The hip, urban heart of Florida’s Gulf coast beats in Tampa Bay. Discover blue skies and sunshine, a sparkling waterfront, world-class chefs, family fun, and a century of Cuban culture – all in Florida’s most diverse travel destination. In Tampa Bay, our hospitality is as warm as our weather.
Uniquely, COVID-19 restrictions forced this Cup Final played in September.
Finally, this were the first Stanley Cup Finals since 2002 whose losing team didn’t win a home game.
Social media stood in for live crowds. Seconds after the final buzzer on the 2019-20 NHL season, the sports world stormed Twitter. The twittersphere exploded with congratulations, commiserations and ‘being the thunder’ from TBL’s notorious 2014 billboard.
TBL’s 2004 win – under head coach John Tortorella – beat the Calgary Flames 2-1 in Game 7. Tampa’s made 12 playoff seasons and three final appearances. Head coach Jon Cooper carried Tampa to the Cup finals in 2015, losing 2-0 in Game 6 to the Chicago Blackhawks.
A great joy of vacation travel is getting around like a local and Tampa’s memorable local transportation makes it easy. Here’s our guide to getting around Tampa like a Floridian.
Electric streetcars – Tampa transportation that doesn’t break the bank
Back in 1892, Tampa had a novelty, electric streetcars with smartly uniformed conductors, which conveyed travelers round Ybor City, Ballast Point, Hyde Park and Sulphur Springs. Streetcars took workers to the cigar factories of west Tampa, and on Sundays to local parks like DeSoto and Macfarlane. They were the circulatory system of the region until 1946, making Tampa among the last cities to surrender its historical streetcar system.
The TECO Line Streetcar system has returned to Tampa, Downtown, Channelside and Ybor City, bringing cruise ship passengers to the city. Unsurprisingly, it also transports workers as the original streetcars did. Effortlessly linking Franklin and Whiting Streets and the Fort Brooke parking garage, TECO unifies downtown and brings parking within easy reach of all. Best of all, it’s free to travel!
Coast Bike Share – vacation transport on two wheels
Coast Bike Share makes bicycle rental easy – simply register and enter your pin to unlock a bike from any convenient station. Afterwards, return it to any other station in the system, ideal for picnics or sightseeing trips.
The Cross-Bay Ferry – Tampa transportation with added romance
Travelling between St. Petersburg and Tampa has never been more enjoyable. The Cross-Bay Ferry returns each November, happily cruising between the cities twice daily for foot passengers. The $8 one-way ticket (children under four travel free) buys you an hour crossing the Bay, giving tourists and locals a fantastic chance to enjoy a great meal and some sightseeing. Lucky travellers may see dolphins ridingthe bow waves of cruise liners out of Tampa Bay. Both the river walks and trolley cars connect well with the ferry service.
Pirate Water Taxi – explore Tampa from the water
Staying at Erehwon Retreat, and want a rollicking day out in Tampa – try the pirate water taxi system! A single payment allows all day travel through the Tampa Riverwalk, Harbour Island and Channelside Districts. With over fifteen stops, this yellow water taxi therefore drops you close to museums, shops, restaurants and Lowry Park Zoo.
Hillsborough Area Regional Transit – take the HART around Tampa
Finally, since 1980, the HART system has been serving Tampa, fortunately the HART #1 bus is a half-block away; making it a quick and easy route to the best destinations downtown.
Historic Tampa offers history, geography, weather and cuisine, so here are a few of our insider tips to help rental vacationers make the best of their Tampa trip.
1. Tampa’s got history
Start at the 1891 Tampa Bay Hotel where Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders mustered before heading to Cuba. 150 years ago Tampa was the railhead for cattle shipments to Cuba, as a result influencing every aspect of Tampa life. Today, visitors can take the electric streetcar to Ybor City, whose Spanish-Cuban roots are especially reminiscent of New Orleans’ French Quarter. Beautifully renovated cigar factories make clear the strong links between the two nations.
2. Sandwiches and Coffee
Ybor City was once known as the “Cigar Capital of the World”. Why? Because of 200 factories with 12,000 cigar-makers rolling 700 million cigars annually, outproducing Havana. Difficult to believe? Not if you try historic Tampa’s strong coffee and satisfying pressed sandwiches – uniquely part of our Cuban heritage. Where do you find the best of both? Family-run Aquila is a great start; fabled for their delectable roast pork. In nearby Seminole Heights Jet City Espresso (5803 N Florida), just half a mile from Erehwon Retreat, dispenses coffee, chai latte and her signature Cafe Borgia, a honey-and-orange-infused latte. For pure Cuban coffee, try El Molino, a simple café attached to Ybor City’s Naviera Coffee Mills, which has been in business for nearly a century (2012 E. 7th Ave.).
3. Beer city
Recently rated one of “America’s Top Ten Emerging Beer Towns”, Tampa has a bounty of brews. Cigar City Brewing (3924 W. Spruce St.) brews up some uniquely Tampa beers: the bright, fruity Guava Grove and the rich Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout. For more of the local good stuff, head to Seminole Heights. Here you’ll find The Independent; historic Tampa’s pioneer of the craft beer movement. Today it offers rare and unique beers and wines from around the world. In the same neighborhood, Angry Chair has a particularly attractive tasting room with diverse offerings. Folks love C 1949, a quaint, dog-friendly little hole-in-the-wall beer garden with plenty of seating, live music and rotating food trucks outside. Finally, take in America’s oldest beer brewer, right here in Tampa Bay. The Yuengling Brewery, complete with a “biergarten” where you can sample Yuengling’s rich heritage, offers free tours of the facility Monday-Friday.
4. Manatees, the cutest animals on the planet
So, you might not think a giant power plant is the best vacation spot, not so the adorable manatees who winter in the warm waters adjacent to the gargantuan Tampa Electric facility (6990 Dickman Rd., Apollo Beach). The utility company’s built a popular Manatee Viewing Center, with educational exhibits. Winter vacation rentals are the lucky ones because the manatees move off around mid-April only returning in early December.
5. The great food offerings of Seminole Heights
Make tracks for the neighborhood’s Taco Bus, a hipster-junkyard set-up with a very good food truck and outdoor seating. Open weekends all year round (913 E. Hillsborough Ave.) For something more elegant, why not dine at the James Beard nominated ‘The Refinery’? (5137 N. Florida Ave.) Adding to historic Tampa’s range, drop into Ichicoro, a unique fusion of Asian and Cuban ramen (5229 N. Florida Ave.). Finally, check out Ella’s Folk Art Cafe on “Soul Food Sunday” and definitely enjoy the chicken, waffles, live music and fun cocktails like the Po-mosa (5119 N. Nebraska Ave.).
6. Key Lime Pie
So, it might be a staple of the whole South but it began in the Keys. The key lime tree arrived in Florida in the 1500s and historic Tampa recipes for the pie appear in the 1800s, though it became really popular in the 1930s. Some restaurants make it with graham cracker crust, others with pastry. Either way, it’s a must-have and in Seminole Heights we love Trips Diner for this very special confection.
7. The world’s longest continuous sidewalk
Tampa is a record breaker. Consider Bayshore Boulevard, which runs along Tampa Bay through the Hyde Park neighborhood and on to points south. It isn’t just the city’s most scenic street, it’s also a four-and-a-half-mile linear bay-front park favored by joggers and walkers. It’s a fantastic way to work up an appetite for lunch. On Sunday follow the local foodies and make a beeline for lunch at the Wat Mongkolratanaram of Florida (a.k.a. the local Thai Buddhist temple). Here, food vendors set up mid-morning every Sunday, dishing out authentic Thai eats (cash only) to a hungry audience. Stick around to enjoy the riverfront grounds (5306 Palm River Rd.)
8. The kids will totally dig it
With exhibits that combine the educational with the awesome, the Glazer Children’s Museum has always been a hit with the youngsters from day one. Try out the climbing structures that teach about water, or the firehouse with a working pole and drivable “fire truck”. The nearby Florida Aquarium offers exhibits from the dramatic (swimming with sharks) to the educational. Still got energy? There’s always Busch Gardens, Tampa’s most famous family attraction.
9. Life’s a beach
It certainly is in Florida which has miles of beach not covered in footprints or fishing lines. One of Florida’s greatest beaches and hiking areas is at Ft. Desoto State Park, with its nearby beach community of Pass-A-Grille. Great beach-combing, quaint shops, sunset dining, essentially make it a perfect day out. And talking about perfect days – the sun shines, on average, 361 days a year in Tampa Bay.
10. Historic Tampa – perfect vacation rentals
There are 2,000 restored Craftsman and Mediterranean bungalows in Seminole Heights, offering Arts and Craft vacation rentals like Erehwon Retreat (5801 N Suwanee Ave). Proprietor owned vacation rentals give their guests the lowdown on all that’s best in the local are, making your trip is unforgettable and your memories wonderful. In conclusion, our comprehensive listing of Area Attractions & Events contains details, maps, addresses, and links to the area’s best entertainment.