An outdoor concert venue at the Florida State Fairgrounds, the 1-800-Ask-Gary Amphitheatre, originally called the Ford Amphitheatre, lies roughly eight miles northeast of downtown Tampa. Visitors looking for hotel accommodations close to the fairgrounds will find several hotels within a three-mile radius. Of these hotels, a handful -- ranging from budget to luxury in terms of both amenities and rates -- get consistently positive ratings from most authoritative travel guides.
Crowne Plaza Hotel Tampa East
Located near the intersection of Interstates 4 and 75, this sleekly contemporary hotel lies less than three miles from the amphitheater and also is convenient to Tampa’s Sabal Park Business Center. Behind its gently curved facade, guests will find 265 guest rooms and suites, all of which feature compact refrigerators, desk/work areas and wireless Internet. Recreational facilities include a fitness center, basketball and tennis courts, and an outdoor free-form pool that combines a general swimming area with a few lanes for lap-swimming. Business travelers can work on projects and proposals in the hotel’s business center. Panfilo’s Bar and Grill serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily in a casual setting.
Holiday Inn Express Tampa-Fairgrounds-Casino
This four-story, 76-unit hotel, just a short distance from the fairgrounds and amphitheater, puts guests within easy reach of most of the Tampa area’s attractions, including Busch Gardens and Adventure Island, only seven miles away. All of its rooms and suites feature microwaves, mini-refrigerators and high-speed Internet. Guests who’d like to stay active can exercise in the fitness center and swim laps in the outdoor pool. A well-equipped business center offers copying, fax and printing capabilities, as well as computers with Internet access. Although there is no on-site restaurant, the hotel serves a complimentary hot breakfast buffet each morning. Nearby eateries include Cracker Barrel, Five Guys Burgers & Fries, and Subway.
Residence Inn Tampa Sabal Park/Brandon
A smart choice for family groups and travelers planning an extended stay, this three-story, all-suites hotel is less than three miles from the amphitheater and only a short drive from center-city Tampa via Interstate 4 or the Crosstown Expressway. All of its 102 studio, one- and two-bedroom suites feature full kitchens, separate sitting and sleeping areas, and high-speed Internet. The hotel treats guests to a hot breakfast buffet each morning, and Monday through Thursday evenings it hosts a social hour with free snacks and beverages. Guests looking for hardier fare can find it at nearby restaurants, including Bob Evans, Bonefish Grill and Cheddar’s Casual Cafe.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Less than one-half mile from the state fairgrounds and the amphitheater, this casino hotel is a good fit for travelers who would like to enjoy luxury accommodations and also do a little gambling. Both Fodor’s and Frommer’s give the hotel high marks for the simple but elegant decor of its 250 guest rooms and suites, although they warn that the round-the-clock casino action may not be to everyone’s taste. Guests can relax by the hotel’s large pool while enjoying a drink from the poolside bar. If you need some help in working off the stress of everyday life, the full-service spa offers treatments that may help. In addition to the Hard Rock Cafe (undergoing renovations as of November 2010), on-site dining options include the Council Oak for fine dining, the Green Room for more casual fare, Rock n’ Raw for sushi and the Food Court, with an assortment of fast-food kiosks.
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