If you are planning on moving to Tampa, welcome to the crowd. The city’s population increased by 23% in the last decade. It’s a hub for tech startups, home to one of Florida’s biggest universities and provides a beautiful area for young professionals, families and retirees to live in a variety of lifestyles.
But there’s one thing all new residents have in common: There are some things they simply must do once they move to Tampa. The following provides a good checklist of 10 places to start.
Established by Spanish businessman Vincente Martinez-Ybor as a cigar factory town in 1887,Ybor City known as known for boutique chops, restaurants, bars and small businesses along cobblestone streets. Most of the action is on 7th Avenue, but the area has grown to the surrounding streets, as well.
While in Ybor City, have lunch or dinner at the Columbia Restaurant, one of the finest dining experiences to be had in the city. It’s also one that’s been around the longest. Cuban immigrant Casimiro Hernandez, Sr. first opened the doors of the Columbia as a diner that served Cuban coffee and sandwiches. Over the years it has expanded to become one of the city’s epicurean centers. Make sure to try the paella, sangria, the original Cuban sandwich and the 1905 salad. This may require a few trips!
Another classic Tampa restaurant, this one since 1956. People will eventually start asking you if you’ve tried Bern’s yet, and there’s a reason for that. See for yourself by visiting Bern’s in South Tampa. The steaks are mouthwatering. The wine cellar is among the largest in the world. The dessert room is a must.
People come from around the world to ride the roller coasters and thrill rides at Busch Gardens. Now, it’s in your backyard. The amusement park also offers a full zoo with gorillas, elephants, orangutans and much more. If you have kids, there are annual passes available. Trust us, you will use them.
Tampa has become one of the nation’s hotspots for breweries. Each offers a tour and often has a bar of its own located right at the brewery. Some of the breweries are Cigar City Brewing, Florida Avenue Brewing Company, 7venth Sun Brewery, Hidden Springs Ale Works, Angry Chair Brewery, Six Ten Brewery and Rock Brothers Brewing.
Downtown Tampa has undergone many changes in the past decade. One of the biggest is the expansion of the Tampa Riverwalk, which now extends 2.4 miles along the Hillsborough River and the Garrison Channel. It is walkable, bikeable and Segway-able. Along the way are The Florida Aquarium, Tampa Bay History Center, Glazer Children’s Museum, the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, the Tampa Museum of Art and restaurants such as Columbia Cafe and Ulele. There’s a Pirate Water Taxi service, or you can rent water bikes to take out on the river. There’s also Armature Works, which houses restaurants and bars.
Lowry Park has been home to an amazing zoo for many years. The walk through the zoo winds through shady trees and across wooden bridges. It’s utopia for kids and animal lovers. The animals include the Florida Panther, Great One-Horned Rhinoceros, Aldabra Giant Tortoise, Florida Manatee, African Elephant and many, many more.
Yes, none of these are technically within Tampa. But they are in the Tampa Bay area and just a short drive away. In that respect, Tampa Bay is like Southern California – spread out and including many different cities, towns and villages. You may have visited many beaches in the past, but these are some of the best in the world. Take a long day to drive across Tampa Bay (on one of three bridges) and visit beaches in Clearwater, St. Pete, Pass-a-Grille and Indian Rocks. Or, visit Fort DeSoto Park or Honeymoon Island for a more remote experience. Make sure to stay for a sunset, which is spectacular on the Gulf of Mexico. Moonlight on the beach is pretty awesome, too.
These represent some of the things you must do when you move to Tampa, although there are plenty more. The bottom line is that Tampa and the Tampa Bay region offer everything you need to keep yourself and your family entertained for years to come.