If you’re moving to Tampa armed only with Google to check out the neighborhoods, it can be daunting. We live here, and we still don’t know everything there is to know about every neighborhood! Well, we did our homework and scoured the internet and personal experiences to put together a brief, but hopefully helpful, guide for those moving to the Tampa area.
If you’re looking for neighborhoods with a city feel full of places you can walk to and things going on outdoors, one of the following neighborhoods is sure to have what you’re looking for.
Popular communities: Bayshore, Davis Island, Hyde Park, Palma Ceia
If you want to be near the water, surrounded by boutique shops and non-chain restaurants, and love the look and feel of historic districts, South Tampa is where it’s at. Here you can find gorgeous historic homes of all shapes and sizes, though they tend to be pretty pricy. If a historic home is not within your budget, don’t let that deter you as there are also more affordable options such as condos, luxury lofts, or town homes.
There is always something going on in South Tampa, from festivals to live music events to an active nightlife, and the majority of it is within walking distance. And because South Tampa is close to Ybor City (pronounced ee-bore) and Channelside, there are even more options for entertainment, shopping, and nightlife just minutes away.
If you’re an active individual or family, you might like to know that Bayshore Boulevard is claimed to be the longest continuous sidewalk (4.5 miles long) and residents make good use of it. It is virtually always full of walkers, joggers, runners, and cyclists throughout the day.
Also close to the water, but with more of a city feel than South Tampa, Downtown Tampa is full of condos and highrises with first-class amenities such as fitness centers, concierge, security, pools and hot tubs, and skyline and water views.
Downtown Tampa is a business district, centrally located for easy access to major highways, shopping, and restaurants. Stetson Law School and the University of Tampa are also within walking distance of the many condos.
Though there are not as many options as South Tampa for nightlife, Downtown Tampa does have some popular and non-chain hangouts and restaurants. For alternative entertainment, The Tampa Theatre, The Tampa Museum of Art, Glazer Children’s Museum, and Curtis Hixon Park, used for various events, are some places that are also within walking distance.
Shopping opportunities are scant, but Westshore Plaza and International Plaza are just a few minutes away, offering popular dining and up-scale shopping for everything from housewares to electronics to clothing.
Ybor City (pronounced ee-bore)
Ybor is a community famous for its historical Cuban cigar factories. Its charm is found in its restored brick roads; an active trolley system connecting Ybor to South Tampa, and Channelside; and its bungalows. While there aren’t as many historic housing options in Ybor as there are in South Tampa, here are modern and renovated condos, town homes and lofts, some with pools and fitness centers.
While Ybor is host to many a day festival or event, its known for its nightlife; full of clubs for every type of club-goer. For alternate entertainment, there is a movie theater, a comedy club, and random festivals and concerts, such as the annual WMNF Tropical Heatwave, throughout the year.
Ybor is also chock full of independently owned and operated restaurants for all tastes. There are also some locally owned retail and clothing stores, but for big-name shopping, you’ll have to venture out. Like Downtown Tampa, though, Ybor is close to major highways so alternative entertainment, shopping, and dining is never far away.
Within walking distance of housing in Ybor is the Hillsborough Community College – Ybor Campus, which is located in several buildings throughout Ybor.
Fairly recently, a large section of Ybor has been dubbed Gaybor and contains shops, clubs, and restaurants owned by and/or catered to the LGBT community.
Channelside, like Downtown Tampa, has a city feel with its lofts and highrises, but without the many skyscrapers of the business district. Condos, lofts, and highrises offer panoramic views of the city and water and offer versatile interior design, such as exposed brick walls and concrete floors.
Maybe you’re looking for something a little less city or want to be in a residential community. Tampa has tons of great neighborhoods for that as well!
Popular communities: Pebble Creek, Cross Creek, Hunter’s Green, Tampa Palms, Wesley Chapel
New Tampa is one of the youngest communities in Tampa Bay and is full of ranch style houses, condos, and town homes in family friendly neighborhoods.
While New Tampa will not have the walking-distance opportunities of the city, there is plenty to do. The Shops at Wiregrass, an outdoor mall, is full of popular shopping and chain dining opportunities and is occasionally the site of live music and events.
Nearby are familiar chain restaurants and a movie theater. For those looking for outdoor recreation, New Tampa is full of nature trails and golf courses. Its location puts it fairly close to Busch Gardens, Adventure Island, the University of South Florida Tampa Campus, and major highways.
Popular communities: Northdale, Westshore, Seminole Heights
North Tampa is a large section of Tampa expanding from the University of South Florida – Tampa Campus to the Tampa International Airport, with convenient access to the highway. Though it’s located close to the university, it’s not a typical college town, in that it does not depend on the university to thrive, like smaller towns may.
New and remodeled housing is available as well as apartments, condos, and town homes in several price ranges. Because it is near to the school, there are many dorm- and suite-style living opportunities.
Entertainment, dining, and shopping opportunities include chain restaurants, a movie theater, Busch Gardens, Adventure Island, MOSI, and the University Mall. There are several popular bars in this area, many frequented by and catering to college students.
Closer to the airport, further from the school, apartments, houses, town homes, and condos are available that do not cater as much to a college crowd and meet many price ranges. This part of North Tampa is also close to the Westshore Plaza and International Plaza, as well as several chain restaurants and bars.
The Seminole Heights area of North Tampa is quite different from the University and Westshore areas. With a well restored historic district full of bungalows and some brick-paved roads, Seminole Heights offers more of the South Tampa charm, while still maintaining a suburban feel.
Many Seminole Heights stores and restaurants are independently owned and operated, and the community is littered with thrift and antique stores. If your idea of fun and entertainment is a bike ride down a shady lane, hanging out at an independent bar, or taking part in a co-op, Seminole Heights is perfect for you.
North Tampa is a good mix for anyone not wanting to choose between suburban or urban living. It offers many conveniences of the city, without the constant noise, as well as suburban amenities, without the feel of being so far removed from the city.
Popular communities: Valrico, Dover, Seffner
Brandon living has everything from apartments to homes and is definitely a typical suburban community. Brandon and Seffner are located closer to restaurants, shopping, and bars, while Valrico and Dover, located on the outskirts of Brandon, offer more quiet, residential living.
While Brandon consists mostly of chain restaurants, there are some popular, locally owned ones, too. While nightlife is nothing like South Tampa or Ybor, and there are no real clubs, many bars are packed on the weekends. Several Brandon bars also offer live music from reggae to country to alt rock.
The major shopping outlet is Westfield Brandon Town Center, located in the heart of Brandon. Entertainment opportunities are pretty standard, including a movie theater, bowling alleys, and pool halls. For clubs, museums, concerts, and similar activities, one would have to venture further out to South Tampa, Channelside, or Ybor.
While some may consider this to be part of Brandon, FishHawk has evolved into a small town. With its own middle, high, and two elementary schools, FishHawk offers almost every amenity of suburban living, tucked into nature preserves, a sound distance from the ‘city’ of Brandon.
FishHawk offers condos, town homes, ranch-style, and new-bungalow style housing in basically all price ranges, and is a very family-oriented community. Within the community is Park Square, an area with a locally popular restaurant, and an open park area which is the site of the regular Friday night Concert in the Park, a free, family-friendly event with live music.
The community centers have a total of three pools, a mini water park for young children, and a private movie theater. For outdoor recreation, the entire community is full of miles and miles of nature trails, with pavement for cyclists, providing virtually endless fun.
Within its limits are grocery stores, some locally owned retail stores, chain and fast food restaurants, banks and the like, but for popular nightlife, entertainment, and shopping opportunities, one would have to venture out, and it’s quite a drive to the hot spots like South Tampa, Ybor, and Channelside.
Popular communities: Apollo Beach, Riverview
South Shore is a relatively new name referring to the communities of Apollo Beach, Riverview, Gibsonton, Ruskin, and Sun City Center, a majority senior citizen community. These areas are similar to Brandon, though many are situated on the water with canal access to rivers such as the Alafia River.
Apartments, town homes, condos, and houses are all available housing in South Shore, available in almost any price range.
Shopping opportunities are also similar to Brandon, with many chain restaurants and retail stores. There is no major mall, so one would have to head to Brandon or Tampa for major retail shopping opportunities. Entertainment and nightlife, too, match Brandon, with typical spots such as movie theaters, bars, and bowling alleys.
Last, but certainly not least, Plant City, located southeast of Tampa, is a perfect spot for anyone looking for peace and quiet. There aren’t many cookie-cutter neighborhoods here; instead many pre-1920′s houses have been scooped up and restored, in places like Plant City’s Historic District. This area boasts paved brick roads, Grand Oak trees, and a quaint downtown shopping area with local antique shops.
Apartments, newer homes, and town homes can be found and are not overly expensive. As Plant City is largely an agricultural community, many houses for sale or rent can be found, set on a nice chunk of property: A perfect set-up for anyone wanting some space between them and their neighbor.
Shopping opportunities are scarce, but Westfield Brandon Town Center is not too far away. Entertainment includes bars, movie theaters, and bowling alleys, similar to Brandon and South Shore, so those looking for clubbing opportunities would have to venture out.
One of Plant City’s biggest attractions is the annual Florida Strawberry Festival, which draws crowds of up to 800,000 people and includes concerts by big-name country stars, famous strawberry shortcake, rides, and more.
We hope this guide helps you get a better idea of where to look if you’re moving to Tampa or, if you already live here, maybe you learned a few things about some of your Tampa neighborhoods. Of course, this guide pales in comparison to actually visiting, so if you have a chance to, come out and experience any of these places for yourself.