The city of Tampa, located on an inlet reaching far into the west coast of Florida, is the economic center of western Florida. The city center is a field of high-rise office blocks, but Tampa also has old historical districts such as Ybor City and Old Hyde Park. The maps described by the Spanish conquistadors show some Indian settlements around Tampa Bay. In 1824 the Americans established a fort at the mouth of the Hillsborough River directed against the Seminole Indians. After the Second Seminole War, a port and trading center is found here, and this soon matured into a regional center. The Civil War brought a period of stagnation until a boost was provided to the town by the development of the South Florida Railroad.
Get to know the best attraction in Tampa
Towards the end of the 19th century, Tampa grew a fashionable winter resort. In 1886 the Cuban cigar manufacturer Vincente Martinez Ybor moved his business to Tampa and a new district, Ybor City, was built for his Spanish-speaking employees. The mining of phosphates in the surrounding area also provided a motive to the city’s development. Franklin Street is the stroller center of downtown Tampa. The district is joined by I-275 in the north direction, Meridian Avenue in the east direction, Garrison Channel in the Southland and the Hillsborough River in the west direction.
Busch Gardens is a 335-acre African-themed family fun and the adventure park featuring thrill rides, live music, craft shows and a multitude of fascinating animals in general habitat settings. It is one of the must-see attractions in the Tampa region for touring families. Also, visitors can practice a safari to see animals grazing in the fields with reproductions of African communities and camps. Visitors can feel close up encounters with some of the animals. The Serengeti Night Safari is another favorite option at Busch Gardens.
Big Cat Rescue
Big Cat Rescue is a wildlife refuge for injured and abandoned big cats. It is a non-profit organization that is home to numbers of animals which include Geoffroy Cats, Clouded Leopard, Tigers, Jungle Cats, Servals, Caracals, Snow Leopards, Bobcats, and Lynx.
The facility gives guided tours only. You cannot walk the grounds freely like in a zoo setting. Nonetheless, this is a favorite outing. If you are touring with a child under the age of 10, you must take the “Kids Tour” which is only accessible on certain days.
The center of Tampa’s Latin district, Ybor City, is a National Historic Landmark District. It is described for its founder, cigar baron Vincente Martinez Ybor. He came to the quarter in the mid-1880’s after workers at his Key West plant threatened to unionize. At one point, the Ybor cigar factory was the biggest in the world with over 4,000 people hand-rolling more than 900,000 cigars a month. However, the Great Depression and machine rollers brought an end to the boom, and most factories were closed and destroyed.
In more new years the region has experienced a revival and is home to many restaurants, shops, and cafes. Seventh Avenue in Ybor City, identified in Spanish as “La Septima,” features some of the district’s most historic buildings, several of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Established in 1926, the Tampa Theatre is a restored movie palace highlighting a different mix of architectural styles including Italian Renaissance, Byzantine and Greek Revival. It shows international and well-known films regularly along with specialty performances and another program.
While you can view both new and old films here, watching one of the standards in this building is a fabulous way to feel like you’ve stepped back to another time.
Sunshine Skyway is found on I 275/US 19 and is a toll bridge. This multi-lane “highway on stilts,” is 12 miles long and curves beautifully over the entrance to Tampa Bay. Its central characteristic is a 4.25-mile long high-level bridge, the middle section of which is suspended from two large arches, providing the passage of large ocean-going vessels underneath. The ancient bridge was rammed by a cargo ship in 1980 and partly collapsed. Parts of the old bridge now work as peers for anglers.
From the drive up the new bridge, there are lovely views out over the ocean. The bridge itself is also a beautiful view and often photographed.