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Tampa

tampa skyline

Tucked inside Tampa Bay on Florida's west coast, the laid-back city of Tampa has evolved into a popular beach destination and a bustling cruise port. Its waterfront is jam-packed with sights, sounds and surf, and is just a quick hop away from historic St. Petersburg and from Clearwater, gateway to some of Florida's best beaches.

Historic sights can be found along the brick-lined walkways of the Cuban-influenced Ybor City, which is dotted with wrought-iron balconied buildings. You'll also spot flamenco dancers galore and old factories selling Florida's best hand-rolled cigars, not to mention Major League teams batting up for spring training.

Families will love the area's theme parks and zoos, while art lovers can check out the Tampa Museum of Art and the Dali Museum in neighboring St. Petersburg. And if you want nothing more than to lie on a beach, there are dozens of stretches of sugary-soft sand within an hour's drive.

--updated by Sarah Schlichter

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