It’s never too early to plan a summer vacation, whether you’re in the mood for family fun in the sun or a getaway with pals. It’s also never too early to book your trip because the Cigar City is always a fabulous summer destination.

Sure, Northerners usually head south to Florida during the winter months, but there’s no reason your trip needs to wait until the snow starts to fall. In fact, Tampa’s summer season is underratedly awesome, with a slew of things to do and fewer tourists doing them. Plus, your summertime flight surely won’t be cancelled due to a blizzard! Check out these top seven reasons to visit Tampa during the summer and don’t forget to pack the sunscreen!

Celebrate Summer at These Fabulous Festivals & Events

There’s never a dull moment during Tampa’s summer months thanks to a jam-packed schedule of festivals and special events. The Cigar City’s calendar contains everything from the Margarita and Music Fest over Memorial Day Weekend to Tampa Bay Comic Con in early August.

7 Amazing Reasons to Visit Tampa in Summer

A few more celebrations not to be missed include the 4th of July fireworks at Channelside, the weekly Summer Nights at Busch Gardens, the Summer of Rum Festival in August, and the stereotypically Floridian “Shark Con” happening mid-July. Shark fans flock to this annual event to hear from their favorite Shark Week scientists, meet actors from movies like Jaws, and shop for shark-related souvenirs.

Catch Tampa Bay Sports in Action

As the temperatures heat up, so does Tampa’s sports scene. Although the iconic hometown hockey team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, takes a breather during the summer, you’ll have no trouble scoring tickets to some sort of athletic entertainment between June and August. Enjoy a quintessential summer afternoon at the ballpark as the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team runs the bases. A Rays game is also a nice excuse to explore the greater Tampa Bay area, since Tropicana Field in the heart of St. Petersburg.

7 Amazing Reasons to Visit Tampa in Summer

In addition to the Rays, the Cigar City is home to the Tampa Tarpons, a Minor League Baseball team that used to be known as the Tampa Yankees until 2017. Catch them hitting it out of George M. Steinbrenner Field, which is just a 15-minute drive from Downtown Tampa. Or, cheer on the Tampa Bay Rowdies as they show off their fancy footwork on the soccer field.

Sail Away on a Cruise

Who says a cruise vacation needs to wait until the winter? The Caribbean is just as beautiful in the summer months, and the islands are considerably less crowded without the wintertime influx of snowbirds.

7 Amazing Reasons to Visit Tampa in Summer

Cruises depart from Port Tampa Bay at least once per week during summertime, and the cruise port is conveniently located in the heart of Downtown Tampa. Need a place to stay before or after your adventure at sea? With plenty of vacation rentals nearby, you can enjoy all the comforts of home pre- and post-cruise.

Get Out on the Water

If you’re visiting Florida, you’ve got to spend some time in, on, or around the water. Life in the Sunshine State seems to revolve around beaches, rivers, and lakes, and the summer is the perfect time to get outside. If swimming is your thing, the beach at Picnic Island Park is easily accessible from Downtown, or head a few miles further to the picturesque Apollo Beach Preserve.

7 Amazing Reasons to Visit Tampa in Summer

How about sailing your own boat? Just steps from Downtown, rent a kayak or a paddleboard from Tampa Bay SUP or try out an aquatic bicycle at Tampa Bay Water Bike Company. Or, admire marine life from above at the Manatee Viewing Center, where manatees can be spotted from the 50-foot-tall observation tower.

Enjoy Awesome Air-Conditioned Indoor Activities

Tampa’s sunshine and humidity feels great, but sometimes you want to beat the heat. Don’t miss the Big Guava’s wide range of indoor activities, from museums to malls. Learning is fun at Tampa Bay’s landmark museums, like The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg and the Glazer Children’s Museum in Downtown Tampa. Both kids and adults will enjoy learning about local and exotic marine life at The Florida Aquarium – and you just can’t beat admiring sea creatures without the chance of seasickness!

7 Amazing Reasons to Visit Tampa in Summer

Searching for souvenirs? Tampa Bay retail highlights include International Plaza Mall and Westfield Brandon. Alternatively, escape the high temps by watching a concert at Downtown Tampa’s Amalie Arena or David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts.

Quench Your Thirst with a Cold Drink

Not much tastes better than a cold beer on a hot day, and during summer in the Big Guava, you’ll find plenty of both – cold beer and hot days. In every neighborhood, local breweries serve up ice-cold pints (and non-alcoholic choices!) and offer vibrant places to hang out.

7 Amazing Reasons to Visit Tampa in Summer

Some of the city’s most notable breweries include Cigar City Brewing Company, also known for engaging brewery tours, Coppertail Brewing Co., famous for its historic taproom, and Tampa Bay Brewing Company in the middle of the funky Ybor City district. Beer lovers will also enjoy Ybor’s Zydeco Brew Werks and St. Petersburg’s 3 Daughters Brewing, which is also known for their tasty hard seltzers. Just don’t get a brain freeze!

Book Cool & Comfortable Tampa Vacation Rentals

If your summertime Tampa trip involves travel companions – or if you’re flying solo – you’ll probably need a place to stay. Thankfully, you can find Tampa vacation rentals that are just as refreshing as a cool drink of water on a hot day.

7 Amazing Reasons to Visit Tampa in Summer

Unless you prefer to cram into a dated, overpriced hotel room, let us recommend Stay Alfred on Franklin Street, which gives you the privacy and space of your very own apartment. Exploring the Big Guava is easier than ever with this building’s prime downtown location, and you’ll appreciate having conveniences like a full kitchen, air conditioning, and in-unit laundry.

Treat yourself to a summer vacation for the books and revel in the feeling of having your own place in the Cigar City.