The sprawling subtropical metropolis of Tampa sits along the Gulf Coast of Florida, encircling Tampa Bay from Sarasota to Clearwater Beach. It’s a quintessentially American spot, with white-sand beaches sharing space with shopping malls, and a multicultural mix of residents that ensures flavors from Mexican to Vietnamese are always close at hand. The local lore is rich with moneyed magnates: Both Henry B. Plant and John Ringling, of the Ringling Brothers Circus, left their marks on the region in the form of palatial buildings which now house museums.
A tour of Ybor City offers a look at the other side of Tampa and its working-class past. Small cigar makers first opened here at the end of the 19th century. After the cigar industry's eventual decline, the neighborhood managed to rise—pun intended—from the ashes, and it has become a thriving, colorful destination steeped in history. While there, grab a Cuban sandwich from Florida’s oldest restaurant and shop for cigars and other souvenirs at Centro Ybor. And, of course, Florida has no shortage of family fun. The Pier 60 Park in Clearwater Beach makes for a perfect day on the sand, while the Busch Gardens amusement park boasts adrenaline-pumping rides and exotic animals.