Tampa is located on the West Coast of Florida on Tampa Bay, near the Gulf of Mexico, and is part of the metropolitan area most commonly referred to as the 'Tampa Bay Area'. The Greater Tampa Bay area has over 4 million residents and generally includes the Tampa and Sarasota metro areas. Tampa is bordered by two bodies of water, Old Tampa Bay and Hillsborough Bay, both of which flow together to form Tampa Bay, which in turn flows into the Gulf of Mexico. The Hillsborough River flows out into Hillsborough Bay, passing directly in front of Downtown Tampa and supplying Tampa's main source of fresh water. Palm River is a smaller river flowing from just east of the city into McKay Bay. Tampa's geography is marked by the Interbay Peninsula which divides Hillsborough Bay from Old Tampa Bay.
Tampa was ranked as the 5th Best Outdoor City by Forbes magazine. Tampa also ranks as the Fifth Most Popular American City, based on where people want to live, according to a Pew Research Center study.
Arts and Entertainment
Surrounded by so much water, it is perhaps no surprise the city of Tampa operates over 165 parks and beaches covering 2,286 acres within the city limits and 42 more in surrounding suburbs covering 70,000 acres. These areas include the Hillsborough River State Park, just northeast of the city. Tampa is also home to a number of attractions and theme parks, including Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Adventure Island, Lowry Park Zoo, and Florida Aquarium.
Big Cat Rescue is the largest accredited sanctuary in the world dedicated entirely to abused and abandoned big cats. It is home to about 100 lions, tigers, bobcats, cougars and other species most of whom have been abandoned, abused, orphaned, saved from being turned into fur coats, or retired from performing acts.
The Tampa Bay History Center is a museum located in the Channel District. It boasts over 60,000 sq ft of exhibits, theaters, map gallery, research center and a museum store.
Well-known shopping areas include International Plaza and Bay Street, WestShore Plaza, SoHo district, and Hyde Park Village. Palma Ceia is also home to a shopping district, called Palma Ceia Design District.
Perhaps the most well-known and anticipated events are those from Tampa's annual celebration of Gasparilla, held since 1904 and drawing over 400,000 attendees.
Other notable events include the Outback Bowl, which is held New Year's Day at Raymond James Stadium. Each February, The Florida State Fair brings crowds from across the state, while "Fiesta Day" celebrates Tampa's Cuban, Spanish, German, Italian, English, Irish, Jewish, and African-Cuban immigrant heritage.
Performing arts companies and organizations which call Tampa home include The Florida Orchestra, Opera Tampa, Jobsite Theater, The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay, Stageworks Theatre, Spanish Lyric Theater, Tampa Bay Opera, and the Tampa Bay Symphony.
Tampa has a diverse culinary scene from small cafes and bakeries to bistros and farm-to-table restaurants. The food of Tampa has a history of Cuban, Spanish, Floribbean and Italian cuisines. There are also many Colombian, Puerto Rican, Vietnamese and Barbecue restaurants. Seafood is also very popular in Tampa, and Greek cuisine is prominent in the area. Food trucks are very popular and the area holds the record for the world's largest food truck rally.
Tampa is represented by teams in three major professional sports leagues: the NFL, the NHL, and Major League Baseball.
Public primary and secondary education is operated by Hillsborough County Public Schools. It is the eighth largest school district in the United States, with around 189,469 enrolled students. SDHC runs 208 schools, 133 being elementary, 42 middle, 27 high schools, two K-8s, and four career centers. There are 73 additional schools in the district that are charter and alternative schools. Twelve out of 27 high schools in the SDHC are included in Newsweek's list of America's Best High Schools.