“Cool” is one of those concepts that will never go out of style. Today, for something to be cool it has to be interesting yet relaxed and trendy but classic. It can be a difficult balance to strike without swinging into the boring or the kooky. But over the past few years, a few truly things have cropped up around Tampa – places and activities that are always worth the time and energy. If you ever find yourself with some time to kill after work or over the weekend, consider exploring one of the awesome and trendy things on this list.
Here is the unofficial list of the coolest things in Tampa.
Grab a Cigar at King Corona
Ybor City is a lot of things, it is historic, eclectic, and unique. This neighborhood used to be full of cigar factories, and the leftover industrial architecture will make you want to don a Guayabera shirt and drink some rum. Today, the neighborhood is full of restaurants, bars, cigar shops, and tattoo parlors. One walk down 7th ave on a Friday and Saturday night and you will be bombarded by a cast of characters like you have never seen before. Whether it is the guy charging people to hold his giant albino boa constrictor, the glassblower making bowls in the window of his shop, or just the bar clientele rocking nightwear that looks suspiciously like bondage gear…you are sure to see something new.
If you want to sit back and take it all in, grab an outdoor or window seat at King Corona. King Corona is not the fanciest or newest Cigar Bar in Ybor City, but it is the coolest. The family that started King Corona can trace their family history back to the 1890s when more than 10,000 factory workers rolled cigars by hand. Today, King Corona’s gigantic humidor offers a ridiculously wide selection of what put Ybor City on the map…cigars. While you sit an indulge in this classic tobacco product, you can also treat yourself to a café con leche off of their café menu, some delicious sangria off of their wine and beer menu, or even an unassuming yet delicious sandwich off of their food menu. If you decide to indulge the lifestyle further, you can buy your own home humidor right there, or take home decorative cigar boxes for an incredibly reasonable price. Once you decide on what you want to enjoy, you can elect to sit inside or outside (given that you can find a table). Inside, you can sit comfortably at tables or in leather armchairs, and you can chat with the staff about the rumors of hauntings that plague the building. Outside, you can enjoy the parade of 7th Ave partiers that wander past, reveling in Tampa’s humidity and enjoying the relaxation that comes from being outside the pedestrian artery of the sidewalk.
Cigar City isn’t fancy. It isn’t expensive, and it isn’t brand new. But it is cool. Go check it out.
The Tampa Riverwalk
Along the eastern side of the Hillsborough River, there is a 2.6-mile pedestrian walkway that extends all the way from Channelside to Tampa Heights. To describe the Riverwalk, the City of Tampa website says “The goal was to create a Riverwalk with timeless appeal and memorable qualities that will draw people from both near and far.” Well, they’ve done it. This modern walkway takes pedestrians and bikers from the condo-heavy Channelside neighborhood to the hip cultural center of Tampa Heights. Along the way, riverwalkers will pass under bridges, by Curtis Hixon Park, and on to the Water Works Park. Along the way, the path either hugs the river bank, makes its way onto land as a sidewalk and even swings out over the river. There are seating areas for pedestrians, several unique sunshades, and incredible, color-changing lights. Coming upon Curtis Hixon Park from the Riverwalk feels like entering a modern outdoor city of the future. The grassy tiers, evenly spaced palm trees, and in-ground water fountain look more like the grounds of Starfleet academy than a public park. If you keep walking you will hit the Straz Center and some very inventive art installations. Take a quick stop at a swinging bench to enjoy the boaters sailing buy, and then head straight on to Water Works and the brand new, super trendy Armature Works. Armature Works is a great place to grab a bite or a craft cocktail, which you can pour into a plastic cup to take out on to the lawn at the edge of the Riverwalk.
If you are looking for a more fitness-focused experience, hit the Riverwalk for a light, scenic jog, or jump on your bike and cruise back and forth. No matter how you choose to enjoy the Riverwalk, you are bound to have a fantastic, and memorable experience.
This craft coffee shop sits in a block-long brick building in the incredibly newly revitalized neighborhood of Tampa Heights. The entire front wall of the shop is floor-to-ceiling windows, and when you walk in you will find yourself in a giant, industrial-inspired space with a vaulted ceiling and ample natural light. If you proceed through the space, you will find a door to a back patio with intimate seating areas, tall café tables, and trellis that offers partial shade. Both the interior and exterior offer awesome places to hang out, enjoy a conversation or get some work done in peace.
Compared to the ever-expanding Starbucks menu, the Foundation café menu will seem suspiciously sparse – but if you are a real coffee lover then this is the place to be. Their drip coffee, cold brew, and cortados are true barista masterpieces. This is hipsterism at its best – eccentric, passionate people creating a quality product in an interesting space. So pull up a chair, or find a spot on their oversized couch, and enjoy.
Tampa is full of cool and trendy places. Do not limit yourself to the three mentioned on this list, but definitely take some time and check them out. You will not regret it.