Tampa, Florida, located by the Gulf of Mexico, is known for Busch Gardens and beaches, but it has more to offer. Here is some information on what makes Tampa unique from other modern cities.
- In the late 1800s, Tampa became a center for making cigars. This caused an influx of Cuban immigrants and the creation of the Cuban sandwich, a ham and cheese sandwich. An Italian influence added Genoa salami to the sandwich. Whether it is in any way connected to the tradition of the Cuban sandwich, many popular restaurant chains were founded or headquartered in Tampa. So, if you are a foodie, you’ll love Tampa.
- Another attraction for foodies is The Columbia, Florida’s oldest restaurant. As the biggest Spanish restaurant in the world, it seats 1,700 people in a variety of dining rooms.
- With all the delicious food available in Tampa, residents can take advantage of another large attraction in Tampa, the 4.5 mile Bayshore Boulevard sidewalk, which is the world’s longest continuous sidewalk. It runs along the water and past old major homes. It is a great path for biking, jogging, or walking.
- A fun annual Tampa waterfront event is the Gasparilla Pirate Festival. Held in January or February since 1904, it is a mock pirate invasion led by the pirate ship, Gasparilla. Numerous events are held during this festival.
- It’s Florida, so it should be hot in the summer and have hurricanes in the fall but not in Tampa. The temperature in Tampa has never gone above 100°, and the last hurricane was 1921.
- A fun and free activity in Tampa is visiting the Tampa Electric manatee viewing center. The manatees congregate near the power plant from November through mid-April because they like the warm water near the plant. So, Tampa Electric built a viewing center for the public. There is also a live webcam.
- In nearby St. Petersburg, the Sunken Gardens offers plants and structures that are over 100 years old. Enjoy the multiple waterfalls as you stroll the garden paths. This is one of the few roadside attractions left in Florida that were created when people discovered the joy of road trips with the introduction of the automobile and the newly built roads. The Sunken Gardens also have a flock of flamingos.
- The port in Tampa Bay is the home of many cruises. The surprising fact is that the water is only 12 feet deep. The channels are man-made and had to be dragged.
- To visit a piece of Cuba in Tampa, go to the Parque Amigos de Jose Marti. The land was donated to the Cuban government in 1956, three years before Castro took control. It was donated by Paulina Pedroso, a females leader of the Cuban revolution. She was a friend of Jose Julian Marti Perez, and she ran a boarding house on the property. Marti stayed there in 1892 while recovering from an assassination attempt. The park has a statue honoring Marti and one honoring Jose Antonio de la Caridad Maceo y Grajales. It also has soil from each of Cuba’s provinces.
- For art museum enthusiasts, among the museums in the Tampa Bay area is the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg. This museum is dedicated to the Spanish artist who is best known for “The Persistence of Memory.” This artwork in the Surreal style features clocks that seem to be melting. The museum features a freestanding staircase.
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