So you want to move to Tampa, but the neighborhoods aren’t easily defined online?
Here is my guide and interpretation of the neighborhoods in Tampa. I have also included the average rent prices of a 2-bedroom apartment as of January 2018.
Ybor City: One of the most historical parts of town. Ybor City was where the cigar factories once operated and a home to many Spanish, Italian, and Cuban settlers in Tampa. More recently, Ybor City is known as an art and an LGBTQ district with plenty of businesses catering specifically to that.
Some historical buildings including the The Cuban Club and The Italian Club which served as a gateway for immigrants in the 1900s.
You’ll find lots of great, local restaurants and dive bars. The area has received quite an amount of bad press for shootings and crimes over the years…however, I have been going there for over 10 years at night and been fine. The police are active in the area (you’ll notice). There is a great Saturday Morning Market every week. Due to the areas Cuban roots, you’ll find the Cuban Sandwich almost everywhere in Ybor City which claims they came up with it first (Miami disagrees). Most people get their bread from La Segunda Bakery which has been around for what seems like forever. Also look out for the National Cuban Sandwich Festival and Festival Italiana every year usually around March/April.
Downtown Tampa: The blossoming part of Tampa thanks to tons of investment by Mr. Jeff Vinik, owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Amalie Arena (also Downtown) and his investors. Downtown Tampa has long been a workplace for Tampa’s corporate since at least the 90s, but with lots of investment from the City of Tampa it is also developing as a hub with restaurant, bars, events, and the Tampa Riverwalk: a miles-long waterfront path that connects South Tampa and Downtown.
The Curtis Hixon Park here is the main attraction to outside residents and is next to the Tampa Museum of Art and a few other museums. Festivals and concerts are regularly held at the park. Most people in Downtown Tampa live in condo buildings and they can get quite pricey. The University of South Florida (USF) is opening its Medical School in Downtown in 2019. Don’t miss the historic Tampa Theatre, a beautiful building and great place to watch indie films.
You’ll also find The Florida Aquarium here and a new waterfront outdoor food space called Sparkman Wharf.
South Tampa: South Tampa is one of the largest parts of Tampa and filled with expensive real estate and fancy restaurants – most of it is residential. It is also home to SoHo or South Howard which is a small street filled with bars that attract college students from nearby University of Tampa and party animals from Thursday to Saturday night.
For a more relaxed experience visit Hyde Park Village in Old Hyde Park which has some great shops, restaurants, bars, and a CineBistro movie theater. Bayshore Boulevard showcases Tampa Bay and is where the annual Gasparilla pirate festival happens annually in January. Think Mardi Gras with Pirates. Parking in South Tampa is troublesome for even residents with few driveways. There are plenty of condos and luxury homes here.
Westshore: The affluent part of West Tampa connects to the Tampa International Airport and the International Plaza & Bay Street mall. You’ll find high-end restaurants here such as Capital Grille, Fleming’s, Eddie V’s, Texas de Brazil, Ocean Prime, and various others. Corporate office buildings are spread just minutes from the airport. The International Plaza has high-end designer brands and there is also a large number of car dealerships and a good amount of strip clubs near here on Dale Mabry Highway. Some popular ones are Mon’s Venus, 2001 Odyssey, and Scores Gentleman’s Club. Popular craft brewery Cigar City Brewing is also found here and offers tours Wednesday through Sunday for $8. Dale Mabry connects you between North and South Tampa. You can easily head towards St. Petersburg or Clearwater as well via the nearby highways. Columbus and Kennedy will connect you to West Tampa and Downtown. You’ll also find the Westshore Plaza here which has an AMC Theatre and several shops though it is smaller than other malls in Tampa.
West Tampa: An older part of Tampa that hasn’t quite kept the pace with the rest of the city, but is in the middle of re-development. You’ll find lots of great Cuban restaurants in this section of town as well as Vietnamese spots. Nearby attractions include the Raymond James Stadium (where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and USF Bulls play football), George M. Steinbrenner Field (where the Tampa Tarpons baseball team trains), and Downtown isn’t too far either. You’ll find some cheaper housing options here in some neighborhoods (depends on proximity to attractions).
Tampa Heights: You’ll find plenty of beautiful homes in this area that is about to boom thanks to the growth in Downtown Tampa. Tampa Heights is the home to two food halls and soon condos, hotels, and more. It is still in its infancy, but give it a few years to get some legs as it connects to the rest of town and this will be one of the busiest parts of town. Notable attractions include Armature Works, The Hall on Franklin, and Ulele.
Seminole Heights: This area is fairly new and connects North Tampa to Downtown Tampa. Previously it was quite poor and a staunch anti-corporate area of town. More recently there has been an influx of money and businesses into the area and it is growing thanks to some risky restaurateurs settling into the area. The bungalows are being restored much in the way South Tampa’s housing was transformed and the prices are on the rise. It has an indie and hipster feel to it. There is a lack of parking at the businesses and restaurants, but many are worth the hassle. The neighborhood is actually quite large and the area near Nebraska tends to be more sketchy and crime-prone compared to the area on Florida Avenue. Craft beer fans will find many places to love including Angry Chair Brewing, Brew Bus Brewing, and 7th Sun Brewing. There has also been movement in businesses on Sligh Avenue towards the Lowry Park Zoo.
North Tampa: This area of Tampa was once where most people settled down, but many people have left the area to suburbia and it shows. Areas such as Carrollwood, Temple Terrace, and the like have not aged too gracefully and are overrun with poverty mixed with expensive housing. One example is the University Mall next to the University of South Florida, which once was a mall that appealed to most of the middle class but has lost most of its support and tenants to neighboring and more affluent areas. There is an effort underway to restore this area of town by a group called Tampa Innovation. The areas largest university is located here with USF’s main campus and nearly 40,000 people coming into the area every day. Many are commuter students and go on their way after hours. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay theme park is a major attraction here along with their waterpark Adventure Island which is open seasonally.
New Tampa / Wesley Chapel: If you travel north from the University Area you’ll find yourself in New Tampa and Wesley Chapel. This area was nothing but trees a decade or two ago, but is now crawling with growth and traffic. Several affluent communities can be found here including Tampa Palms. The main reason someone might come into this area is to go to the Tampa Premium Outlets and Wiregrass Mall. Restaurants are quickly opening and some hotels are under-construction as well near these shopping destinations.
Westchase: Quite a large and affluent suburban space. Westchase sits on the Northwest side of town and is almost bordering on Oldsmar and Clearwater outside of Tampa. Westchase has a small neighborhood vibe and the shops and businesses reflect that. There isn’t too much happening there, but you can catch the annual PhilFest Filipino festival there.
Brandon: Technically Brandon is not Tampa, but it is also the suburbs of Tampa and many residents of Tampa end up here at some point anyway. Brandon has most everything that Tampa has minus the historical part and the great ethnic restaurants (although it is improving). Brandon is great because of its connection to I-4, Selmon Crosstown Expressway, and affordable home prices making it a great place to settle down. One not so great thing about Brandon is the traffic especially now that apartment complexes are being built left and right. Some attractions here include the Brandon Towncenter Mall, TopGolf, Dave & Buster’s, Bass Pro, among other things.
Riverview: Riverview is directly south of Brandon and where people have moved in mass in the last decade. Most homes are being built around Big Bend Road and U.S. Highway 301. Congestion is a major issue the farther south you go, but that hasn’t stopped families from moving to this area. Most residents have to drive to Brandon or Tampa to find things to do, but you’ll find some restaurants, breweries, and shops in the area that are chains.