Explore the Food and Haunted History of Tampa Bay
Fall has arrived, and it’s the perfect time of year to get outside and explore all that Tampa Bay has to offer. Guided tours are a great way to learn and explore without worrying about navigation. Two of the most popular tours are a food tour through the quaint town of Dunedin and a history and ghost tour of Ybor City.
Dunedin Food Tour
Dunedin is one of the oldest towns on the West Coast of Florida. With over a dozen restaurants, breweries, and distilleries within a quick walk of each other, Tampa Bay Food Tours has no lack of options to delight their patrons with. Tours take place on Saturday afternoons, last approximately three hours, and feature five to seven stops.
We started at the Lucky Lobster Company. The manager greeted us with a freshly-made margarita – there are no bottled mixes here! The next item was a shrimp, lobster, and smoked gouda pizza. It was creamy, surprisingly light, and loaded with flavor.
Our next stop was Nature’s Food Patch which is a grocery store and café specializing in organic and natural foods. The turkey chipotle sandwich, which was my favorite, is made with smoked turkey, imported Swiss, roasted red onions, and a chipotle spread.
Across the street is Carvor’s Fish House, known for their fresh seafood selection. Seating is limited there, so we headed to the award-winning Cueni Brewing Company to enjoy a drink with the delicious grilled shrimp, seafood-stuffed mushrooms, and slaw that Carvor’s prepared for us.
Not to be outdone by the local craft breweries, Cotherman Distillery makes amazing small-batch spirits. They offer 15 different types of Vodka, Gin, Whiskey, and Rum. You can purchase one of their signature glasses, and they will gladly fill it with a sample of your choosing for free.
The most highly anticipated stop on the tour was Hog Island Fish Camp. At the beginning of the tour, we had the option to pick between hogfish sliders or a whole fish to have here. Being an adventurous crew, we chose the whole fish. If you’ve never had a whole prepared fish before, it is well worth it!
Our second to last stop was Sea Sea Riders. They have been in Dunedin for more than 30 years. We tried the Tsunami Shrimp, which is their take on Bang Bang Shrimp, and it was delicious!
Of course, you can’t finish off a food tour without dessert. Bon Appetit not only serves up amazing small-sized desserts, but they also have some of the best views in Tampa Bay. We were able to choose from an assortment of mini desserts in flavors including honey, raspberry cheesecake, and mocha macchiato. It was the perfect ending to the tour.
Ybor City History and Ghost Tour
Founded in the 1880s by Vincente Martinez-Ybor, Ybor City is rich in history and intrigue. With a background including pirates and lawlessness, it is no surprise that Ybor City has been named one of the most haunted cities in the nation and home to the 4th most haunted building in America. Ybor City Walking Tours gave us a unique glimpse into the physical and spiritual history of Ybor City.
We visited Rock Brothers and the Attic, now a brewery and event space, that had its share of antics. It was formerly a brothel of sorts and had several incidents of gunfights, many of which took the lives of women working there. Stories tell of those killed lingering after their deaths, even prompting clergy to be called in. After several failed attempts to remove them, a monk statue was carved out of wood and blessed by ordained clergy. The monk was placed in a hollowed-out cavity 12 feet above the floor in the attic. If the monk remains there, the spirits remain quiet. It has been mysteriously found on the floor on a few occasions, which is thought to be the ghosts attempting to return.
The most curious stop of the night was the Cuban Club. Once a social club for Cuban immigrants, there have been several untimely deaths in its history and frequent stories of spooky happenings within its walls.
We were given electromagnetic field (EMF) meters, which look for spikes in electrical currents that suggest spirits are nearby. I experienced a lot of activity on the stage in the building, even taking several videos of orbs (energy patterns of spirits). Spirits here include a young actor who hung himself on the stage after a bad performance. A woman in white, who was thrown off a balcony, is also frequently spotted. We even brought a ball for a child who drowned there.
Both tours may change stops due to weather or to accommodate requests by participants, but it is still sure to be a great experience!