Money has been singing Tampa’s praises for quite some time. In 2023, we named it one of best places to travel domestically, and in 2022, the 9th best place to live.

It’s easy to see why: Tampa’s got a warm, sunny climate. Quick access to renowned beaches. Top-notch sports teams. A booming economy. No state income tax. But this year, we want to give credit exactly where it’s due. Many factors that make Tampa such a great place are concentrated in Ybor City, the area’s undisputed cultural epicenter.

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Cigar rolling in Ybor City
Visit Tampa Bay

Also known as Cigar City, Ybor is located just north of the harbor, Port Tampa Bay, and is a historic melting pot of Cuban, Spanish and Italian immigrants. The local architecture, art and cuisine are all the richer for it. A main street — 7th Avenue — dissects the neighborhood and boasts boutique shops, award-winning food, lively venues and cozy cafes; many tucked inside old, impeccably-preserved cigar factories. The strip is lovingly called La Setima (not-quite Spanish and not-quite Italian for “seventh”). Here, roosters are allowed to roam free, giving an extra dash of color and flair to an already eccentric district.

Left: street; right: trolley
Visit Tampa Bay

Adding to its cachet, Ybor is one of the most walkable areas in Tampa and, by Florida standards, has ample public transit options. A free streetcar system connects Ybor to downtown. From the port, a cross-bay ferry zips you to neighboring St. Petersburg in under an hour. Also in the works is a high-speed rail system that’s planned to connect Ybor directly to Orlando and then to Miami.

For years now, Ybor has been a vibrant place to live and work, but its future looks even brighter. More biking infrastructure is planned to better connect the neighborhood to other Tampa hotspots, and a massive development project —which will turn Ybor’s waterfront area into a walkable district with thousands of new homes, green space, a boardwalk and a pier — was just announced in 2023.