Exploring Tampa's Historic Ybor City: A Cultural Deep Dive
Nestled between downtown Tampa and Port Tampa Bay lies the vibrant historic district of Ybor City. With its brick-lined streets, wrought iron balconies, and lingering cigar aromas, Ybor City immerses visitors in the rich culture and history of Tampa's Latin heritage.
Founded in the 1880s by cigar manufacturers Vincente Martinez-Ybor and Ignacio Haya, Tampa's Ybor City became a thriving hub for cigar factories and manufacturers for decades. As immigrants from Cuba, Spain, and Italy flocked to Ybor City for factory work, they infused the area with their cuisine, music, dance, and culture.
Today, Ybor City still celebrates its melting pot roots while also housing some of Tampa's top attractions, shops, restaurants, and nightlife. From historic landmarks to modern entertainment, here are 10 of the most popular and celebrated destinations to discover in this spirited Tampa neighborhood.Ybor City Museum State Park
1818 E 9th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605
As Tampa's first National Historic Landmark district, no trip to Ybor City is complete without a stop at the Ybor City Museum State Park. Located in the former Ferlita Bakery, this immersive museum transports visitors back to Ybor City's glory days in the late 1800s and offers an illuminating look at the neighborhood’s multiethnic origins. Spread across three brick buildings, the museum complex features an extensive collection of artifacts, photographs, and memorabilia from Ybor City’s early cigar industry. Walk through the bakery, cigar factory, and old house to glimpse what life and work was like for early immigrants. The park also offers walking tours of Ybor City led by experienced guides.Columbia Restaurant
2117 E 7th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605
For the quintessential Ybor City dining experience, look no further than the Columbia Restaurant, Florida’s oldest restaurant. Founded in 1905, the Columbia Restaurant occupies an entire city block and spans 15 intricate dining rooms. Visitors flock to the Columbia for its Spanish/Cuban cuisine, Flamenco dancing, and historic ambiance. Savor their signature “1905 salad,” Cuban bread, Paella a la Valenciana, and Sangria during an unforgettable meal in this Tampa institution. Don’t miss the flamenco show on the weekends!Centro Ybor
1600 E 8th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605
Centro Ybor is Ybor City’s premier entertainment and shopping complex, located on the historic Eighth Avenue main street. The massive complex houses an 20-screen movie theater, bowling alley, and GameTime arcade bar for entertainment. Over 100 shops and restaurants reside within Centro Ybor's brick walls as well. Visitors can browse for gifts at La France, grab a craft cocktail at Hotel Haya, enjoy comedy shows at the Improv, or indulge in a decadent French meal at Bella’s Restaurant. With so much to experience under one roof, Centro Ybor is a convenient one-stop destination.Ybor City Historic Walking Tours
Guided tours depart from various locations
To fully immerse yourself in Ybor City’s storied past, join one of the neighborhood's excellent walking tours. Offered daily, these 90-minute guided tours meander through Ybor's cobblestone streets while regaling visitors with tales of the cigar industry, immigrant history, architecture, and more. Tours are led by experienced local guides and depart from locations throughout Ybor. Top tour companies include Ybor City Museum State Park, Tampa Bay Hotel, and Ybor Walking Tours. Tours range from historic overviews to ghost tours and even a “bar crawl” style pub tour. Advance reservations are recommended.Cigar City Brewing
3924 W Spruce St, Tampa, FL 33607
Tampa is renowned for its cigar manufacturing history, so it’s fitting that Cigar City Brewing pays homage to this legacy. Ranked among the world’s top breweries, Cigar City offers tours and tastings in their Ybor brewing facility throughout the week. On the tour, visitors learn about the brewing process while sipping Cigar City’s signature beers like Jai Alai IPA and Maduro Brown Ale. The lively taproom is a favorite spot for enjoying a pint after the tour concludes. Tampa visitors shouldn’t miss this spirited experience.Jose Marti Park
2001 N Ola Ave, Tampa, FL 33605
Paying tribute to the Cuban patriot and poet, Jose Marti Park is a serene green space located in the heart of Ybor City. Stroll through the park’s brick pathways, past gnarly live oak trees draped in Spanish moss. The park’s tiered fountain and antique lamp posts transport visitors back in time. A statue honoring Jose Marti stands at the center of the park, which is also bordered by notable landmarks like El Centro Español social club and the Ybor City State Museum. On weekends, you’re likely to find locals convening in the park to play music and relax.GaYBOR District
Roughly between 15th & 18th Streets east of 7th Ave
Ybor City has long been a haven for Tampa’s LGBTQ community, with a vibrant cluster of gay bars and nightlife establishments. Centered along 7th Avenue between 15th and 18th Streets, Ybor’s GaYbor District contains over 20 lively gay and gay-friendly bars, clubs, and shops. Popular spots like Bradley’s Nightclub, Ybor Social Club, and the Honey Pot host drag shows, dancing, karaoke, and drinks late into the night. The annual Tampa Pride block party also takes place along GaYbor’s strip. Tampa visitors can truly let loose and have fun in this spirited district.La Segunda Central Bakery
2512 N 15th St, Tampa, FL 33605
No visit to Ybor City is complete without indulging in a Cuban sandwich from La Segunda Central Bakery, an Ybor institution for over 100 years. Located in Ybor's “Latin district,” La Segunda uses fresh-baked Cuban bread to make their legendary sandwiches layered with ham, pork, salami, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard, and mayo.Customers line up out the door each day to enjoy La Segunda’s scrumptious sandwiches and authentic Cuban pastries. Be sure to bring cash and an empty stomach!Casa Santo Stefano
3204 North 16th Street, Tampa, FL 33605
For an immersion into Ybor’s Italian roots, make a pit stop at Casa Santo Stefano. Built in 1905, this building originally served as an Italian ethnic social club. Today, it’s one of the best preserved examples of Italian Renaissance architecture in Ybor City. Admire the intricate exterior stonework, arched entranceways, and ornate interiors of this historic building. Though it’s not a functioning museum, visitors can still glimpse Casa Santo Stefano's stunning architecture from the street or grounds. It’s a cherished architectural gem in Ybor’s Sicilian community.Ybor City Saturday Market
Centennial Park, 8th Ave & 19th St, Tampa, FL
Tampa visitors looking for some eclectic shopping should check out the Ybor City Saturday Market, which takes place from 9am to 3pm every Saturday. The lively open-air market features over 175 vendors selling fresh produce, baked goods, plants, crafts, jewelry, skincare products, and more.Strolling through the market is a great way to mingle with locals, support small businesses, find unique gifts and souvenirs, and sample everything from empanadas to green smoothies. Centennial Park provides a pleasant backdrop for this lively weekend activity.
Stay at Sailport Waterfront Suites on Tampa Bay
After exploring the rich history and culture of Tampa's Ybor City district, retire to the relaxing Sailport Waterfront Suites on Rocky Point Island. Situated directly on Tampa Bay, Sailport Suites offers stunning oceanfront accommodations and resort amenities perfect for families and couples.
Spend your days lounging by the sail-shaped pool, paddling out on a kayak, or taking a quick ride to Ybor City and downtown Tampa. Sailport Suites keeps you connected to everything Tampa has to offer, with historic districts, attractions, beaches, and restaurants mere minutes away. Contact us today to start planning your Tampa getaway.