Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tampa is Hopping

Tampa, Florida is a coastal city with much to offer in every season. I was recently there for a few days and discovered a fascinating downtown area.

The 2010 census reports a population of 335,709 for Tampa, but other sources which include the entire Tampa Bay area state that there are 2.7 million residents.

During a visit to the nearby downtown library, I came across a book entitled Tampa on My Mind by Kimberly Williams, Greg Thomas, Ronald Williams and Cheryl Borman. With accompanying photos, I discovered some interesting facts about Tampa. It was originally a remote military outpost called Fort Brooke, cleared from a dense jungle in 1824. That’s difficult to imagine today with its tall buildings which house offices, restaurants, museums, theaters, courthouses and residences.

One fascinating structure is the Sykes Building, one of the tallest limestone buildings in the world. My research revealed that its cylindrical design was intended to symbolize a lighthouse. This building is home to a wonderfully classy restaurant called Malio’s Prime Steakhouse at 400 N. Ashley Drive. See With a lovely view of the Hillsborough River, the Riverwalk and the University of Tampa’s 105 acre campus, the Sykes Building and Malio’s are in a fabulous location.

What does the Tampa area have to offer? Let me count the venues. No, that is totally impossible. Just trust me when I tell you that there are numerous choices including, but not limited to: Busch Gardens, beaches, canoe and kayak excursions, helicopter tours, boat rentals, fishing charters, golf, dining cruises, museums, zoos, an aquarium, pro sports, baseball’s spring training events, Big Cat Rescue, performing arts activities, art and craft fairs, and the largest port in Florida with a multitude of cruise options. No one could be bored in Tampa unless they are glued to their sofas.

While the downtown area has seen amazing revitalization, one interesting aspect that I discovered was that there is virtually no shopping there. One must travel away from the downtown in order to locate department stores, shops and boutiques. That was the only treasured activity that seemed to be oddly missing.

Tampa Bay area's got it all going on, and a visit during the winter months can be a welcome break from the snow or frigid temperatures of the north. With bright, blue skies and occasional puffy, white clouds northerners think it's a mighty fine place to be--even if a cold front makes the Floridians shudder. While the typical pleasant temperatures entice a large population of snow birds, Tampa is an ideal location for many to call home from January through December.