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Skip the Beach in Tampa

After decades of suburban sprawl, this Gulf Coast city has brought new life to its neglected center by fixing up the riverfront, repurposing abandoned spaces, and embracing its Cuban-American history.

1. Where to Stay

One of the private, 750-square-foot casitas at Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay.  

Experience a bygone era at the elegant Don Vicente de Ybor Historic Inn (from $139) in the Cuban-American enclave of Ybor City, a National Historic Landmark District just east of downtown. Formerly the offices of a cigar magnate, this restored 1895 building now houses sixteen rooms with Persian rugs and brass chandeliers, as well as an antique-filled lounge that provides a welcome respite from the area’s sometimes-raucous nightlife scene.

Sleep in the heart of Tampa’s resurgent downtown at the Floridan Palace (from $149), a nineteen-story architectural icon that ranked as the state’s tallest skyscraper when it was built in 1926. Reopened last July after nearly seven years of renovations, the hotel’s 195 rooms and eighteen suites are decorated in the Beaux-Arts style, with a palette of rich jewel tones and furniture accented with gold-painted overlays and carved rosettes.

Opt for one of the 45 casitas (from $189) at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, which underwent an extensive $16 million redesign last fall. Located on a 35-acre private nature preserve on Old Tampa Bay, these 300-square-foot Spanish-style villas feature modern interiors that subtly evoke this stretch of coast and its Latin history with sea-glass-like wall accents, Saltillo-tile floors, and Moorish-inspired throw pillows.