Tampa

2.4 million (Urban), 2.9 million (Metro)

Eastern

Humid subtropical showing characteristics of tropical (hot summer days with frequent thunderstorms, less frequent rain in fall and winter, threat of a light winter freeze)

Inside Tips About Tampa

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The word “Tampa” may be a Calusa Indian word meaning “sticks of fire.” Just one of several possible origins, it’s the one we’re sticking with because it’s the most fun. Sticks of fire is considered a reference to the frequent lightning strikes the area receives during the summer months. It also lights up fans of the NHLs Tampa Bay Lightning, whose sticks of fire have carried them to three Eastern Conference Championship and three Stanley Cup victory.

Back in 1821, the U.S. bought Florida from Spain. Soon after, the government began building forts and trading posts in the Tampa area. Fort Brooke was built in 1824 on Tampa Bay at the mouth of the Hillsborough River. Originally an isolated frontier outpost, the residents all but abandoned Tampa during the Second Seminole War. In 1845, Florida became the 27th state, and Tampa was officially incorporated in 1849. The next year, the population soared to 974 total residents, almost 85% of whom were military personnel.

Neighborhoods

Living In and Around Tampa

Like so many urban downtowns around the country, Downtown Tampa has plenty of detractors and a small legion of loyal fans. The downtown area is seeing significant residential redevelopment with an eye towards turning it from a 9-to-5 business district into a vibrant 24-hour neighborhood. Several fans of downtown talk about new bars and restaurants, but there is also talk of it lacking amenities and walkability. Two popular locations near downtown (some will argue they are actually downtown) are Harbour Island and Davis Islands. Harbour Island offers newer construction, closer proximity to downtown, and has trolley service but few amenities. The Davis Islands community is bigger and more established, with historic architecture, more single-family homes and more amenities. Its Main Street offers shopping and restaurants. Derek Jeter built a 30,000-square-foot mansion here that has been called an aircraft carrier and described as about the size of a Best Buy. Worth an estimated $8 million, it’s the biggest house in the county. Nonetheless, the median home price on Davis Islands is just north of half a million, about double the median home price on Harbour Island.

Hyde Park, just across Hillsborough Bay from Davis Islands, is popular with young professionals. Not as expensive as Davis Islands and more trendy, this community combines entertainment options, loft living, historic homes and bungalows, good schools, and easy access to downtown. It has been described as homey yet hip. Bayshore Boulevard, a signature road in Tampa, runs through Hyde Park and claims the longest continuous sidewalk in the world at 4.5 miles. Palma Ceia is one of Tampas older, quieter residential neighborhoods and has a country club. It’s also known for having bricked streets, and has a Design District with specialty boutiques and cafes. Adjacent Bayshore Beautiful is somewhat less fancy and more affordable. It also offers decent schools, as well as bars, cafés and shops. It’s considered part of the Palma Ceia Design District even though it’s technically outside the boundaries of Palma Ceia.

North Tampa offers good options for someone who doesnt like having to choose between the burbs and the city. You’ll find a lot of city conveniences without the endless city noise. You can enjoy suburban amenities without feeling far removed from the urban center. The community of Wesley Chapel was named for a Methodist chapel that once stood at SR 54 and Boyette Road. Originally named Double Branch for its twin creeks, a popular nickname used to be “Gatorville.” The town has been growing rapidly during the 21st century, and is heavily populated by transplants living in luxury planned communities. There are good schools and plenty of amenities, though some bemoan the lack of a true downtown. A somewhat higher median home price makes Cheval more attractive to some—especially if you like country club living. Carrollwood has a lot of fans who like its status as one of the older new subdivisions. It’s regarded as pleasant and affordable, lots of amenities and decent schools.

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