Things to Do in Tampa, FL
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Tampa reflects the mosaic of different cultures and influences that made it the dynamic urban center it is today. The coexistence of the quaint historic villages with sleek skyscrapers is evidence of this rapidly growing city's success at reconciling its rich history with modern-day development. The kaleidoscope of activity ranges from its bustling port brimming with shrimp boats, banana barges and cruise ships, to its festive marketplaces, and its multi-ethnic restaurants and shops.
Be sure to stop by historic Ybor City, where 100 years of decayed elegance has been restored to antique splendor. Vicente Martinez Ybor and Cuban immigrants established this "city within a city" in the 1800s, building it on the cigar industry. Stroll the quaint streets and breathe in the aroma of freshly baked Cuban bread drifting out of the local bakeries and restaurants. Visit Ybor Square where Cuban cigar makers demonstrate their ancestors' craft. At night, La Séptima (Seventh Avenue), the main stretch, is shut off for pedestrians as revelers fill the streets of Ybor, club hopping at the many trendy nightspots. Eclectic art galleries, mom-and-pop stores, wrought iron balconies and brick sidewalks enhance this delightful glimpse at Tampa's Cuban culture.
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is listed among the nation's top four zoos. Besides exotic animals, Busch Gardens also features live shows and a variety of thrilling rides including their newest attraction, Gwazi, the Southeast's largest double wooden roller coaster. The water park Adventure Island offers exciting flumes and slides as well as a leisurely tubing trail. For more family fun, stop by Lowry Park Zoo or the Museum of Science and Industry, which offers interactive educational exhibits as well as an IMAX theater. The Florida Aquarium, set along the picturesque waterfront, displays marine life and natural Florida habitats in an educational and entertaining fashion. The Henry B. Plant Museum (now the University of Tampa), is one of the finest examples of Moorish architecture in the Western Hemisphere. The Tampa Museum of Art and the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center offer rotating exhibits and a stunning season of performing arts. If you enjoy spectator sports, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (football), the Tampa Bay Lightning (hockey), Tampa Bay Storm (arena football), Tampa Bay Downs and Tampa Greyhound Track offer a wide variety of excitement.
Tampa's restaurants reflect its cosmopolitan character. Spanish, Southwestern, Italian, Asian, continental and seafood restaurants abound. Shopping can be enjoyed in a variety of settings. Old Hyde Park Village, nestled in one of the city's oldest neighborhoods off picturesque Bayshore Boulevard, is an elite shopping area with exclusive boutiques and cafés. Brandon is home to a large shopping district and mall. Tampa is surrounded by several notable communities including Dover, Hamilton, Plant City, Riverview, Ruskin, Apollo Beach and Thonotasassa.