Because we're still getting used to living in paradise!
Since our last list of "Truths about living in Tampa" was so popular we decided to actually finish the list! I know, shockingly we finished something! So if you're moving to town this insiders guide to living Tampa is for you. We want you to love our fair city, eccentricities and all! If you already live here and just want a chuckle? You're invited too!
1. Invest in bug spray
While the lack of snow is a HUGE plus to living in Tampa, it also causes one of the biggest annoyances. Because, as we discussed in our previous article, Tampa doesn’t have “normal” seasons like you know winter, no freeze = no pests killed. Or in other terms: Florida is a paradise for bugs too, letting them flourish when their “family” up north is frozen solid. We have ants in January, fleas & mosquitoes in February, termites showing up in March, lovebugs May & September, and well roaches and spiders all year round. Tampa was ranked 35th by Orkin for bed bugs and the US Census’s Housing Survey found 34% of Tampanians had roaches (higher than Miami, NYC, or Houston). While it’s not ideal, a good bug guy is worth his weight in gold. So just being honest, invest in some pest control, or bug spray at the least!
2. Accept that silver alerts are just a thing
People driving our interstates for the first time tend to be concerned by the signs. No not about the discount Disney tickets, but the silver alerts. If you come from another state that has a decent senior citizen population you may be familiar with the system. Here in Florida its defined as “cognitively-impaired adults who become lost while driving.” Specifically, this means when the elderly or those suffering from a form of dementia get lost while driving. You can read the particulars here. Think of it as the amber alert for adults who aren’t all there cognitively. Why does Florida have so freaking many? Because we have the most senior citizens, period. Statistically, 19.06% of Florida’s population is over 65, which is the most of any state. It also explains why the state is so politically diverse and is generally a swing state.
3. Get used to alligators… everywhere
You can literally make the claim that alligators are the state pet (it’s actually our state reptile). They are always in the news, on Facebook, or in your yard. And it’s one of the first things people ask us about when moving to Tampa. So here are the facts: Florida has roughly 1.25 million alligators, the largest in the nation. They can get up to 18 feet long and live 30-35 years in the wild. Fun fact: Alligators were actually considered endangered until the late 80s. But what if they ring your doorbell? Report them! Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286). What is a nuisance gator? “Generally, an alligator may be considered a nuisance if it is at least four feet in length and is believed to pose a threat to people, pets or property.” In 2016 8,118 nuisance alligators were removed.
4. Buy a sexy pirate costume
So Tampa has what we’d like to call a pirate fetish. Ever since 1904 Tampa has been invaded by “pirates” almost every single year. And by “pirates” we mean grown men and women aka the pillars of our community! Local folklore tells us that José Gaspar, a magical and mythical Spanish pirate, used to roam the local waters in the early 1800s. In reality, the first mention of this “last of the Buccaneers” was in a 1900 marketing brochure for Port Charlotte. Despite the lack history, his myth inspired Gasparilla, the 3rd largest parade in the nation. Currently, Gasparilla encompasses more than just bead throwing shenanigans, it’s now a season! Here are a few of the pirate themed events you should totally check out! The Gasparilla Invasion, Children’s Gasparilla Extravaganza, Sant'Yago Knight Parade, Gasparilla Distance Classic, Gasparilla Festival of the Arts, Gasparilla Music Festival, & Gasparilla Film Festival. Also good to remember? Be responsible, the police are out in force.
5. Get serious about your drinks
Tampa is a thirsty town and we LOVE to drink local. Whether it's alcholic or not, we don't descriminate. Which is great because some people think we’re best beer city in the US (or the second best). As of the beginning of the year, there were 21…21 different breweries in Hillsborough County alone. 53 in the Tampa Bay metro area! Beer, not your thing? Cigar City has a fabulous Cider and Mead establishment for those of us who aren’t cool enough to be beer snobs. Sangria more your thing? The Columbia is KNOWN for their table side sangria (which they make… you guessed it… table side 😉). We occasionally give their kit they sell in their gift shop as a housewarming gift. While we’re on wine… we kill that too! Bern’s is a James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine Program in 2016. On Wine Spectator’s 2017 the Tampa area had 23 winners for the Award of Excellence, eight for the Best of Award of Excellence, and one Grand Award (Bern’s of course!). We also have the Keel & Curley Winery! And just to make sure we don’t leave anyone out, Tampa has two of the best craft distilleries in the state AND we have a few recommendations for those who don’t want to imbibe!
Well, that's it, folks! Hope you enjoyed it. If you have any other ideas for a "truth about Tampa" let us know. Want more, cool local knowledge? Check out our Tampa section on our blog!