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Tampa Bay History Center

More than 40,000 artifacts inside this museum chart the history of the Tampa Bay region from prehistoric times to the present day.

Tampa Bay History Center charts 12,000 years of Florida’s past and the people who shaped the area, from the first native inhabitants to Spanish conquistadors, sports legends and entrepreneurs. The museum focuses on landmark eras such as the Seminole Indian Wars, the Civil War and the rise of the modern city. There are thousands of artifacts from the prehistoric Gulf Coast Florida to the present day, including maps, paintings, ceramics, furniture and many other everyday objects.

One of the museum’s highlights is the cigar exhibit on the first floor. During the first decades of the 20th century, Tampa’s factories produced hundreds of millions of cigars a year, earning it the nickname “Cigar City.” Walk through a replica of a cigar shop from the 1920s stocked with artifacts from the era. These objects include marketing gimmicks, boxes, tins and signs. The museum claims to have one of the most extensive collections of cigar memorabilia in the world. Step inside a replica factory and learn about the cigar-making process.

Movies and life-size mannequins at the Winds of Change exhibit take you back to the early 16th century to tell the story of Spanish conqueror Pánfilo de Narváez and his failed expedition to colonize Florida.

Make your way up to the second floor and view photographs, artifacts and artistic renderings that cover 500 years of Tampa’s history. Traveling and temporary exhibitions are located on the third floor.

The museum places an emphasis on interacting with history. Climb up on a rocking saddle and pretend to drive a herd of cattle that are projected on a cinema screen, design your own cattle brands and try your hand at weaving Native Indian fabrics.

The Tampa Bay History Center is located in Channelside in downtown Tampa. There are several pay parking options in the vicinity. Parking in the Forum East Lot is included with the price of admission.

The museum is open daily except Thanksgiving and Christmas.


Guide to Exploring around Tampa Bay History Center


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Lodging Near Tampa Bay History Center

See all 202 Hotels near Tampa Bay History Center
$119
Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel and Marina

Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel and Marina

700 S Florida Ave, Tampa
4.3
of 5, from 1,278 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

This 27-story business district hotel is next door to the convention center; a mile from the Port of Tampa; and close to the nightlife of Channelside entertainment complex.

$110
Aloft Tampa Downtown

Aloft Tampa Downtown

100 W Kennedy Blvd, Tampa
4.2
of 5, from 558 reviews
3.5 out of 5.0

Located in Downtown Tampa, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, Tampa Museum of Art, and Tampa Theater. Tampa Convention Center and University of Tampa are also within 15 minutes.

$119
The Westin Tampa Waterside

The Westin Tampa Waterside

725 S Harbour Island Blvd, Tampa
3.9
of 5, from 1,647 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

Surrounded by lush tropical landscaping on Harbor Island, this mid-rise hotel with marina is a 10-minute walk to downtown Tampa and 2 blocks from the Tampa Convention Center.

$129
Embassy Suites Tampa Downtown

Embassy Suites Tampa Downtown

513 S Florida Ave, Tampa
4.3
of 5, from 1,695 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

Connected to the Tampa Convention Center by an open-air skybridge, this atrium hotel is 1 block from the Tampa Bay Times Forum, and close to the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center and Channelside Bay Plaza.

$119
Floridan Palace Hotel

Floridan Palace Hotel

905 N Florida Ave, Tampa
3.5
of 5, from 691 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

Located in Downtown Tampa, this historic hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Tampa Theater and Tampa Museum of Art. University of Tampa and Tampa Convention Center are also within 1 mi (2 km).

$125
Hilton Tampa Downtown

Hilton Tampa Downtown

211 N Tampa Street, Tampa
4.1
of 5, from 934 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

Just 2 blocks from the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, this 17-story hotel is 3 blocks from the Tampa Convention Center, 6 blocks from the Channelside entertainment district, and 2 miles from Ybor City.

$144
Le Meridien Tampa

Le Meridien Tampa

601 North Florida Avenue, Tampa
4.5
of 5, from 633 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

Located in Downtown Tampa, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Tampa Theater and Tampa Museum of Art. Tampa Convention Center and University of Tampa are also within 1 mi (2 km).

$119
Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk Hotel

Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk Hotel

200 N Ashley Dr, Tampa
3.9
of 5, from 1,405 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

Located on the Hillsborough River in downtown Tampa, this hotel is 4 blocks from the convention center, 6 blocks from the St Pete Forum, and 7 miles from the airport.