Tampa Bay & Company 401 E. Jackson Street, Suite 2100 Tampa, FL 33602
(813) 223-1111 (813) 229-6616 http://www.visittampabay.com TAMPA, FL –Nature to nightlife. Theme parks to theaters. Waterways to wildlife. Tampa Bay is a vibrant waterfront region with so many stories to tell. The day may be spent exploring on a colorful ecotour or teeing up at one of the many legendary golf courses. After dinner at a waterside café, visitors have endless choices of where to rest their heads with a variety of exceptional hotels and resorts. The days ahead may include the thrill of roller coasters or the intrigue of museum exhibits. With parades to performing arts and shopping to sunsets, Tampa Bay has it all.
History: From Native Americans and Seminole War soldiers, to Cuban cigar-rollers and today’s multi-national population, Tampa’s cultural makeup has benefited from rich diversity. Its stage fare spans a rainbow of complexities from high-brow opera to festive street fairs. It began in 1885 when Don Vicente Martinez Ybor (pronounced EE-bore) – a Cuban cigar factory owner – fled the political and labor unrest of Cuba to establish his cigar empire in Tampa. Ybor’s factories prospered and attracted Cuban, Spanish, Italian, German and Jewish immigrants to work in the factories or open their own businesses. People referred to it as “Mr. Ybor’s City,” which over the years evolved into the name Ybor City. At the industry’s peak, the district’s 200 cigar factories employed 12,000 cigar workers and produced an estimated 700 million cigars annually. Since Ybor City was declared a National Historic Landmark District in 1991, the once forgotten “cigar city” has evolved into a lively Latin Quarter attracting visitors with its unique history, distinctive architecture and festive atmosphere. The wrought-iron balconies, brick streets, globe street lamps, boutiques, coffeehouses and nightclubs are evidence that cultural heritage is as important now as it was at the turn of the century. The now trendy district even has its own namesake beer “Ybor Gold.”
Attractions: No matter if you’ve only a few hours to find adventure or an entire day to play, there’s plenty of wild-to-mild experiences awaiting you in Tampa Bay. Got a need for speed? Brave one of Busch Gardens’ adrenaline-inducing roller coasters. Want to see creatures that live beneath the sea but not get wet? The Florida Aquarium is home to more than 20,000 aquatic plants and marine animals from around the world. Interested in exotic or endangered animals? Watch them in natural habitats at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, Busch Gardens and Big Cat Rescue. Extinct species on your mind? Explore Dinosaur World, an outdoor museum with over 150 life size dinosaurs. Interested in science and technology? Be sure to visit the largest science center in the southeastern United States, MOSI - Museum of Science & Industry. LEGOLAND® Florida opened in fall 2011 and offers 50 rides, shows and attractions, LEGOLAND is geared towards family fun!
Eco-Tourism: If you want to canoe, walk among large and endangered cats or visit manatees in their natural habitat – you must be thinking Tampa Bay. Tampa offers a large selection of outdoor activities for visitors seeking unique “Eco-tourism” opportunities.
Along downtown Tampa’s waterfront lies one of the area’s newest treasures – the Tampa Riverwalk. Lined with hotels, meeting venues, restaurants, green spaces, museums, parks and even a water taxi, the Riverwalk gives endless options to explore and enjoy the best that downtown Tampa can offer. Let’s not forget the best beaches in Florida, bike riding down beautiful Bayshore Boulevard, fishing in Tampa Bay or the animal adventures at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo.
Dining: Tampa Bay has a restaurant scene as diverse as the cultures that settled here, and that’s why it’s no surprise that visitors list dining out among their favorite activities while in Tampa Bay. With Florida specialties like blackened grouper and Key Lime Pie, the taste buds will awaken when dining at Tampa’s memorable restaurants. Ybor City is known for many things but a restaurant named the Columbia just might be its most famous establishment – The Columbia Restaurant is the oldest restaurant in the State of Florida and is the largest Spanish/Cuban restaurant in the world (opened in 1905 and remains family owned and operated).
Arts & Culture: Arts and Culture are a vital component of Tampa Bay's vibrant community which is rapidly becoming the cultural core of Florida’s Gulf Coast. Theaters, orchestras, museums, galleries and much more provide enriching performances, inspirational education programs, and world class exhibits. Arts and history is a unique and powerful tool to showcase the heritage and diverse culture of Tampa Bay.
The David A. Straz, Jr Center for the Performing Arts is one of the largest performing arts centers in North America. The center offers the Tampa Bay area grand operas, plays, concerts and leading Broadway productions.
The newly opened Tampa Museum of Art is located next to downtown Tampa’s Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. The spectacular 66,000-square-foot building designed by famed architect Stanley Saitowitz showcases a growing collection of contemporary and classical art, sculpture and world class traveling exhibits.
The Glazer Children’s Museum is “a place where it’s ok to kid around.” It is designed for children from birth to age 10. Their unique interactive exhibits create a whole new phrase “Interactivites.” Your kids can become airline pilots, ship captains, chefs or crane operators (just to name a few). There are more than 170 activities located in 12 themed areas. The Glazer Children’s museum has a world of fun waiting for your family.
Explore exhibits about the places and people who shaped the Tampa Bay area at the Tampa Bay History Center. During your journey you will stroll through a 1920s cigar store, row up the Hillsborough River, ride along with a cattle drive and learn about early explorations of Florida. This waterfront History Center boasts a stunning atrium along with interactive galleries, exhibits and theaters.
The new Salvador Dali Museum opened January 1, 2011. The museum will house more of Salvador Dalí’s famed masterworks than any other museum in the world outside of Spain.
Sports/Spring Training: Shoot some hoops or have a ball watching or participating in golf tournaments, tennis matches, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Bay Rays, or New York Yankees spring training.
Four of the 18 major league teams that currently train in Florida - the New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, the Philadelphia Phillies and the Toronto Blue Jays – practice in the Tampa Bay area. Four additional teams – the Detroit Tigers (Lakeland), the Pittsburgh Pirates (Bradenton), the Cincinnati Reds (Sarasota) and Cleveland Indians (Winter Haven) – play within a short drive. Not to mention Tampa Bay offers a variety of local attractions, beaches, nightlife, dining, art museums, history and fun when the stadiums have cleared. Writing a Spring Training piece with Tampa as the spotlight makes sense with all the baseball opportunities that abound.
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Calendar of Events: In Tampa, FL, any excuse to celebrate will do and locals break out the fireworks, parade floats, food vendors and live entertainment nearly every month for the area's fantastic line-up of festivals and events.
For more information contact Janette Carter, JCarter@VisitTampaBay.com or 813-342-4054.
Tampa Bay & Company is an independent, non-profit membership organization created to serve and attract visitors to Tampa Bay in an effort to create “Economic Development Through Tourism.” Tampa Bay & Company is funded, in part, by the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners/Tourist Development Council.