Hit the Road: a 30-mile getaway to Ybor City

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Stop by Columbia Restaurant, the world’s largest Spanish restaurant. | Photo by @abbyallenleach

Last month, we kicked off our summer road trip series, Hit the Road, with an outdoor adventure to Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. If you checked it out, we’d love to hear about it.

This month, we’re continuing the series with a 30-mile trip to Ybor City for a quick getaway. From Cuban sandwiches and historic boutique hotels to watching wild chickens, this area of Tampa offers a little bit of everything — making it the perfect end-of-summer vacay.

Before you start packing your bags, here’s everything you need to know about the area + our insider recommendations.

Drive time: ~33 minutes from downtown

Est. population: 1,740+

Avg. high in July: 90°

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While you’re exploring Ybor City, be on the lookout for its iconic rogue chickens. | Photo by Dylan Breese

?️ Things to do

Centennial Park

Located at 1800 E. 8th Ave., Tampa, FL, in the heart of Ybor’s historic district, is Centennial Park. Pro tip: Swing by every Saturday (year round, rain or shine) from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. (or 3 p.m. from October-April) for the Ybor City Saturday Market to shop locally produced arts, foods, plants, and more.

Centro Ybor

Entertainment, shopping, and dining can all be found at Centro Ybor (1600 E. 8th Ave., Tampa, FL), a 240,000-sqft outdoor mall with something for everyone. Stop by GameTime Tampa for 100+ indoor games or Improv Comedy Theater for a night of laughs in the historic Centro Español building.

Ybor City Museum

If you weren’t aware, Ybor’s city history can be traced back to one particular industry: Cigars. Sign up for a tour at the Ybor City Museum (1818 E. 9th Ave., Tampa, FL) to step back in time and learn about the factories and factory workers that made Ybor the cigar capital of the world in the late 1800s.

Tampa Baseball Museum

The history lesson doesn’t stop + start with cigars. Immerse yourself in Tampa’s rich baseball history and learn more about Al Lopez, Tampa’s first Major League player, at this Ybor museum (2003 N. 19th St., Tampa, FL).

Ybor City Food Tours

Sign up for this three-hour walking tour of historic Ybor City and its quintessential eateries. In the tour, you’ll experience the foods of Ybor’s four core cultures: the Germans, Italians, Spanish + Cubans.

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Grab a seat at Café Quiquiriqui + enjoy your meal beneath hanging plants. | Photo by LALtoday

? Grub to eat

Café Quiquiriqui

This Cuban-inspired cafe (1402 E. 7th Ave., Tampa, FL) offers breakfast + lunch dishes like the veggie omelette and el Cubano just steps from Hotel Haya’s main lobby. Editor’s pick: City Editor Rilee suggests the Cuban toast for a morning pick-me-up, particularly because of that guava jelly.

Columbia Restaurant

Did you know Ybor City is the birthplace of the Cuban sandwich? Stop by Columbia Restaurant (2117 E. 7th Ave. Tampa, FL), which also happens to be the world’s largest Spanish restaurant and Florida’s oldest restaurant, for a taste of this historic Floridian meal.

The Bricks

It really is possible to please everyone. Bring your whole crew to The Bricks (1327 E. 7th Ave., Tampa, FL) for anything from salads + sandwiches to rice bowls, cocktails, or coffee.

Flan Factory

Flan Factory (1718 N. Nebraska Ave., Tampa, FL) is known for Cuban-inspired classics and specialty flan flavors. Whether you’re in the mood for Olga’s original, coconut, guava, salted caramel, dulce de leche, or nutella, we’re sure there’s one for you.

Samurai Blue

Hey sushi fanatics, turn your craving into a day trip and swing by 1600 E. 8th Ave., #C208, Tampa, FL, for sushi, ramen, steaks, and more.

Casa Santo Stefano

Searching for something Sicilian? Many of the ingredients that go into Casa Santo Stefano’s pastas, soups, desserts, and more are shipped directly from family-owned businesses in Sicily to the storefront at 1607 N. 22nd St., Tampa, FL.

Due Amici Pizza & Pasta Bar

If you get a late-night craving for a fresh pizza, look no further than Due Amici (1724 E. 7th Ave., Tampa, FL). This family-run biz is known for its house-made dough, hand-spun pies, and being open daily until 3 a.m.

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Are you sitting in Hotel Haya’s lobby, or an air-conditioned jungle? | Photo by LALtoday

? Overnight accommodations

If you get a wild hair and decide to turn this quick day trip into an overnighter, here are some spots to stay.

Hotel Haya, 1412 E. 7th Ave., Tampa, FL

This boutique hotel is known for highlighting local artists in its decor. Book a stay here to experience the heart of Ybor City (and did we mention Cafe Quiquiriqui is just off the lobby?).

Le Méridien Tampa, The Courthouse, 601 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL

Just a six-minute drive from Ybor City’s center is Le Méridien, a boutique hotel housed in Tampa’s historic federal courthouse.

Floridan Palace Hotel, 905 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL

Speaking of a short drive, the Floridan Palace Hotel is also within a six-minute drive of Ybor City’s center. This national-landmark hotel opened in 1927 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.

Ready for more on Ybor’s famous Cuban sandwiches, national-landmark hotel, and huge outdoor mall? Head to the link below for 12 additional activities, restaurants, and accommodations. Plus, stay tuned for the August installment of our Hit the Road series. We’ll be highlighting a road trip for the foodies.