There is a road in the middle of Florida that connects the east coast of the state with the west. While this highway has an infamous history, it’s integral to moving people along, and connecting them to the places they want to go. If you drive down Interstate 4 going westward, you will eventually end up in one of the four major cities in the entire state: Tampa, also known as Tampa Bay or Tampa/St. Pete.
What makes Tampa a unique city is that it’s Florida’s gateway to the gulf, as none of the other three cities come close to being on the west coast. As a focal point for trade in the Gulf of Mexico, Tampa has continued to grow at a very quick pace, and has steadily become a destination for many out-of-state visitors. They come here to see everything this city has to offer, and ultimately take in an experience like no other.
Entertainment and Destinations
Florida could easily be called the Tourist Capital of the United States because of the sheer number of people that visit every year. Tampa is one of the most common destinations for tourists, and there’s no mystery why when looking at what the city has to offer. Busch Gardens, the Florida Aquarium, and Ybor City are some of the most frequented destinations in the city.
A partner to SeaWorld, Busch Gardens is the land animal theme park representative. It’s also home to some of the fastest and most impressive roller coasters in the United States. Busch Gardens is a stone’s throw from I-4, and sees millions of visitors every year. Whether it’s to see the animals in their environment, or to ride the roller coasters, people continue to flock to Busch Gardens.
The Florida Aquarium isn’t the largest in the country, but it is one of the most impressive. Home to thousands of sea creatures, this aquarium is a leader in education and conservation, and helps to promote the message of animal safety and responsibility. The building is located in the Channel District of Downtown Tampa, and since opening its doors in 1995 has seen great numbers of visitors each year.
Ybor City is another very famous destination for visitors and locals alike. It’s a beautiful part of the city that has been labeled as a historic landmark. Originally founded and populated by immigrants, Ybor had the distinction of being one of the only successful towns that was almost entirely populated by immigrants. To this day, it is still an incredibly diverse area of Tampa, and is home to some of the most historically beautiful places in the entire country.
Athletics and Sports
You’re not a major U.S. city without a sports team, right? In the case of Tampa, it’s actually home to three separate teams from four major sports. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Tampa Bay Rays have been household names in their respective sports for years, but each represents their own unique sport.
The Buccaneers began back in 1976 during the NFL expansion, and subsequently went winless. These hapless Buccaneers were the laughing stock of the NFL for a few years before gaining relevance and ultimately national attention in the mid-90s. In fact, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the most recent team in the state to win a Super Bowl, back in 2002. When successful, it’s hard not to see red and pewter flags and banners throughout town.
Representing the MLB, the Rays had a relatively innocuous start to their major league debut. While they began in 1998 as the Devil Rays, the Rays couldn’t find success for over a decade. It wasn’t until the early 2000’s did the team start to really pick up steam, and made a World Series appearance.
Lastly, and perhaps the most successful of the three teams is the Tampa Bay Lightning. One of the only NHL teams in the state, the Lightning is actually the most recent team in the entire state to come home with a championship, in the form of the 2004 Stanley Cup.
Sports play a very large part in the shaping of Tampa, and have continued to be a draw for anyone who lives out-of-state to make Tampa one of the fastest growing cities in the nation.
When cities grow, so do the population; and as population grows, so does the need for schools and colleges. Luckily for Tampa, the city is home to one of the largest universities in the country in the University of South Florida (USF). The Bulls began back in 1956 and over the past sixty years have grown to almost 50 thousand enrolled students.
USF is a very diverse school, offering programs for multiple fields; however the two most notable programs are for Marine Biology and Medicine. While it’s not the only school in the state to offer these focuses, it has made a name for itself nationally and is the premiere destination for anyone looking to further their careers in these fields.
Tampa, like many cities, has a deep and rich history while offering a lot of our modern conveniences. Where it sets itself apart is that everyone who goes there feels as though it can be a home. Businesses move into the city on a daily basis, and continue to bring new and fresh ideas while also bringing in new people. With everything that the city has to offer in terms of entertainment, and the ability for economic and educational growth, Tampa truly has one of the best environments for both personal and occupational growth. It’s difficult to truncate Tampa into an article, and it will be even harder to do so in the years to come, because we anticipate that the city will continue to grow and have newer and better amenities for all who visit. It truly is the gem on the west coast of Florida, and is an integral part of our Floridian culture.