The University of South Florida (USF) has long been a significant force in the Tampa community. Whether you're a student or just love that college-town feel, the USF area is a thriving, university-centered neighborhood with unique opportunities for education, employment and engaging with others who share the same interests.
THINGS TO DO IN THE USF AREA
One of the best perks of living in the USF area is having access to locations, facilities, and venues built around enriching the student experience. Destinations in the area cater to diverse interests and tastes, giving residents an abundance of things to do and see.
(Clockwise from top left) Lettuce Lake Park, Busch Gardens, MD Oriental Market, Marshall Student Center, Bay Area Renaissance Festival, Florida State Fair
ACTIVITIES FOR OUTDOOR ENTHUSIASTS
This area offers an impressive selection of recreational parks for all ages and activity levels. Both USF Riverfront Park and Lettuce Lake Park offer canoeing and kayaking along the scenic Hillsborough River. While Riverfront Park is open to current USF students with an ID, Lettuce Lake Park and other parks, like Trout Creek Park and Copeland Park, are accessible to anyone. All of these parks are perfect for grilling, picnicking, trail walking, and wildlife photography.
THEME PARK CENTRAL
Within a few miles from USF, residents can visit two of the most popular theme parks in Florida – Busch Gardens and Adventure Island. For rollercoaster fans, Busch Gardens is the dream spot for thrilling, high-speed rides with themed events throughout the year, like Christmas Town and Howl-O-Scream. From relaxing wading pools to slippery slides, Adventure Island is a huge watery playground that is the perfect destination for cooling off during hot Florida summers.
Looking to furnish your new place on a budget? Big Top Flea Market near USF is an enormous, indoor facility with vendors offering new and used items that will help you quickly personalize your apartment. Fill up your bookshelves with exciting, rare finds at Mojo Books & Records, then head to MD Oriental Market to stock your kitchen with delicious imported snacks and ingredients.
Whether you're a student, faculty or just enjoy what a campus has to offer, the University of South Florida campus is a great spot for entertainment, relaxing and getting work done. Stroll by ponds full of duck families and turtles during your lunch break, or head to the Marshall Student Center to grab a hot meal and a cup of coffee. In the same building, you can pick up convenient items at the pharmacy or head upstairs to the SkyPad Lounge for video and board game fun. These are great perks for students who spend several hours on campus during the week. Whether you want to study in USF's massive library or just relax between classes, the USF campus setup is ideal for busy students.
EVENTS THROUGHOUT THE YEAR
A fantastic feature of the USF community is the multitude of gatherings, celebrations, and fairs organized year-round. In the spring, thousands of people attend the themed weekends at the Bay Area Renaissance Festival, a festival celebrating all things medieval and magical. If you'd rather hop on a Ferris wheel or win a huge stuffed animal, the Florida State Fair is your best bet for a traditional fair atmosphere. The state fair usually runs for a few weekends in the beginning of February.
DINING AND NIGHTLIFE AROUND USF
With a busy population that's always on the go, the USF area is booming with dining options for everyone. This includes popular local spots, your favorite chain restaurants, and late night options with entertainment included.
When you need a healthy, satisfying option between classes or during your break, SoFresh near USF is one of the most popular stops for nutrient-dense meals with flavor-rich ingredients. When you have time to sit down and enjoy the atmosphere, visit well-known Mr. Dunderbak's Biergarten and Brewery for German-style eats with an extensive selection of international beers, deli meats and cheese. Café don Jose is very popular with big groups and celebrations, offering delicious Latin fare in spacious, decorated rooms.
Not in the mood to try something new and just want to enjoy the comfort of favorite chain restaurant? The USF area offers favorites like Boston Market, Panera Bread, Longhorn Steakhouse, Olive Garden, and much more.
AFTER WORK AND AFTER HOURS
Long work hours and nighttime cravings can be easily satisfied in the USF area. If you enjoy entertainment while dining, Felicitous Coffee and Tea is a quaint community coffee house that serves homemade sandwiches and pastries during performances from musicians, writers, and poets. Acropolis Greek Taverna is also open late and features belly dancing performances on certain nights.
SCHOOLS SERVING THE USF AREA
Below are a few schools serving apartments near USF.
Children in grades K-5 are zoned for Pizzo Elementary School.
Middle school students are zoned for Benito Middle School.
High school students are zoned for Wharton High School.
Some of the main private schools include American Youth Academy, Aberdeen Preparatory School and Stepping Stones School.
Please note that public school zoning is subject to change from time to time. Please visit the Hillsborough County School District Website to confirm school zones before making a housing decision.
SHOPPING IN THE USF AREA
Just across the street from USF, University Mall is a one-stop shop for department stores, boutiques and convenient services. Department stores include Sears, Macy's, and Burlington Coat Factory, as well as a Dillard's Clearance Center where you can find some amazing deals on popular brands. Whether you need an outfit altered or shoe repaired, University Mall has a few long-standing service stores to meet these needs.
University Plaza nearby has a Target, Ross, Payless and Sally Beauty Supply, and Wal-Mart Supercenter is located directly across the street. This area also has several pawn shops and thrift stores that may have just the thing you're looking for with affordable pricing!
BUSINESS COMMUNITY IN THE USF AREA
Some of the most prominent employers in the area include USF itself, which offers positions for a wide range of skill levels and interests, as well as Moffitt Cancer Center, which is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in Florida. Both of these employers shape the USF community and employee thousands of people in the area. Other healthcare systems include Florida Hospital and James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital.
Other prominent businesses include banks and financial services such as Wells Fargo, Fifth Third Bank, JP Morgan Chase, and WellCare.
TRAFFIC AND DRIVING NEAR USF
USF is located near two major highways—I-75 and I-275—which directly connect commuters to neighboring cities like St. Pete, Clearwater, Dunedin and Brandon. While having a straight shot to these destinations is very convenient, traffic can be congested during peak hours like weekday mornings and rush hour after work. Luckily, there are several alternatives routes available, like SR-60 to Clearwater and the Selmon Expressway to Brandon. Residents who regularly check traffic before they embark will get a head's up to any current issues and take back roads or other highways instead. Public transportation includes the Hart buses, as well as the Bullrunner that runs all over campus for anyone with a valid USF card.
(Photo credits, clockwise from top left) Lettuce Lake Park, Busch Gardens, MD Oriental Market, Marshall Student Center, Bay Area Renaissance Festival, Florida State FairThese are the opinions of writers and not the opinions of RentTampaBay.com or any of our advertising partners.