I opted to stay in St. Pete Beach, but it was an easy drive to Tampa to spend the day. Here you can visit Ybor City and downtown Tampa.
In downtown Tampa, make sure to visit the Tampa Museum of Art where you be able to view pieces from the permanent collection as well as special exhibitions. Make sure to leave time for the Somo cafe with its great views of the Hillsborough River. It has both indoor and outdoor seating.
Also downtown, is the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts at 400 N. Ashley Dr. and the Henry B. Plant Museum at 401 W. Kennedy Blvd. The Plant Museum is located at the University of Tampa in the former Tampa Bay Hotel, an historic building from 1891. It features many of the opulent furnishings and artifacts from the hotel, collected by the Plants on several trips to Europe and Asia.
Ybor City is my favorite area of Tampa. It is an historic neighborhood, northeast of downtown, that was founded in the 1880’s by cigar manufacturers. It was populated by immigrants mainly from Cuba, Spain and Italy. Today, there a number of ethnic restaurants, music clubs, bars, cigar stores and bars where you can see cigars rolled by hand and then buy one to smoke.
I loved going back to the Columbia Restaurant after some years. This is a popular spot from 1905. It was opened as a corner cafe that was frequented by the local Cuban cigar workers. It was later expanded in 1920. The tile work is really wonderful. Today, under the same ownership for five generations, it seats more than 1,700 in 15 dining rooms and has additional locations throughout Florida. I recommend the original location which is the oldest restaurant in Florida. Don’t miss the gazpacho and the original Cuban sandwich. 117 E. 7th Ave.
Other spots to explore include El Molina at 2012 E. 7th. This is a coffee roaster and cafe that has been there since 1921. They offer Cuban coffee, flavored coffee, other gourmet coffee and espresso by the pound.
At 1901 E 7th Ave. is The Blind Tiger, Coffee Tea & Textiles. It is a great spot for coffee in an eclectic setting.
Check out La Faraona Cigars at 1517 E. 7th Ave. Originally based in Cuba, they are now based in Tampa.