Tampa Bay is in the spotlight tonight as the Florida hotspot hosts Super Bowl. And the city is making history in the game – it is the first time a team has played for the title in their home arena.
Superstar quarterback Tom Brady will lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers into the Raymond James Stadium for the clash with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Planning America’s major sport competition in the middle of a pandemic has been a challenge for both Super Bowl organisers and local tourism bosses. But they stayed positive, pulled together and have amazingly succeeded in creating “a buzz”, welcoming as many fans as possible to the city.
Health workers will be among the 22,000 fans allowed to watch the game live – a third of the stadium’s capacity – with millions more watching on TV. It is hoped tourist numbers will be boosted and new hotels have been built and attractions launched on the back of Super Bowl.
A highlight is the new Tampa Riverwalk which links top attractions along a 2.6-mile waterfront walkway. Enjoy the waterfront views at JoToro, a new Mexican-inspired restaurant at Sparkman Wharf helmed by Michelin-star chef, Joe Isidori.
Try delicious seafood at the renovated, 360-degree waterfront Sail Plaza. Take in the sweeping views of downtown while you indulge in handcrafted cocktails from the roof of Armature Works at M. Bird.
Watch from the Ulele lawn as the new 100-passenger vessel from Pirate Water Taxi – The Captain Jack II – makes its rounds up and down the Hillsborough River. Climb aboard the Lost Pearl for a new pirate adventure for the whole family. Or, grab a kayak or paddle board from Urban Kai and enjoy sweeping views of the skyline from the water.
You can also zip through the trees and conquer the 200ft over-water suspension bridge at Empower Adventures Tampa Bay. Discover natural Florida on a journey down the Hillsborough River with Canoe Escape. Or to keep fit, hit the ground running with Go! Running Tours Tampa to get the local perspective while exploring popular parts of the city by foot.
Thrill-seekers will love Tigris, the tallest launch coaster in Florida, and see how old meets new in 2021 with the new Iron Gwazi, at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay – the tallest, steepest, and fastest hybrid rollercoaster in North America.
Take a plunge and beat the heat at Busch Gardens’ waterpark, Adventure Island, with the new Solar Vortex ride in 2021. Celebrate Florida Aquarium’s 25th anniversary and see the animals native to Florida waters with a new Florida Wetlands Trail exhibit. Visit ZooTampa’s new multimillion-dollar Manatee Critical Care Centre, where rescued Florida manatees are nursed back to health.
New hotels include the 519-room JW Marriott Tampa Water Street, just steps from the Tampa Riverwalk, and the 178-room Hotel Haya in Ybor City, Tampa’s Cuban neighbourhood.
The area with brick streets, ornate streetlamps and spacious courtyards is known as the “cigar capital of the world”. It owes its name to Vicente Martínez Ybor – one of the largest cigar titans to bring production from Cuba to U.S. shores in the late 19th to early 20th centuries.
With it came an influx of European, Spanish, and Cuban immigrants that are credited with giving Ybor City its eclectic cocktail of culture, tradition, and cuisine unlike any other city in America.
Step back in time at J.C. Newman Cigar Factory, where the oldest family-owned cigar factory has opened a new museum as part of a multimillion-dollar renovation. See how cigars have traditionally been made, take a factory tour, enjoy cigar tasting or even take a cigar-making class.
Whether the Buccaneers win Super Bowl or not tonight, Tampa Bay will be smokin’ hot as a holiday hotspot.