When I first moved back to Tampa four years ago, I wasted no time whining about how much I wanted to leave. I had my heart settled on bigger, busier, better. Towns in cooler climates, with history, class, and more exciting job opportunities. More inspiration, etc.
In that short time, Tampa has changed. Even more so since I was in high school, and greater still since I was a wee baby homo. Luckily, all this change is for the better.Â Urban living is growing more popular by the minute, retail is doing better, wonderful new eateries have joined trusty standbys from Tampa’s history, and the gay and arts communities have expanded and grown more prominent.
Oh, and Tampa is just cooler.
Part of that swell is a hip new spot called the Oxford Exchange. Sounds silly to hinge an entire city’s cool factor on a single place, but truly, it raises the bar in Tampa, and I couldn’t be more pleased. It is a renovated historic structure, housing a faux student-union atmosphere. Wood panels, marble floors. A bookstore, coffee and tea bars, a gift shop, and a ‘cafeteria.’
I mean, who in Tampa carries Dean & Deluca foodstuffs?!
If you are still unacquainted with OE, don’t delay. Going on over a year, it remains the place to see and be seen, but in a uniquely approachable Tampa sort of way.
Pictured below and above are some of my favorite OE elements you should think about testing yourself: