Views of the bay from Weedon Island Preserve in St. Petersburg

The Tampa Bay region is most well known for its’ beautiful Gulf Coast beaches, world class theme parks, 3 professional sports teams, and year-round hot, humid weather which includes plenty of intense summer thunderstorms. Although Tampa often gets passed over in favor of “theme park capital of the world Orlando,” the many touristy attractions & close proximity to the Gulf actually make Tampa a pretty nice vacation destination in and of itself. After visiting Tampa just once, you will find that the area offers a never ending supply of opportunities to enjoy fun-in-the-sun.

Indian Rocks Beach in Florida
Gorgeous Indian Rocks Beach – one of the hidden treasures of Tampa Bay.

The Tampa Bay region shines as a premier vacation destination with gorgeous nature preserves, renowned cultural attractions & museums, fantastic local restaurants & breweries, amazing coffee shops, diverse waterfront activities, and so much more. Here are 19 fun facts (you may not have know) about the Tampa Bay area!

1. Tampa is home to the world’s longest continuous sidewalk

Bayshore Blvd in Tampa, Florida - the world's longest continuous sidewalk

Downtown Tampa’s Bayshore Blvd, at 4.5 miles long, earns the title of “the world’s longest continuous sidewalk.” This gorgeous recreational path, used by cyclists, joggers, and walkers alike, is lined with palm trees and features never ending views of the bay. Beautiful views of the Tampa skyline and lovely historic mansions lining the street give your eyes even more to look at. To add to the excitement, dolphin and manatee sightings are a common occurrence during the early morning hours! Bayshore Blvd. is a picturesque place for any type of workout. If you want to challenge yourself even further, you can test out your strength & agility on the fitness stations located along the course.

2. Tampa’s temperature has never exceeded 99 degrees

Swimming in the Gulf is a must during the hot & humid summer season! Be aware - the water will feel quite warm!

Despite the area’s scorching heat and humidity and seemingly endless days of oppressive heat, the temperature has actually never reached 100 degrees! The record is actually 99 degrees, although that is not to say that the temp feels well over 100 with the heat index on an almost constant basis during the brutal summer season. On the other hand, the record high in nearby St. Pete reached 100 degrees back in 1995.

3. Tampa is home to Florida’s oldest restaurant (as well as the world’s largest Spanish restaurant)

Cuban black beans at Columbia Restaurant in Florida

The amazing Columbia restaurant (Ybor City location) is Florida’s oldest restaurant & the world’s largest Spanish restaurant. The Ybor City location in Tampa opened in 1905, and 110 years later 4th and 5th generation members of the the Hernandez/Gonzmart still own the restaurant. On an interesting side note, Columbia was Florida’s first restaurant to feature air conditioning! 

While there are now several locations, Ybor City is the place to visit as this location features gorgeous decor, historical charm, and nightly Flamenco dancing (every day except Sunday). On the other hand, the Sand Key cafe features a gorgeous waterfront patio and is rated one of the most scenic restaurants in the country. As for the food, Columbia serves some of the best Spanish and Cuban cuisine in the country. After trying it out on several occasions, I can attest that this is true! You cannot leave without trying the Cuban Black Beans!

4. Ybor City is one of the most haunted places in the world

Historic Ybor City in Tampa, Florida

Ybor City, a historic neighborhood in downtown Tampa was founded in the late 1800’s by cigar manufacturers. As the “cigar capital of the world,” it has been nicknamed “Cigar City.” Today the neighborhood is a National Historic Landmark District. Asides from its’ cigar history, the area has a long history of strange paranormal happenings. In fact, many sources claim it is one of America’s most haunted cities.

Tampa was once referred to as the “damnedest town this side of Hell.’ Not surprisingly, there are a number of interesting ghost tours, including one frequently rated amongst the best in the country. The Travel Channel voted Ybor’s Cuban Club “One of the Top 10 Most Haunted Places in the U.S.” A tour is must anytime of the year, and of course, even more fun around Halloween!