Only office buildings and corporate chains? Not a chance. The Tampa Bay Area may not have the exciting reputation of its neighboring regions, but there’s plenty of culture, class, and, yes, white sand to make for a classic Florida getaway. Big-city Tampa surprises visitors with its dynamic cocktail of culture, with Native American, Cuban, Spanish and Italian influences, best experienced in historic Ybor City. Kids ooh and ahh at the Florida Aquarium, grown-ups dig the antique offerings of the Tampa Museum of Art, and the whole family has fun at amusement park Busch Gardens. Cultured and cool, nearby Saint Petersburg offers a more offbeat Tampa Bay experience, with literary festivals, street fairs, and monthly art walks and block parties. Fort deSoto Park laces history with undeveloped parkland—and of course, pristine Florida beaches. There’s more than meets the eye in this often overlooked location. So grab a beach umbrella and some shades, and dig in to the Tampa Bay Area.