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Metro242

New to Tampa Questions

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So recently my long distance girlfriend decided to transfer down to Florida (from Mass.) so that she could be closer to me, and so that she could slowly begin to forget what some substance called snow looks like. Her first choice of schools was UNF, as I live in Jacksonville. Unfortunately, UNF didn't offer the exchange program that she needed, so she ended up deciding on USF in Tampa. I told her that I had heard good things about the school and that it was near Busch Gardens.

Anyway, she is hating me right now. USF is a beautiful, fun school, but she doesn't have a car and the school appears to be right in the middle of a pretty bad area. I certainly wouldn't want her walking after dark near the corner of Bruce B Downs and Fletcher, as we encountered quite a few panhandlers, people yelling obscenities at us for no reason, and the single worst Wal-Mart I have ever stepped foot into.

Anyway, I have heard absolutely nothing but good things about Tampa and I will be spending time down there quite a bit, and I want to convince my girlfriend that the city isn't all like the area surrounding USF. The problem is, I have never spent any real time in Tampa, so I don't know where to take her so she can take in what Tampa is really all about. We went down to the International Plaza, but the area seemed a little cold.

If anyone has any suggestions of parts of town to head into, particularly for entertainment/dining/coffee shops/bookstores, it would really be appreciated.

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Well, the area just west of USF is known as "Suitcase City." (Roughly surrounded by I-275 east to USF and Busch north to Bearss.) It is called that due to the high residential turnover there. There are literally dozens of actual apartment complexes and hundreds of other rental units (i.e., buildings with 4-6 units each or a group of duplexes) in that area, and most of them are mainly for lower-income residents. (I once passed by at least 8 on just one side of one block alone.) There isn't much in that area at all other than Univ. Mall, and even that isn't all that great. Unfortunately, I can't suggest any other places in Tampa that she could visit (other than maybe Ybor City or some areas in St. Pete.) because I rarely get out at all myself (weird work schedule). One thing is for sure, she will need to get a car if she wants to go anywhere other than Wal-Mart (although the Target across the street is a bit nicer).

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I am a sophomore at USF (criminology) and live with some friends of mine on an apartment on Bearrs (and just got hired as a security guard at target on fletcher, yay lots of action there :). Yes the area can be shady at times but it really isnt as bad as people make it out to be. If youd be interested in getting some lunch either on or around campus id be happy to give you some suggestions on things to do around tampa.

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You might like the east side of the campus better. Down Fowler east of the campus is Starbucks and many restaurants and store. Unfortunatly, no department stores or Wal-mart types nearby to the east.

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Try Channelside, Hyde Park, Ybor City...I actually like Bay Street at International Plaza -- some nice restaurants, Blu Martini is a nice hangout for after work (live, smooth jazz) and at night (dance). Then there's DT St. Pete with the museums/galleries, waterfront parks, The Pier, etc. Of course, there are the gulf beaches, also. I think there is some semblence of a theatre scene, but you have to dig for it.

As others have said, the area around USF is pretty transient between the students and other renters. Plenty of restaurants on Fowler Ave and a movie theatre (I believe). University Mall has really transformed into an "urban" mall, just in a suburban location. If you're looking for regular chains, I suggest Brandon or Citrus Park for now. (By the time Cypress Creek is built in Pasco, she might be gone from USF.) For upscale, of course there's Int'l Plaza and Westshore.

Basically, you have to be willing to get in your car and drive 15 to 20 minutes (on average) to do things in Tampa Bay.

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South Howard Avenue (SoHo) really just an extension of Hyde Park is another area worth checking out. Its a popular place for local resturants and unique shops. However, its also about 20 minutes (when driving) south of USF along I-275. Other than that, like Jai98 said, Ybor City (mainly along 7th Avenue) and Channelside are the places to hang out in the city of Tampa. Those areas are close to downtown, connected by a trolley line and full of pedestrian oriented businesses and nightlife.

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South Howard Avenue (SoHo) really just an extension of Hyde Park is another area worth checking out.  Its a popular place for local resturants and unique shops.  However, its also about 20 minutes (when driving) south of USF along I-275.  Other than that, like Jai98 said, Ybor City (mainly along 7th Avenue) and Channelside are the places to hang out in the city of Tampa.  Those areas are close to downtown, connected by a trolley line and full of pedestrian oriented businesses and nightlife.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I second what Lakelander says and he is definitely on top of things!.!... with the exception of Channelside.... their residents are far too "Uber-mensch" for my tastes. South Howard (or SoHo) is a great place to visit and spend some time. And yes, Ybor City is also a fine place to hang out along with the Westshore area. It will be a drive for her, but it's worth her time. She'll love it! :)

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I think a most of the good areas have already been noted by other posters but without being too terribly redundant hopefully, I'll throw in my 2 cents...

The unofficially-named Suitcase City, which surrounds USF, is nasty. The same goes for the area around Busch Gardens. The University Square Mall also leaves much to be desired. Unfortunately, without a car, Tampa is a terrible place to be. The best places to go are on the south side of town. Hyde Park Village (an outdoor shopping/dining/residential deal) , in Hyde Park, is nice and somewhat upscale. They have outdoor things all the time like movies, live music, charity events etc. It's nice but maybe not all that exciting for a college student, as it's more yuppie-oriented. Channelside (the area) is the site of a burgeoning upscale loft-living community and Channelside (the entertainment venue) has a lot of restaurants, bars, a movie theater, shops etc. and the Florida Aquarium (I personally find it kind of dull unless you have kids, in which case the Explore a Shore kiddie water park is great) The cruise ship port is there, too, so the tourist aspect comes into play. Just west of Channelside is Ybor City, which resembles the French Quarter of New Orleans. It has a lot of history and was home to a large Cuban community in the early 1900's. Ybor used to be very hip and cutting edge back in the 80's and early 90's before the corporate giants took over and pushed out all the character that came with the artists and old-timer Cubans. It's still has tons of bars and restaurants and even sports it's very own GAP, Victoria's Secret and Urban Outfitters and movie megaplex so if that's your bag, you might like it a lot. If you like being outdoors and enjoy a water view, Bayshore Blvd is nice. It's the world's longest continuous sidewalk along the water. People rollerblade, bike, jog and walk on it. So there you have it...yet another summary of Tampa from a 20 yr resident. Hope this helps!

So recently my long distance girlfriend decided to transfer down to Florida (from Mass.) so that she could be closer to me, and so that she could slowly begin to forget what some substance called snow looks like. Her first choice of schools was UNF, as I live in Jacksonville. Unfortunately, UNF didn't offer the exchange program that she needed, so she ended up deciding on USF in Tampa. I told her that I had heard good things about the school and that it was near Busch Gardens.

Anyway, she is hating me right now. USF is a beautiful, fun school, but she doesn't have a car and the school appears to be right in the middle of a pretty bad area. I certainly wouldn't want her walking after dark near the corner of Bruce B Downs and Fletcher, as we encountered quite a few panhandlers, people yelling obscenities at us for no reason, and the single worst Wal-Mart I have ever stepped foot into.

Anyway, I have heard absolutely nothing but good things about Tampa and I will be spending time down there quite a bit, and I want to convince my girlfriend that the city isn't all like the area surrounding USF. The problem is, I have never spent any real time in Tampa, so I don't know where to take her so she can take in what Tampa is really all about. We went down to the International Plaza, but the area seemed a little cold.

If anyone has any suggestions of parts of town to head into, particularly for entertainment/dining/coffee shops/bookstores, it would really be appreciated.

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She could also head north on Bruce B Downs. THere is a super walmart, super target, a huge movie theatre and tons and tons of resturants in New Tampa (North Bruce B Downs). A couple places cater to college kids in the area directly north of the campus among all the college residences. There is a golf course, the Greenery Pub, and The Brickyard to name a few. Head west down Bearss avenue and there is a string of fast food places like Chik Filets, Checkers, Taco Bell, Dunkin DOnuts/baskin robbins, and anoth cool bar with good karoke, BobbaLouis (on the south side of bearss). Oh! and skippers smokehouse, on the corner of Nebraska, and Skippers Avenue. It's a banged up neighborhood, and the place looks like a shack (because it is), but go on a thrusday night for cheap beer, greasy food and great music. It'll be packed with people from all walks of life. Lemme know if you need anymore tips. Hope this helps,

zac

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