It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: Community Cities in Greater Tampa Bay - Guide to Greater Tampa Bay

It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: Community Cities in Greater Tampa Bay

ybor city, cities in tampa

Get a feel for these core communities in the Greater Tampa Bay area.

Tampa

Cigar City. The Big Guava. The city on the bay. By any name, Tampa is a progressive, burgeoning metropolitan area which, in all ways, embodies the Florida lifestyle. Home to renowned restaurants, world-class museums, parks, universities, nightlife and ever-impressive scenery, Tampa attracts thousands of new residents and millions of visitors annually.

The downtown area, comprised of a thriving business district, features plenty to do for its growing class of young professionals and students. The Channel District, with its affluent Davis Islands neighborhood, is a bustling center of culture and activity. SoHo/Hyde Park provides a quaint, village atmosphere by day, and a flourishing party atmosphere by night.

Ybor City, meanwhile, is the historic and cultural heart of Tampa. Its Cuban influence echoes across the architecture, food and nightlife. The Westshore area is home to the International Plaza, a shopping and dining hub featuring some of Tampa’s signature restaurants.

A center of education, Tampa is home to the University of South Florida and The University of Tampa. Suburban neighborhoods surround Tampa, comprised mainly of single-family housing developments, townhomes and condos. Highly rated schools make it an excellent spot to raise a family.

With all the trappings of any major city, combined with a uniquely diverse and vibrant energy, Tampa is today’s city of tomorrow.

Town ‘N Country

The Tampa suburb with a unique name, Town ‘N Country, located northwest of the downtown area, is a quiet, diverse community. Named for its recent history as cattle ranges and farmland, Town ‘N Country serves a peaceful respite from the busier city life. As a part of the Upper Tampa Bay area, this community is home to many parks and trails that take advantage of its location on the bay.

A growing community, Town ‘N Country caters to young professionals and retirees alike, with new restaurants, bars and coffee shops appearing often. As the eastward gateway to downtown, Town ‘N Country, as the name implies, provides a touch of both.

Brandon

Popular for its good schools, nice neighborhoods and ideal location, Brandon is a rapidly growing community located 13 miles southeast of downtown Tampa.

Single-family homes and upscale apartment complexes comprise much of this dense suburban area, while the Westfield Shopping Center is the perfect outlet for an afternoon on the town. With its location within the Interstate 4 corridor, Brandon provides excellent access to both Tampa and Orlando, allowing for manageable commutes to those working in either city.

Family-oriented and with a mix of both popular chains and local businesses, Brandon has become a city within a city relative to Tampa, with something to offer for everyone.

Riverview

Close to Brandon is its sister community, Riverview, a suburban town with rural sensibilities. Home to the pristine Bell Creek Nature Preserve, Riverview retains a touch of small-town appeal despite its rapid growth.

Housing consists mainly of developments managed by HOAs. With well-rated schools, affordable housing and an ideal distance for commuting into Tampa, Riverview is a quiet, sensible spot to raise a family. Coupled with nearby Brandon, Riverview represents some of the newest outward expansion from the Tampa Bay area and is sure to be a prime location for many years to come.

Land O’ Lakes

Land O’ Lakes, situated north of Tampa, is another community that lives up to its name. More than 50 lakes comprise this municipal area, with lakefront condos, houses and townhomes available in plenty.

A mostly rural community, Land O’Lakes offers affordable housing, highly rated schools, low traffic and direct access to Tampa via the Veterans Expressway. Well-known for its nature, Land O’Lakes features hiking and biking trails across hundreds of miles of scenic countryside.

The Butter Bowl, a rivalry between Sunlake and Land O’Lakes high schools, is an exciting annual event and local tradition for football fans.

Peaceful and quiet, Land O’Lakes is a growing community catering to people of all ages. With plenty of shopping, restaurants and recreation, this town captures the suburban feel while sticking to its rural roots.

Spring Hill

North of Tampa and cresting the edge of Florida’s Nature Coast region is Spring Hill, a newer community with a growing population. An unincorporated area, Spring Hill retains a more rural feel, due in large part to its recent history as a forested nature reserve. However, there are plenty of planned developments throughout Spring Hill, leading to a variety of housing options unique to the community.

Quiet and working-class, Spring Hill offers residents a slower, more laid-back lifestyle that cannot be found in the more crowded cities. The Suncoast Parkway connects Spring Hill to Tampa, providing easy access for commuters and day trippers. Nearby Weeki Wachee Springs is a popular local attraction, as well as the beautiful nature trails and countryside scenery.

Wesley Chapel

What was once the burgeoning community of Double Branch is known to locals today as Wesley Chapel. This town, situated north of Tampa and near Interstate 75, has experienced some of the biggest growth of any community in the area. Many new housing developments have gone up in recent years, turning this once-sparse suburb into a more active spot.

Wiregrass Mall is a popular outdoor shopping center featuring dining, drinks and events. Culturally, Wesley Chapel is known for its Center of the Arts, which houses local theater productions, art exhibits and educational classes. Wesley Chapel is a diverse suburb with a strong sense of community and a growth mindset, a fit for people of all ages.

Temple Terrace

While one of the smallest incorporated municipalities in the area, Temple Terrace has one of the largest personalities. Founded in 1920 as one of the first planned golf course communities, Temple Terrace has a distinct Mediterranean style apparent in much of its architecture. Famous for its look and favored for its proximity to both the University of South Florida and Busch Gardens, Temple Terrace is also acknowledged as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation due to its large sand live oak tree population.

Comprised of a large percentage of students and young professionals, this community is almost split evenly between renters and owners. Bustling with activities and a short drive away from Tampa, Temple Terrace is a dense suburb perfect for young people looking to be near the city.

Plant City

Originally known as almost exclusively an agricultural center, Plant City, much like the pioneering entrepreneur it was named for, has grown in recent years to be a manufacturing hub. Residents looking to avoid the hustle and bustle of city life have made Plant City the ideal place for a rural retreat.

Situated off the I-4 corridor between Tampa and Lakeland, this community remains tight-knit and friendly, retaining much of its small-town feel ingrained since its inception. Popular events include the annual Florida Strawberry Festival, which attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors, and Plant High School football games.

The historic town center and rich history make it a quaint, peaceful city, and with nearby Lakeland, a short commute to many restaurants and shopping centers.

Lakeland

For a taste of Old Florida, Lakeland fits the bill. For those looking for something fresh and modern, Lakeland fits that bill as well.

Settled in the 1870s, Lakeland was home to thriving citrus, cattle and phosphate industries, giving way to a large business district by the 1920s. Remnants of these early years are captured in the city’s many historic quarters, including the Munn Park Historic District and the Beacon Hill-Alta Vista Residential District.

These days, Lakeland is an up-and-coming metropolitan area, with restaurants and nightlife to add to its resume. Affordable single-family homes and good schools combined with lakes, parks and quiet neighborhoods make this an excellent spot for both young families starting out and retirees.

Clearwater

The second major leg in the greater metropolitan area is Clearwater, a city that stretches from Tampa Bay to the Gulf Coast. Sitting west of Tampa and north of St. Petersburg, Clearwater is the perfect go-between for either city. A de facto beach town, Clearwater is known for its laid-back lifestyle, restaurants, nightlife and water activities.

Home to a mix of people across all ages, Clearwater is a popular spot for both young people and retirees alike. Single-family homes, condos and apartments are widespread across the area, giving way to a city of both an urban and suburban nature.

Clearwater is close to both the Tampa International and St. Pete-Clearwater International airports, as well as being accessible to both I-4 and I-75.

Tourism is a major industry, attracting young people from across the state and the country to work over its busy peak months. Popular attractions include the famous Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Philadelphia Phillies spring training games at BayCare Ballpark, deep-sea fishing, shelling and dolphin watching. 

Tarpon Springs

“Visit Greece Without Leaving Florida.” This is the motto of Tarpon Springs, a suburb north of Clearwater and northeast of Tampa, where old world meets new.

For more than 100 years, this community has been acclaimed for its heavy Greek influence, sponge industry and small-world feel. The downtown area is rife with restaurants, breweries and attractions that represent the strong Greek heritage and rich history.

Epiphany, a religious tradition for the Greek Orthodox, is a large annual event that attracts congregants from across the country. Young men dive into the water to retrieve a cross every Jan. 6, drawing crowds and eliciting festivity.

A popular place for retirees, Tarpon Springs has a strong, close-knit, suburban feel with many single-family homes and good schools.

Dunedin

A seaside town with Scottish roots, Dunedin, just north of Clearwater, is a small, wholesome community and favored date night spot.

Formally incorporated in 1899, this city takes its name from Dùn Èideann, the Scottish Gaelic term for Edinburgh. To celebrate this history, the annual Scottish Highland Games take place in the city. If that is not enough, Dunedin Middle and Dunedin High schools have pipe and drum bands to reflect the heritage as well.

A popular retirement spot, Dunedin is known for its friendly, quiet single-family home neighborhoods, access to Honeymoon Island State Park and a unique crop of local bars and restaurants. Great food, great atmosphere and great people all contribute to the appeal of Dunedin.

Palm Harbor

Further north of Dunedin is Palm Harbor, a uniquely unincorporated section of Pinellas County. Known for its unusually hilly landscapes —it is Florida, after all — Palm Harbor offers a quiet, removed respite from the busier city life of Tampa or St. Petersburg.

With nice parks, trails and scenic countryside, Palm Harbor residents can enjoy the natural beauty of the area at their convenience. The Valspar Championship, hosted at the Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club, is a popular annual event drawing crowds from across the globe, while the Taste of Palm Harbor festival celebrates local cuisine.

See Also

New Port Richey

Trendy, modern and up-and-coming all describe the successful efforts taken by residents of New Port Richey to modernize this small suburb located north of Palm Harbor. Bars, cafés and restaurants have been setting a new tone on Main Street, offering locals an exciting glance at the city’s fashionable future.

Formerly more well known as a retirement town, this community has seen a shift toward a younger demographic in recent years. Featuring lovely parks and nature preserves, good schools and affordable housing, New Port Richey is a small, friendly, family-oriented community for those who enjoy that small-town feel.

Largo

Heading south past Clearwater is Largo, the fourth largest city in the Tampa Bay area. A small town until World War II, Largo experienced a population and development explosion which planted it firmly on the map.

Now deeming itself the City of Progress, the Largo of today reflects on this history while hoping to make more of it. Featuring a mix of urban and suburban living, Largo caters to young professionals with its many large businesses and St. Petersburg College campus, as well as to retirees, with its beautiful beaches and laid-back lifestyle.

Housing is affordable, and the community has seen a large amount of growth in recent years. With great access to the Pinellas Trail, fans of walking, hiking and biking will find Largo quite amenable.

Seminole

Great for beach access, nature trails and water activities is life in Seminole, a town located just south of Largo. Close to both Madeira and Indian Shores beaches, this small community has a very relaxed, Old Florida feel. Seminole has a sparse suburban layout, with a small, older skewing population, single-family homes and a quiet atmosphere.

Only 30 minutes from Tampa and 20 from downtown St. Pete, Seminole is all about location. Popular attractions include the Seminole Historical Society Museum, which documents the extensive history and development of the area.

Pinellas Park

A booming spot for growth and industry, Pinellas Park, southeast of Largo and north of St. Petersburg, encompasses much of what is called the Gateway Area of Pinellas County. This term refers to a business district home to more than 2,700 businesses and roughly 60,000 employees.

Known for its cultural attractions, Pinellas Park hosts the Tampa Bay Automobile Museum, the Pinellas Park Civic Orchestra and Park Station, a municipal building showcasing uniquely ornate architecture.

Very much a working-class town, this community is a popular spot for young professionals starting out and new families looking to put down roots. Schools are highly rated, and housing consists of single-family homes and apartment complexes. Conveniently located close to both St. Petersburg and Tampa, Pinellas Park provides opportunity and access in a unique way.

Safety Harbor

Inhabited since the Stone Age, the area that is now Safety Harbor has been a desirable place to live for eons. It was visited by Spanish explorers in the 16th century and derives its name from its reputation as a refuge from the plundering pirates of the 18th century.

With a downtown area just off the water, Safety Harbor has a quaint, old-town feel, with tree-lined streets and many small restaurants, bars and cafés. A wholesome, family-oriented town, Safety Harbor is known for its single-family homes, churches and lush scenery. Philippe Park features a rare look into ancient history. Mounds created by the Tocobaga peoples remain largely intact and available for viewing.

A great place for a romantic night out and an even better place to retire, Safety Harbor is one of the Tampa Bay area’s top communities.

St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg has come a long way since its founding in 1888. The Sunshine City once set a Guinness World Record for the most consecutive days of sunshine with 768. In 2020, Conde Nast recognized St. Petersburg on its “top cities to visit” list.

With more than 100 neighborhoods, the city of St. Petersburg is the third leg of the Tampa Bay area’s trifecta, as well as one of the most popular places to live. Downtown St. Pete is home to the business district, with apartment and condo living comprising much of the real estate. Shops, bars, restaurants and plenty of nightlife flourish in the downtown area, making it a popular spot for a weekend date night or a clubbing excursion. The newly designed St. Pete Pier is a testament to the beauty of the area, providing scenic views from out on the water.

Art and culture have made their home in St. Pete. The Salvador Dalí Museum is world-renowned for exhibiting many of the surrealist painter’s masterpieces. The annual Grand Prix of St. Petersburg transforms the streets into a high-octane IndyCar race. Art festivals, sporting events and celebrations abound in St. Petersburg every year, leading to few dull moments.

With plenty of single-family homes and highly rated schools around its many neighborhoods, St. Pete is a popular place to raise a family. Young professionals will find this diverse and progressive city a welcoming spot to launch their careers. With both an urban and dense suburban feel, St. Petersburg will appeal to people at all stages of life and from all backgrounds.

Bradenton

Southernmost on the list is Bradenton, located across the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Manatee County. The Friendly City, as it is known, has experienced significant population growth in the past few decades, bringing in more friendly people every year. Despite this growth, Bradenton has managed to retain its small-town feel, which it has cultivated since its founding in the early 1800s.

Famous spots in Bradenton include the Village of the Arts, a set of old, renovated houses that have been transformed into art studios and small businesses, and the South Florida Museum. The suburban areas of Bradenton are popular with families, with affordable housing and nearby schools. A city on the rise, Bradenton is a lush, tropical spot that makes living in the Tampa Bay area easily accessible.

By Ryan Walsh

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