I’m a big fan of stay-cations. So underrated. Traveling is great but I get stress hives, it leaves me feeling empty at home, and my bank account has a little panic attack. We all live in a place that someone, somewhere wants to visit. Except, sometimes, ourselves. We often overlook the novelties of our own areas or have an “oh I’ll stop by there one day” mentality.
America is built on these little towns that seem to be a dime a dozen. One of my favorites is little Ybor City in Tampa. As much as I love Indiana, this unique place is a cuban twist on a classic American downtown that I make sure to take visitors to.
Ybor City is kind of like a baby New Orleans. Anyone who has taken a trip down Bourbon Street immediately associates the two. An average stroll down 7th Avenue in Ybor yields plenty of opportunity to see authentic cigar rolling, hit one of the upbeat bars, or (my favorite) do a little vintage shopping!
There are a couple of great shops with loads of antique, wearable goods. As far as vintage clothing shopping goes, La France is a ritzy place with hoards of merchandise. You could comb through this store for hours. Something is bound to strike the fancy of a multitude of people.
The dining is also pretty great if you know where to look. The Columbia Restaurant has been poppin’ since 1905. While they do have a loyal following in Tampa with locations scattered on the Riverwalk, Sarasota, and even the airport, it’s not typically my go to place. If I’m taking a nice stroll down Ybor, I literally can’t walk by the window of Due Amici without getting a slice of pizza.. which turns into two slices… and a glass of wine… OKAY. It’s excellent. Maybe I go to Ybor just for it.
If you want a little more excitement than dinner and a nice stroll, it gets pretty lit after hours, but most people who rave about Ybor bash it at night. The bar scene really evolves and the multi-story nightclubs open their doors. It’s not an ideal place for someone like me (a small, conservative dressing, young lady) to spend too much quality time outside of daylight hours. If I do stick around a little later, I put my bingo skills to use at Hamburger Mary’s Drag Queen bingo. Ybor City is a super gay friendly- no, gay inspired– district. If it’s not your thing, there’s still plenty to see and do, but I think it makes Ybor that much more unique and upbeat. Honestly, the most nerve-wracking thing after hours is the Scientology branch located just off the main drag. WE ALL KNOW MY FEAR OF THIS ONE.
The main drag of Ybor City is barely a mile long and there is this much going on. There is no way you live in a town any smaller than Ybor, so there’s gotta be something to enjoy on your own staycation. The deeper appreciation you develop for your home, the easier it is to go back after a vacation, the more pride you have in telling people where you come from, and the happier you are on a daily basis. Home is important to me and I’ve had to rebuild my own version of home enough times to tell you that ‘home’ is my favorite place in the world.