Steeped in history, architecture, and atmosphere, Ybor City Florida tops the list of Tampa tourist attractions to explore. Check out authentic Spanish dining and Flamenco dancing at the Columbia Restaurant, hand-rolled cigar shops, boutiques, sidewalk cafes at Centro Ybor and cigar lounges, upscale nightclubs, and live music that immerses visitors into the Latin culture along Seventh Avenue.
Ybor City Hotels
Ybor City, founded in 1886, is a National Historic Landmark district. The city started as a small 40-acre swampy area purchased by Spanish-born Vicente Martinez Ybor, who had plans to bring his cigar business from Key West to Tampa. Henry B. Plant, for whom the Plant Museum is named, had turned Tampa into a prime location by building railroads and the Tampa Bay Hotel, so visitors could travel in comfort and stay in luxury accommodations. The railroads were an important factor to Vicente Ybor for transporting cigars from his factory to points across the U.S.
Over the years, Ybor City Florida grew to have more than 140 cigar factories built employing Cuban, Spanish, and Italian workers. With the high production of cigars, Ybor City earned the title of "Cigar Capital of the World" by the turn of the twentieth century. However, by the mid-1950s, most of the cigar factories in Ybor City Florida had closed.
Today, Ybor City remains influenced by the past not only through its thriving Latin culture, but also through the architecture, decorative ironwork, and renovated brick and wood factories that survived the heyday of cigar-making.
A main area of attraction in Ybor City Florida is CentroYbor. The plaza features restaurants, boutiques, cigar shops, bars, Muvico Theater, and entertainment venues. The restaurants in Ybor City provide a variety of cuisine along with Spanish and Cuban fare. The most famous restaurant in Ybor is the award-winning, family-owned and operated Columbia Restaurant, which was established in 1905 and whose Spanish cuisine and Flamenco dancing keep visitors coming back year after year.
Visitors interested in attending unique Tampa events should keep one of Ybor City's main festivals in mind: Guavaween, which is celebrated in October. The festival is Ybor's version of a Halloween party with extravagant costumes, contests, food, and live music that continues into the early morning hours. In addition, the annual Cigar Heritage Festival celebrates Ybor's rich history with activities for visitors of all ages, including a kids' zone, food court, game zone, charity beer garden, cigar rolling demonstrations, and museum tours.
There is also the Sant'Yago Illuminated Knight Parade, which features more than 100 floats filled with bright lights and krewes wearing festive costumes, as well as the Fiesta Day festival, which is Ybor City's official day of celebration. It features the Parade of Flags, a children's fiesta, a cooking competition, ethnic music, complimentary Cuban bread and Spanish Bean Soup, arts and crafts, café con leche, and the annual Flan Fest.
Ybor City Clubs
Ybor City is known for its active nightlife, and it features numerous venues with music and dancing at local bars and clubs. Nearby Channelside and downtown Tampa are accessible via the TECO historic trolley system's electric streetcars, which connect these areas to Ybor, so there's no need to worry about rental cars.
If you're interested in learning more about Tampa history, visit the Ybor City Museum State Park, which contains historical information about the cigar industry, social clubs, and the Ferlita bakery, established in 1896. The Ybor City Museum has a fine collection of artifacts, photographs and a permanent exhibit centering on Vicente Martinez Ybor.
Ybor City tours provide a look at the city from different points of view. The Secret Ybor Tour, hosted by actors dressed in authentic period clothing, takes visitors on a walking tour through the haunted areas of Ybor, and additional tours with a historical perspective are available through the Ybor City Museum and Historic Tours of Tampa. These Ybor City tours offer a look at the historic city through walking tours of the area and its landmarks.
The Ybor City Museum tour takes visitors along bustling Seventh Avenue, La Casita, and to the Columbia Restaurant. Tours from the museum are every Saturday at 10:30 am, weather permitting. Historical Tours also provides customized tours for groups specifically designed around their itineraries. No matter whether you're on a business trip or taking a Tampa vacation with your family, a visit to Ybor City should definitely make it onto your list of things to do.