Tampa, located halfway down the Gulf Coast of the Sunshine State, has recently been rated the No. 5 "best outdoor city" in America by Forbes magazine. Forbes Traveler named Tampa as one of the top 30 tourist destinations in the country, with nearly 17 million visitors annually. A city that in the post-Civil War Reconstruction period was a tiny fishing village of less than 800 people, Tampa is now Florida's third-most populous city. Tampa is an ideal place to spend a week at the end of a long season. The following is an excerpt from the August/September edition of Coaching Volleyball, who in cooperation with Tampa Bay & Company, gives you the following reasons to fall in love with this destination for the 2009 AVCA Convention.
Bring Your Flip-Flops
Situated along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, the Tampa area, with its soft, pristine white sand, is native to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Nearby Caladesi Island State Park, America's No. 1-rated beach in 2008, and Fort De Soto Park, who took that distinction in 2005 and 2009, the 35 miles of white-sand beaches and an average December temperature of 72 degrees make this a can't-miss destination.
Tampa's Excellent Adventure Park
Busch Gardens is celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2009, having opened in 1959 as a bird gardens and hospitality center for visitors of Tampa's Anheuser-Busch Brewery. Today, Tampa's No. 1 tourist destination features rides and roller coasters, Broadway-style shows, a zoo with nearly 3,000 animals, as well as shops, restaurants and more. Busch Gardens is open the weeks before and after the AVCA Convention, so don't miss out on one of the country's leading adventure parks.
Take Me Down to Ybor City
Come out and enjoy Ybor City (pronounced EE-bore), an eclectic location that was at one time known as the Cigar City Capital of the world. Great bars, restaurants, shops, museums and entertainment now line 7th Avenue. Don't forget to pick-up a hand-rolled cigar as a souvenir. Also visit Channelside Bay Plaza, located near the Tampa Convention Center, which has a mix of restaurants, bars and night clubs, and is situated alongside the bay and cruise port. Travel from the headquarters hotel to either Ybor City or Channelside using the TECO Line Streetcars.
Food for Thought
Columbia Restaurant has been family-owned for over 100 years, a landmark in Ybor City. The Columbia is the oldest restaurant in Florida and the largest Spanish restaurant in the world, featuring an award-winning wine list and Spanish/Cuban cuisine. A Tampa landmark for more than 50 years, Bern's Steak House was named the best steak house in America by Wine Spectacular and Rachel Ray's Everyday magazine. America Eats Out called Bern's "The most remarkable restaurant in the entire world."
Think the Links
With over 25 courses in and around the area, Tampa is a golf enthusiast's delight. The warm weather and serene surroundings make this a year-round golf destination paradise. Don't have a tee time? Don't worry. There are a number of businesses that provide advanced tee time reservation services, golf packages, as well as last minute tee times at the best courses. Visit the Tampa Bay & Company Web site for a list of courses and tee time reservation services.
Read the entire Come Play in Tampa Bay section of the convention preview in August/September edition of Coaching Volleyball.
(all photos except "Think the Links" courtesy of Tampa Bay & Company)