Tampa hosts the 2012 Republican National Convention from Aug. 27-30. 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.
First it was London and the Summer Olympics in late July and mid-August. Now the city of Tampa has been gearing up for its moment in the spotlight as it hosts the Republican National Convention from Aug. 27 to 30. There will be a lot of street closures in and around downtown Tampa and other parts of Tampa Bay, but don’t let that stop you from visiting Tampa’s famous sites. Luckily they just happen to be nearby the RNC venue and the surrounding hotels.
These are some of the outstanding highlights.
Channelside and the Florida Aquarium: From the St. Pete Times Forum hop on one of the historic streetcars that will take you directly to the waterfront district known as Channelside that is filled with eclectic shops, restaurants, clubs, cinema and IMAX movie theater, and even an upscale bowling alley.
East of the Channelside Bay Plaza is the Florida Aquarium that will be open exclusively for the RNC guests during the convention. The not-for-profit public aquarium features an impressive and colorful coral reef exhibit. You’ll also see sharks swimming around.
Ybor City: During the day it is Tampa’s historic district. When the sun go down it is a lively entertainment area filled with restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. There is a lot of history within Ybor, as the locals call it.
You can visit the Ybor City State Museum State Park. Relive how it was like back in the late 19th and early 20th century in this immigrant enclave just northeast of downtown Tampa. People from Spain, Cuba and Sicily came to work in the cigar factories that dotted the area. One of the highlights is going inside one of the casitas where the cigar workers lived.
La Setima or 7th Avenue is the main street where you can find cigar shops that are still hand rolled like it was during Ybor’s heyday. Columbia Restaurant serves Spanish cuisine that is not to be missed. They also provide live entertainment with their flamenco dance show.
Plant Museum and the University of Tampa: Across the Hillsborough River that separates downtown from the western part of Tampa is the University of Tampa. It features Moorish architecture of exotic minarets or onion-shaped high supporting structures. You can visit on campus the Henry B. Plant Museum. Before it was an institute of higher learning this was the site of the lavish Tampa Bay Hotel, one of the grand hotels of its day. Many famous guests stayed here such as Babe Ruth and Teddy Roosevelt.
Channing Tatum and “Magic Mike”: This popular film actor spent some time living in Tampa. He graduated from Tampa Catholic High School in 1998. His recent film “Magic Mike” was filmed partly in Tampa, more specifically Ybor City, and throughout the Tampa Bay area. It is based on his life as a Tampa Bay male stripper going by the name Chan Crawford.