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Things to do in Tampa Bay: Ybor City’s new self-led audio tour

Hillsborough tourism bureau launches audio tour of historic Cuban district.
Employees working inside Tabanero Cigars, which is one of the stops on a new self-led audio tour produced byt Visit Tampa Bay. [Times 2016)]
Employees working inside Tabanero Cigars, which is one of the stops on a new self-led audio tour produced byt Visit Tampa Bay. [Times 2016)]
Published Jan. 14
Updated Jan. 14

Tampa — Did you know José Martí Park in Tampa is owned by Cuba? Or have you ever wondered why a popular Ybor City’s cafe is called Blind Tiger?

A new self-led audio tour in Ybor could be as revealing for locals as it is four tourists looking to learn more about the historic district. GeoTourist, a host app for audio tours all over the globe, partnered with Visit Tampa Bay to launch the new 15-stop, roughly 2-mile walk.

“Ybor City’s unique blend of culture and history made it a natural starting point for Visit Tampa Bay’s partnership with GeoTourist,” Visit Tampa Bay president and CEO Santiago C. Corrada said in a statement.

Those interested in taking the digitally guided tour of Ybor can download the GeoTourist app on their smartphones. Then, they can either search for the Ybor tour or just look at the tours available near them.

The content of the tour was produced by Visit Tampa Bay, Hillsborough County’s tourism bureau.

Related: Ybor City’s boutique hotel has a name: Hotel Haya to open in spring 2020

The tour begins at Ybor Gate, where the recorded voice gives a primer of Ybor’s history and founding. It then delves deeper to its historic ties to Cuba and the cigar industry through the 14 other destinations, which the region’s first cigar factory, the Ybor baseball museum and the Columbia Restaurant.

Blind Tiger was slang for a speakeasy. The cafe’s name is a nod to Ybor’s role as a bootlegging hub during Prohibition.

The app and tour are free to download. It uses GPS technology to track and guide users, so they can hear the relevant recordings.

For those looking for a more in-depth guide through Ybor, there is also the unrelated Ybor City Historic Waking Tours that run daily at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Those who want to go on that walking tour have to register ahead of time online.

GeoTourist hosts audio tours for some of the world’s leading destinations. Some are peer created, while others are from partnerships with groups such as Visit Tampa Bay. (In fact, a local user has a rival Ybor tour also posted on the platform.)

Some of the other tours are less historic and more fun — like one for freshman at the University of Florida to learn about their new campus.

“We look forward to developing more audio tours with GeoTourist to highlight other places and experiences that make this destination one of the most interesting and dynamic places to visit,” Corrada said.

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