Whether you’re a history buff, curious soul, or just want to better understand Florida’s origins, the Tampa Bay History Center is a must-see destination. Delving deep into 12,000 years of the state’s rich history, the museum features an abundance of hands-on exhibits across its three spacious floors.

Situated on Tampa’s waterfront, a visit to the museum will let you experience almost every facet of Florida’s past. Exhibits are fun, interactive, and informative, giving you a unique insight into the state’s humble beginnings. Almost every single exhibit is accompanied by a film, condensing the state’s history into bite-sized history “lessons”.

tampa bay history center florida

You could take a trip through Ybor City with the museum’s “Cigar City” exhibit—which features a detailed large-scale model of a cigar factory. It’s a chance to learn more about one of the state’s oldest industries and the immigrant communities that called this area home. Or, make a stop at the “European Exploration Story” exhibit to learn more about the state’s first European explorers.

Clamber up into a rocking saddle and experience the sensation of driving a herd of cattle projected onto a giant cinema screen. And head to the second floor to view photos, artistic renderings, and artifacts spanning 500 years of Tampa’s history. On one floor, you’ll also find a 60-foot replica of an 18th century pirate ship—a recent addition to the center’s already high number of exhibits. Bottom line: there’s something for everyone, with each exhibit catering to people of all ages.

It can take a few hours to explore everything the center has to offer—the museum spans over 60,000 square feet—so make sure you budget for a full day out and pack comfortable shoes for this fun jaunt through history. Once you’ve had a chance to experience its exhibits, head over to the museum’s store where you’ll find beautiful locally made artwork and crafts to take home as a reminder of this memorable excursion.

The center regularly hosts special events—such as walking tours and lectures—and once-off exhibitions, so it’s worth revisiting the museum if you’re ever in the area.

Feeling Hungry?

Swing by at the Columbia Café, an on-site eatery serving up Spanish and Cuban fare. We recommend grabbing a table at the restaurant’s waterfront patio area, where you can soak up the sights while sampling dishes from the eatery’s carefully curated menu.

Open between 10am to 5pm. To find our more about the Tampa Bay History Center, click HERE.