Our visitor maps out a perfect day in Florida's surprise package...
10am: Stroll through Ybor City
Ybor (above) is a city within a city - Tampa's 'Latin Quarter' with a whiff of New Orleans, and formerly the cigar-making capital of the world. Take a guided tour of this grid-patterned red-brick enclave where chickens roam free. Stepping into José Martí Park puts you on Cuban soil without having to produce a passport while the former 'mothership' cigar factory is now a Scientology centre.
How: Ybor City Museum, 1818 East 9th Avenue; ybormuseum.org
The Tampa Museum of Art enjoys a great setting next to a large public park by the river. It's got collections of Ancient Greek and Roman treasures, but the exciting part is its contemporary scene, with fantastic travelling exhibitions and a thrilling mix of Cuban and North American influences. Even the museum itself is a great piece of modern art, seen to most dramatic effect when the sun goes down.
How: 120 W. Gasparilla Plaza; tampamuseum.org.
Take a spin along Bayshore Boulevard to the more sedate side of town, admiring millionaires' homes while joggers and cyclists flash past the lagoon-like Hillsborough Bay. One of the most exciting places to overindulge in Tampa is the Élevage Restaurant at the Epicurean - a hotel/restaurant/cookery school concept infused with a real, feel-good atmosphere. They also happen to have the world's largest private wine collection.
How: 1207 South Howard Avenue; epicureanhotel.com
Tampa's reputation for its rundown city centre has been radically turned on its head. The energetic night-time atmosphere is enhanced by the colour-lit 4km-long Tampa Riverwalk, offering a lively selection of venues in its path. Visitors can drink alcohol as they stroll, as long as they buy it from approved vendors along the way and carry it in specially designated cups. Recommended pitstops include Ulele and Aloft's outdoor poolside bar.
Aer Lingus (aerlingus.com) flies direct to Orlando 3-4 times a week. Tampa is a 1.5-hour drive from Orlando. For more to see and do around Tampa Bay, see visittampabay.com