Lightning caused by daily summer thunderstorms may have been the reason behind Tampa, Florida’s name, which loosely translates to “sticks of fire.” This city, on the Western coast of Florida, offers access to the Gulf of Mexico. Tampa is home to a number of professional and collegiate sports teams; the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and professional hockey, baseball and soccer teams all call Tampa home.
The city also boasts excellent tourism destinations, including Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, The Lowry Zoo and the Florida Aquarium. Once you have seen the animals, you can spend time in any of Tampa’s numerous shopping districts, such as the SoHo District, Palma Ceia or Hyde Park Village.
Cuisine: With yearlong access to fresh produce, seafood, and the variety of ethnic cuisines available in Tampa, you can find something to please any palate. Make sure you taste some Spanish cuisine in Ybor City. To try a variety of Tampa’s best offerings, head to the Saturday morning market at Progress Energy Park.
Must See: Each year in late January or early February Tampa is the home to a mock pirate invasion called Gasparilla. Since 1904, the city has begun the festivities with a boat filled with costumed pirates who take the city. A parade follows and the party continues with celebrations and events through March, including the Gasparilla Festival of Arts and the International Film Festival.
Lodging: Tampa’s historic hotels are not to be missed. Spend your trip in a luxurious four poster bed at The Don Vicente de Ybor Historic Inn. With only sixteen rooms, this hotel boasts luxury and personal service.
Ground Transportation: In 2002, electric streetcars were brought to the city of Tampa, and you can find NEVs, or Neighborhood Electric Vehicles, for rent by the hour in downtown Tampa. Keep in mind that Tampa’s access to the river allows for chartered water taxi tours.
Packing Tips: If traveling in the summer, be sure to bring rain gear, as daily thunderstorms will occur. Temperatures in the summer are high and humid, so be prepared with light, breathable clothing and plenty of sunscreen.
Recommended Books: Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern US is a nonfiction piece by Tampa Bay author Cynthia Barnett. The book discusses the effects of industrialization on US waterways.
Currency: The US Dollar is the local currency.
Calling Code United States: 1
Best Travel Dates: For warm weather without the humidity, travel to Tampa during the peak tourism season, from January to April.