Tampa International Airport (TPA)
Fun fact: Tampa was allegedly founded by a pirate, which explains the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But there's more than football in the sports arena. Tampa is home to both NHL (Tampa Bay Lightning) and MLB teams (Go Rays!). The city also boasts the impressive Busch Gardens amusement part with thrill rides and an impressive collection of animals from all over the world.
Interested in history? The Tampa Bay History Center is a 60,000 square foot museum located on the water in the Channelside District where mammoth cruise ships have given a new life to the area. The Center reveals Tampa’s past, from the Spanish conquistadors to the railroad tycoons who each had a hand in shaping the city. Tampa’s future might be glimpsed at the new Riverwalk which stretches along the Hillsborough River, connecting Channelside with the downtown and beyond. The Riverwalk includes seven parks, five museums and eleven bridges along the 2.2 mile walkway, and is nearly completed.
Night Time Is the Right Time
After dark, Tampa really revs up. Catch a streetcar from downtown Tampa to Ybor City and explore this vibrant, multi-ethnic district packed with nightclubs, bars and unique shops. Originally populated by Cuban, Spanish and Italian immigrants, this neighborhood is legendary for its cigar factories and the tasty Cuban sandwich. Within Tampa, restaurants, comedy clubs, bars, theatres and nightclubs keep you entertained.
Now about that pirate. As the story goes, Jose Gaspar, an infamous pirate, sailed into Tampa Bay and hid his treasure. Some say it's still buried there today. Every January, Gasparilla celebrates the dreaded pirate with a Mardi Gras-like festival featuring a parade, art festival and pirate costumes galore.