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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrSitting on the Gulf of Mexico is one of the most beautiful cities in all of Florida (and arguably the United States), Tampa. Originally founded as an American city for use as a fort since it sits at the mouth of the Hillsborough River, it has since become a bustling community that shares many residents with St. Petersburg and Clearwater. The metro area has a lot to offer and it would be difficult to see it all in one lifetime. There are many landmarks, sporting events, theme parks, and hotels to see that you will want to keep you coming back. Oh, and the beaches aren't so bad!
Tampa has a very blended cultural background to it. As of the most recent census, 46.3% of the residents in Tampa are White, 26.2% are African American, 23.1% are Hispanic and only 3.4% are Asian. The rest is made of a very small percentage of other cultures.
Sightseeing in TampaTampa is known for its theme park culture and beach living. The most notable of these is Busch Gardens which covers over 300 acres. There are rides, entertainment, and plenty of animals to see which were transported straight from Africa. You can spend an entire day looking at the animals, which is why Busch Gardens offers multiple day passes so you can experience it all. Ybor City is part of the Landmark District that looks like it is taken directly from Cuba. The region is over 130 years old and is home to one of the original cigar manufacturing plants. It is now a tourist destination after many of the businesses were closed during the Great Depression .
You will see a very monumental landmark when entering the city from I-275 on the Sunshine Skyway. It is a bridge that is over 6 kilometers long and is highlighted by the two large pylons in the center of the bridge. You can go through the main section of the bridge by boat, and is a popular photography spot.
FoodMany major cities have that ‘unique signature dish’ that they are known for, but unfortunately Tampa is not one of those cities. Instead, there is a unique blend of food from all around the world, and some you would not expect. One of those that is a bit of a surprise is chicken wings. Why is that? Because the first ever Hooters Restaurant was founded in Tampa and the chain has expanded to the rest of the United States. Another food that originated at a chain restaurant that started in Tampa but became famous is the Bloomin’ Onion from Outback Steakhouse. It looks like a large flower, but it is made from a split onion and fried for crunchy pedals that taste delicious when done right.
The closest that you will find to a local flavor is the Cuban Sandwich. On this sandwich, you will find ham and cheese on a baguette-style of bread, it can have a lot of flavor depending on the meat and cheese that is used, so make sure to look for the best one before judging.
HotelsThere are three luxury hotels in Tampa that you will want to check out when you visit. These hotels are the Innisbrook a Salamander Golf and Spa Resort, the InterContinental Tampa, and Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay. The Innisbrook a Salamander Golf and Spa Resort is a place that you may never want to leave. There are large garden areas, a supreme golf course, some of the best spa accommodations you can ask for, and so much more. Instead of traditional rooms, you will be treated to small houses and a chance to relax.
The InterContinental sits right near the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico and is a very high-class hotel. There are over 300 rooms available and they have beds that will make you feel like you're sleeping on a cloud. There is also plenty of amenities for business travelers who still needs to get work done while enjoying the ambiance. The Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay recently underwent a renovation of over $15 million USD to make the rooms even more spacious and luxurious. There are fun activities for the entire family to do and the key to the hotel is the sightline from the rooms. Shops, museums, and the Florida Aquarium are all within blocks of the hotel.
ShoppingFor shopping in Tampa, there are three primary districts you need to know about. The first is the Ellenton Premium Outlets, which is home to over 125 different stores in an open air setting. Some of the stores that are included are Lacoste, Nike, Saks Fifth Avenue, Banana Republic, and so much more. You've seen outlet malls, but not of this size in most cities.
The next shopping center is the Hyde Park Village area. It is nearly 90 years old and takes up seven different blocks. There are offices and homes in this area, but the area is mainly comprised of shops and restaurants. You will see some of the national retail chains in Hyde Park Village, but you will also find local flavors and boutiques that will make the area feel unique.
The last area is the Westshore District, which is home to nearly 4,000 different companies and hotels. The areas in which to shop are the International Plaza and WestShore Plaza, this is where the nightlife and high-end retail shopping areas are located, and it is halfway between the airport and downtown area.
SportsThe city of Tampa (and the St. Petersburg area) are not well-known for selling out stadiums for sporting events, but you will find many that are passionate about their three professional teams. The first team is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the National Football League and they play in the unique Raymond James Stadium . The next team is the Tampa Bay Rays of Major League Baseball, and they call the Tropicana Dome their home, but it is widely regarded as the worst stadium in baseball. The last team is the Tampa Bay Lightning of the National Hockey League, and they play at the St. Pete Times Forum . The crowds at Lightning games has been growing over the past decade.
SafetyOne misconception that people have about Tampa is that it is a dangerous city. As a matter of fact, it has one of the lowest crime rates for a major American city. There are a reported 6.23 violent crimes and 30 property crimes for every 1,000 residents. While it is safe for the most part, there are some neighborhoods to steer clear of, including Columbus Drive, Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard, and Gary are places to avoid.
TransportationThere are many different ways in which to get to Tampa. For those that need to travel long distance, plane is always an option into the Tampa International Airport. If you traveling from a shorter distance, you can get into St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport, only 20 minutes away. If you want to get to Tampa by train, the Amtrak station runs through Tampa between New York City and Miami.
If traveling by way of car, then there are many different freeways that can get you to Tampa. If heading from the North or South, I-75 will get you right through the heart of the city. From the East, you can take I-4, and there is no way in from the West by car since it would be the Gulf of Mexico. If you do want to get there by boat, though, there are cruise ships that can take you in from other parts of the Gulf or the Caribbean.
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Author: koreydbeckett. Last updated: Feb 02, 2015