Tampa is known for...
1. The Cigars:
Tampa's extensive Latin culture springs from the cigar factories that were located in Ybor City and West Tampa at the end of the 1800's to the early 20th century. When Vicente Martinez Ybor moved his cigar factory from Key West to Tampa, it increased the population of the sleepy town by many thousands in just a few years. At its height, Tampa was considered the "Cigar Capital of the World". Most of the cigar factories are long gone, but a couple still exist. There are still quite a few small cigar shops in Ybor City where you can watch a tabaquero hand-roll a custom cigar.
2. The Sports:
It might have taken a little while (or decades), but all three of our major sports teams have experienced success in recent years. The National Football League Buccaneers play in Raymond James Stadium. The National Hockey League Lightning play in the Tampa Bay Times Forum in downtown Tampa. Finally, the Rays baseball team plays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. If you aren't quite a professional sportsperson, there are still plenty of opportunities to get active in Tampa. In a place with 300 days of sunshine per year, golf is very popular, including courses visited every year by the PGA and Champions Tours. Of course, any water sport you can possibly be interested in can be found either in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Tampa Bay, or the freshwater lakes and rivers.
3. The Weather:
Tampa’s weather, being a subtropical climate, is sunny for roughly 300 days out of the year. Spring, fall, and most of winter will feature some of the best weather in the country, comparatively speaking, with highs in the 60’s and 70’s most days. It’s the summer, however, for which Tampa is famous. The heat and humidity, along with being surrounded by water, give rise to strong thunderstorms most afternoons. In fact, the Tampa Bay area is known as the lightning capital of North America, with the average resident being within half a mile of a lightning strike 10 to 15 times per year. If a storm is rolling in, seek shelter. There is a reason we named our hockey and arena football teams the Lightning and Storm, respectively.
4. The Water:
Life revolves around water here in Tampa Bay because the water literally revolves around us. There are the beaches, which are consistently ranked as some of the best in the nation. There is the fishing, both in the Gulf and in the various lakes and rivers around the area. And then there are the opportunities to jump on one of the fantastic cruise ships that leave from the Port of Tampa, the second-busiest port in Florida. Trips of various lengths depart every week for Mexico, the Caribbean, and parts beyond.
5. The Events:
For most people, the year in Tampa starts with Gasparilla, our riff on Mardi Gras with a pirate twist. There are many events that surround Gasparilla, including the original parade, a parade for children, and a night parade. Halloween is celebrated with Guavaween in Ybor City. National entertainment acts routinely visit both the Tampa Bay Times Forum and the Amphitheater. Tampa has also hosted the Super Bowl twice in the past 15 years and will host the Republican National Convention in the summer of 2012. National, historic events are realizing that Tampa provides a great setting for their gatherings.