Home to the 2012 RNC, Hurricane Isaac (for a few minutes) and SO Much More!
All eyes are on Tampa this week from the political-partiers to weather-junkies. I’m happy to have a great excuse to talk about the city that I know best: my hometown, Tampa, FL.
Tampa isn’t like your traditional Florida beach town. It has a rich, cultural history with a strong Latin influence. From its sports teams to the arts, shopping, and dining, it’s no wonder that Tampa is often host to some of our country’s biggest events.
What you’ll remember it for: Cuban food!! Order a pressed Cuban sandwich, Deviled Crab, and the often-intimated, rarely duplicated Tampa-made Cuban toast. Good Latin-inspired eateries are almost as pervasive as Starbucks in this city.
Something you won’t experience anywhere else: Gasparilla! Each January, since 1911, a flotilla of pirates with cannons a-blazing invades Tampa Bay and makes its way down Bayshore Blvd (the longest uninterrupted sidewalk in the US at more than four miles long.) parade-style to take the key to the City from Tampa’s Mayor. It’s big, it’s loud and it’s fun! A children’s parade began a few years back on the weekend or two before the main event complete with less-menacing pirates, sounds and more fun for the kiddos!
A Sport for all Seasons: Tampa has a number of sports teams such as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, The Tampa Bay Lightning, The Rowdies, and the Devil Rays. Some say Tampa is the place to be for baseball’s spring training season. Twelve of Florida’s 14 spring training stadiums are within about a 2 1/2-hour drive of Tampa. From the Yankees to the Phillies, get up close and personal with some your favorite players.
A Cultural Experience: Ybor City is the epicenter of Tampa’s eclectic history – Italian, Cuban and Sicilian. Visitors can get both a history lesson and an evening of great dining and entertainment in the city just minutes from downtown Tampa. The Columbia Restaurant, Florida’s oldest restaurant opened in 1905, is as popular and delicious as the day it opened. Try the signature 1905 Salad and some Sangria (the best anywhere). Once the Cigar capital of the world, take a walk through history at the Ybor City Cigar Museum (there’s a box of my great grandfather’s cigars in there -Marsicano Cigars).
Where to Stay in Tampa: Getting around Tampa is very easy by car. Staying on one of the nearby beaches of St. Petersburg or Clearwater is always a great option. To be right in the mix of all things Tampa, try the Marriott Waterside or the Renaissance Tampa International Plaza.
What is your favorite thing about Tampa?