801 Old Water St, Tampa, FL 33602
Not exactly off the beaten path, but still an over looked attraction that’s well worth a visit. While it does focus on Tampa, it offers a lot of history on Florida, from the Native Americans, to the Spanish explorers, cattle drivers, Florida’s military, etc. As a Floridian, and a history major, I enjoy the museum. In fact, the museum’s curator was one of my professors.
The first floor walks you through early inhabitants to the cigar factories of Ybor City. These two are probably my favorites. However, they definitely could use more placards. Some if the items on display aren’t labeled, or labeled without much detail.
The second floor of the museum takes you into a more modern age. They have interactive maps, a room dedicated to Fort Brooke, a video on Florida crackers–you can sit I a fake horse and watch!, a video on the shipyard inside a shipping container, a mini orange grove shop, college athletics, pro sports, and more.
The third floor, I imagine, is dedicated for whatever the exhibit is at the time. Currently it’s for Florida souvenirs. I was super excited for this, and sadly, extremely disappointed. While postcards from years past are fascinating, there was hardly anything to do with knick knacks. Where are the cheesy salt and pepper shakers, or junk you’d find in an old Florida gift shop?
With the few complaints aside, it’s a great place to spend a rainy afternoon. The museum was very quiet and clean, and the staff were all very happy and welcoming.