Photo Courtesy of a TripAdvisor Traveler/Jillian FClearwater Beach signHow can you complain about this January, 2008What an incredible view January, 2009sunset shotsunsetbeautiful clearwater sunsetsunset at Clearwater Beachsunset

Families will love:

  • Pirates festivals
  • The historic Ybor City
  • Busch Gardens theme park

Located on Florida's west coast not far from the Gulf of Mexico, Tampa took root as an Indian fishing village, but through the years has evolved into one of the Sunshine State's top destinations. With a melting pot of business, arts, multicultural, sports and entertainment interests, this city offers guests a wide array of activities and attractions sure to make a ... more
Located on Florida's west coast not far from the Gulf of Mexico, Tampa took root as an Indian fishing village, but through the years has evolved into one of the Sunshine State's top destinations. With a melting pot of business, arts, multicultural, sports and entertainment interests, this city offers guests a wide array of activities and attractions sure to make a memorable vacation, including the popular family theme park, Busch Gardens.

Perhaps its most well-known aspect, Tampa boasts quite a collection of sport events, from baseball, football and hockey to golf and tennis. Hometown athletic heroes include the 2003 Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the 2004 Stanley Cup-winning Tampa Bay Lightning and the 2004 Arena Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Storm. Baseball aficionados also will enjoy gathering around the diamond of the Tampa Bay Rays or catching a spring training game of the New York Yankees.

In addition to sports, the men in the family may enjoy watching the fine art of hand-rolled cigars in Ybor City. The cigar industry was introduced to Tampa in the late 1800s by Don Vincente Martinez Ybor, which created a 12,000-strong immigrant work force that produced 700 million cigars a year.

Through the years, that immigrant work force -- Spanish, Italian, German and Cuban -- has turned Tampa into such a multicultural hotbed that the city landed on Hispanic Magazine's list of "Top Cities for Hispanics" three years running, topping the list in 2000. The city also was named one of the top five most diverse, integrated urban areas in the country by the U.S. Census Bureau. As a result, the area features a host of multicultural events throughout the year.

In fact, Tampa is the only city to be invaded by pirates every year. As part of the Gasparilla Pirate Fest, hundreds of rowdy swashbucklers invade Tampa on a fully rigged pirate ship, flanked by thousands of pleasure crafts prepared to defend their city. After taking the keys to the city, these outlaws celebrate their victory with a parade in the streets.

This festival is just one of the many attractions that draw visitors to the area every year. With a world-class zoo, a family theme park, top-notch museums, mouthwatering cuisine and first-rate accommodations, Tampa provides so much more than just another city vacation.

For more ideas on vacationing near Tampa, read our review of Busch Gardens.

Written by Karon Warren less

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