A Diverse Region - Guide to Greater Tampa Bay
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A Diverse Region

A Diverse Region

Greater Tampa Bay embraces diversity and has a vibrant cultural community to show for it. Whether looking for support and solidarity, an exciting event or simply a great place to eat, it can all be found throughout the region by venturing past personal cultures and appreciating someone else’s. 

There are plenty of reasons to love living in Greater Tampa Bay — warm weather, beautiful beaches, successful sports teams and endless opportunities for adventures both in nature and within the urban landscape. 

Beyond the breathtaking views and Lightning games is what makes GTB truly special — its diversity. According to Niche, the City of Tampa ranks 17th out of the 228 Most Diverse Cities in America. GTB has a combined population of more than 3 million, with nearly 40% of that population being people of color, according to censusreporter.org.  

A simple stroll down the Riverwalk or the St. Pete Pier reveals GTB’s tapestry of residents and visitors, speaking an array of different languages but universally enjoying all the city has to offer. 

Native American history 

Long before GTB became one of the biggest metropolitan areas in Florida, Native Americans called the land home. The most well-known tribe to exist in the area is the Tocobaga tribe, who still have a temple mound in Safety Harbor. The Safety Harbor Museum also offers a look at how the area’s first residents may have lived. 

Visitors and residents alike can learn about the area’s Native American history in the Florida’s First People exhibit at the Tampa Bay History Center. The Seminole Tribe proudly owns and operates the Seminole Hard Rock Casino and Hotel Tampa. 

Cuban and Latin influence 

Tampa would not be the bustling metropolis it is without Vicente Martinez Ybor and the immigrants who worked in his cigar factory. This historic entrepreneur not only put Tampa on the map for Cuban cigars, but he also founded an insurance company, street paving business, gas stations, a streetcar line and even the city’s first brewery.  

Latin influence is prominently showcased in his namesake neighborhood, Ybor City. Tour the Tabanero Cigar factory, catch a Flamenco show and dine on paella at the Columbia Restaurant or attend the annual Cuban Sandwich Festival

GTB is a wonderful destination to explore Latinx culture, and nearly 25% of Hillsborough County’s residents are native Spanish speakers. West Tampa is famously considered one of the city’s most prominent Latin neighborhoods. Major streets such as Columbus Drive, Armenia Avenue and Howard Avenue are filled with South and Central American eateries. One of the most famous restaurants of the neighborhood is La Pequena Colombia, an old-school Colombian establishment with a beloved bakery. 

Paying tribute to Black heritage 

Greater Tampa Bay is rich with Black history and culture and has been since the late 1800s. Even through a painful history of segregation, violence and discrimination, the Black community persevered and has been an integral part of the region’s growth.  

The Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum in St. Petersburg aims to celebrate and educate visitors. It is home to the famous Black Lives Matter mural, as well as artwork made by local Black artists. 

Before leaving St. Pete, be sure to stop by the renowned Green Bench Brewing Company. This Black-owned brewery is aptly named after the green benches which dotted the city in the 1900s and were forbidden for Black people to sit on. 

“Put the green in Black” by diving into the Green Book of Tampa Bay. This online directory of Black business owners provides everyone the opportunity to support the community directly. @GreenBookTB is also an active social media channel which shares the latest events and happenings.  

Prefer education on wheels? The Black Business Bus Tour takes this concept on the road by sharing some of Tampa’s best Black businesses and giving guests a ride. 

To enhance yoga practices, check out Meeyogi. This Black woman-owned business is not just a yoga studio, but an empire featuring trap yoga, soul-satisfying workshops, dynamic community events and services for local entrepreneurs such as marketing and branding. 

Women’s groups 

The women of GTB enrich every aspect of life in the region, especially through charity, art and empowerment. Apart from the nationally recognized Junior League and GFWC Tampa Woman’s Club, many women’s organizations devote themselves to supporting families, such as the Community Roots Collective. This women-led nonprofit offers parent workshops, babywearing and breastfeeding training, kid-friendly events and playgroups for folks in Tampa Heights. 

For artists and art lovers alike, the answer is VENUS, an art co-working and event space founded by the St. Pete Women’s Collective. This innovative incubator features permanent studios and ever-changing exhibits built to support all women, female-identifying people and their allies. 

Pride in Tampa Bay 

It is impossible to spell Greater Tampa Bay without G-A-Y! GTB is easily one of the most gay-friendly places in the country. LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs are invited to join the Tampa LGBT Chamber to connect and grow their businesses. Metro Inclusive Health, a LGBTQIA+ focused community and health center, offers accessible health services and classes, as well as diversity, equity and inclusivity training to help businesses promote inclusion in the workplace. 

Anyone and everyone can enjoy the excitement and passion of Pride. St. Pete’s annual festival — the largest in the state — hosting four weeks of events in the downtown area. Tampa’s pride event takes place in Ybor City. Also known as GaYbor, the city will also host Pride on the River, a diversity boat parade held in the fall. 

Pride can be embraced outside of the designated observation month in June by frequenting the many gay-friendly bars, including Southern Nights in Tampa and Cocktail in St. Pete. 

Cultures come together 

Boasting the highest proportion of Greek Americans in the country is Tarpon Springs. This whimsical, family-friendly city overflows with Greek culture, charm and — of course — food. Dig into freshly made hummus at Helles, tour the sponge docks and try ouzo, an anise liqueur, at Tarpon Springs Distillery.  

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For a cultural experience like no other, visit during the Epiphany. This annual celebration features a diving competition in the local bayou, where tens of thousands of spectators witness teenage boys swim to the depths to recover a gold cross. 

GTB is also home to a growing population of Asian Americans. Wat Mongkolratanaram, or Wat Tampa for short, is not just a sacred Thai Buddhist temple, but also home to one of the area’s most beloved Sunday brunches and markets. Located in Egypt Lake-Leto, Saigon Marketplace and Deli is the perfect one-stop shop for Asian groceries and a quick bite to eat.  

Transport to South Korea and feast on authentic dishes at One Family on Hillsborough, all while receiving friendly, five-star service. 

Southern Chinese history rushes through the waters along downtown Tampa with the Tampa Bay Dragon Boat Club. The annual races take place on the Garrison Channel and are thrilling events for racers and spectators alike.  

For the sights, sounds and flavors of Filipino culture, check out PhilFest, an annual celebration hosted by the Philippine Cultural Foundation in Westchase. 

Indian-owned businesses and professionals in the area can be found in the INDO-US Chamber of Commerce directory. The Chamber encourages and uplifts Asian Americans through events, dinners and community outreach.  

GTB’s Caribbean community thrives year-round, their ties to heritage made even stronger through local organizations such as the Caribbean Community Association and Tampa Caribbean Festival, Inc. Since 2005, the Tampa Caribbean Festival, Inc. has served as a community organization celebrating and preserving Caribbean culture. In addition to participating in Tampa’s famous Gasparilla parade, they host an annual springtime Carnival in downtown Tampa to vibrantly showcase Caribbean vendors and entertainment in a fun-filled festival. 

Strong faiths 

GTB’s Muslim community continues to blossom, particularly in Temple Terrace. Organizations such as the Muslim Connection and Islamic Society of Tampa Bay not only cultivate a warm and welcoming space for practicing Muslims, but they invite non-Muslim neighbors to learn about the Islamic faith and way of life. 

The Islamic Community of Tampa puts on an enormous Eid Celebration at the Florida State Fairgrounds, featuring free breakfast and more than 8,000 attendees. Grab some of the best Arabic food in town throughout the rest of the year at Halal Food Truck-Hamada Maqluba in River Haven Estates. 

By Jensen Taylor.

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