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Downtown skyscrapers and sprawling neighborhoods hide the real story behind Tampa, where Jules Verne launched space travel in Florida in his novel From the Earth to the Moon. While the site of Fort Brooke and the original town of Tampa, circa 1855, has long since vanished under the business district, you can still imagine troops massing on the lawn of the Tampa Bay Hotel under Teddy Roosevelt’s command en route to the Spanish-American War. Built in 1891 with distinctive Moorish minarets, it’s now a university and museum. The 1885 settlement of Ybor City is a distinctive neighborhood with deep roots in Cuban heritage, and was the cigar ...

Downtown skyscrapers and sprawling neighborhoods hide the real story behind Tampa, where Jules Verne launched space travel in Florida in his novel From the Earth to the Moon. While the site of Fort Brooke and the original town of Tampa, circa 1855, has long since vanished under the business district, you can still imagine troops massing on the lawn of the Tampa Bay Hotel under Teddy Roosevelt’s command en route to the Spanish-American War. Built in 1891 with distinctive Moorish minarets, it’s now a university and museum. The 1885 settlement of Ybor City is a distinctive neighborhood with deep roots in Cuban heritage, and was the cigar capital of the world until the embargo with Cuba. World War II shaped Tampa’s sprawling growth as airmen in training settled into communities built around the bases, such as Brandon and Temple Terrace. For dining, shopping, and nightlife, Hyde Park and the SoHo district offer distinctive eateries like the world-renowned Bern’s Steakhouse. The Columbia Restaurant and Alessi Bakery vie for the oldest operating eateries in Florida, each more than a century old. Tampa’s commercial waterfront has received special attention in the past two decades, with the emergence of attractions and parks that bring a new appeal to the cityscape, including the Florida Aquarium, Channelside, sports arenas, and the Tampa Bay History Center. Cruises to the Caribbean and Mexico depart from the Port of Tampa daily. Scenic Bayshore Boulevard, south of downtown, is paralleled by the world’s longest continuous sidewalk, which stretches for 4.5 miles without a break.

Sandra Friend
About the Expert

Sandra Friend has written 12 books about Florida, including the Explorer's Guide (Countryman Press) series to Florida.

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