Tampa hosts the 2012 Republican National Convention. In a nod to city pride, Yahoo! asked city residents to boast about the best places, people, features and things to do in Tampa. Here are highlights from one resident.
Southern Antiquity mixed with New-Urbanism
Ultra-modern Tampa International Airport rates highly in national polls; while Tony Janus piloted the first commercial flight in 1914 from Tampa to St. Petersburg. The University of Tampa, originally a hotel built in 1891, hosts the Henry B. Plant Museum reflecting Moorish Revival architecture with piercing minarets embracing the downtown skyline. The Tampa Museum of Art, Glazer Children’s Museum and Florida Museum of Photographic Arts give a contemporary touch to the downtown waterfront area.
The historic Ybor City still produces hand-rolled cigars and the museum illustrates cultural diversity highlighting the influx of immigrants. The Salvador Dali Museum is an architectural master-piece located in downtown St. Petersburg, along with the Florida Holocaust Museum and Chihuly Museum.
Local Favorites: Mr. Dunderbaks, Mac Dintons, Frenchy’s Rockaway, Ceviche’s, Taco Bus, Greek-fare in Tarpon Springs, Fresco’s Waterfront Bistro, Red Mesa Cantina, Le Creperia and The Hangar.
Splurge: The Columbia in Ybor City and Bern’s Steakhouse are on the top-of-the-list.
Personal Favorite: Jerk Hut featuring tasty Caribbean cuisine.
Post Card Inn and the Undertow on St. Pete Beach are local favorites. Kite-surfing, paddle-boarding, parasailing, kayaking, and sailing entice outdoors enthusiasts. Visit the Greek-American community of Tarpon Springs which harbors the Sponge Docks, explore the historical Fort Desoto, or take a ferry to Egmont Key or Caledesi Island.
Animal Lover? Be captivated by Lowry Park Zoo, the Florida Aquarium, Clearwater Marine Aquarium (home of Winter the Dolphin), Busch Gardens, Big Cat Rescue, Manatees, the Primate Sanctuary or even mermaids at Weeki Wachee.
More than 20 percent of Tampa Bay residents are between ages 18-34 and the city provides a youthful cultural-scene. The University of South Florida educates 47,000+ students and home of the Bulls. The Buccaneers (Football), Tampa Bay Lightning (Hockey), Tampa Bay Storm (Arena Football), Tampa Bay Rowdies (Soccer) and the Tampa Bay Rays (Baseball) provide a mix of events for sports fans. Spectators partake in cultural traditions including the Gasparilla’s Pirate Invasion, Guavaween, Florida State Fair and Strawberry Festival; while the 1-800-Ask-Gary Amphitheatre, The Ritz, State Theatre, and Jannus Live bring music artists to the Bay.
Ybor City is an entertainment hub and just hop aboard a nostalgic street-trolley to nearby Channelside district on Tampa’s seaport. Cocktails and views of downtown St. Petersburg from above at Vue 19 are not a disappointment or hit-up South Tampa for bar-hopping.
Growing Business Climate
Tampa Bay ranks #1 in buying income and retail sales for the state. National companies including PODS, Outback Steakhouse, Rooms-to-Go, Beef O’Brady’s, Raymond James Financial, Publix and the Home Shopping Network have their headquarters in the Tampa Bay.