A rainy-day, newcomer's guide to Ybor City

Ybor City State Museum

Museums are an obvious indoor choice when the weather is less than ideal. This was my first stop for precisely that reason.

The museum itself is relatively tiny and the artifacts are sparse and not very clearly labeled, so I recommend you stop first at the round cubby in the center of the museum and have a seat inside to watch the short but well-made documentary running on a loop. This will give you a better understanding not only of the museum artifacts, but of the buildings and statuary around the city.

I can't imagine the museum having quite the same allure on a sunny day. Most of the lighting inside is via multiple glass sun-lights, which during the storm created romantic and spooky distortions on the artifacts and provided the perfect ambient rain-on-a-tin-roof soundtrack for a trip back in time.

Be sure to keep your umbrella close by to make a dash next door for the on-the-hour tours of the cigar workers' homes (casitas).  Admission $4

[image-1]La France

Located on 7th Avenue, La France is everything a vintage shop should be.

Piles upon rows upon mounds of beautiful antique clothing, hats, shoes and jewelry displayed on as many racks as one could possibly fit into the given space.

In short, it is a fantasy find for the rainy-day shopper.

Prices range from the $20-$30 range well up to what you would expect of an authentic Victorian ball gown or the like.

Ration off plenty of browsing time and be prepared to walk out with at least one impulse buy.


If you can score one of their cushiony armchairs, Joffrey's is a great stop to dry out a little, dip into your current reading material and sip a high-calorie whipped confection as the rain pounds away at the pavement outside.

You'll be kept company by an array of unique artwork, all of which is available for purchase if it catches your fancy. Enjoy your view of all the other poor saps outside, dashing through Centro Ybor to escape from the rain. It will make your mocha, novel and dry clothes seem all that much more cozy.

Runners -Up

In retrospect, I wish I'd checked out the following for some rainy-day entertainment. I will eventually get to these destinations and give them the thorough reviewing they deserve:

  • La Creperia Cafe - 1729 East 7th Avenue.  (Because nothing says "C'est La Vie" like a crêpe in a thunderstorm.)

  • Ghost Party Haunted Tours - http://ghost-party.com/ (What's more fitting on a dark, windy day than a little dose of the paranormal?)

  • Tea Rose Cottage, Afternoon Tea - http://www.tearosecottageybor.com/ (This one needs to be booked in advance, or I would've been all over it.  British tea tradition was practically invented to offset gloomy days, after all.)

What are your favorite rainy-day destinations in the Ybor district?

I am brand spanking new to Tampa Bay, so when presented with the opportunity to do a newcomer's travel guide to Ybor City (the infamous Ybor City) I must admit, my little writer's brain got all caught up in fluttery enthusiasm. I pictured a research day sipping beer on sun-flooded patios, browsing all sorts of weird shops, and following it up with a night of all-in debauchery.

Imagine my disappointment when I was jolted awake by a crack of thunder to a black downpour of a morning. Suddenly I could relate to every horrified tourist I'd encountered during my college years in Orlando who felt they'd somehow been lied to when they booked a getaway to the "Sunshine" State.

Against every instinct to stay in, eat re-heated Chinese and watch the 6-hour version of Pride and Prejudice, I managed to pull some clothes on, wade out to my car and see what I could make of a truly subtropical day in Ybor City.

My favorite finds are as follows:


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