advertisement

Hyde Park and Ybor City are two areas of Tampa worth some window-shopping, perhaps sandwiched around lunch at one of the fine restaurants.

On the mall front, there's the upscale International Plaza (tel. 813/342-3790; www.shopinternationalplaza.com), near Tampa International Airport, where the headliners include Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom.

Cigars -- Ybor City is no longer a major producer of hand-rolled cigars, but you can still watch artisans making stogies at the Columbia Cigar Store. Rollers are on duty Monday through Saturday from 10am to 6pm. You can stock up on domestic and imported cigars at El Sol, 1728 E. 7th Ave. (tel. 813/247-5554), the city's oldest cigar store; King Corona Cigar Factory, 1523 E. 7th Ave. (tel. 813/241-9109); and Metropolitan Cigars & Wine, 2014 E. 7th Ave. (tel. 813/248-3304).

Shopping Centers -- Old Hyde Park Village, 1507 W. Swann Ave., at South Dakota Avenue (tel. 813/251-3500; www.oldhydeparkvillage.com), is a terrific alternative to cookie-cutter malls despite the fact that it's almost always inexplicably devoid of people. It's perfect for a peaceful, quiet shopping experience. Walk around the little boutiques in the sunshine and check out Hyde Park, one of the city's most historic and picturesque neighborhoods. The cluster of 50 upscale shops is set in a village layout. The selection includes Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, Brooks Brothers, Crabtree & Evelyn, and Godiva, to name a few. There are also several restaurants, including the Wine Exchange, Timpano Italian Chophouse, the Cobb CineBistro movie theater and restaurant, and our favorite, Restaurant BT. There's a free parking garage on South Oregon Avenue. Most shops are open Monday through Saturday from 10am to 7pm and Sunday from noon to 5pm. Throughout the year, the village hosts various events from concerts to art festivals.

The centerpiece of the downtown seaport renovation is the massive tourist trap, Channelside at Garrison Seaport, on Channelside Drive between the Garrison Seaport and the Florida Aquarium (tel. 813/223-4250). It has stores, restaurants, bars, a Splitsville Lanes bowling alley (tel. 813/514-2695; www.splitsvillelanes.com), and a multiscreen cinema with an IMAX screen.

In Ybor City, Centro Ybor, on 7th Avenue East at 16th Street (tel. 813/242-4660; www.centroybor.com), is primarily a dining-and- entertainment complex, but you'll find a few chains, such as American Eagle and Urban Outfitters.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.