Busch Gardens and Lowry Park, two of Tampa’s most popular tourist attractions, were built in the mid 1900s. Other places that are popular to visit, in Tampa, include the Big Cat Rescue, the Florida Aquarium, and the Channel District. Cuisine in Tampa can be traced to many diverse cultures, such as Greek, Italian, Spanish and Vietnamese. A good place to see this is at one of the largest food-truck rallies, which happens in Tampa each year. Parts of the culture in Tampa include nightlife districts, performing arts, death metal bands and many professional wrestlers who call the city home. Museums in Tampa are also diverse. From a planetarium to contemporary art, history, and a ship from World War II that is now used as a museum, Tampa has something for everyone. One of the biggest draws for people is Gasparilla. Gasparilla is a pirate festival that has been hailed as the Mardi Gras of Tampa. This annual festival includes the Distance Classic, the International Film Festival, and a mock pirate invasion.
One of the largest parades in the country which is part of Gasparilla, takes place in the early part of the year, and events around this parade contribute significantly to the economy of Tampa. Early economy in Tampa came from commercial fishing and tobacco. Phosphate also boosted Tampa’s early economy and is still being exported today. Tampa was once considered the “Cigar Capital of the World” as at one point, over 500 million cigars were being hand rolled, per year. The largest port for tonnage, and the second largest for cruise ships in Florida, is found in Tampa. A major employer for active and retired military personnel is the MacDill Air Force Base, which started construction around World War II. The Melting Pot, Carrabba's, and Outback Steakhouse are a few of restaurants which have roots in Tampa. Another major employer in Tampa is the healthcare industry, with health systems and hospitals at the top of the list. Movement of people, whether through one of the three airports in the area, passenger rail lines that run all the way to New York, or with mass transit on the buses or the TECO Line Streetcar, helps to boost Tampa’s economy. Although contributors to Tampa’s economy have changed over the years because it is located near the water, anything in that realm has the most lasting effect.