Tampa With Kids: History With Sabor Latino In Ybor City

Ybor City, located just northeast of downtown Tampa, was founded in the 1880s by cigar manufacturers and was populated by thousands of immigrants, mainly from Spain, Cuba, and Italy eventually becoming the cigar capital of the world.

photo credit: drake lelane via photopin cc

photo credit: drake lelane via photopin cc

Ybor city is also home to the authentic Cuban Sandwich originally called the mixto and made for Ybor City cigar workers.

photo credit: michellerlee via photopin cc

photo credit: michellerlee via photopin cc

Following the depression the and World War II the cigar industry suffered and the population diminished throwing Ybor City into a long period of neglect and decay.  In the 1980’s the area began a slow recovery and by 2000 many building and areas where renovated and Ybor City’s revitalization turned it into a thriving entertainment district and a favorite area to visit by tourists.

Historic character, restaurants and bars in Ybor City. Photo: Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz.

Historic character, restaurants and bars in Ybor City. Photo: Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz.

Today Ybor City houses restaurants, bars and quaint shops. Known for it’s lively night life and for becoming Tampa’s burgeoning LGBT scene Ybor city might not be first in the list of things to do with kids but it’s brick restored buildings with wrought-iron balconies and broad sidewalks are filled with historic meaning and lots of sabor Latino and charm. During the day this eclectic neighborhood is the perfect place for families to experience Tampa’s history, it’s food and it’s colorful culture.
The Teco Streetcar trolley.

The Teco Streetcar trolley.

We arrived to Ybor City aboard the historic Teco Street Cars, these vintage trolleys where an instant hit with the kids.  First built in the late 1800’s electric streetcars where an essential part of Tampa’s everyday life until they rolled to a stop in 1946 following the World War II.  Brought back to life in 2002 the Teco Street Car lines cover Downtown, the Channel District and Ybor City.
Teco Streetcar interior
My children had never travel aboard a trolley and there was a station quite close to the Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk where we where staying.  Riding the trolley was the perfect way to reach many of the places we wanted to visit. A day pass is only $5 for adults and $2.50 for kids 17 and under. After a short walk from our centrally located hotel we arrived to the station, we stepped into the trolley car with it’s beautifully restored wood and brass interiors and with a “bing-bing” we where whisked back in time.
Teco Streetcar interior wooden
After arriving at Ybor City we walked taking in the sights, sounds and smells on our way to the Columbia Restaurant, were we had lunch reservations.  The Columbia restaurant is the oldest Spanish restaurant in Florida serving Cuban and Spanish dishes. You can read all about our magnificent family experience at The Columbia HERE.
Ybor City's eclectic architecture and warm character.

Ybor City’s eclectic architecture and warm character.

Known as Tampa’s National Historic landmark Ybor City  has a distinct architectural, culinary, cultural, and historical legacy that reflects its multi-ethnic composition.  Here the old and the new mix together and become a piece of living history.
Making cigars by hand.

Making cigars by hand.

We had been to Tampa many times but it wasn’t until this trip that we got a real sense of it’s character and rich history which had eluded us before.

This is part of a series of articles: Tampa with Kids , you can read more articles in the series HERE. #TampaWithKids

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About the author

Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz

Paula is a freelance writer, translator & marketer. She started her writing & publishing career as the editor of Bebé y Mamá, the first parenting magazine in Guatemala. She is the founder of www.GrowingUpBilingual.com and www.365thingsswfl.com and writes articles in Spanish and English for both magazines and the web on subjects ranging from travel and food to parenting and bilingualism. She enjoys traveling, good food and is always in search of new things to do and in Southwest Florida.


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  1. Krista

    What a beautiful area! My girls have rode a trolley once and were in love with the experience! Thank you for telling us about Ybor City!
    Krista recently posted…Binchotan Toothbrush ReviewMy Profile

  2. Stephanie from Minnesota From Scratch

    Wow, interesting history! I want to eat that Cuban sammy! Mmm looks good!

  3. Bernadette @ Aimless Moments

    We love to walk around Ybor. We live about 5 minutes from downtown Tampa so we go there kinda often. I love to take pics down there. 🙂
    Bernadette @ Aimless Moments recently posted…What’s on your WISH LIST Giveaway EventMy Profile

  4. Bella Vida Letty

    I had no idea there was so much to do in that little town. And now I’m craving a yummy Cuban sandwich lol
    Bella Vida Letty recently posted…Photos of Wynwood Graffiti MuralsMy Profile

  5. Juliana RW

    Looks great place to visit. Thanks for sharing with us.

  6. Juliana RW

    It looks like a great place to visit. Thanks for sharing in here
    Juliana RW recently posted…Orchideeën Hoeve – part 1My Profile

  7. Janeane Davis

    This sounds like a great place to visit an to eat!

  8. Brynn @ MommyDigger.com

    What a unique and beautiful area! Looks like there was no shortage of fun stuff to do there 🙂
    Brynn @ MommyDigger.com recently posted…Be Your Own Advocate for Your Health Care with HealthGradesMy Profile

  9. NerdMom

    Those street cars look like they would be a ton of fun for everyone!!! Love it!!!
    NerdMom recently posted…# Hashtag Geek T-ShirtsMy Profile

  10. Emilee

    How unique! I would love to ride on a trolley! It looks beautiful!
    Emilee recently posted…Christi the Coupon Coach book ReviewMy Profile

  11. Flipping Houses 101

    I am glad that you enjoyed your trip to Tampa. Tampa is one of my favorite places considering its history and diversity. I think that Ybor is such a fun place to visit and I am happy you wrote a post about it. Thanks for sharing!

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