Originally opened in 1891 by railroad magnate Henry B. Plant, the Tampa Bay Hotel was one of the most affluent hotels in the entire state of Florida. With 511 rooms, a bowling alley, a racetrack, a casino, a golf course, and an indoor heated swimming pool, the Tampa Bay Hotel also had the first elevator ever installed in Florida.
The hotel lay dormant after the 1930s until the junior college used its rooms for classroom space. Now a National Landmark with attentive renovations, the hotel is now open to the public, one of the best things to do in Tampa.
The museum’s exhibits focus on tourism from the Gilded Age in Tampa, the lifestyle of the affluent and famous guests, and the hotel’s use by the United States as a base for the Spanish-American War.
Today, guests can visit Tuesday through Sunday, with the exception of major holidays. During Christmastime, guests may attend the annual Victorian Christmas Stroll, hosted by the hotel.