Founded by Don Vicente Martinez-Ybor as a cigar-manufacturing center, Ybor City is one of only three National Historic Landmark Districts in Florida. Red brick buildings, wrought iron balconies and narrow brick streets give it an old-world charm that is a refreshing change of pace. See a “hand-rolled cigar” being made or just relax and “people watch” with a cup of Ybor’s famous café con leche.
♦Columbia Restaurant – the oldest restaurant in Florida and the largest Spanish restaurant in the world! Family owned for over 100 years, the Columbia is a landmark in Tampa’s historic Ybor City since opening in 1905; today the Columbia is owned and operated by 4th and 5th generation members of the founding family. Try the “Original” Cuban sandwich, the official sandwich of Tampa, or one of the other many authentic Cuban infused Spanish menu selections and enjoy a nightly Flamenco Show.
♦Watch a hand-rolled cigar being made – Historic Ybor City was once known as the Cigar Capital of the World, producing over 500 million hand-rolled cigars annually at its peak. Although there are only two cigar factories that are still active in this now thriving entertainment and historic district, you can still see cigars being hand-rolled as you walk down Seventh Avenue, which was recognized nationally by the American Planning Association as one of the “10 Greatest Streets in America” in 2008.
♦Ybor City Ghost Tours – On the Official Ybor City Ghost Tour, visitors hear spine-tingling stories about real people, history, folklore, and the ghosts that have made Ybor City their playground. The tour takes approximately 90 minutes and is an easy walk with frequent stops along the way.
♦Ybor City Social Clubs – The Centro Asturiano, Cuban and Italian social clubs still remain as symbols of the hard work, dedication, and sacrifice of the Spanish, Cuban, Italian, German, and Romanian-Jews immigrants who helped build the great city of Tampa. The buildings have fascinating stories to tell about the past, and inspiration to give towards the future. The historic buildings can be viewed by taking a self-guided tour or through several organized tours of Ybor City
From its most popular time in the Roaring Twenties, Downtown Tampa has restored some of its most popular original attractions to preserve the history.
♦ Historic Tampa Theatre – Built in 1926 as one of America’s most elaborate movie theaters, the ornate Mediterranean-style structure has maintained its historic feel and offers a movie experience unlike any other! Recently ranked as the number three movie theater in the world, each movie begins with a unique performance played on the historic Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Organ.
♦The Floridan Palace Hotel – Also built in 1926, the hotel was meticulously restored and renovated, and recently reopened in 2012. The Floridan is one of the few hotels in Tampa Bay on the National Register of Historic Places.
♦Henry B. Plant Museum – Built in 1891 as the Tampa Bay Hotel and a stop along the rail line, the hotel brought many visitors and business to Tampa Bay. Renovated and restored, the original furnishings, architecture and artifacts still adorn the walls. Now on the University of Tampa campus, visit the Museum and be taken back to a time of magnificent balls and tea parties.
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