Orlando, Miami, the Keys, the Everglades. Each destination boasts a unique face-value appeal: The family trip, the opulent glamour, the island paradise, the tropical jungle. But it is one of Florida’s lesser known spots, Tampa, that guest blogger Tommy is going to look at today.
Tommy went to school in UNC-Chappel Hill and still lives in Tampa. In his spare time he loves to travel, swim (occasionally at the same time) and walk his huskies.
We’re proud of our diversity here and nothing shows off The Bay’s diversity better than it’s bustling festival scene. Whether you’re at the beach, on the sidewalk or in amongst the market stalls, prepare for a cacophony of sights, sounds and smells from all of our country’s different heritages.
The food festivals could be easily surmised with a simple and definitive “yum” but I’m here to elaborate… From golden craft ales and dripping BBQ beef ribs, to spicy chicken wings and the latest bourbon whiskies – you won’t be disappointed.
The festival is named after Jose Gaspar who was one of the last buccaneers and terrorized west Florida during the 18th and 19th century. I’d bet almost every single local has been to Gasparilla at least once. There is a children’s parade the week before the main “Pirate Invasion” the next week. This year’s children’s parade will even feature a live parachute performance. The main parade can be less family friendly though as it is Tampa’s small version of Mardigras. There will be beads thrown into the crowds off of the floats as the pirates invade Tampa. Taking a cab is important as there are quite a few accidents during Gasparilla. If involved in any type of accident, contact a personal injury lawyer because if it happened after a festival like Gasparilla, the odds are that alcohol was involved. A great tip for Gasparilla is to keep the open alcohol containers you have on Bayshore Boulevard and throw them out before you leave it as citations can be written on streets that aren’t Bayshore.
Sushi Battle Tampa Bay
Sushi Battle Tampa Bay had a great inaugural year with tickets including unlimited tastings and upgraded tickets had a variety of Sake. With Tampa having a huge food blogger and food critic presence, this was an unmissable event. There were over 13 different sushi restaurants battling to be the best in the bay. A few restaurants also used the event as a platform to open a new sight. A great way to get noticed right away. The battle included restaurants from 3 different counties in the Tampa Bay area. The battle was such a success that organizers say the event happening next year is a certainty.
Beer, Bourbon, and BBQ Festival
Three of the USA’s finest institutions come together. The Beer, Bourbon and BBQ Festival is celebrating its 3rd year in Tampa on February 27th this year. There will be 60 beers on tap and 40 bourbons available for tasting. There are unlimited tastings so be careful not to indulge too much. There will also a bacon tasting that is available to VIP guests with over 10 restaurants serving up their best bacon dishes. This takes place at Curtis Hixon Park which is on the water so the view is incredible. Most of Curtis Hixon’s events are dog friendly so feel free to bring your furry friend, just don’t let them have any bourbon.
If you’re after a fright, come down to Howl-O-Screen. This is more of an event than a festival. It takes place in Busch Gardens runs with haunted houses and ghouls roaming the park. At other theme parks in Florida there have actually been lawsuits filed for the houses being too scary. While there is no need to get a lawyer involved, make sure you are ready to be scared as these haunted houses deliver in the fear department. You can also enjoy all of the rides that Busch Gardens has to offer as roller coasters are infinitely scarier in the pitch black!
Tampa can be one of the most fun areas in the country during certain times. The weather is nearly always beautiful and so are the people. If you are looking for a tan and a great Cuban sandwich, visit Tampa today.
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