer convenience to the picturesque Bayshore Boulevard, Curtis Hixon Park, The Tampa Museum of Art, the Patel Conservatory, and the Riverwalk. If your time permits, I highly recommend going to Amelie Arena for a Lightning hockey game. The Lightning has many partnerships with USF, and you won’t be disappointed.
Let’s not forget the beaches!! The bay area has some of the most beautiful and award-winning beaches in the country. Both Clearwater Beach and St. Pete Beach is just under an hour’s drive from USF and have great hotels and restaurants. Some of our favorites are the Hilton Clearwater Resort & Spa. It has a fun atmosphere and great places to eat and shop within walking distance. Frenchies Rockaway Grill has the best grouper sandwich. It is just a couple of blocks from the hotel and very popular. Another favorite is the Wyndham Clearwater Beach Resort. It has a South Beach feel and just outside is Badfins Brew & Food. Great fresh food and amazing drinks, along with a mural you will want to take pics in front of. It’s super fun! In St. Petersburg, the Guy Harvey (yes, the t-shirt guy) Outpost, a TradeWinds Island Beach Resort is a beautiful, relaxing hotel. You’ll have to check out their 33,000-gallon tank that was built by the guys on “Tanked”. The other “jewel” of St. Pete Beach is the Don Cesar hotel. It’s “the pink hotel” with lots of history and old-world charm. You may even see a celebrity hanging out by the pool. I highly recommend you tie-in a beach trip when visiting your Bull!
USF football plays in Raymond James Stadium, which is about 13 miles from campus. I recommend staying either close to campus, downtown, or on the beach. Because it is an NFL stadium, you don’t need to worry about booking rooms early for certain games. There is always plenty of room in the stadium. The only possible issue is the number of tickets allocated for the games. Some games have a limit.
Both Busch Gardens and its water park, Adventure Island are right down the street from the school. Keep this in mind when looking to visit USF. Hotels will book faster during times such as spring break because both the school and visitors to the amusement parks share the same hotels. You can also check Expedia and Hotels.com to take advantage of comparative pricing and specials.
While visiting, make sure you check out our restaurant recommendations for breakfast/brunch and dinner.
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