Tampa is steeped in pirate lore. Some of it is fact and much is the stuff of legend. It’s true that Florida was home to many pirates that continually menaced merchant vessels and sacked small villages in the Caribbean islands. One of the area’s most famous Buccaneers was José Gaspar, who terrorized the gulf coast around the turn of the 19th century and whose mythology lives on today in the form of pirate-themed sports teams, retail stores, and of course, the annual Gasparilla Pirate Festival.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium began as an idea in 1972 to establish a marine research facility in the Tampa Bay area. Several years later, in 1978, the city of Clearwater donated a decommissioned wastewater treatment plant to the newly established Clearwater Marine Science Center to make their idea a reality. The building had large water holding pools that were modified to house marine life and the facility opened its doors to the public in 1981 with a modest one room exhibit. The small facility continued to grow and as public involvement and visits increased, changed its name to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
Cuban sandwiches are of course a regional favorite in Tampa. It is the cheesesteak to Philly or the lobster roll to Boston. But where is the best Cubano to be found? I’ve found that the finest sandwiches are greater than the sum of their ingredients.
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