By Molly Hammond, Storage.com
For someone who hasn’t lived there, “Florida” might conjure up breezy images of sandy beaches or Disney World vacations. But there’s more to different regions of Florida than that! Every city in the peninsula is unique, and that includes Tampa. Whether you’re moving to Tampa, planning a trip, or just proud of the place you call home, we think you’ll love this countdown of things to know about Cigar City!
13. CIGAR CITY.
Tampa, which includes the area historically known as Ybor City, was built on cigars—specifically those made by cigar manufacturer Vincente Martinez-Ybor, who moved his cigar factory to the area in the late 1800s. Other factories followed, bringing many workers and their families to the area, which resulted in a wealth of diversity in Tampa. Cigar manufacturing turned Ybor City from a small village to a bustling city built with cigar factory workers in mind. Tampa has been home to more than 150 cigar factories over the years, and while the number is certainly smaller now, there are still several spaces that appreciate a fine stogie. The iconic J.C. Newman Cigar Co., Thompson Cigar, and Tabanero Cigars are all still fixtures in the city, making sure that Tampa’s reputation as Cigar City is set in stone.
12. SKATE OR STROLL.
Of course, there are great ways to spend some time in the Florida sun, but a few of these outdoor attractions might come as a surprise to non-Tampans: Bayshore Boulevard and Bro Bowl. Bayshore Boulevard is not only a scenic place to bike, walk, or run, but it’s also the longest continuous sidewalk in the world at more than 4.5 miles long! Bro Bowl, on the other hand, is a Tampa skate park and institution, a relic of skateboarding’s golden age in the ’70s. Though Bro Bowl was granted a place on the National Register of Historic Places, the city decided to remove it and build a replica elsewhere in Perry Harvey Sr. Park—so while it won’t be the original, there will always be a place for Tampa skaters to go.
11. A FEST FOR EVERYONE.
Tampa really knows how to throw a festival. From the well-known Gasparilla Pirate Festival to Metrocon, Tampa is no stranger to hosting colorful characters celebrating their passions! There’s Margarita Festival, Beer Week, and Brews by the Bay for Tampans looking to kick back with a cold one. As for music festivals, it’s hard to beat Tropical Heatwave, Tampalooza, and Sunset Music Festival.
10. SWEET AND HEAT.
Tampa really loves two things: deviled crabs and ice cream. Well, not just any ice cream. Bo’s Ice Cream. Bo’s has been serving up the finest treats in Tampa for more than 60 years, and there’s nothing that natives love more! As for crab, there’s some disagreement about the delicacy’s name—some Floridians opt for “deviled,” a reference to the crab’s preparation, and others go for “devil,” which is both a colloquialism and a nod to the crab’s spice factor. But no matter how you spell it, Tampan crab is some of the best. Aguila Sandwich Shop serves up some of the city’s favorite crab, though some will tell you that Carmine’s is the place to go. No matter where, if you’re eating an authentic version of this snack, you’re going to love it.
9. TAMPA IS WILD.
You probably know that Tampa is home to Busch Gardens, the unbeatable marriage of zoo and theme park. The park is separated into themed areas that house different animal attractions and rollercoasters. Stanleyville, one of the themed areas, is home to SheiKra, the first dive coaster in the U.S., and the Congo area is where guests can find Ubanga Banga Bumper Cars, the Congo River Rapids water ride, and Kumba—a steel rollercoaster with seven inversions! Guests can zipline in Jungala, observe alligators, crocodiles, and elephants in Nairobi, and tackle the tallest free-standing drop tower in North America in Pantopia! The park is proud of its free-roaming environment for a number of the animals, such as zebras, bongo, ostriches, and storks, and is an amazing place to while away a day—whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or not!
8. TAKE THE PLUNGE.
Just across the street from Busch Gardens, you’ll find its sister park, Adventure Island. It’s a water park packed with slides to ride, pools to swim, and places to grab a bite. The park’s lazy river, Rambling Bayou, is the perfect way to take a break from the action without ever leaving the water, and the 17,000-square-foot wave pool is perfect for guests of all ages. Ten water slides of varying heights, speeds, and twists mean that there’s something for just about everyone! It might even be more fun than the beach.
7. MOSI IS MOST EXCELLENT.
The Museum of Science & Industry (often called MOSI) puts Tampa at the head of the class. With more than 450 hands-on activities that teach guests of all ages about scientific topics from space travel to 3D Printing (and everything in between), MOSI is one of Tampa’s biggest treasures. In addition to interactive exhibits, MOSI is the eighth largest science center in America and home to some of the country’s best science camps. MOSI also houses Tampa’s only planetarium and only IMAX theater. Did we mention it hosts a number of special events throughout the year, including the Festival of Chocolate and the recognition of the Hispanic Scientist of the Year? Yep, it’s pretty cool.
6. LIVE IT UP AT A LIVE SHOW.
It might surprise non-natives, but Tampa is home to a considerable performing arts scene! Tampa Theatre is a registered landmark where movies you might not find in mainstream theaters are shown daily. The gorgeous movie palace also serves as a concert venue and can be reserved for private events. Movies are only the tip of the Tampa iceberg, though. The Straz Center for the Performing Arts is one of the largest performing arts complexes in the region and hosts tours of Broadway productions, as well as original works, concerts, and opera! If nothing at The Straz Center catches your eye or ear, there are plenty of other places to take in a show. The Gorilla Theatre performs year-round in addition to running their Young Dramatists Project, which uses scripts from middle and high school students on its stage! The Stageworks Theatre, Spanish Lyric Theatre, and Jobsite Theatre are also wonderful places to enjoy high caliber performances—and nothing beats Improv Tampa for a night of raucous comedy!
5. TAMPA TUNES.
While some of the other artistic venues do host concerts, Tampa definitely has its own scene for musical acts. The MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre is an outdoor venue focused on bringing classic stars and contemporary music to Tampa in an awesome environment. The Florida Orchestra brings gorgeous scores to life in Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater, including pops concerts and rock series. The Ritz Ybor and The Orpheum are also great places to catch musical entertainment.
4. SKY AND SEA.
Tampa is home to MacDill Air Force Base, which brings lots of servicemen and women to the area. Even for non-military personnel, MacDill is a cool local feature. While the base’s airshow, AirFest, won’t be hosted in 2015, organizers hope to bring back the Navy’s Blue Angels and the Air Force’s Thunderbirds for 2016. MacDill isn’t the only place with military history in the neighborhood, though. Tampans can do a little learning and exploring at the American Victory Ship Mariners Museum. The SS American Victory is one of the last operational WWII ships in the country, offering cruises and educational tours.
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3. TEAM TAMPA.
Tampa is a great place to go college with options ranging from four-year public universities and liberal arts colleges to community colleges and technical schools. The biggest campuses are University of South Florida (USF) and The University of Tampa (UT). Though both schools boast a number of competitive athletic teams, the schools never play one another—meaning no gritty rivalry for Tampans. The whole city can cheer for the UT Spartans and the Bulls of USF without issue!
2. BUCS, LIGHTNING, AND RAYS.
Want professional sports? The Tampa Bay Buccaneers bring the NFL to Tampa at Raymond James Stadium, and while fans may have had a tough go of it lately, there’s still plenty of Bucs loyalty and love for the Super Bowl win of 2002. Professional hockey has a home in Tampa, too, with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bolts, as the team is called, skate at Amalie Arena and have a dedicated fanbase. The Tampa Bay Rays are the area’s MLB team, though they aren’t technically a “Tampa” team since Tropicana Field is located in St. Petersburg. Nevertheless, it’s a short drive, and the Rays rep the whole Tampa Bay area.
What do you think makes Tampa awesome? Tell us in the comments!
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If you’re moving to Tampa and need storage space to help with the transition, view Storage.com’s directory of storage units in Tampa, Florida.
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