Tampa, Florida. You may know this quaint town as a beachfront resort, an hour away from world-renowned theme parks, or the home of the Buccaneers, but Tampa has a lot more to offer. From its rich history, to the creation of the "Tampa-opoly" board game, a beach town finally puts its place on the map. Here are 7 reasons why I am forever proud to be a Tampanian.

Nationally Ranked Beaches

St. Petersburg Beach, Florida

assets.rbl.ms

Almost every individual associates Florida with beaches, and they would be correct to connect the clear, blue waters with the southernmost US state. I can always count on the Bay Area for crystal clear waters, white, soft sand and picture-worthy sunsets. In fact, as of 2017, Clearwater Beach is the Number 1 beach in the US according to US News!

Arts and Culture

Enjoy a production of "Hamilton" or a orchestra concert at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Perfoming Arts.

upload.wikimedia.org

In the past 10 years, Tampa has begun to increase the number of art expositions and cultural events. If you love posting a picture of playbills, the Straz Center is the place! Home to multiple theatres, the Straz center auditoriums have a serene ambiance, elevated seating, and surround sound to make every "Lion King: The Musical" and Tampa Youth Orchestra performance something spectacular. If you enjoy thought-invoking, abstract paintings, head over to the Tampa Museum of Art for a delight at every corner! I love the arts scene and I know as more cultures enter the expanding metropolis, you are bound to have a good time.

Food Scene

Historic Ybor City is the Origin and Spanish Hotspot of Tampa

upload.wikimedia.org

Florida traces its roots to Native American-Indian tribes, and in the 16th century, Ponce de Leon and other Spanish conquistadors claimed the Flower State for themselves. Tampa was established over 200 years ago, so there are plenty of Spanish, Italian, Cuban, American, Indian and Asian restaurants to explore. Top rated, high-class restaurants that I personally recommend during your visit (if you make one) are: Columbia Spanish Restaurant, Ulele, Oxford Exchange and Bern's Steak House and Dessert Room.

Theme Parks

Dive through the plains and encounter many animals on your ride on Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens

Located in North Tampa, Busch Gardens Theme Park is a place I have gone almost every weekend since I was 4 years old. Children and adults of all ages can be thrill seekers on Cheetah Hunt, Montu and Sheikra, African-themed coasters. Younger children can interact with animals on safari and hold parrots in the bird gardens. Go enjoy Dippin Dots on a gondola ride through the park, or enjoy a splash on the Congo River Rapids and Stanley Falls Flume Log Ride. I will never forget waking up at 9 am on Saturdays to go on the same rides and go on the train throughout the park at the end of the day. Tampa is also one hour away from Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld in Orlando. So thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies, come on by!

Annual Gasparilla Parades

Buccaneers Create a Mock-Invasion Every Year for the Annual Gasparilla Parade

upload.wikimedia.org

Every February, dozens of children and adults rush to the Boardwalk to enjoy the annual Gasparilla Day Parade. Real-life pirates and buccaneers recreate the invasion of Tampa for everyone to enjoy. Floats run by different organizations, youth groups and local community members go through Downtown and throw bead necklaces for people to catch. I remember that when I was little, my mom caught beads from former mayor Pam Iorio!

Higher Education

Bleed Green and Gold at the University of South Florida, Ranked in the Top 60 Universities Nationwide

scontent-iad3-1.cdninstagram.com

The University of South Florida and the University of Tampa are home to many students from across the city, country and the world ready for the next stage of their lives. The University of Florida continues to expand and the Morsani School of Medicine is partnered with Florida Hospital, Tampa General Hospital and the Veterans Administration, all nationally-ranking organizations. In fact, USF received a grant to build a brand new medical facility downtown.

Sports Ventures

Cheer on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Raymond James Stadium, Host of Super Bowls XXXV, XLIII and Future Host of Super Bowl LV in 2021.

upload.wikimedia.org

What's a visit to Tampa without going to a Bucs, Rays or Lightning game? Get tickets to the Raymond James Stadium or Amalie Arena to watch nationally ranked teams live! Although I have not been to a sports game yet, I can't wait to go in 2021 to the Super Bowl, and I have been to conferences and performances in the Amalie Arena, including Disney on Ice!

Whether you know Tampa for being near Orlando, as a beachfront town, or just a city in Florida, I hope that these reasons entice you to visit my humble hometown. I hope you love your stay there!