Tampa is one of Florida’s major cities located in Hillsborough County. It has a population of roughly 395,912 residents, making it the third-most populous city in Florida, following Jacksonville and Miami. The city’s bay is the largest in the state. Located on the west coast of Florida, Tampa has a total area of 175.3 square miles.
Tampa is known for many different things. It is the home of three professional sports teams that are adored by their home fans. The city is also home to one of the most famous zoo/amusement park hybrids in the country. Tampa also has numerous sights and attractions that people of all ages would love.
Family Fun at Busch Gardens
This establishment has gained so much popularity that it has become synonymous with Tampa. Busch Gardens is an African-themed zoo and amusement park that has been in Tampa since March 1959. After over 63 years of service, the amusement park still brings joy to kids of all ages. It features an award-winning Serengeti Safari where visitors can see giraffes, zebras, rhinos, ostriches, antelopes, etc. Busch Gardens also has numerous heart-racing rides and roller coasters that everyone will love. Visitors can also go up close to some animals with the guidance and safety of experts.
Jose Gasparilla: The Last of the Buccaneers
Legend has it that in the early 1900s, a pirate known as Jose Gasparilla, terrorized the Gulf of Mexico and settled on an island south of Tampa known as Gasparilla Island. Myths about the infamous pirate have been debunked, but that doesn’t stop the city from partying like Jack Sparrow. Tampa has been celebrating the Gasparilla Pirate Festival almost every year since 1904. The city celebrates this festival every January by dressing up like pirates and taking part in different activities set up by the community.
“LFG” – The Goat
Tampa was home to arguably one of the greatest NFL Quarterbacks ever; Tom Brady. The California native spent most of his career with the New England Patriots and gave the team 4 Superbowl titles. In 2020, Brady announced his transfer to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers through a post with the now-famous letters; “LFG.” Brady pushed for the recruitment of Rob Gronkowski, and together, they gave Tampa their first title since 2002. After the 2021 season, Brady announced his retirement, but 6 weeks later, the quarterback announced that he would be back with the Buccs in 2022.
The World’s Longest Continuous Sidewalk
It may not sound like much, but this sidewalk is pretty amazing. Aside from being the world’s longest continuous sidewalk at 4.5 miles, the scenery along this path is beautiful. Bayshore Boulevard is lined with palm trees and is right next to the bay. Joggers and cyclists on this path can enjoy the Tampa skyline, its mansions, and maybe even some dolphins during their workout.
Not too Hot and Not too Cold
When you think of the bay or beach, you’ll instantly think of warm tropical weather. An interesting fact about Tampa is that its temperature has never gone above 100°F. Its highest ever temperature was recorded at 99°F back in June 1985 and June 2020. The coldest winter the city had was in December 1962 at 18°F. The city has only recorded one occurrence of snowfall in January 1977.
Migration to Tampa from… New England?
Tampa is now home to a lot of different celebrities and athletes. Though it may not be their hometown, many found comfort and inspiration in the area. Two notable authors who are New England natives ended up living in Tampa at certain points in their lives. Jack Kerouac, a novelist and poet, and Stephen King, known for his horror fiction novels, lived in Tampa. Another notable migration from New England to Tampa is current NFL quarterback Tom Brady, who transferred from the New England Patriots.
Big Cat Rescue
Big Cat Rescue is a non-profit organization that serves as a wildlife sanctuary for big cats in the United States. Currently, the wildlife sanctuary is taking care of over 50 different cats. This includes tigers, leopards, lions, caracals, servals, jaguars, bobcats, lynx, etc. The only way to enter the sanctuary is through a guided tour that must be booked ahead of time.
The Tiger King’s Archnemesis
If the name of that wildlife sanctuary already rings a bell, you’re probably one of the cool cats and kittens who have seen the drama of Carole Baskin, owner of Big Cat Rescue, and Joe Exotic, the self-proclaimed “Tiger King.” If you haven’t heard about any of this yet, you’re in for the ride of your life. A quick search on Google or a quick binge of Netflix’s docuseries The Tiger King will tell you everything you need to know about the drama of the big cat community in the United States.
The Tampa Bay Rays
The city is also home to Major League Baseball team, the Tampa Bay Rays, established in 1998. Though they haven’t had the honor of bringing home a World Series title yet, the Rays have already made 2 appearances on the grand baseball stage. In 2008, they lost the World Series to the Philadelphia Phillies in game 5. In 2020, they lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in game 6.
Not many people know that the city was built by the cigar industry. It all started when Henry B. Plant’s railroad link was finished in Tampa. This brought one of the city’s most important industries to life; the Cuban Cigar. In 1885, Spanish entrepreneur Vicente Martinez Ybor moved his cigar manufacturing operations from Key West to Tampa. Shortly after seeing the city’s economy flourishing, Cuban, German, Spanish, Italian, and Jewish immigrants moved to Tampa. Today, cigar enthusiasts can drop by Ybor City to find artisan Cuban cigars made by masters.
The Cuban Sandwich Didn’t Come From Cuba?
This may sound shocking, but the world-famous Cuban sandwich was made in Tampa. Locals have claimed that the sandwich was made by an immigrant who developed this recipe to feed the cigar manufacturing employees in Ybor City. The bread used in the sandwich was invented by a Sicilian-born immigrant named Francisco Ferlita, who made the bread in the La Joven Francesca bakery back in 1896.
Florida’s Oldest Restaurant
The Columbia Restaurant has been serving customers since 1905. The restaurant was founded by Cuban immigrant Casimiro Hernandez Sr. To this day, descendants of the Hernandez family still run the restaurant. Aside from Cuban Sandwiches, the restaurant also offers a wide selection of Spanish dishes. Columbia is also the world’s largest Spanish restaurant. Since its humble beginnings in 1905, the restaurant has opened 6 more branches in Florida.
The Great Bambino’s Furthest Hit
The great Babe Ruth was known for hitting monster home runs as an outfielder with the New York Yankees. The Bambino set a lot of records throughout his career, and one of them was actually in Tampa. During a spring training game in 1919, Ruth hit a home run that landed 587 feet away. Luckily, it wasn’t at the expense of the Tampa Bay Rays, because they didn’t exist yet.
Henry B. Plant Museum
Henry B. Plant was an entrepreneur who was heavily interested in railroad projects in the southeast region of the United States. The railroad tycoon built the Tampa Bay Hotel in 1891 to bring more tourists to the city. Shortly after Plant died in 1899, his heirs sold the property to the City of Tampa. In 1933, parts of the hotel were repurposed as a museum. The remaining parts are being used as campus grounds by the University of Tampa. The museum gives visitors a glimpse into the luxuries that Plant and others enjoyed in the early 1900s.
The Tampa Theatre is one of the city’s older buildings. It was built in 1926 by John Eberson with a unique architectural style. Mediterranean Revival architecture combines references from Moorish, Venetian Gothic, Beaux-Arts, French Colonial, Spanish Colonial, Spanish Renaissance, and Italian Renaissance architecture. The theatre features both new and old films, as well as concerts and other programs.
Tampa’s Black Mecca: Central Avenue
Tampa is also known for its rich Black History and the community’s contributions to some music industry legends. During the time of segregation, Central Avenue in Tampa was a safe place for African Americans in the area. It was home to 3 clubs that gave black musicians a stage to perform. The legendary Ray Charles performed and wrote his first song in Tampa before meeting Quincy Jones in Seattle. Ella Fitzgerald wrote her hit song “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” in Tampa.
Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?
It’s because there was a lot of them in Ybor City and they were protected by the city. There is no official count of the number of wild chickens in Ybor City, but officials say that it ranges from 100 to 200. The city is strict about taking care of these birds because they are the descendants of the chickens that residents have been keeping for generations. So if you’re in Tampa, please don’t feed or harass the city-protected chickens.