25 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Tampa

iStock
iStock

Here are our favorite things we learned about the Big Guava.

1. The name Tampa is believed to come from the Calusa phrase “Sticks of Fire.”

2. That’s probably because Tampa sees some nasty lightning each summer, which is how the local hockey team got its name.

3. When it comes to sports, the city is no stranger to futility. It took the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 25 years to return a kickoff for a touchdown.

4. Babe Ruth hit his longest home run during an exhibition game in Tampa—it sailed 587 feet.

5. The Salvador Dali Museum in nearby St. Petersburg is an incredible place. To test the strength of its freestanding staircase, two rugby teams danced on it—to disco. Dali would have been proud.

6. During Prohibition, Tampa was one of the top sellers of illegal liquor in the country.

7. In the 1980s, the city moved on to other hobbies. It was widely considered the death metal capital of the music world.

8. Tampa’s number one export? Phosphate.

9. Farmers love Tampa because all that phosphate is invaluable for fertilizer production.

10. Although back in the day, it was probably cigars—it’s still known as the “Cigar City.”

11. In 1929, the factory at Ybor City rolled approximately 500 million stogies!

12. It can get hot in Florida, but the temperature in Tampa has never hit 100 degrees.

13. Still, it’s nice to stay cool. In 1851, Tampa native John Gorrie invented the first mechanical refrigeration system—paving the way for air conditioning.

14. The delicious Cuban sandwich? Not Cuban. It was likely invented in Tampa.


15. Want to visit Cuba without leaving Florida? Visit Jose Marti Park. It’s technically Cuban soil.

16. Each year, “pirates” attack Tampa during the Gasparilla Pirate Festival.

17. The world’s first scheduled passenger flight flew from St. Pete to Tampa in 1914.

18. Tickets cost $5!

19. Tampa Bay may be Florida’s biggest port, but the waterway is surprisingly shallow—only 12 feet deep.

20. Manmade channels had to be dredged to allow ships in.

21. When Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders were waiting to ship out for the Spanish-American War in 1898, they were stationed in Tampa.

22. Roosevelt wasn’t the only big name who came to Tampa during the conflict. Clara Barton arrived in town to help organize medical relief efforts.

23. Tampa is home to the world’s longest continuous sidewalk, Bayshore Boulevard. It’s 4.5 miles long!

24. Tampa is also home to Big Cat Rescue, an accredited sanctuary for big cats.

25. Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base may be the second most important government building outside of the Pentagon. It’s home to U.S. Central Command, which oversees U.S. action in the Middle East.

Correction: In an earlier version of this post, we incorrectly said visitors could play with the animals at the big cat sanctuary. People are not allowed to cuddle with the big cats. We regret the error. All images courtesy of iStock.

When Should You Book Your Thanksgiving and Christmas Flights? Right Now!

zoff-photo/iStock via Getty Images
zoff-photo/iStock via Getty Images

For many people, paying for distressingly expensive airline tickets is just part of life when it comes to traveling for the holidays. And, while you might think you’ll get the best deal by checking fluctuating prices obsessively from today until the day before Thanksgiving, you’re probably better off booking your flights right now.

“Once you get within three or four months, the chance of something cheap popping up for Christmas or New Year’s is not very likely,” Scott Keyes, the founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights, told Travel + Leisure. “Certainly don’t wait until the last week or two because prices are going to be way higher.”

This is partially because airlines devise algorithms based on last year’s ticket sales and trends, and they know many travelers will fork over some serious cash rather than decide not to go home for the holidays—and there are always plenty of people who wait until the last minute to book their flights. In fact, so you know for next year, the absolute best time to book holiday travel is actually during the summer.

Scott Mayerowitz, the executive editorial director of The Points Guy, admits that it is possible to save a little money if you’re extremely diligent about following flight prices leading up to the holidays, but he thinks your mental health is worth much more than the pittance you might (or might not) save. “The heartache and headache of constantly searching for the best airfare can drive you insane,” he told Travel + Leisure. “Your time and sanity [are] worth something.”

If you’re not willing to throw in the towel just yet, you could always track the prices for a little while, and give yourself a hard deadline for booking your flights in a few weeks. Mayerowitz says buying your seats at least six weeks in advance—or earlier—is a good rule of thumb for holiday travel. That still leaves you several weeks to periodically scroll through flight listings and get a feel for what seems like a reasonable price.

To minimize your travel anxiety even further, try to fly one one of these dates, and check out eight other tips for a stress-free holiday trip.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

Welcome to Cool, California. Population: 2520

Alan Levine, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Alan Levine, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

It’s not hard to find U.S. towns with some pretty weird (and sometimes depressing) names, so we shouldn't be surprised that people have the option of settling in the tiny town of Cool, California.

Initially named Cave Valley, due to the limestone formations nearby, the town popped up around 1849 during the California Gold Rush. The population eventually grew to 4100 people.

It's unclear when the town went from Cave Valley to being Cool. One legend suggests that a beatnik named Todd Hausman bequeathed the name after passing through in the 1950s, but the veracity of that story is doubtful since the Cool Post Office was founded as early as 1885. According to Condé Nast Traveler, records show that a reverend named Peter Y. Cool came out to pan gold and settled in the town in 1850, possibly serving as the source of the change.

Whatever the origin of its name, the town of Cool has ample branding opportunities. There’s the Cool Grocery Store and the Cool Beerwerks brewery and restaurant, which specializes in Hawaiian-Japanese fusion cuisine. Cool has held the Way Too Cool 50K Endurance Run every year since 1990.

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

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