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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.
Among the many options of places to stay, the most convenient to campus is probably the Embassy Suites on Spectrum Blvd. 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 also a Hampton Inn & Suites and a Hilton Garden Inn; both of which you can earn those awesome Hilton points. For the Marriott families, there is a Courtyard by Marriott, Residence Inn by Marriott, and Fairfield Inn & Suites, and TownePlace Suites. 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, Holiday Inn Express, La Quinta Inn, and Wingate by Wyndham.
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.
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