Tampa’s Hyde Park is a lot of things; a historic district, a quiet 1800s farm turned Victorian residential neighbourhood, a high-end shopping district, and a center for luxury, art, and international flair.
It stretches along Bayshore Boulevard and the Hillsborough Bay, with W Kennedy Boulevard at its north and westward to S Armenia Avenue.
Some residents define Hyde Park’s western border as SoHo, South Howard Avenue, instead of S Armenia Avenue. SoHo is the main artery for entertainment, food, nightlife, and other activities that pulses all the way through the neighbourhood, parallel to S Armenia Avenue and about a block inward.
FL-618 Toll Road aka Lee Roy Selmon Expressway runs south right through Hyde Park and also has a lot of fun hot spots to see.
Hyde Park’s known origins trace back to the 1820s when it was a farm, and in the 1880s when a man named O. H. Platt bought 20 acres and named it after his home town of Hyde Park, Illinois.
Hyde Park Avenue was the original primary street through the neighbourhood, and the first home was built at 1307 Morrison Avenue. For more information about some of Hyde Park’s historic homes check out this walking tour guide.
HENRY B PLANT MUSEUM
In 1891, Henry B. Plant built his magnanimous Tampa Bay Hotel along with the first bridge ever built across the Hillsborough River.
He was a self-made, hard-working entrepreneur in several industries like steam shipping, railroads, and creating a collection of impressive hotels.
Plant was the perfect person to bring railroads, inner city transportation, and infrastructure to Hyde Park. With the new Tampa Bay Hotel and the convenience of the new bridge, tourists flocked to the hotel and the businesses around it. Hyde Park was well on its way to become the first western suburb of Tampa.
The Tampa Bay Hotel spanned over 1/4 of a mile on six acres of the property’s total 150 acres. It was fireproof, which solved one of the most prominent disasters of the time. Each of its 21 buildings and over 500 guest rooms were completely electric, the first of its kind in Florida.
The hotel had every luxury one could think of then including exhibits and exposition rooms, a heated swimming pool, bowling alley, billiard room, 2,000 guest casino with a grand music salon and in-house orchestra, barber shop, beauty salon and spa, shoeshine and laundry service, flower shop, a telegraph station, formal dining room, and private phones in every room.
Outside there was a golf course, gardens and conservatories, race tracks, kennels, hunting and fishing grounds and clubs, stables, outdoor sporting greens, and so much more. I am not aware of a place that has ALL of that today.
Ever since 1933, the Tampa Bay hotel has lived on as the Henry B. Plant Museum and the University of Tampa buildings. Its main building was renamed Plant Hall and is a registered National Historic Landmark.
You can tour the site, rest in the gardens, see original furnishings and private art collections of the late Plant couple, view ongoing exhibitions and attend other events.
Check out other lovely buildings on the University of Tampa campus while you are here, and stop by the Oxford Exchange multi-use food and shopping hall for tea, coffee, a classy meal, shop for home decor and gifts, or browse the bookshop shelves.
HYDE PARK VILLAGE
Hyde Park Village is a large outdoor shopping village full of as many high-end boutiques as local artisan markets. The fountain inside Village Circle, at the heart of the village, is its most iconic spot. You will find kids playing, adults reading, and people just enjoying the scenery all around.
To visit Hyde Park Village, start at the Village Circle, or make your way to the intersection of Swann Avenue and Dakota Avenue.
Keep your eyes open because the commercial properties often blend seamlessly with the residential homes, gardens, murals, and landscaping.
See if you can find the infamous Hyde Park mural as well:
Coffee at Buddy Brew was my call to action before exploring.
Check out big name stores like West Elm, Sephora, Social Status, Zadig & Voltaire, Pottery Barn, Pedego Bikes, Nike, Lululemon, Blue Mercury, Bonobos, or local shops like Downtown Dogs, Leafy Luv Affair, and Kittenish.
I really enjoyed finding this fountain and park the most.
South Howard Avenue hosts countless bars and restaurants to try, including Rose Bar, Cask Social Kitchen, SoHo Saloon, Green Lemon, Burger Fi, EVOS, Wine & Wood, Wright’s Gourmet Café, Ciro’s Speakeasy and Supper Club, and Luv Child Cuban.
SoHo is known for some of its mischievous crowds at Datz, MacDinton’s and The Dubliner pubs, and for fun nightlife outings at swanky lounges, but many were closed during our stay.
Keep an eye out for cool murals in SoHo too. This one by the artist Tristan Eaton was inspired the history of Bern’s founder, Bern Laxer, and is known as the Hindu Jaguars of SoHo.
The Grand Master mural:
And this one over at the Epicurean:
Bayshore Boulevard is the world’s largest sidewalk, measuring ten feed wide and nearly 5 miles long. There is a three-mile bike lane and a greenway adjacent to the sidewalk trail also.
The sidewalk runs along Bayshore Boulevard and hundreds of beautiful historic bungalow and Victorian homes. If you are lucky, you can see manatees and dolphins as you walk, skate, or bike your way to downtown Tampa.
Further south of Hyde Park is the Palma Ceia neighbourhood with brick-paved streets and Cuban origins just like Ybor City. It has a lot cafés and specialty boutiques and is absolutely worth a visit.
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