Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in University, FL

  • Published 2023/08/06

University is an unincorporated census-designated community located in Hillsborough County in South Florida.

This fairly small area is located within Tampa’s city limits on the east and west, allowing tourists to explore the surrounding area.

Also referred to as “Suitcase City,” University is home to a number of tourist attractions for you to see and explore.

This district is also a short drive away from the popular University of South Florida, where you can find more activities to indulge in, such as the popular Art Museum and Botanical Gardens.

Here are the best things to do in University, Florida.

**About this article: This article was written by a local contributor based on their own experiences and those around them. While this list showcases some remarkable places, it’s important to note that this is an opinion piece, and there are many other exceptional places to visit that are not featured here.
Our aim is not just to guide you to popular places but to encourage you to venture out and experience the city for yourself.

Shop ‘til you Drop at University Mall

Aerial view of University Mall

Felix Mizioznikov / Shutterstock.com

University Mall has been a staple in the community for over 4 decades since it opened in 1974.

This shopping center provides guests with a large variety of stores and shops, ranging from local retailers to well-known brands.

University Mall is also known for hosting different events throughout the year, such as fundraisers, community events, concerts, and more.

This mall has undergone several changes and renovations in the past years as it continues to expand its space to cater to more people.

You can even grab a number of items at a discount since they regularly go on sale!

Home to more than 100 stores, you’re sure to have an enjoyable time with family and friends where you can shop ‘til you drop.

Unwind at Brass Mug

Brass Mug is a popular area to wind back and relax, located only a mile away from the heart of University.

Despite its small, intimate setting, this venue is known for its music scene, where local bands and artists take the stage.

You can also grab a refreshing drink at the bar or a bite to eat while enjoying the live entertainment.

Brass Mug has been a part of the community for over 40 years and is known as Tampa Bay’s Original Music Core.

This bar is especially popular with music lovers and fans, as the featured bands prepare a variety of genres for their audience.

Whether you’re stopping by for entertainment or simply need a place to relax, Brass Mug has the setting you’re looking for!

Visit Smash Room of Tampa

On the western end of University, you can find Smash Room of Tampa, a well-known activity center that lets you release all that built-up stress and have fun!

Smash Room of Tampa provides guests with a unique, unforgettable experience where you get to smash a variety of items in a safe and controlled environment.

To ensure the safety of all their guests, you’ll be equipped with the necessary safety equipment and gear.

Since its doors opened in 2018, this rage room has been attracting guests from all over city.

They even allow you to pick a weapon of your choice – whether it’s a crowbar, bat, or sledgehammer.

You can also come on your own, or bring a large group of friends to smash items with.

Make sure to book a reservation before dropping by at Smash Room of Tampa!

Appreciate the Beauty of Nature at USF Botanical Gardens

Flora at USF Botanical Gardens

Ssriram mt, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

USF Botanical Gardens allows visitors to temporarily escape the hustle and bustle of the city as they enter a world completely surrounded by flora, fauna, and nature.

This botanical garden spans over 16 acres within the University of South Florida and is part of its ECORE (Environmental and Conservation Outreach, Research, and Education) System.

Since its establishment in 1969, this garden welcomes thousands of visitors annually.

Dedicated to fostering a deeper appreciation of our natural and cultural botanical heritage, this garden is home to over 3,000 different species of plants and habitats.

A fruit at USF Botanical Gardens

[email protected] Thaumaturgist, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can also find different buildings within the botanical garden such as the Butterfly Garden, Rose Garden, and Herb Garden.

USF Botanical Gardens also hosts seasonal events that include workshops, lectures, and guided tours for its visitors.

There’s much to see and explore at USF Botanical Gardens so make sure to add this tourist destination to your itinerary!

Plants at USF Botanical Gardens

Ssriram mt, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Grab a Cup of Coffee at Felicitous (on 42nd)

If you love looking for cute, aesthetic cafés or simply enjoy trying out different kinds of coffee, you may want to check out Felicitous (on 42nd)!

Located 7 minutes away from the district center, this locally owned coffee shop is home to art, music, coffee, and tea.

Their extensive menu gives you a wide variety of treats to choose from where you’re sure to find something you enjoy!

Its warm and cozy atmosphere also sets the tone for a relaxing afternoon with friends and family.

Felicitous (on 42nd) has been the go-to place for coffee and tea and has been a part of the community for over 11 years.

Whether you need that caffeine boost or just want to relax with friends, make sure to add Felicitous (on 42nd) to your itinerary.

Dine at El Señor de los Tacos

Craving authentic Mexican food?

Then head on over to El Señor de los Tacos!

Located within the heart of University, this Mexican restaurant is known for its mouth-watering, delicious, and freshly-made tacos!

Its laid-back and cozy atmosphere allows you to enjoy authentic Mexican food with your family, whether its burritos, nachos, or sopes.

This restaurant also boasts their farm-to-plate method, ensuring high-quality food for you!

El Señor de los Tacos hosts happy hour where you can grab traditional Mexican drinks and chat with friends.

Stop by this Mexican restaurant and see why they’re a crowd favorite!

Indulge in Activities at Copeland Park

Copeland Park is a community favorite park where visitors can enjoy the outdoors and spend time with their loved ones.

Found on the southern end of University, this park spans over 132 acres in size, allowing for a number of activities to indulge in!

This park also boasts an extensive system of nature trails that you can explore and traverse.

You can even check out the freshwater pond in the park or head over to their community center known as Copeland Center which features a gymnasium and computer lab.

The kids can run around and enjoy the playground or enjoy the warm sun.

Copeland Park also hosts different events where the community members gather for the festivals and celebrations.

Admire the Art at USF Contemporary Art Museum

Art pieces in USF Contemporary Art Museum

Mardcarr, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

USF Contemporary Art Museum is known as the leading artistic institution located within the University of South Florida that is home to over 500 artworks.

From paintings, photographs, sculptures, and everything in between, this art museum attracts artists and art enthusiasts from all over the world.

This institution also regularly hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including lectures by well-known artists, workshops for aspiring artists, and more.

You can find a vast collection of artworks dedicated to the contemporary art of South Florida, as well as casting a light on the existence of social issues and the importance of cultural diversity and identity.

This museum also showcases different exhibitions by well-known artists in the community or even the up-and-coming talents.

If you’re interested in learning about the art scene of South Florida, USF Contemporary Art Museum is a must-visit!

Try Salvadoran Cuisine at Pulgarcito 503 Restaurant

If you’re interested in trying Salvadoran cuisine while in University, you may want to pay Pulgarcito 503 Restaurant a visit!

Only 3 minutes away from the heart of the district, Pulgarcito 503 Restaurant boasts authentic Salvadoran cuisine and serves traditional and favorite dishes such as tamales, yucca fries, tostadas, and more.

This restaurant is best known for its delicious pupusas, a handmade tortilla stuffed with various fillings, and is also known as El Salvador’s national dish.

With its warm and relaxing ambiance, this eatery has made its way to the hearts of residents and tourists alike.

If you’re looking to sample different flavors and taste diverse culinary traditions, Pulgarcito 503 Restaurant has just what you need!

Sing Your Heart Out at Tampa Karaoke VIP

Tampa Karaoke VIP, also known as Tk Lounge, is the go-to bar for karaoke, entertainment, and all things fun!

Sitting on the west side of University, this lounge is also well-known for its party scene, live music, and VIP karaoke rooms.

You can bring your friends along to sing your favorite songs with while enjoying the intimate setting.

This bar also features a full bar where you can order a variety of drinks and snacks while spending quality time with the people you love the most.

Make lasting memories at Tampa Karaoke VIP!

Other Things to Do Nearby

Ride a Rollercoaster at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

People on a rollercoaster at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

VIAVAL TOURS / Shutterstock.com

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of South Florida!

Located in Tampa Bay, just south of University, this theme park is known for its vast collection of rollercoaster rides that appeal to the daredevils and adventurers.

From a fall from over 200 feet at a 90-degree angle or even highspeed coasters that reach up to 60 miles per hour, this theme park can give you the thrill you’ve been looking for!

You can also find animal-themed exhibits and attractions where you get the chance to be up close and personal with lions, giraffes, and zebras!

Thrilling ride at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

double2A / Shutterstock.com

This park is also a hit with the kids with their animal shows!

You may even catch their annual events, including concerts, celebrations, and award-winning performances!

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is jam-packed with fun and adventure so try and drop by while you’re on vacation!

Drop tower at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Dolores M. Harvey / Shutterstock.com

Enjoy Delicious Beer at Yuengling Brewing Company

Yuengling Brewing Company is a historically significant brewery in the entire country, having been one of the oldest breweries since it was founded in 1829.

This brewery is situated just 6 minutes from University, within the heart of Tampa Bay.

With a history that stretches back as far as 100 years ago, Yuengling Brewing Company boasts its brewing process and traditions that make its beer stand out from the rest.

Their extensive menu allows you to choose from classic beers, and even seasonal and limited edition flavors and brews.

Also family-owned, this generational brewery has been successfully operating by the same family since its establishment.

Whether you’re a beer enthusiast or just interested in the rich history of this brewery, Yuengling Brewing Company will welcome you with open arms!

Beat the Heat at Adventure Island

Colorful waterslides at Adventure Island

Khairil Azhar Junos / Shutterstock.com

Trying to beat the Florida heat?

Cool off at Adventure Island!

This water park features a number of water activities that can keep you cool and fresh especially during the summer!

With some of the tallest water slides that stand up to 70 feet tall, various lazy pools, and even kid-friendly attractions, there’s fun in store for everyone regardless of age!

Waterslide ride at Adventure Island

Khairil Azhar Junos / Shutterstock.com

Kids are sure to enjoy their interactive water play areas that include splash pads, lagoons, and surfing!

In case you get hungry, you can head over to their snack bar or the full-service restaurant to regain more energy for the day ahead.

Bring the whole family to Adventure Island for a day of fun!

Swimming pool at Adventure Island

Khairil Azhar Junos / Shutterstock.com

Explore Tampa with Brew Bus Brewing

Brew Bus Brewing, also known as The Brew Bus is known for its tours around Tampa Bay with a twist – you get to do it while drinking delicious beer!

Featuring both private and public bus tours, this company only accepts guests aged 21 and above.

Since its establishment in 2012, Brew Bus Brewing has been crafting its own beer while in transit on the bus itself!

This tour company will take you around the best and well-known craft breweries around Tampa Bay while you learn all about its history.

Make sure to book a bus tour with Brew Bus Brewing while visiting!

Learn a Thing or Two at the Museum of Science and Industry

Exterior of the Museum of Science and Industry

Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Museum of Science and Industry, also known as MOSI, features exhibits and attractions dedicated to the STEM field.

If you’re intrigued by outer space and astronomy, this museum is known for the Saunders Planetarium where you can gaze at the moon, stars, and planets through their state-of-the-art dome projection system.

You can also bring the kids to their interactive play area where they can learn about a wide variety of topics, ranging from mathematics to engineering, and more.

The Museum of Science and Industry is dedicated to fostering a deeper understanding and love for STEM-related fields to inspire learning and growth.

Bring the whole family to the Museum of Science and Industry for a day of educational fun and excitement!

Final Thoughts

Despite being a small community, University welcomes its guests from all over the world with all the things you can see and do.

Its location within Tampa’s city limits also allows you to explore further, maximizing your vacation.

Fill your itinerary with all the best things to do in this lovely community.

Book your next vacation to University, Florida!

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