Tampa is a big city with a small-town feel. “It’s the secret jewel of Florida,” says Greater Tamp CVB President Santiago Corrada.
Sports include the University of South Florida teams, pro baseball Devil Rays, football Buccaneers and hockey Tampa Bay Lightning. “You can get anywhere local quickly: sports venues, music, theater, boating and beaches Santiago Corrada – and do it all any time of year,” says Heather Harris, owner of small business Print Zone.
Festivals and Events
Gasparilla, Tampa’s yearly pirate festival, provides a carnival atmosphere enjoyed by tens of thousands each January/February. The historic Ybor City neighborhood, one of the American Planning Association’s “10 Great Streets in America,” hosts a February Fiesta and the Tampa Cigar Heritage Festival in November. Residents rave about the local men’s roller derby team.
Attractions and Landmarks
Amusement parks Busch Gardens and Adventure Island can’t be missed, but also take in the outstanding Florida Aquarium and the Lowry Park Zoo (voted most family-friendly by Child magazine). The restaurant scene thrives, including legendary Burns Steakhouse and the Spanish cuisine at 100-year-old Columbia Restaurant. The Epicurean Hotel (open fall 2013) promotes things culinary. The historic Hyde Park district offers shopping, nightclubs and restaurants.
The exceptional Tampa Museum of Art houses a remarkable antiquities collection, plus contemporary and traditional art. The Museum of Science and Industry, with its IMAX theater, draws family crowds. The Ybor City Museum State Park explores the history of Cuban culture in the area, including everything from baking to cigar making.
Nightlife and Performing Arts
The Straz Center for the Performing Arts and a variety of local theater companies offer up regular live performances, both local and touring companies. Nightlife and clubs flourish in Ybor City, Channelside and SoHo districts. The city is home to an abundance of music venues, whether your tastes run to the Florida Symphony or rock and heavy metal.