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15 Things Tampa Locals Always Have to Explain to Out-of-Towners

Tampa Student Work
by Heather von Bargen Nov 24, 2015

1. We use dryer sheets to clean our cars.

Each spring and fall lovebugs invade our area in swarms. These acidic insects are harmless to humans, but terrible for car paint. The best way to clean them off is with a wet dryer sheet.

2. We have “Silver Alerts.”

It’s like an Amber Alert for older folks who should not be driving. Roadside signs display their vehicle information for motorists to call in if they spot the wayward wanderer.

3. Scientology is huge here.

You might spot Tom Cruise, Kirstie Alley, John Travolta, or any of the other Hollywood-famous Scientologists across the bay in Clearwater, where the organization is headquartered. Many of them have homes here.

4. We drive fast in the passing lane.

We take “slower cars keep right” seriously. There’s actually a state law against driving 10 miles under the speed limit in the left lane.

5. We actually have four seasons.

They’re just warmer than most. Although rare, it’s snowed here in the winter.

6. We know our fins.

When we spot a moving fin in the water, we can tell friend from foe. Sharks swim side to side in a zig-zag. Dolphins move up and down in a bobbing pattern.

7. Ybor City is pronounced “e-bore,” not “why-bore.”

This historic district packed with restaurants and bars in Tampa is anything but boring.

8. We are serious about sunblock.

We’re not the Sunshine State for nothing. We spot tourists by their pink skin. The sun is fierce here, and us locals know not to mess with it.

9. Winter and Hope are real dolphins.

The rescued dolphins starring in the Dolphin Tale movies are at our Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

10. You need to eat at the Columbia Restaurant.

The Ybor city location is the oldest restaurant in Florida and a symbol of Tampa’s history. Their Spanish-inspired cuisine is the best meal in Tampa. Locals know to reserve the famous flamenco dinner show in advance.

11. There is someone driving that car.

Do not be alarmed. You may not be able to see her head, but there is a short older lady behind the wheel.

12. We eat Cubans.

Tampa Cubans are hot sandwiches with roast pork, ham, salami, pickles, swiss cheese, and mustard pressed on Cuban bread, preferably from La Segunda Bakery.

13. We leave alligators alone.

Harmless to admire from afar, we avoid approaching them and take a drop if our golf ball lands near one. They bite.

14. We have a happening arts scene.

Between the Tampa Museum of Art, the Dalí Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, The Chihuly Collection, and other numerous galleries nearby, there’s plenty of opportunities to get an art fix here.

15. We don’t wear shoes.

Flip-flops are acceptable almost everywhere you need to have shoes on.

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