Tampa is a cosmopolitan city with a diverse population and cultural heritage. Year-round sunshine along with a thriving arts scene and economic opportunity contribute to the high quality of life enjoyed by the more than 350,000 residents.
Since the arrival of Spanish explorers in the 16th century, Tampa has seen waves of settlers with diverse backgrounds. A Cuban influx around 1900 included the cigar tycoon Vicente Martinez Ybor, and cigar manufacturing quickly became a defining industry. The city has also had a long military history and still houses the U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base. Today Tampa has a thriving tourism and service industry, as well as regional headquarters for several finance and banking companies, food processing and Anheuser-Busch and Pabst brewing facilities.
The city is 25 miles from of the Gulf of Mexico on the east coast of Florida. It is divided by the Hillsborough River, which empties into the Hillsborough Bay. Together with St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Bradenton, it is part of the Tampa Bay area, which is home to more than 4.3 million residents. Nine districts shape the city. Downtown is home to the University of Tampa and the city’s cultural hub. Ybor City, or the Latin Quarter, features the signature cigar factories. Seminole Heights has become a bohemian hotspot with historic bungalows and eclectic shops, while Southshore and East Hillsborough offer more natural attractions.
The culture and nightlife scenes in Tampa are hard to beat. Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park is the setting for several annual festivals, including the Tampa Bay Margarita Festival, Tampa Bay Black Heritage Festival, and Gasparilla Music Festival. The Tampa Theater and David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts host hundreds of shows and concerts each year. And the Tampa Museum of Art is a destination for world-class traveling exhibits. A half-dozen microbreweries are dotted around the city, including Coppertail Brewing Company and Six Ten Brewing. And with the Tampa Bay Downs racetrack and three pro sports teams—including the NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers, NHL Tampa Bay Lightning and MLB Tampa Bay Rays—there are plenty of exciting options for sports fans year-round.