The annual Gasparilla Pirate Fest, which brings over 400,000 people into Tampa Bay, is a fun and exciting way to enjoy a weekend.
Fondest memory: I have enjoyed both the huge Gasparilla Parade down Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa Bay and also the many parties that happen before, during and after the parade and following the flotilla of boats that land in the marinas of Tampa Bay to "take over" the City.
Many of the over 100 vendor stands include being part of the Charity Beer Gardens offer plenty of good food and drinks but remember, no glass containers are ever allowed...and remember also, the vendors are cash only.
The Channel District, or Channelside, is a well-known restaurant, shopping, nightlife, and cultural area of Tampa that is on the rise. The Port of Tampa also occupies several of the channels in this area including Garrison Channel, Ybor Channel, Sparkman Channel, and East Bay Channel, with operations focused on Hooker's Point, across the water from Harbor Island. The area that is now the aquarium and Channelside were formerly part of the port, and cruise ships are often hosted at nearby cruise terminals.
The Port of Tampa is Florida's largest port, handling some 50 million tons of cargo annually. Tampa is the closest full-service American port to the Panama Canal.
A plaque located along Bayshore Avenue in South Tampa, memorializes the writer of the Pledge of of
Allegiance, and it reads:
I Pledge Allegiance...
Francis J. Bellamy, called "the most neglected
patriot in American history," wrote the immortal
words of the Pledge of Allegiance to the
American Flag, while an editor on the magazine
Youth Companion in 1892. He lived in Tampa
and work as advertising manager for Tampa
Electric Co. in his sunset years. He died here
August 28, 1931. The Tampa Tribune editorialized
"The Pledge of Allegiance of Francis Bellamy
will go on through centuries serving the
nation he loved."
Who knew Tampa was a college town? Would you believe USF has nearly 50,000 students, making it the 8th largest university in America?
The school was established in 1956 and is located on an old Army air field, far on the north side of town.
The University of South Florida Bulls play football at Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Bucs. Tickets are pretty cheap, often around $20 for exciting Division IA Big East football against conference rivals like West Virginia, Pitt, Syracuse, Connecticut and others. Oh, wait.... West Virginia, left the Big East in 2012, and Pitt and Syracuse will depart in 2013. Soon USF will play exciting Big East football against nearby schools like Boise State, Navy and San Diego State.
Where you will work obviously will have a big impact on where you will live. If your job is in Tampa, you might consider living in South Tampa, particularly in Plant High School District (around Palma Ciea/Virginia Park are some of the best areas). This is one of the top high schools in the state. The neighborhoods are older and well established, with most houses built in the 1920s through 1950s, and many new houses constructed in the last decade. There are several pockets of good restaurants in this area, particularly Hyde Park/South Howard, which is the trendiest part of Tampa. This area also has low crime, especially if you live a few blocks from the big roads like Gandy, Henderson and Dale Mabry. Housing in this area is probably the most expensive in the Tampa area, because of the area's many positive attributes.
Many people choose in the suburbs around Westchase to the northwest or Brandon to the east. The draw here is larger houses, more land, and lower prices, but the negatives are long commutes and little to do. Furthermore, with the housing market downturn, may of these areas have high rates of foreclosure and empty houses.
Seminole Heights is another historic area with lots of old bungalows and a nice neighborhood feel. This is one of Tampa's revitalizing neighborhoods, and still relatively affordable.
Davis Islands is comfortable with a unique, small town-like main street area, but this is also the lowest elevation around, and would likely flood in even a small hurricane.
Depending on where you will work, the beach towns might be an option. The commute from Indian Rocks Beach to downtown Tampa is around 45 minutes, sometimes worse with tourist beach traffic or rush hour.
Areas to generally avoid, particularly if you have young kids, are the Ybor City area and some of the areas around the University of South Florida (Fowler Ave area). These are the highest crime areas of Tampa.
The intersection of Bayshore and Bay to Bay Boulevards is known as Bayshore Patriots Corner. Here, every Friday a group of local patriotic citizens gathers to wave flags from about 4 to 6 pm as local military members from MacDill Air Force Base are driving home. Usually there are just a handful of people here, but when a local soldier dies in combat, the number of people along the route surges into the hundred, all of them proudly waving American flags.
Occasionally on Friday afternoon, local anti-patriot groups gather to protest the flag waving patriots.
Tampa was the site of two small Civil War battles. In 1862 the Union planned to tighten the blockade of the south by capturing some of the key ports; on 30 June a federal gunboat bombarded the town then demanded the surrender of the city. The gunboat bombarded the city overnight, after the citizens had evacuated, then it withdrew the next day. This was known as the Battle of Tampa.
The Battle of Fort Brooke also took place in Tampa, the next year. Fort Brook was bombarded by Union ships on 16 October 1863, while Union forces landed at Ballast Point. The Union forces surprised and capture two blockade-running ships, the steamer called Scottish Chief and a sloop named Kate Dale, while the rebels sunk the steamer A.B. Noyes to prevent her capture. As the Union soldiers were returning to their ship at Ballast Point, they were attacked, and a brief battle ensued, resulting in a handful of deaths on each side.
A plaque at the southern end of Bayshore reads:
Site of Only Land Engagement
at Tampa between Confederate &
Union Forces, Oct. 17, 1863
A Federal detachment of 124 men from
U.S. gunboat Tahoma & Steamer Adela,
after firing 2 blockade-runners moored
upriver, fell back under Confederate
assault without entering the city.
Confederate: 6 Killed - ? Wounded - 7 Prisoners
Union: 3 Killed - 10 Wounded - 5 Prisoners
Favorite thing: Davis Islands is a neighborhood of two connected islands, very close to downtown and the Port of Tampa. The two islands that form Davis Islands were originally called Little Grassy Key and Big Grassy Key, but they were greatly expanded in the 1920s with fill from the Tampa Bay shipping channels. The neighborhood is named after a developer named D.P. Davis, who owned the islands before they were subdivided for neighborhoods. Originally three islands separated by narrow canals, Davis Islands became two islands when the small Peter O. Knight Airport was constructed. Davis Islands is also home to the Tampa General Hospital and numerous historic buildings such as the Palace of Florence Apartments.
Florida, from Tampa to Daytona on Interstate 4, is less than 150 miles wide. About halfway across the state on I-4 is Orlando, just an hour from either the Gulf or Atlantic coast.
Orlando is not just home to Disney World; this has become the Mecca of family vacation with dozens of attractions. Some of the largest include Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, and Sea World Orlando. Orlando hosts nearly 50 million visitors annually.
We loved that there were lots to do for adults and kids of very different ages, and much less expensive than other FL locations like Orlando and Miami! We found this website useful for finding activities (in Tampa, Clearwater, and St Pete) as it sorts activities by age group: TampaActivityGuide.com
Fondest memory: gulf beaches, Busch Gardens, FL Aquarium
Favorite thing: The Intracoastal Waterway is a 3,000 mile recreational and shipping channel that runs along the coast from Maine to Texas. The waterway was authorized in 1919 and is maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Tampa Theater is a historic building that opened in 1926. This 1,446 seat theater was immensely popular back in the early-to-mid 1900s, but fell on hard times in the 1960s and 70s. The City of Tampa purchased this landmark property in 1976, and it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. Today the theater has been completely revitalized and it hosts some 600 first run and classic films, concerts, special events, corporate events and more, drawing some 135,000 visitors annually.
It is located at 711 N Franklin Street and the Tampa Theater can be reached at (813) 274-8981.
Karen and I had a very serendipitous experience when we were sailing out of Tampa. At the table next to us on the ship were a couple of very dear old friends, Ernest and Ann Roberts. I had known Ernest and Ann since we attended college together in Tennessee in the early 1960s, but had not seen them for many years.
Having unexpected old friends on the Cruise made the entire experience much more enjoyable. Upon returning to Tampa Ernest and Ann took the day to show us a bit of the city where they have lived for the past 28 years. The photo here is of Ernest and Ann in front of the Northwest Tampa Church of God, a growing congregation of which Ernest is the Senior Pastor. If you're ever in Tampa why not drop in and visit Ernest and Ann and their church. Tell them that Stephen sent you. You'll make a couple of great new friends.
Northwest Ministries (Church of God)
5131 Gunn Highway
Tampa, FL 33624
Northwest Tampa Church of God
My favorite thing about Tampa is that it is more real than some people give it credit for. In a state where plastic alligators and a big, dumb mouse rule, it's nice to have a break. My advice to people coming here is to try and remember that and go to the restaurants / clubs / etc. that might not looks so shiny and swank from the outside, but have a lot more to offer than anything you're gonna find at Downtown Disney.
Fondest memory: My favorite memories of Tampa all revolve around these little adventures my parents would take me, my brother, and my sister on. I think it's important to know about where you are from . . . I still go on those little adventures as much as possible.
Fondest memory: My dad lived near Clearwater for several years, so I've driven the Courtney Campbell Causeway to Tampa more times than I can even count. Strange that my fondest memories of Tampa are of driving this causeway, but until you actually do so yourself you're just going to have to trust my pretty indescriptive words. This 13 mile causeway crosses over Tampa Bay, and it's not technically a bridge. Back in 1934 the causeway was built to allow people easier access to Clearwater without having to drive all around the massive Bay. Workers created this land strip to enable cars to drive along it. The 13 mile drive is my absolute favorite in Florida. You're surrounded by the beautiful Bay, there's no poles from bridges to obstruct your view, and you're so close to the water level that you feel like you are almost driving on top of the water. Now that my dad has moved, I'll always cherish those times we drove along the causeway and I may have to return some day just to relive those days.
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