Category: Tampa Bay
The Tampa Bay Guide
Tampa Bay is a tri-city area that includes Tampa as well as Clearwater and St. Peterburg, which jut out into the gulf on a peninsula.
It's an area with lots of outdoor living. Many restaurants have outdoor patios or sidewalk areas for diners and there are more than 150 parks and beaches. Hiking, biking, swimming, boating, and other water sports are all prevalent in the area.
But, the Tampa area is also diverse. It has two major universities, three professional top-level sports teams, a thriving arts and entertainment community, and restaurants with fresh gulf water catches, as well as every other cuisine imaginable.
The Big and Small of It
On one hand, Tampa boasts one of the country's smallest parks. Snow Park was recognized by both Ripley's Believe it or Not and the Guinness Book of World Records (although Portland's Mills End gives it a run for its money).
But, on the flip side, Bayshore Boulevard in Downtown Tampa has the world's largest continuous sidewalk, measuring four and a half miles.
Over a century
Some things just don't need to change. For example, Tampa boasts Florida's oldest restaurant, Columbia, which opened in 1905 and still offers the same famous salad dressing.
The Gasparilla Pirate Festival is the highlight of each new year. The tradition started in 1904 to honor a mythical Spanish pirate named José Gaspar and, the celebration has continued ever since. Festival activities include two parades, a street fest, fireworks, and races. It's held every year in late January or early February.
Florida's oldest brewery is also in the Tampa area. In 1897, the Florida Brewing Company started pouring and they're going strong.
Things to Do in Tampa Bay Including Theater, Museums, and More!
When you think of the Tampa Bay area, theater and, museums, and other cultural attractions may not immediately spring to mind, unless you've already immersed yourself in Tampa's arts and entertainment community. But, Tampa is more than major league baseball spring training and beaches. It has as much, or more, to offer residents and tourists as any other city.
Tampa Area Theater
Whether you enjoy plays, musicals, or comedies, there's definitely a venue, which specializes in your favorites. The Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater areas are filled with performances of all sizes and genres.
The Carrollwood Players Theatre is on Gunn Highway right in Tampa has been active since 1981. Carrollwood is Tampa's oldest non-profit community theater and its filled with performers who know how to entertain. The beauty of Carrollwood is that it offers diverse shows and continues on through the summer months when many other Bay area theaters take a hiatus.
Formerly, the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, the newly renamed Straz Center is one of the bigger venues. In fact, its the biggest performing center in the southeast, established in 1987. It's located in the downtown Tampa area and houses five theaters and three restaurants for pre or post theater dining. The Straz is the place to go if you're interested in Broadway on Tour.
There's also the Tampa Theatre, built in 1926, the Amalie Arena, the Mahaffey Theater, and plenty of other choices throughout the area.
We're excited to be able to start featuring some of these venues in our city guides as well as an informative event calendar. If you're willing to make last minute plans and enjoy some of the smaller shows as well as the Broadway productions, then you may want to check out our Tampa area seat filler information as well.
Museums in Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay doesn't have to use the term "The Museum," as there are plenty of them in the Bay area. They cover a wide range of topics and some are more family-friendly than others.
There's the Tampa Bay History Center with its three floors of Florida history exhibits. It's a Smithsonian Affiliate Museum located on the Riverwalk in Tampa. You can make a day of it as there's dining in the Columbia Cafe as well as a shop that highlights local artisans.
Art lovers can head to the Tampa Museum of Art, the Contemporary Art Museum at the University of South Florida or the Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg.
Families can check out the Glazer Children's Museum in Gasparilla Plaza. It's open seven days a week with $15 adult admittance and $9.50 for the kids. Everyone may also enjoy stepping back in time at the Cracker Country Living History Museum at the Florida State Fairgrounds. Just be sure to check their first as this museum doesn't operate on a standard schedule.
Football, Baseball, and Hockey in Tampa Bay
The only one of the "big four" that's missing in the Tampa Bay area is NBA basketball. Fans have to travel about an hour and a half to the Amway Center in Orlando, as the Magic will have to do, for now, anyway.
Sports fans do have NFL, MLB, and NHL home teams with the Bucs, Rays, and Lightning.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs have been in Tampa since 1976 and have gone 1-0 in the Super Bowl. Their one appearance in the 2002 season at XXXVIII earned them the championship against the Oakland Raiders.
The Buccaneers make their home at Raymond James Stadium.
Tampa Bay Rays
Baseball fans in the Bay area have been supporting the Rays since 1998. The team is based is St. Petersburg with home games at Tropicana Field. Spring training moves to Port Charlotte, though.
While the Rays haven't won a World Series as yet, they captured the 2008 American League pennant and two division titles in 2008 and 2010.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Hockey action takes place at Amalie Arena in Tampa. The Lightning was inaugured in 1992 as an NHL expansion team and do have one Stanley Cup from the 2003-04 season.
While the Lightning hasn't yet claimed their second NHL championship, the team has record two conference titles, and three division, the most recent in the 2017-18 season.
Other Tampa Area Sports
College and minor league teams are also in the area. The Tampa Bay Rowdies is the area's United Soccer League team. The Rowdies play at Al Lang Stadium in St. Pete.
Thinking of Making the Move to Tampa Bay?
Tri-city area has about three-million residents, so there's plenty of big city living combined with beaches, parks, and walking trails.
Year-round Outdoor Living
If you love to overindulge in your daily dose of sunshine-based vitamin D, then, Tampa fits the bill. There's a lot of 12-month outdoor activities to keep you busy.
Tampa has an eight-acre waterfront park, the Curtis Hixon Park. There are also plenty of nearby beaches whether you opt for Tampa, Clearwater or the St. Petersburg area. In fact, locals gravitate to St. Pete's Beach as it's one of the most appealing in the area.
Housing and Schools
You may find housing the Tampa Bay area to be a bit more pricey, depending on what you've been used to in your previous hometown. But, the Hillsborough County School District is a top-10 in terms of size in the US. It offers plenty of extras including sports and activities. So, you may find the educational opportunities to be worth the extra you'll pay for a mortgage or rent.
If your kids are older, they won't need to venture far from you as the University of South Florida and the University of Tampa are right there, dorm or no dorm.
Dining in the Tampa Bay Area
When it comes to dining in any city, you have to go straight to the locals, who are in the know. They go beyond a food critic's top ten list and have the inside scoop on everything from fast food to five-star.
Sweet Sage Cafe and Boutique
The Sweet Sage Cafe is a charming little restaurant and retail location that looks more like a fairytale home than a restaurant.
It's in North Redington Beach so it's more convenient for Clearwater and St. Pete residents. But, it may well be worth the trip no matter where you live in the area. The cafe is known for its weekend brunch, which includes quiche bites, biscuits and gravy, corned beef hash, and a chocolate fountain. Bring your furry best friend with you, as Sweet Sage has a Doggie Bites section on their menu.
What could be better than outdoor dining right by the water? The answer is "nothing," unless it's raining or snowing.
There are five Frenchy's restaurants in the area and they're known for fresh from the Gulf seafood entrees. Their original and noteworthy dish is the Grouper Reuben sandwich. Locals are fans of Frenchy's for the food, and tourists can get the entire Florida experience with the ambiance and local seafood, all in one place.
The Oldest Restaurant in Florida
Columbia in Ybor City is not only the oldest, having opened its doors in 1905, but it was also the first air-conditioned restaurant in the area. It's been run by five generations of the same family and still features some original dishes.
Diners Cubanhoose from standard dinners or tapas. The restaurant is also known for its Cuban sandwich. But, the 1905 salad put Columbia on the map. USA Today included in its top ten list of "Great Places to Make a Meal out of a Salad." The chef-like salad ingredients are topped with Columbia's famous garlic dressing. Don't let garlic breath stop you.
The Tampa Bay Miscellaneous
Any Love Boats?
Tampa Bay is the home of Florida's largest port. In addition to cargo moving in and out, four cruises lines depart from the area.
Only 12 feet
It doesn't seem possible. But, Tampa Bay's water only averages 12 feet deep.
Publix is number one
Publix is the biggest employer Tampa. The supermarket chain employs nearly 200,000 people and 38,000 in the Bay area.
Sticks of Fire
Tampa is the Native American Calusa tribe's word for sticks of fire. It was named appropriately as Tampa has more lighting than anywhere else in the US.