Places That Inspire Us: Tampa

Frontgate attended Tampa Bay Design Week in Tampa, Florida. Taking a tour around the city led us to be endlessly inspired by the culture, history and art.

Tampa International Airport

From the moment your flight lands and you walk into the Tampa International Airport, you are formally introduced to Tampa as a design authority. Local artists’ work lines the halls, and most notably, in the Central Terminal, you’ll find the 22-foot-tall flamingo sculpture titled HOME, by artist Matthew Mazzotta. This commanding sculpture appears to extend into the ceiling, which has been transformed into a mirror-like finish, reminiscent of rippled water. This creates the illusion that the flamingo’s head is dipped beneath the water. This immersive experience greets travelers from near and far, introducing them to the iconic bird whose home is in Florida.

Henry B. Plant Museum

This former opulent hotel with typical Moorish features is Tampa’s remaining jewel from the Victorian Era. Owned by railroad tycoon Henry Plant, the Tampa Bay Hotel was in operation from 1891 to 1932. Since 1933, the building has housed the Henry B. Plant Museum, featuring European-influenced furniture, showcasing everything from monumental sculptures to chaises with fringe. Design enthusiasts will revel in the contents, architecture and extraordinary landscaping.

Oxford Exchange

Grab brunch – and soak in boundless decoration inspiration! Renowned as one of the best brunch destinations in America, this gorgeous space is also an Instagram dream. (Food Network Magazine named Oxford Exchange one of the most Instagrammable restaurants in America.) Drawing inspiration from historic clubs, libraries and shops, the menagerie of marble, leather and greenery catches the eye and encourages guests to linger. The stunning space includes a restaurant, coffee shop, retail space, bookstore and champagne bar.

Tampa Riverwalk

This 2.6-mile-long pedestrian pathway along the Hillsborough River is booming with local art. On the Tampa Riverwalk, you will pass the vibrant Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and end at a mecca of restaurants. Design lovers will admire the restoration of the former streetcar repair warehouse, now a food hall called Armature Works. The space also holds a plethora of captivating industrial-based design elements from exposed brick to original piping.

While walking along with Riverwalk, you’ll be mesmerized by Woven Waves, a folded ceramic panel representing the various multicultural communities that make up Tampa. For even more inspiration, stop into the Tampa Museum of Art or Florida Museum of Photographic Arts along the way.

Ybor City

This National Historic Landmark is home to several buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. Notable structures in Ybor City include El Centro Español de Tampa, Centro Asturiano de Tampa and other social clubs built in the early 1900s. As part of our journey along Tampa Design Week, we took a stroll down 7th Avenue and reveled in the stunning architecture showcasing wrought-iron balconies and intricate tile designs. Much of the aesthetic reflects influences from Ybor City’s pioneering Spanish, Italian and Cuban communities.

Morean Art Center

If you don’t stop by the Morean Art Center to see local, national and international art, you must visit for the Chihuly Exhibit and then view a glass-blowing demonstration in all its glory. A whopping 30-minute demonstration will provide an up-close view of the steps and artistry that go into even the smallest piece of glass-blown art.

Salvador Dali Museum

For art and architecture admirers, the Salvador Dali Museum experience begins outside with the widespread view of an iconic glass and concrete structure dubbed “one of the ten most interesting museums in the world” by Architectural Digest. Enjoy an afternoon taking in the unparalleled collection of the renowned artists’ works and wandering through the interactive gardens.

The Library

Need a bite to eat? We highly recommend The Library. Located within the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and designed by the same team as the Oxford Exchange, it is inspired by the George Peabody Library in Baltimore. More than 600 blue books line the walls, for both decorative purposes and for guests to read. Plus the brunch is out of this world!

For more places that inspire us, check out our design lovers’ guide to Miami.