Ybor City is a historical neighborhood in Tampa, Florida founded in 1885 by Vicente Martinez-Ybor. Martinez-Ybor was a Spaniard by birth but started his cigar manufacturing company in Cuba. He was looking to relocate his business and moved it to Key West before finally settling on Tampa. At one point in history, Ybor City was the largest Cuban cigar manufacturer in the world. Hence, the nickname “Cigar City”. Martinez-Ybor started not only the Cuban cigar business but also many others including the streetcar line and Tampa’s first brewery originally named Ybor City Brewing Company. The Cuban influence that was brought to Ybor City over a century ago remains to this day. For anyone visiting the Tampa Bay area I highly recommend spending a day in Ybor City.
GO THE EXTRA MILE FOR La Segunda Bakery
Off the beaten path but certainly worth the drive is La Segunda Bakery. An Ybor City staple since 1915, this bakery was originally part of a trio: La Primera, La Segunda, and La Tercera. If you’re wondering how La Segunda is the last bakery standing all you need to do is take one bite of their authentic Cuban bread preserved by four generations of the More family. They serve breakfast and lunch from 6:30 am until 3 pm.
eat an authentic cuban sandwich
You can’t go to Ybor City without eating an authentic Cuban sandwich and, of course, La Segunda has you covered.
TAKE A WALK IN THE PARK… AND POTENTIALLY CUBA
There are a few parks in and around Ybor City including Ybor Centennial Park and Parque Amigos de Jose Marti. An interesting fact about Parque Amigos de Jose Marti is that it was gifted to Cuba by Tampa in 1956 making it the only piece of Cuban-owned land in the U.S. until the Cuban embassy in Washington, D.C. in 2015. By going to Ybor City you can literally visit another country.
WATCH OUT FOR CHICKENS
Yes, you read that correctly. Chickens run wild in large flocks all over the city. Fun fact, they’re not afraid of people and much like Rob Reiner’s mom in “When Harry Met Sally” they’ll have what you’re having. Keep a close eye on your food and your kiddos because the chickens are the rulers of the roost in Ybor City.
EAT AT COLUMBIA RESTAURANT
Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City is the oldest continuously open restaurant in Florida as well as the oldest Spanish restaurant in the United States. Once you stop in for a meal you’ll see how Columbia Restaurant has stood the test of time. Menu highlights include sangria, tapas, paella, and their special “1905” salad. You can read a full post on Columbia Restaurant here.
EMBRACE CIGAR CITY
You can go inside cigar shops and see how they’re made. You can even take a cigar themed tour of Ybor City.
LISTEN TO LIVE MUSIC
You can see a live show at Crowbar, Orpheum Theater, or The Ritz Ybor… you can always see live music free on the streets.
GRAB A COFFEE AT THE BLIND TIGER
Stop in for the name and stay for the coffee. This place is cozy, eclectic, and packing a caffeine punch. You can read a full post on The Blind Tiger here.
IMBIBE AT ONE OF YBOR’S BREWERIES
If you’re looking for something stronger than coffee then you’re in luck. Ybor City has numerous breweries including Cigar City Brewing, Ybor City Tap House, and Tampa Bay Rum Company. A personal favorite is Cigar City Cider & Mead pictured below.
TAKE A MUSEUM TOUR
The Ybor City State Museum offers not only the history of the town but also gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture.
RIDE A STREETCAR
Get the best view of Ybor City while riding a historic streetcar powered by Tampa Electric Company.
WANDER AROUND YBOR CITY
Make sure to give yourself time to walk around with no agenda other than to stop in shops, bakeries, restaurants, museums, and incredible murals taking in all of the beauty and history that Ybor City has to offer.