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    The Westin Tampa Harbour Island

    Tampa, United States


    Find and experience great local places nearby.

    With late checkout on Sundays and extended breakfast hours all weekend at participating hotels, you’ll enjoy extra time to explore your destination.

    Find the best of the local area.
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    The Columbia Restaurant
    2117 East 7th Avenue
    Tampa, United States
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    A Taste of Cuba at Florida's Oldest Restaurant
    By Trent Pickle

    I arrived into Tampa with an insatiable craving for Cuban cuisine. The eight hour drive to Tampa from Alabama was long, only to be exacerbated by my travel companion's excessive talk of all things food and wine. Different nationalities and dishes were discussed back and forth, but the only terms saturating my brain were gazpacho, tamale, paella.

    Immediately after the check-in process at our hotel, I asked the clerk what was her favorite restaurant in the city, specifically something Spanish-inspired. She immediately replied, "Columbia Restaurant- just a few minutes away in Ybor City." My companion and I tossed our baggage into the room and immediately headed for Ybor City.

    Upon entering the Columbia, I was struck by the sheer size of the restaurant. The edifice covers an entire city block. While glossing over the menu, I discovered it not only serves as a catalog of the various dishes, but also as a history of the establishment. Founded in 1905, the Columbia is Florida's oldest restaurant. Not only that, but the restaurant is also the largest Spanish restaurant in the world.

    The Columbia not only quenched my thirst for knowledge, but also quenched my insatiable hunger for Cuban cuisine. The gazpacho was the perfect confluence of spicy and chill. The Pollo Relleno "LeLe," rich and toasty. A pitcher of Sangria enhanced the experience, while Flamenco performers added vitality.

    Columbia Restaurant will be a mainstay of my future visits to the Tampa area.

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    Old Tampa Book Co Inc
    507 North Tampa Street
    Tampa, United States
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    An Oasis of Books in Downtown Tampa
    By Annette Baesel

    For over 18 years, the Old Tampa Book Company has provided a haven for book lovers in downtown Tampa. Stocking over 40,000 rare, used, and out-of-print books, it is always possible to find that special treat for your reading pleasure.

    The OTBC is an excellent spot to spend part of an afternoon. Located in a "vintage" building on a block that has resisted modern redevelopment, there are a number of small restaurants, such as the Bamboozle Cafe, where you can enjoy a snack or lunch while reading your latest purchase.

    Be sure to check out the Florida section for a wide and interesting variety of fiction and non-fiction dedicated to the sunshine state.

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    Tampa Downtown Market
    611 North Franklin Street
    Tampa, United States
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    Everything Fresh and Local: October to May
    By Annette Baesel

    Every Sunday from October through May, the 600/700 blocks of Franklin Street in downtown Tampa come alive with local foods, arts & crafts, and music.

    From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., local vendors sell everything from fresh-made German bread to produce just picked that morning. There are spice merchants and soap sellers. Local honey makers bring their jars of golden goodness. There is fresh cheese, dried fruit, homemade pickles. Fresh from the boat seafood and locally made Florida tea are for sale.

    Food vendors sell breakfast treats and lunches. Craftsmen sell their wares. There's even a guy who will sharpen your kitchen knives for you while you wait.

    All that goodness, and music too. So enjoy a different side of modern downtown Tampa and enjoy the Sunday market community.

    Photo courtesy of Tampa Downtown Market.

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    The Sail Pavilion
    333 South Franklin Street
    Tampa, United States
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    Enjoy a Drink with a 360-degree View
    By Annette Baesel

    Located along the Tampa Riverwalk where the Garrison Channel and Hillsborough River come together, the Sail Pavilion (the structure with the blue roof in the photo) is Tampa's only 360-degree waterfront bar. Open from 2 p.m. to last call, the Sail Pavilion is a very special spot to enjoy the Tampa waterfront.

    During the day it's a popular spot for walkers, joggers, and bicyclists using the Riverwalk to stop for a refreshment or light bite to eat. Early evening brings the sunset-watchers and folks getting ready to head out to the Forum for a concert or the Straz Performing Arts Center for a play. There's also live music on Thursday through Sunday nights, all with a gorgeous view of Tampa's waterways.

    Photo by Robert Neff/Flickr.

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    The Oxford Exchange
    420 West Kennedy Boulevard
    Tampa, United States
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    Read a Book, Have a Cuppa, Enjoy a Meal
    By Annette Baesel

    The Oxford Exchange is my new favorite place in Tampa. First, there are books. Not just any books, but a well curated selection of books on interesting subjects well displayed with helpful hints from bookstore staff. The room is light filled and comfy chairs give you a spot to peruse your selection. I can never leave without at least a couple new books to add to the pile on my bedside table.

    A walk down a richly decorated, wood-paneled hallway leads to a coffee and tea bar featuring local favorites Buddy Brew Coffee and Tebella Tea. There are large sofas, comfy chairs, high top tables, and bar seating. There is always a nice vibe in the air as friends and associates chat over a cup of brew.

    Then there is the restaurant. Chef Erin Guggino creates fresh, simple, flavorful meals served in a high-ceilinged, high-windowed room or the adjacent atrium. The menu emphasizes seasonal, local, and organic ingredients. Currently, it is open for breakfast and lunch (regulars secretly hope they start opening for dinner).

    And last, but not least, are the treasures waiting to be found at the Shop at Oxford Exchange. The shop has a delightful collection of home décor pieces, vintage finds, and gifts.

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    Pinky's Diner
    3203 West Bay to Bay Boulevard
    Tampa, United States
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    Pinky's Diner in Tampa
    By kaitlyn barrett

    If this breakfast sandwich picture doesn't make you want to visit Pinky's, I'm not sure what else I can tell you. But how about this: even if diners aren't your thing, you should visit Pinky's. They have cheap Cuban breakfast sandwiches and mismatched mugs, but they also have espresso drinks, vegetarian options, and their rosemary potatoes are perfectly crispy. They sweeten the deal with outdoor seating and parking in a neighborhood where it's hard to find either of those things—and they've been voted best breakfast in Tampa for five years running. If you love breakfast, go to Pinky's.

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    Jackson's Bistro
    601 South Harbour Island Boulevard
    Tampa, US
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    Dine, Drink, or Dance with a View
    By Annette Baesel

    Whether you are in the mood for a romantic dinner under an arbor on the water, grabbing a drink with friends and watching sports on TV, or dancing the night away, Jackson's Bistro is the place for you.

    It's located on Tampa's Harbour Island at the confluence of the Garrison Channel and Hillsborough River. The Bistro—the fine dining side of the restaurant—has a large, warm set of rooms lined with floor-to-ceiling windows giving views of the water and sunsets. The outdoor patio has shaded arbor areas and sunny spots for a delightfully, breezy oasis on warm days. The menu is eclectic with meats, seafood, and pastas. Gluten-free and vegetarian dishes are available.

    A more casual dining and drinking spot is offered in the outdoor, covered Island Bar. Blackjack's Bar and Lounge offers music and dancing most weekends.

    Structure parking is available and Jackson's Bistro validates parking.

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    Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
    25 Second St. N
    St. Petersburg, United States
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    Racing through the Streets of St. Pete
    By Annette Baesel

    Brightly colored race cars careen down the picturesque streets of St. Petersburg, under the palms, past the Dalí Museum, and along Tampa Bay waterfront. Held every spring since 2005, the Honda Grand Prix is a premier event for the Indy Car Series attracting all the big names in racing for the four-day event.

    A family-friendly, nighttime illuminated parade through the downtown kicks off the festivities the night before qualifying and practice begins on the streets of St. Pete.

    There are plenty of places to watch the race within the race track grounds including a variety of grandstands and broad, grassy swales. A wide variety of food and drink vendors keep race watchers happy. There are spots to get autographs signed by your favorite race car driver, a ferris wheel, opportunities to sit in a real race car, and access to "paddocks" where you can get up close and personal with racer and machine alike.

    Single-day and three-day passes are available (with and without grandstand seating).

    I like to go on the first day of qualifying. The crowds are less and its easy to get close to the cars and the drivers for photographs.

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    Teco Line Steetcar, Downtown Tampa
    Tampa, United States
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    Convenient and Air-Conditioned, Riding the Rails in Downtown Tampa
    By Annette Baesel

    Would you like to travel back in time to when streetcars ruled downtown streets? Is the day just a bit too hot for walking? Would you like a quick tour of downtown Tampa from old to new? Then hop on the old-fashioned, yellow Teco Line Streetcar that connects the high-rise downtown of modern Tampa to the brick streets of historic Ybor City. The air-conditioned ride, in well maintained and staffed replica “vintage” streetcars, takes 20 minutes from end to end with eleven stops at major attractions along the way.

    Stations 10 and 11 are a short walk from major downtown hotels. Once on the streetcar, it’s just a few stops to the Tampa Bay Times Forum, Tampa Bay History Center, Channelside, Florida Aquarium, American Victory Museum Ship and historic Ybor City. Within a few blocks of Station 11, you’ll find the historic Tampa Theatre, Straz Performing Arts Center, and the Florida Museum of Photographic Art.

    The streetcar runs every 20 minutes. Affordable day and three-day passes are available with discounted fares for seniors and children. Easy-to-use ticket vending machines are available at every stop. Cash, debit, and credit cards are accepted.

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    Tampa Bay History Center
    801 Old Water Street
    Tampa, United States
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    From Cowboys to Citrus Growers, Explorers to Cigar Makers
    By Annette Baesel

    The Tampa Bay History Center takes visitors through 12,000 years of Florida's history. Interactive, family-friendly, exhibits tell the stories of the lives of Florida’s first inhabitants: European explorers, cowmen and crackers, citrus growers, cigar makers, entrepreneurs who brought trains and ships to Florida’s coasts, and everyday soldiers of World War II.

    There are three floors of multi-media presentations that take the visitor from early history to present day. Along the way there is the opportunity to design your own citrus label, sit in a saddle while “riding” in a cattle drive, guide trains and ships into a replica of Tampa Bay, and create Seminole patchwork patterns. For the map-lover there are over 400 years of Florida maps on exhibit.

    After traveling through the centuries, visitors can stop for a meal in the Columbia Café, a branch of the famous Ybor City Columbia Café. Seated in a sunny atrium with a view, you can enjoy the Columbia’s signature Cuban Sandwich, the 1905 Columbia Salad, a mojito and more.

    The gift shop has an exceptional selection of books covering all things Florida: history, biographies, nature, and travel. There are also a wide selection of children’s toys and games, housewares, and clothing.

    The Center is located on the banks of the Garrison Channel in downtown Tampa with convenient parking. It is easy to walk to the Center along the Riverwalk from many downtown hotels or from Teco Line Streetcar Station 9.

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    The Dalí Museum
    1 Dali Blvd
    St. Petersburg, United States
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    A Day With Dalí
    By Vanessa Petersen

    The Dalí Museum has a wonderful collection of Salvador Dalí's work. From postcard-sized paintings he did as a child to mural masterpieces, the many sides of Dalí's work fills rooms worth wandering.

    The museum offers a knowledgeable tour, has a tasty Spanish cafe, and is housed in a very Dalí-inspired glass building.

    Read More
    Yeoman's Road Pub
    236 East Davis Boulevard
    Tampa, United States
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    Yeoman's Road Pub, Davis Islands
    By Todd

    Before the proliferation of craft brew pubs in the area, there was Yeoman’s Road on Davis Islands. This English-style pub with 18 beers on tap serves up traditional dishes like shepherd’s pie, and fills up with a mixed crowd of professionals, students, and neighborhood regulars. It’s easy to find—just look for the red London telephone booth out front.

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    Greiner's Fine Men's Clothing
    117 East Whiting Street
    Tampa, United States
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    A Gent's One-Stop Shop
    By Todd

    Housed in a rustic, exposed brick building with hardwood floors, locally owned Greiner's specializes in the finest menswear, including impeccable accessories such as ascots, fedoras, and all-natural pashmina scarves. With an in-house master tailor, you'll be looking your dandiest. Individual appointments are available.

    Image courtesy of Greiner's.

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    Henry B. Plant Museum
    401 West Kennedy Boulevard
    Tampa, United States
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    Revisit the Victorian Age
    By Todd

    Take some time to visit this example of Moorish revival architecture unique to Tampa. Constructed in 1891 as an opulent Victorian-era hotel, it's now listed as a National Historic Landmark. The museum and themed exhibits will transport you back to America’s Gilded Age. Check the calendar for special exhibits and holiday events.

    Image courtesy of Henry B. Plant Museum.

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    Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo
    1101 W Sligh Ave
    Tampa, United States
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    Family friendly zoo
    By Dottie Combe

    Visitors to the Tampa Zoo learn about habitats the zoo offers though active participation in some of the zoo’s interactive exhibits. For example, guests can feed lettuce to the giraffes or get behind-the-scenes views of wildlife on “Expedition Africa.”

    In addition to the animal exhibits, there are fun rides (included with the price of admission) for the whole family to enjoy, such as the Gator Falls flume ride and the Tasmanian Tiger Family Coaster.

    Photo by Tambako The Jaguar/Flickr.

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    Manatee Viewing Center
    6990 Dickman Rd
    Apollo Beach, United States
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    View Manatees in the wild
    By Dottie Combe

    Visitors to the MVC environmental education building are engrossed in the world of the manatee through viewing of safe and natural manatee habitats, intriguing displays, and interactive exhibitions, such as assembling actual manatee bones. See how The Big Bend Power Station responsibly generates electricity for the manatee environments, and view the reusable byproducts of the electric generation. The center also has a hurricane simulator that includes information regarding Tampa Electric’s preparation and response to major storm events.

    Award-winning butterfly gardens, environmentally-friendly and natural landscaping, solar panels, native and coastal plant life, and animals in their natural habitats cover the grounds outside the center, making for a beautiful and educational stroll you can take along the center’s tidal walk.

    Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region/Flickr.

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    Pinky's Diner
    3203 West Bay to Bay Boulevard
    Tampa, United States
    Show Map
    Pinky's Diner in Tampa
    By kaitlyn barrett

    If this breakfast sandwich picture doesn't make you want to visit Pinky's, I'm not sure what else I can tell you. But how about this: even if diners aren't your thing, you should visit Pinky's. They have cheap Cuban breakfast sandwiches and mismatched mugs, but they also have espresso drinks, vegetarian options, and their rosemary potatoes are perfectly crispy. They sweeten the deal with outdoor seating and parking in a neighborhood where it's hard to find either of those things—and they've been voted best breakfast in Tampa for five years running. If you love breakfast, go to Pinky's.

    Read More
    The Dalí Museum
    1 Dali Blvd
    St. Petersburg, United States
    Show Map
    A Day With Dalí
    By Vanessa Petersen

    The Dalí Museum has a wonderful collection of Salvador Dalí's work. From postcard-sized paintings he did as a child to mural masterpieces, the many sides of Dalí's work fills rooms worth wandering.

    The museum offers a knowledgeable tour, has a tasty Spanish cafe, and is housed in a very Dalí-inspired glass building.

    Read More
    The Dalí Museum
    1 Dali Blvd
    St. Petersburg, United States
    Show Map
    A Day With Dalí
    By Vanessa Petersen

    The Dalí Museum has a wonderful collection of Salvador Dalí's work. From postcard-sized paintings he did as a child to mural masterpieces, the many sides of Dalí's work fills rooms worth wandering.

    The museum offers a knowledgeable tour, has a tasty Spanish cafe, and is housed in a very Dalí-inspired glass building.

    Read More
    Old Tampa Book Co Inc
    507 North Tampa Street
    Tampa, United States
    Show Map
    An Oasis of Books in Downtown Tampa
    By Annette Baesel

    For over 18 years, the Old Tampa Book Company has provided a haven for book lovers in downtown Tampa. Stocking over 40,000 rare, used, and out-of-print books, it is always possible to find that special treat for your reading pleasure.

    The OTBC is an excellent spot to spend part of an afternoon. Located in a "vintage" building on a block that has resisted modern redevelopment, there are a number of small restaurants, such as the Bamboozle Cafe, where you can enjoy a snack or lunch while reading your latest purchase.

    Be sure to check out the Florida section for a wide and interesting variety of fiction and non-fiction dedicated to the sunshine state.

    Read More
    The Sail Pavilion
    333 South Franklin Street
    Tampa, United States
    Show Map
    Enjoy a Drink with a 360-degree View
    By Annette Baesel

    Located along the Tampa Riverwalk where the Garrison Channel and Hillsborough River come together, the Sail Pavilion (the structure with the blue roof in the photo) is Tampa's only 360-degree waterfront bar. Open from 2 p.m. to last call, the Sail Pavilion is a very special spot to enjoy the Tampa waterfront.

    During the day it's a popular spot for walkers, joggers, and bicyclists using the Riverwalk to stop for a refreshment or light bite to eat. Early evening brings the sunset-watchers and folks getting ready to head out to the Forum for a concert or the Straz Performing Arts Center for a play. There's also live music on Thursday through Sunday nights, all with a gorgeous view of Tampa's waterways.

    Photo by Robert Neff/Flickr.

    Read More

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