20 Best Things to Do in Ybor City, FL - Travel Lens (2024)

Ybor City, situated in Tampa, Florida, is a place filled with stunning architecture, rich history, and vibrant culture.

I’ve always been proud of the Ybor City Historic District, which is a National Historic Landmark District featuring numerous old establishments.

We’re also known as the “Cigar Capital of the World,” thanks to the cigar factories built during the turn of the 20th century. There’s so much to do here for every visitor, from the foodie to the history buff.

If you plan to visit our historic city, let me share with you the list of the best things to do in Ybor City:

Shop and Dine at Centro Ybor

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There should always be room for shopping in your itinerary! Centro Ybor is one of the most famous malls in Ybor City, where I love to shop for unique finds, eat delicious local food, and pamper myself.

After a day of exploring the complex, I’m bound to get hungry. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from, from fine dining restaurants to brewpubs, so I always find something that suits my taste.

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The complex is open throughout the week. I can visit Centro Ybor from 10 am to 8 pm every Monday through Wednesday. If I plan on going on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, their operating hours are from 10 am to 10 pm.

For those who are planning to drop by on a Sunday, they are open from 11 am to 7 pm. If I want to stay longer and have a glass of beer, I don’t worry as the restaurants and bars have extended hours.

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Walking down the strip, I’ve run into cute little coffee shops, little hole-in-the-wall Italian places, as well as Hispanic cuisine and tapas bars.

I also enjoy the different murals on the walls and the cute artistry. I’ve stopped by a cute ice cream parlor that had a 70s kind of groove.

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VIAVAL TOURS / Shutterstock.com

The only downside here is the lack of things to do if you’re not a bar or clubbing person. If you have kids, there’s not much to see or do. Ybor should at least have something for little ones.

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However, I’m always happy to see that Ybor City hasn’t been totally modernized and has held on to much of its historic charm. The buildings of brick give character to a southern historic charm. Although it’s mostly bars and clubs, there are other cute quirky shops to see.

Explore 7th Avenue

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I love spending my mornings wandering around the shops on 7th Avenue, a historic neighborhood in Ybor City. With a cup of coffee in hand, I enjoy strolling down 7th Avenue, also known as “La Setima” or “Broadway,” while marveling at the views of the tall palm trees lining the sidewalks.

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One of my favorite things to do is to admire the works of local artists displayed on the shop windows along the street. There’s always something new and interesting to see, and it’s a great way to support the local art scene.

When I need a break, I like to sit back and relax on one of the benches available on the street. It’s the perfect spot to people-watch, take in the sky, and listen to the sound of Latin music playing in the background.

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Exploring 7th Avenue is always a delightful experience, and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting Ybor City. The vibrant atmosphere, unique shops, and friendly locals make it a must-see destination.

Step Back in Time at Ybor City Museum

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I’ve always been fascinated by the history of my hometown, Ybor City, so visiting the Ybor City Museum is always a treat for me. The museum is small but informative, and it’s located in a former bread bakery. Both the museum and the park across the street focus on Ybor City’s immigrant history, which I find fascinating.

One of my favorite parts of the museum is stepping into a Casita, a small house built for cigar factory workers and their families. It’s amazing to see what it was like to live in the homes of cigar workers 100 years ago.

I enjoy exploring the Casita’s living area, the kitchen, and even the children’s bedrooms to see what the workers came home to after a day of working at the cigar factory.

After exploring the Casita, I always make sure to check out the 1920s-era Ferlita Bakery building, which houses the park’s main museum. It’s a great way to learn more about how Ybor City was founded, the birth of the cigar industry, and the town’s advancement.

I highly recommend watching the video shown at the front of the museum, as it helps give a lot of historical context of the area in a short time.

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Peter K Burian, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Before leaving, I love to visit the Mediterranean-style garden. The refreshing views of the fountain and the different flowers and plants scattered around the garden are always a delight. It’s a perfect spot to take photos of the beautiful scenery and enjoy the calmness that the place brings.

And of course, I can’t leave without stopping by the Museum Store for some books, cigars, and other souvenirs to remember this beautiful place by.

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Peter K Burian, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Next time you’re in Ybor City, I highly recommend visiting the Ybor City Museum. It’s a small but fascinating look into the history of this unique area, and it’s a must-do for anyone interested in learning about the diverse cultures that have contributed to what we know today as the Cuban sandwich.

Go on a Cigar Factory Tour at Tabanero Cigars

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A trip to the “Cigar Capital of the World” will not be complete without going to a cigar factory. I’m not a big cigar smoker, but I was in Ybor today and decided to stop in at Tabanero Cigars. Whether you are into cigars or just simply curious about how they are made, their factory tour is worth attending.

Tabanero Cigars offers its guests an insight into how cigars are made. I was amazed by how their Cuban artisans work precisely with the best quality tobacco leaves and turn it into what is now known as the “Best Cigars in Tampa.”

The staff was super helpful in picking out a cigar that matched my tastes, and I ended up just sitting outside smoking and drinking Cuban coffee and people watching. The atmosphere was nice, and they had a great cigar selection. I also enjoyed an ice-cold brew while I was there.

My friend, who grew up in Cuba and knows her stuff, always wants to go here for a café con leche when we’re in Ybor City. Her grandfather was a tobacco farmer, and she would help prepare the leaves to dry. She loves the aroma of this place and says they make a good cup of coffee. I have to agree with her on that.

Get to Know Ybor City’s Baseball Legends at Tampa Baseball Museum

I recently visited Al Lopez’s house, a casita that was built in 1905, and was truly inspired by the lives of the baseball players that shaped the growth of the sport in Tampa, Florida.

Al Lopez is Tampa’s first Major League baseball player, and it is said that it is in the four corners of this house where he started to dream of playing the game that he loved.

Today, the casita not only showcases Al Lopez’s journey to becoming a Hall of Fame inductee, but it also features 130 years of local baseball heritage.

I decided to explore more about baseball history in Tampa and dropped by the Tampa Baseball Museum with my friends. We made sure to check their website to buy timed-entry tickets in advance for a hassle-free visit.

Although the museum just opened last September 25, 2021, it has already become one of the most frequented spots in Ybor City. During my visit, I was amazed by the car collection at the museum.

The lady manning the place was gracious enough to let us stay past closing time, and the folks who run the place are very knowledgeable. I highly recommend this museum to anyone interested in baseball history or just looking for an enjoyable trip in Tampa.

Be Transported to Spain in Columbia Restaurant

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Columbia Restaurant, the oldest eatery in Florida, which has been operating for over 115 years now. As a foodie, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to try their famous Cuban coffee and authentic Cuban sandwiches, which gained popularity among cigar workers in its early years.

Once a 60-seater cafe, Columbia Restaurants is now the largest Spanish restaurant in the world and has won multiple awards in excellence.

During my visit, I decided to try their Paella a la Valenciana, and it was absolutely delicious. The seafood was cooked to perfection, and the flavors were incredible.

I also couldn’t resist trying their crab cakes, which were crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, with a savory flavor that left me wanting more. And of course, I had to try their Cuban sandwich, which was a masterpiece! The roasted pork and ham were so tender and flavorful, and the bread was crispy and perfectly toasted.

To accompany my meal, I ordered a glass of Sangria, which was refreshing and complemented the flavors of my dishes perfectly. I also tried their Original “1905” Martini, which was a great addition to the dining experience. For dessert, I had the Flan, which was the perfect way to end my meal.

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One of the highlights of my visit was the charming fake ducks in the lake out front. They added a unique touch to the ambiance and made the experience even more enjoyable.

Whether you’re out on a date night or just want to spoil yourself, a visit to Columbia Restaurant is always a good idea. As someone who lives in the area, I can’t recommend it enough for its delicious food, excellent service, and unforgettable atmosphere.

Enjoy a Glass of Craft Beer at Tampa Bay Brewing Company

If you’re looking for a place where you can unwind after a busy day, look no further.

I recently brought my friends to Tampa Bay Brewing Company for a refreshing glass of craft beer, and we had a fantastic time. While we were there, we couldn’t resist trying some of their beer-infused food, which they are known for.

We enjoyed the beautiful city views and the fresh air while sitting on their large patio. I even brought my dog along, as the brewpub’s patio is pet-friendly, making our time there even more enjoyable.

During our visit, I asked the manager if they could accommodate a brewery tour for our group. Although there is no fixed schedule for the tours, they were more than happy to show us around.

I had a great time trying their IPAs, and they even allowed us to sample three for free. My favorite was the Sea Bison, which had a nice fruity overtone.

The big surprise, though, was the quality of the food. I ordered a Greek salad with chicken, and it may have been the best salad I’ve ever had in my life!

For those who want to enjoy a glass of craft beer at the comforts of their own homes, the pub offers packaged products that you can purchase. I ended up taking home a few bottles to share with my family.

Have a Picnic Under the Trees at Centennial Park

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I recently spent a peaceful afternoon at the 2.5-acre Centennial Park, eating savory snacks, admiring statues, and resting under the trees.

As a resident, I love taking strolls at the park and looking at the monuments featured in the park to know more about Ybor City’s history.

After touring the park, I usually take a rest at the picnic area, where I can read a book and drink a refreshing beverage while enjoying the fresh air.

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On my last visit, I was lucky enough to witness a local festival taking place, which added to the lively atmosphere.

For those who are driving to the park, there are parking spaces provided, making it convenient for visitors. There are also restrooms available for a more comfortable visit.

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Find Beauty in the Most Bizarre Things at Dysfunctional Grace Art Co.

Dysfunctional Grace Art Co. has an eerie quality that makes you want to know more about it and step inside its doors. As a local, I can’t help but be drawn to this unique store every time I pass by.

When I walk in, I am surrounded by bizarre but fascinating pieces with various themes, all of them far from the mundane.

A lot of the pieces, however, seem to touch on the topic of death, and I’ve found everything from skeletons to sculptures that depict it.

I remember the first time I stumbled upon this curious place while exploring Ybor with my husband. The shop reminded me of an old-timey circus peculiar parlor, which was really cool.

The shop owner allowed us to take pictures, but out of respect for the dead, didn’t want us to photograph the human remains. I was amazed to see real human skulls on display.

There are also lots of cool war artifacts from WW1 and WW2, old photographs, creepy-looking dolls, taxidermy pieces, and t-shirts and sage smudge sticks for sale, to name a few items. It’s always a lot of fun looking through all the stuff and discovering something new every time I visit.

If this is just what you’re looking for, you can visit the shop from 11 am to 5 pm from Mondays to Fridays, and 11 am to 6 pm on Saturdays. It’s closed on Sundays, though.

Make sure to also visit their website for cool finds, like merch and gift cards. You can even get yourself a bereavement box filled with random goodies for you to discover.

In my opinion, Dysfunctional Grace Art Co. is the coolest store that I have ever had the chance to be in. Not only is this place a store, but also a little museum, housing the coolest and creepiest things of humankind!

Enjoy a Hot Cup of Coffee at The Blind Tiger Cafe

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The Blind Tiger Café has a long and rich history; it has been serving customers since the 1920s.

As a local, I love visiting this café for its aromatic coffee and tea, as well as the different kinds of delicious vegan pastries they offer.

To add to that, you’ll find breakfast options, sandwiches, and salads here too. I particularly enjoy their bagel sandwich, which is a perfect option for a quick and satisfying meal.

There are even acai bowls available, with lots of toppings to choose from.

If you want to pay a visit, you can dine in the café from 7:30 am to 5 pm from Mondays to Thursdays, 7:30 am to 7 pm from Fridays to Saturdays, and 8 am to 5 pm on Sundays. The Blind Tiger is my favorite work spot in Ybor, thanks to its comfortable space and decent seating.

One of my favorite drinks here is the Dirty Thaiger, their signature drink, which is a fun spin on a dirty chai but much richer given the inclusion of sweetened condensed milk. Another great alternative is the cafe bombon, which is perfect if you’re not a fan of Thai tea.

I also tried their cold brew with lavender and strawberry rose syrup, which tasted like great strawberry ice cream!

Aside from great food and drinks, you can also get coffee subscriptions and shop on their website. Their lifestyle brand, Black & Denim, features stylish, casual outfits that are made completely with raw materials sourced in the USA.

Watch a Show at Ybor Square

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I’ve always been fascinated by the history of Ybor City, and Ybor Square is a site that I never get tired of visiting. The building has assumed a lot of roles throughout history, making it an important part of Ybor City’s development.

It was once known as The Martinez Ybor Cigar Factory Complex, the largest and oldest cigar factory in Florida, established by Vicente Martinez-Ybor in 1886.

The factory was huge, and he was able to employ over 4,000 workers from Cuba who produced millions of cigars a year.

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During the 1900s, the cigar industry started to decline, so it began housing different stores like antique shops and restaurants, which eventually led to its name changing to Ybor Square.

In 2010, the Church of Scientology bought and restored Ybor Square. In March 2011, they finally opened their doors to the public.

Now, I love going to Ybor Square to watch events and attend seminars. I usually check out their Facebook page to see the upcoming events that might interest me.

The two-building commercial space has a few parking spaces, and parking can be limited at peak times. However, I’ve never had too much trouble finding a spot. Not all spaces are occupied now in pandemic times, but there are still some great businesses to check out.

I’ve visited Botanixa El Trevoli for some unique fashion finds, and Vida Saludable is a great spot for healthy eats. There’s also a barber shop, beauty salon, nail salon, and insurance services available.

Overall, Ybor Square is a fantastic place to visit for both its historical significance and the variety of businesses and events it hosts. I highly recommend checking it out if you’re in the area.

During the 1900s, the cigar industry has started to decline, so it began housing different stores like antique shops and restaurants, which eventually led to its name changing to Ybor Square.

In 2010, the Church of Scientology bought and restored Ybor Square.

In March 2011, they finally opened their doors to the public.

Now, you can go to Ybor Square to watch events and attend seminars.

You can check out their Facebook page to see the upcoming events that might interest you.

Buy Locally Produced Goods at Ybor City Saturday Market

Thinking of having fresh fruits for breakfast or simply looking for affordable yet delectable snacks to munch on?

Then, I always head straight to Ybor City Saturday Market for some locally produced items. This weekend market has been operating since 2000 and has been one of my favorite spots to go to since then.

The market is open all year round from 9 am to 3 pm for October to April, and 9 am to 1 pm for May up to September, so I make sure to plan my trips accordingly to make sure that I do not miss any items on my shopping list.

The market also features unique items made by local artists, so if I’m looking for one-of-a-kind items that I can’t find anywhere else, this is the place to go.

Best of all, I get the chance to meet the local artists here to ensure that I am well informed about the products that are being sold. I once met a vendor who sold handmade soaps, and she was so passionate about her craft that it made me appreciate her products even more.

If I’m in the mood to spruce up my garden, there are plants that I can purchase here as well.

I’ve bought some beautiful succulents and air plants from the market, and they’ve been thriving in my home ever since.

For those who love arts and crafts, there are stuff that I can find here too that I absolutely adore. I’ve picked up some unique jewelry pieces and even a custom-made leather wallet that I use every day.

One of my favorite things about the Ybor City Saturday Market is the food. I can’t resist grabbing a delicious empanada or a refreshing smoothie while I browse the various stalls.

The market is also a great place to find fresh produce, so I often stock up on fruits and vegetables for the week.

Wander the Halls of Centro Asturiano de Tampa

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Videome, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Centro Asturiano de Tampa was a social club for the immigrants from Asturias, Spain, and their descendants.

They used to provide a hospital, cemetery, and health insurance to their members, seeking to help them from birth until after their deaths. Today, this historical site is a sought-after event venue, hosting weddings, parties, galas, and even corporate functions.

The property boasts a grand ballroom, a theater, rooms with a dance floor, and a cigar lounge and cantina to ensure that they can accommodate any event.

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Lexiajainz, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Whether you are hosting an event or would just like to admire the historic site, Centro Asturiano de Tampa is worth visiting.

I was delighted to hear about the Champagne & Chocolate Tasting Event being held at the beautiful historic Centro Asturiano de Tampa and I let several of my closest friends know.

The news spread like wildfire and before the end of the day, nine of my friends decided to join me.

I have had the honor of visiting this magnificent venue several times and each time still takes my breath away.

The stunning entrance welcomes you into this Renaissance Mediterranean styled building and you will continue to be amazed as you walk through its halls.

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Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The property boasts a grand ballroom, a theater, rooms with a dance floor, and a cigar lounge and cantina to ensure that they can accommodate any event.

Whether you are hosting an event or would just like to admire the historic site, Centro Asturiano de Tampa is worth visiting.

Taste and See the Flavors of Ybor with Ybor City Food Tours

I recently went on the Ybor City Food Tours with my family, and it was such a fun and exciting way to explore and experience the neighborhood of Ybor City.

If you’re visiting for the first time, I highly recommend their Original Historic Ybor City Food Tour, a 3-hour walking tour that features 5-7 food and drinks tastings.

During the tour, we visited Ybor City’s signature restaurants, such as the famous Columbia Restaurant, the oldest restaurant in Florida. I got to taste an authentic Cuban sandwich and drink a Columbian coffee as well.

The food was good, but I must admit that the portions were a bit small. However, the overall experience made up for it.

Our tour guide, Kristie, was a fabulous local who shared the fascinating history of the area, along with lots of stories and fun facts.

I learned so much about Ybor City’s history, which made the tour perfect for a foodie and history buff like me. We also had a speaker from the Chamber of Commerce who was very passionate about the town.

Although the restaurants seemed a bit unprepared for our group’s arrival, causing us to wait several times and eventually putting us behind an hour, the tour was still enjoyable.

Our guide, Kristie, was very knowledgeable and full of stories about the town’s history. She might have been a little too focused on the history at times when we were hungry, but overall, she was good.

I would still recommend the Ybor City Food Tours because it was a great way to learn about the area’s history while enjoying delicious food. It’s a fantastic afternoon activity for the whole family.

Savor Southern Cuisine at 7th + Grove

I recently visited 7th + Grove and was blown away by their delicious southern favorites with a modern twist. Their slogan, “Dine, Vibe, Thrive,” truly captures the restaurant’s dedication to its neighborhood, outstanding cuisine, and amazing moments.

The acclaimed cuisine pays respect to the tales of our ancestors while telling the tale of who we are now. They’ve also established themselves as a popular destination for Ybor City nightlife thanks to their welcoming atmosphere, first-rate service, and inventively made drinks.

The enhanced southern food selections offer an unrivaled down-home charm and bright, genuine taste in Tampa, Florida. 7th + Grove adds something fresh to Ybor City’s nightlife every night with their numerous specials and events.

I went to 7th & Grove for Saturday brunch and had a really great time. The music was a perfect mix of classic club bops and new school hip hop. The food was absolutely delicious, and I ended up doing the buffet with unlimited mimosas. The young man who worked the buffet was super kind and very polite.

The young lady who worked the door/security was top-notch. When I first got in, my table was not clean, and she made sure to have someone come over and clean it so I could be seated. My waitress, I believe her name was Jojo or Coco, was super prompt with all my requests, kept the bottles of champagne flowing, and was very pleasant. I will surely be back.

The food was phenomenal, drinks were delicious, and service was A+. The vibe was just what I was looking for.

Watch a Performance at The RITZ Ybor

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I recently attended a concert at The RITZ Ybor, and I must say, it’s one of Tampa’s top venues for concerts and special events.

The historic building, built in 1917, underwent a $2 million upgrade and reopened in June 2008, located in the heart of the famed Ybor City.

The facility is quite spacious, with approximately 17,000 square feet of space, discrete rooms, a grand entrance, fully-equipped bars, a cutting-edge lighting system, and a sizable caterers preparation kitchen.

The RITZ Ybor is a live music venue that hosts some of the finest performers in the media and music industries.

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I’ve been to a few live performances and special activities there, and I’ve always had a great time. The venue has also hosted some high-profile exclusive parties.

During my last visit, I went to see a DJ perform, and the atmosphere was chaotic and busy, but in a good way. The crowd was energetic, and the music was fantastic.

The pricing for drinks was decent, and the venue maintained a comfortable temperature of around 67°, so I’d recommend dressing warm.

One thing I noticed was that there were a lot of people around with personal fans, which was helpful in keeping the air circulating.

The venue did get quite hot and muggy due to the body heat and still air, but it didn’t ruin my experience.

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The only downside was that there was only one restroom off to the side, which made it difficult to get through the crowd if you were at the rail. However, overall, I had a great time at The RITZ Ybor and would definitely go back for more concerts and events.

Enjoy Nightlife at Club Prana

I was amazed by Club Prana‘s grandeur and energetic atmosphere. Since its opening in 2000, this club has become a staple in the Tampa Bay nightlife scene.

As I approached the entrance, I was welcomed by a red carpet and helpful door staff who attended to my VIP demands. The thrill and grandeur dominated me as I entered through the stately front doors.

To access the most opulent, upmarket entertainment venue, I took the elevator, but there are also numerous accessible stairs. Each floor has a distinct aesthetic and musical style, catering to various preferences.

The luxurious facilities offered throughout this energetic European lounge matched the greatest expectations for nightlife in Tampa. I particularly enjoyed the rooftop area, which provided a great atmosphere for dancing and socializing.

I opted for the VIP experience, which gave me access to the elevator to easily move between floors. It was definitely worth it, as it allowed me to fully enjoy all that Club Prana had to offer.

Have a Relaxing Stay at Hotel Haya

Coming home to a Hotel Haya room makes every trip—romantic, business-related, or family getaway—more distinctly Ybor City. I recently had the pleasure of staying at this hotel as part of a staycation, and I must say, it was nothing short of amazing.

I picked a lovely room with a pool view, which was perfect for watching the lively scene flowing from legendary 7th Avenue.

The hotel is filled with amazing facilities and items created by regional glass craftsmen and artists, which added a unique touch to the overall experience.

The café and restaurant at Hotel Haya are a true reflection of the diverse ethnicities that keep Ybor City vibrant. I enjoyed a variety of cuisines, from Mediterranean, Spanish, Italian, and Cuban, all represented on dynamic menus.

The service was impeccable, and the staff was quick on their feet at getting me checked in, which took about 5 minutes.

During my stay, I noticed that Hotel Haya is obviously the place to be on the weekend. The bar and the coffee shop were filled with people laughing and genuinely enjoying themselves.

The energy in the place just screamed lively, and it really breathed fresh air into me. I couldn’t help but partake in some of the action with other guests, and everyone was sweet and kind.

My room was gorgeous, simple yet profound. The small details of the entire hotel gave it a feeling of tropical luxury.

The valet service was also top-notch, as they promptly greeted me and had my car out to me swiftly whenever I needed it. I waited no more than about 2-3 minutes, and all the gentlemen there were super kind and courteous.

Overall, my experience at Hotel Haya was fantastic, and I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a relaxing stay in Ybor City. Whether it be for huge gatherings, exclusive poolside parties, formal meetings, or wedding receptions, Hotel Haya offers the perfect groundwork for an occasion to remember.

Grab a Drink at Copper Shaker

The Copper Shaker is a locally run and owned artisan co*cktail bar and kitchen in the center of Ybor City.

It provides scrumptious sharing appetizers and the greatest traditional and modern artisan drinks in a laid-back and delightful setting.

The drinks at Copper Shaker are skillfully designed, ranging from traditional to modern craft, to satisfy the preferences of its customers. I’ve tried their dirty martini, and the bartender even asked how dirty I wanted it – a question I haven’t been asked in a long time. I got it medium, and it was both strong and delicious.

A cuisine with fresh and multicultural influences is available from the kitchen, with hearty servings and occasionally complimentary samples of the newest dishes.

Whether you’re a bourbon expert or a hobbyist, the team will be delighted to assist you with their wisdom and enthusiasm.

Final Thoughts

Living in Tampa, I’ve always been proud. But one of the things I love most about this city is the quaint neighborhood of Ybor City. It’s not just a popular tourist destination for historic sites, mouthwatering Cuban and Latin food selections, and unique finds made by talented local artists, but also a place I enjoy exploring time and time again.

Every corner of Ybor City is filled with spots that leave me in awe, even after living here for years. If you ever find yourself in Tampa, I highly recommend taking the time to visit this neighborhood and experience its charm for yourself. Trust me, it’s worth it!

20 Best Things to Do in Ybor City, FL - Travel Lens (2024)
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