Visiting Downtown Tampa

Downtown Tampa, FL by Monica Goslin

What to do and see in downtown Tampa, Florida

Visiting downtown Tampa you will find a rather impressive, although quiet, city center with stunning skyscrapers and a very pleasant waterfront park. Downtown Tampa is very walk-able and the central area you want to see starts at the waterfront park.

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Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park is an 8-acre sustainable park with features like reclaimed water for irrigation. The park accommodates a range of programs and performances, and includes a dog park, a river walk, and two interactive fountains.

Bordering the park is the Tampa Museum of Art and the Glazer Children’s Museum. Both museums are stunning architecturally and I highly recommend eating lunch or just enjoying coffee and gelato at the SoNo Café at the Tampa Museum of Art, where you can sit outside and enjoy the view while eating fabulous food and drinking great coffee. Click here for a link to the SoNo Cafe at the Tampa Museum of Art to find out more.

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From the park you just have to walk a few blocks to see the skyscrapers up close and see some interesting artwork, like the “Solstice” sculpture by Charles O. Perry in the courtyard of the Bank of America, which looks like a gigantic slinky! Plus you will notice the Rivergate Tower, which is the cylindrical building at the other end of the waterfront park. The Rivergate Tower is the sixth tallest building in Tampa, designed by Harry Wolf and is one of the tallest limestone structures in the world (probably a useful fact to know for jeopardy)!

You can easily reach the Henry B. Plant Museum from downtown Tampa by walking over the West Kennedy Blvd Bridge; find out about the Henry B Plant Museum in the previous post!

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To see more photos of downtown Tampa, Florida click here for travel stock photography of Tampa, FL.

Henry B. Plant Museum in Tampa

Henry B. Plant Museum photo by Monica Goslin

Visiting the Henry B. Plant Museum in Tampa, Florida

The Henry B. Plant Museum is housed in what used to be the Tampa Bay Hotel in 1891 and is now a National Historical Landmark.

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A brief history of Henry B. Plant

Henry B. Plant founded the Plant Systems of railroads and steamboats, bringing the railroad to Tampa, Florida in 1884. Plant built a transportation system over 20 years that included over two thousand miles of track, 14 railway companies, steamship lines and hotels. Mr. Plant not only connected cities along the Atlantic seaboard but also extended small railroads to provide better connection across the state of Florida and to the North. Tampa became a port for steamships to Havana as well! To read a short biography of Henry B. Plant, click here for the museums website page with the information of Plant’s life and how he started the business.

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Henry B. Plant built the Tampa hotel which still stands today, only now as a museum and part of the University of Tampa. The hotel was built in the style of a Moorish palace and opened in 1891 with 511 rooms.  Most rooms had baths, electricity and telephones, which was quite a unusual in that day and age!

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To see more photos of downtown Tampa, Florida click here for travel stock photography of Tampa, Florida.

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You can visit the Henry B. Plant museum and see rooms decorated as the hotel would have been, and see more artifacts and information about Mr. Plant.

Henry B. Plant Museum Hours:

Tuesday to Saturday 10am – 5pm

Saturday Noon – 5pm

CLOSED on Mondays

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Admission for the Henry B. Plant Museum is:

Adults $10

Seniors $7

Students $7

Children $5 (ages 4-12)

*Admission tickets current as of August 2012

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