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Tampa Baysoak up some sun

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Flightgeist

Oxford Exchange

Oxford Exchange photo by Joseph Gamble

Why Now: From downtown to the Riverwalk, Tampa is waking up.

Growing up in the so-called Big Guava, I joked that the best thing about the city was its world-class airport. You could get out easily. Tampa still boasts a glistening airport, but today there are many reasons to simply hunker down and explore. On the culture front, the Stanley Saitowitz-designed Tampa Museum of Art offers a small but well-curated collection and overlooks a stunning park and the ever-expanding Riverwalk. And don’t miss the historic Ybor City neighborhood, once known for its cigar factories and now a bustling entertainment district. Hotel-wise, the long-shuttered Floridan hotel recently reopened in Tampa’s awakening downtown district and Aloft and Le Méridien outposts are in the works—along with the Epicurean Hotel from the folks behind must-visit Bern’s Steak House. Adding to the culinary buzz are innovative eateries such as Edison: food+drink Lab from top toque Jeannie Pierola; Wimauma Foods from Le Bernardin alum Gary Moran; and The Refinery in charming Seminole Heights. Finally, be sure to stop into the gorgeous and sprawling concept store Oxford Exchange, with its beautifully edited bookstore and design shop, coffee and tea outpost and bustling eatery housed beneath a retractable glass canopy.

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