The bay is nestled on the west coast of Florida on the Gulf Coast. Tampa is of course the heart of Tampa Bay. Other major cities in the area are St. Petersburg and Clearwater. It is the second largest metropolitan area in the state next only to the Miami area on the southern tip of Florida.
Tampa Bay has a long history. The first European explorers came to the area in 1528 led by Spanish conquistador Panfilo de Narvaez. The name Tampa, however, comes from the Native Americans who lived in the region for ages prior to the first coming to Tampa of the Spanish. The exact meaning of the word Tampa however has been lost to the ages.
Today Tampa Bay has become a microcosm of the Florida experience. Anything you expect to find in Florida you can find in the Tampa Bay area. Want to visit spectacular beaches? Come to Tampa. Want to enjoy some of the finest shopping and dining around? Come to Tampa. Want to play golf on a world-class golf course? Come to Tampa. Want to experience the best in amusement parks and other attractions? Come to Tampa.
One of the most fascinating and intriguing parts of the Tampa Bay area is the historic Ybor City. Founded on swampland in the 1860's Ybor City became a haven for Cuban, Spanish and Italian immigrants in Florida. Ybor City became a cigar manufacturing have and was known for more than half a century as the cigar capital of the world.
Today Ybor City is known for its timeless atmosphere. While only a few blocks away from downtown Tampa it feels like another place entirely, as much a part of the early 20th century as it is a part of the early 21st. Some of the finest shopping venues in Florida can be found in Ybor City, and its restaurants are world famous. Any visitor to the Tampa Bay area deserves to take a stop in Ybor City and discover what it is all about.
If you're looking to come to Tampa Bay it is easy to get to. Tampa International Airport is a world class airport and has long been hailed as America's favorite airport. Conde Nast Traveler Magazine ranks it the #1 best designed airport in the United States and #3 in the world. If you've always hated airports it might just be because you've never been to Tampa International.
The Tampa Bay area is also serviced by Amtrak, with strong north-south connections as well as plenty of links to nationwide rail travel. Daily service is offered between Washington, D.C. and Orlando. The Amtrak station in Tampa is found at the historic Tampa Union Station. Tampa is also well-serviced by Greyhound bus lines.
If you're planning to drive into Tampa Bay you'll find it is along a number of major traffic corridors. I-4 services Tampa from the east, while both I-75 and I-275 lie on the north-south corridor.
If you're looking for the vacation of a lifetime or maybe even just a weekend getaway, come to Tampa Bay. You'll find yourself in for the experience of a lifetime. It is a highpoint not only of the state of Florida but of the entire United States of America.