Unique Places in Tampa

  • Just outside the art museum
    Just outside the art museum
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  • Floridan palace hotel
    Floridan palace hotel
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  • Inside the main theater at the Straz Center
    Inside the main theater at the Straz...
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Most Viewed Off The Beaten Path in Tampa

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    Dade city - a day trip

    by tampa_shawn Updated Apr 4, 2011

    Dade city is a small town about an hour north of Tampa - Take I75N (25 miles) – Rt on FL-52

    Strolling through Dade City’s Historic District is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. The downtown area has antique and curiosity shops. In the surrounding area you will find charming brick streets that are shaded under giant Oaks and filled with row after row of older historic houses.

    One of the best ways to get to know this area is to take a downtown trolley tour. This tour also gives some great historical information about old time Florida.
    Downtown Trolley Tours - www.dadecitytrolleytour.com
    $9 for adults and $5 for kids and depart from a kiosk at the corner of Meridian Avenue and 9th Street

    The tour can be combined with the Citrus history tour www.citrusstory.com which provides the history of citrus in the area and takes you to a citrus packing plant. The tour is very well done

    The combined tours take 3 hours and costs about $14 (Tampa Friday papers often have coupons)

    The area also has the Pioneer Florida Museum - http://www.pioneerfloridamuseum.org/index.ph
    Check their website for various events
    352-567-0262
    One mile north of Dade City off Highway 301 North, east on Pioneer Museum Road
    Seniors 55 & Over - $4.00
    Adult - $5.00
    Student (Ages 6-18) $2.00

    While in Dade City be sure to have lunch at Lunch On Limoges (which is so busy that reservations are required)
    14139 7TH St, Dade City, FL 33525-3808 Tel: (352) 567-5685

    Seasonal Events (check websites for up to date info) http://www.dadecitychamber.org/default.cfm?page=eve3
    + Kumquat Festival – Last Saturday in January
    + Fort Dade Mountain Men Rendezvous – Withlacoochee River Park
    + The Little Everglades Steeplechase – rated one of the must do events in the area
    + Pioneer Days @ Pioneer museum – Sept 2-3 in 2007
    + Rattlesnake Festival – October
    + Kumquat Gift Shop and tour the Groves – Open November 1st to March 31st - 31647 Gude Rd. Dade City, Florida 33525 www.kumquatgrowers.com

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    Weeki Wachee Springs - An hour north of Tampa

    by tampa_shawn Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Weeki Wachee Springs is an historic Florida attraction – in fact, 2007 marks its 60th Anniversary!

    The spring itself is beautiful but the main attraction is its mermaid shows. Shows run every 2 hours or so – I’d advise checking the website for show times on the days you are their and timing your visit to catch at least 2 shows (try for 3). Children will love the shows but adults will find it just as fascinating – I spent most of the time wondering at the training involved in being a mermaid – the mermaids breath through tubes but hold their breath for minutes between breaths they also can eat, drink and sing underwater – amazing. Since the mermaids swim in a natural spring the mermaids are among fish and turtles – watching the turtles following the mermaids around is quite fun too.

    The park is worth visiting year around but during the winter the water park is closed. I enjoy visiting during the winter though – prices are cheaper and crowds are smaller.

    There are also several nature shows and there is a boat ride down to the lower spring that is nice. The spring also offers scuba diving. The water in the spring is crystal clear and emits over 170 million gallons of clear, fresh 72-degree water.

    In 2007 Buccaneer Bay Waterpark reopens March 17! This is Florida's ONLY spring-fed waterpark. Swim in the 72-degree, crystal clear spring with white sandy beaches, picnic areas, beach volleyball, etc!

    http://mermaid.weekiwachee.com/

    Directions: Head North on 19 or take Vetrans Hwy North about an hour

    Daily Admission through March 16
    Adult ~ $13.95 Plus Tax
    Child (Ages 3-10) ~ $10.95 Plus Tax

    Daily Admission beginning March 17
    Adult ~ $22.95 Plus Tax
    Child (Ages 3-10) ~ $15.95 Plus Tax
    Admission includes both Weeki Wachee & Buccaneer Bay!

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    Cypress Gardens

    by tampa_shawn Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    This is a traditional Florida attraction that offers gardens, rides, shows

    Midway between Orlando and Tampa the park is located less than 60 minutes from both metro areas in Winter Haven. Cypress Gardens is off U.S. Highway 27 south of Interstate 4.

    From Tampa: Take I-4 EAST to Exit 27. Take Polk County Parkway for 12 miles. Take Winter Haven exit (2nd Toll Booth) at S.R. 540. Take S.R. 540 eight miles to Hwy 17 North. Take Hwy 17 North two miles over the bridge to first light and turn right. Park is on the right at Kehoe Way behind the Cypress Gardens entrance sign.

    Regular Admission ticket (Age 10-54) $44.95, plus tax
    Seniors (55 and over) $39.95, plus tax
    Juniors (3-9) $39.95, plus tax

    However the yearly pass is about $70 so if you live in the area it is well worth it

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    Tarpon Springs

    by tampa_shawn Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    I take everyone who visits me in Tampa to Tarpon Springs. It’s a Greek colony settled just North of Tampa to harvest sponges.

    Tarpon Springs is absolutely picturesque. It is the place to get the best Greek food in Florida and a great place to sight see. Once you get to the water front area park your car and walk around. There are a plethora of Greek restaurants, small museums, Greek merchandise shops and even the normal tacky tourist shops.

    I always get here in time for lunch and stay for dinner to get two chances at the great Greek food. Be sure to try the flaming cheese appetizer and at least one fish dish.

    By the dock you can also purchase dolphin sight seeing tours, sponge diving tours, gambling cruises. The free sponge museum is a bit run down is still very well done and heck its free!

    The main street area has all sorts of museum shops and also host some wonderful bed and breakfasts.

    The city of Tarpon Springs (between the water and US19) has quite a few art galleries and antique shops that are also worth visiting.

    Tarpon Springs is a waterfront community north of Tampa just off of US19

    Dad and I at the Tarpon Spings Doc

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    Picnic Island

    by Kushelkitten Updated Apr 4, 2011

    Picnic Island is somewhat of a local secret. Most tourists dont know that Tampa has a great beach in the city limits and think that they have to drive to St. Petersburg or Clearwater for swimming.

    It is located in the extreme south of Tampa in Port Tampa which was once a town of its own. You will pass by the lovely old homes in that neighborhood as you drive Interbay Ave to Commerce Street. The nicer houses with thin out as you approach the port and the gasoline tanks. As soon as you think you have lost your way you will be there. The turn off is on your left, Picnic Island Blvd. and there is a large sign welcoming you.

    Ammentities:

    Fishing Pier
    Boat launch
    picnic area with tables and grills
    toliets
    showers
    and a long beach.

    Personal note:
    As a child I used to find complete shells here not just broken pieces. One of the reasons I loved this place.

    Related to:
    • Beaches
    • Sailing and Boating
    • Family Travel

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    Beaches in Tampa?

    by Ewingjr98 Written Mar 30, 2011

    Want to enjoy the sun and the sand, but hate that long, slow drive to the Clearwater and St. Pete Beaches? Tampa has a few beaches of its own, and much closer to home than those across the bridges. The more popular beaches include the Seaplane are at Davis Islands, Picnic Island in Port Tampa, Ben T. Davis Beach along Courtney Campbell Causeway, Cypress Point Park near the airport, and even the beach at MacDill Air Force Base (if you have a military ID).

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    Ybor City Museum State Park

    by Ewingjr98 Written Mar 23, 2011

    The museum itself occupies a former bakery that dates back to 1923. NExt to the museum is a nice, comfortable Mediterranean-style park with fountains, flowers, artwork, and a small stage. On the other side of the park is a "casita," a replica of a typical house owned by cigar factory workers of Tampa's past.

    The museum and park are located in the heart of Ybor city, next to Centennial Park.

    The museum and park are open from 9am to 5pm, and admission is $4 per person.

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    Tampa's Cigar Industry-Cigar Capital of the World!

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Dec 8, 2010

    In the heyday of the cigar industry, Tampa had some 200 cigar factories producing millions of hand-rolled cigars each month, and was the largest producer of cigars int he world. This industry started in 1879 when Vicente Martinez Ybor moved his factory here from Key West, and other big manufacturers followed. Most of the factory workers were Cuban immigrants, who spoke Spanish and are credited with creating the Cuban sandwich. During the Great Depression, the cigar industry suffered and almost disappeared from Tampa. Today, just a few small manufacturers still exist in the city.

    Today, about 24 of the old cigar factories still stand, 10 in West Tampa, west of the Hillsborough River and the bulk of them east of the river in and around Ybor City. The factories were typically built on an east-west axis with plenty of windows allowing for good lighting throughout the day, since the factories did not have electric lights. Many of this buildings are now in use as as offices, warehouses, industrial facilities, shopping centers, government offices, churches, or are vacant; none of these former factories are used for cigar production any more.


    In Ybor there is a historical marker that says the following:

    FOUNDING OF
    THE CIGAR INDUSTRY
    IN TAMPA

    In 1886 two cigar factories were completed
    at Tampa signaling the founding of the
    industry in the area. Pioneer manufacturer
    was Vicente Martinez Ybor, a native of Spain,
    who had made cigars in Havana and Key West
    Ybor's move to Tampa was prompted by better
    transportation and favorable terms offered by
    Tampa's Board of Trade. Due to the efforts
    of Ybor and his associates, Tampa became a
    world tobacco manufacturing center.

    Florida Board of Parks and Historic Memorials
    In Cooperation With
    Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce

    Berriman - Morgan Cigar Company... maybe?

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    Peter O. Night

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Dec 7, 2010

    This wood frame cottage, built in 1890, is now headquarters for the Tampa Historical Society.
    This small house was the honeymoon cottage of local businessman Peter O. Knight and his wife Lilly. This is one of the first residences constructed in Hyde Park--Tampa's first neighborhood-- and it exemplifies Tampa's middle class's lifestyle of the era.

    The Tampa Historical Society uses the Peter O. Knight house as its headquarters. On display are photographs, furniture and artifacts from the Tampa Historical Society collection. The society also holds off-site programs at at Oaklawn Cemetery (c.1850, Tampa's first public burying ground). The Tampa Historical Society also publishes the Sunland Tribune, a journal of local history.

    Area: S. Tampa/Hyde Park

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    Spanish-American War Memorial - U of Tampa Campus

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Jul 18, 2010

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    At the University of Tampa, there are numerous historic sites, some obvious--such as the Tampa Bay Hotel, others well hidden--like the spot where Babe Ruth hit his longest home run. One of the more obvious locations sits right along Kennedy Boulevard: the Spanish American War Memorial. This cannon was actually an 8-inch coastal defense gun removed from Fort Dade on nearby Egmont Key. The gun points toward Cuba, and marks one of the locations from which the Cuban invasion was planned.

    The concrete base of the gun is marked with famous names and phrases like Admiral Dewey, Remember the Maine, and the Rough Riders.

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    Fort Brooke Park and Tampa Bay History Center

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Jul 1, 2010

    Fort Brooke was established in 1823 at the mouth of the Hillsborough River in he newly acquired Florida territory. Its founders were Colonel George Mercer Brooke, after whom the fort was named , and Colonel James Gadsden, who later became famous for the Gadsden Purchase. The fort itself was used during the three Seminole Wars and during the American Civil War, witnessing the Battle of Fort Brooke in 1863 and the fall of Tampa in 1864. Fort Brooke was decommissioned in 1883, became an independent city in 1885, and was annexed by Tampa in 1907.

    Today the Tampa Bay Convention Center stands on the site of Fort Brooke. Fort Brook Park actually occupies the section of Tampa's Riverwalk Park between the convention center and Channelside. This park has a monument to those killed in the Seminole Wars, the Tampa History Center, and other attractions. The park was established in 2002.

    The Fort Brooke Cemetery was established in what is now downtown Tampa, then just north of the fort. The cemetery was established during the second Seminole War (1835 to 1842), and most of the graves were lost until 1980. When the nearby city parking garage was built the graves were discovered and 102 soldiers were moved to Oaklawn Cemetery.

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    Derek Jeter's Castle - Davis Islands

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Jan 26, 2010

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    Derek Jeter is in the process of building a waterfront house on Davis Islands just south of downtown Tampa. He purchased adjoining waterfront properties in 2005 and 2006 for $7.7M and soon removed both houses to make way for his massive 30,000 square foot mansion that features 8 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms. When completed, the house will be the largest in all of Hillsborough County, complete with a pool and two three-car garages.

    Jeter's home puts George Steinbrenner's tiny $3.65M, 13,480 square feet home to shame.

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    Monument for the World's First Scheduled Airline

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Nov 13, 2009

    The world's first scheduled commercial airline service was established between Tampa and St. Petersburg, Florida. In 1913, a mere 10 years after the Wright Brothers flew at Kitty Hawk, the airline contract was signed between a Florida businessman named P. E. Fansler and pilot and inventor Tom Benoist in St. Petersburg. On January 1, 1914, the first official trip of a regular scheduled airline was made with Tony Jannus at the airplane's controls and A. C. Pheil earning the right to be the first passenger with a bid of some $400. The flight flew from St. Pete to Tampa is 23 minutes, then returned to St. Pete in just 20 minutes with strong tailwinds.

    This first airline made two flights per day, six days a week, at a cost of just $5 per person. Later the airline added routes to Manatee, Bradenton and Sarasota. The airline operated for just four months, carrying 1,205 passengers.

    In Tampa a monument was erected in 1956 to commemorate this significant achievement. It is a simple monument featuring a half of a propeller on a stone base with a bronze plaque describing the event. The monument is located on Bayshore Boulevard just south of the city center, and across from the Tampa Hospital on Davis Islands.

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    Big Cat Rescue

    by Ewingjr98 Written Nov 1, 2009

    Big Cat Rescue is one of the truly unique places to visit in the Tampa area. While Busch Gardens makes aspects of Africa into a cheesy trap, Big Cat Rescue actually saves many wild cats from Africa and other locations. Big Cat Rescue has 45 acres, with 140 cats representing 16 species including Lions, Tigers, Geoffroy Cats, Jungle Cats, Servals, Caracals, Snow Leopards, Bobcats, Lynx and more.

    Big Cat Rescue is not a zoo, but they do give guided tours with prices starting at $25 for adults and $15 for kids.

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    Tampa's Spanish-American War Sites

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Sep 27, 2009

    Fort DeSoto, Fort Brooke, Palmetto Beach, Tampa Heights, Ybor City, West Tampa, and Port Tampa, with the headquarters for the command located at The Tampa Hotel, now known as Plant Hall. 30,000 troops were stationed in Tampa and the surrounding area, and about 15,000 of them were sent to Cuba.

    Plant Hall -- The huge 511-room hotel hosted Theodore Roosevelt and other American commanders before the invasion of Cuba in the Spanish American War of 1898. The south wing hosts the Henry B. Plant Museum, which displays various artifacts from the hotel's heyday.

    Port Tampa's Spanish-American War Park -- Spanish-American War Memorial Park is a small, generally triangular park in the Port Tampa City area of southern Tampa. The Tampa area was an essential staging area for the troops heading off to Cuba to fight in the Spanish-American War in 1898.

    West Tampa's Fort Homer Hesterly -- This towering white, four story building on North Howard Avenue is presently a National Guard Armory. It is also the site where the Rough Riders staged their men and equipment prior to heading off to fight in Cuba. There are plans to move the National Guard unit and completely redevelop this area.

    Fort DeSoto Park -- In May of 1898 this park on an island called Mullet Key became an overflow camp for some of those preparing for the invasion of Cuba. In November of the same year construction began on Fort DeSoto, much of which is still in its original condition.

    Fort Brooke -- This small fort at the mouth of the Hillsborough River in downtown Tampa was constructed in 1824, at the site of the convention center. By the time of the Spanish-American War, the fort had been decommissioned, but the area still served as an encampment for soldiers preparing for the attack on Cuba.

    Palmetto Beach -- lies just east of Channelside, across the Ybor Shipping Channel.

    Tampa Heights -- This area is just north of modern downtown Tampa.

    Ybor City -- The Cuban expatriots and refugees who lived in Ybor City helped ignite the Spanish-American War, and this also became an encampment area and a crossroads of severl other local military camps prior to the Cuban invasion.

    Monument at Plant Hall Plant Hall - Old Tampa Hotel Fort Hesterly Fort DeSoto Port Tampa City today

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