I LOVE DRIVING SLOW
Lively Ybor City is known for boutiques and vintage shops on 7th Avenue, which also hosts Cuban and Latin American eateries. The Centro Ybor mall offers indie fast food, bars, and a cinema. Housed in a 1920s bakery, Ybor City State Museum has exhibits on the cigar industry and the area’s immigrant communities. The GaYBOR district around 7th Avenue and 15th Street attracts a diverse crowd to its bars and clubs.
Day at the museum: Inside the historic Ferlita Bakery building is the Ybor City Museum. starting with Spanish immigrant and cigar magnate Don Vicente Martinez Ybor. It also includes access to the adjacent park. Then take the cigar tour, which starts inside the Ybor City Museum and includes peeks inside a 19th-Century cigar maker’s house, a labor temple, the opulent Don Vicente Inn and more. The tour takes about two hours.
The TECOline Streetcar System spans about a 2-mile trek between Ybor City, downtown Tampa and the Channelside District. Every week, the Ybor City Saturday Market transforms Centennial Park into a vibrant gathering place with live music and visitors of all ages. Browse rows of vendors selling artwork, plants, gift items, fresh produce and prepared foods. The market is open year round; hours vary by season. GameTime has a little something for everyone: 163 video games for kids (and kids at heart), pool table and two full bars for the grown-ups, plus a restaurant for the entire family.
Centro Ybor encompasses restaurants, bars, retail and a cocktail-serving movie theater as well as video gaming at GameTime and performances by the top-notch comics at Tampa Improv. The Ybor City Museum Society offers an overview of the area's history via two institutions that should be part of every Ybor sightseeing tour.
America's two oldest cigar-making families, Arturo Fuente and J.C. Newman, are rooted in Ybor City: The former via Tampa Sweethearts Cigars, a shop housed in a bright yellow casita, and the latter, J.C. Newman Cigar Co., via the factory, rehabbed in 2002.
Cuban food is an Ybor City must, and La Tropicana Café serves breakfast (cheesy Cuban toast) and lunch (Cuban sandwiches) six days a week. Another Ybor dining tradition but with a more upscale ambiance, Columbia Restaurant, has been serving exceptional Cuban-Spanish food for more than a century.
The transformation begins when the 7th Avenue nightclubs open--LGBT havens (Liquid, G Bar, The Honey Pot), hipster haunts (Orpheum), chic dance hideaways (Prana, Amphitheatre) and college zones (Coyote Ugly, Gaspar's Grotto, Green Iguana) keep the party going. The Ritz Ybor plays host to national concert tours, while its resident nightclub Czar draws ample crowds with raging dance parties on Friday and Saturday nights. Hamburger Mary's Bar & Grille is a friendly burger joint with a patio overlooking 7th Avenue, while on the ground floor across the way is Carne Chophouse. Try house specialty Pork Shoulder Pot Pie while gazing at the passersby.