Tampa offers so many absorbing attractions for the visitor that getting a bird’s eye view of the city can be challenging. You could dive into the Aquarium, get up close with a crocodile and an alligator at Busch Gardens, and cool down at the Museum of Science and Industry. Still, they all miss something of the complete Tampa experience.
The Riverwalk is a 2.6-mile-long, well, walk along the river… None of these activities gives you the complete picture of Tampa, though, from its swampy early days to the bustling nightlife of Ybor City. Only Tampa Terrors will provide you with a whistle-stop tour through the humid history and the Big Guava’s modern landmarks. Thanks to the hugely memorable ghost stories and the life-like pictures of the colorful characters that haunt this town, that history will stick.
Like Charlie Wall, the stick-thin, 6’ 4” tall gangster and career criminal who had a habit of wearing white linen suits as he walked the streets of Ybor and Downtown Tampa. He carried a cane in his later years for style as well as assistance. He was a well-known character around Tampa during the 1930s and 40s. He came from a powerful Tampa family and used his political connections to grease the wheels of his criminal empire. These days, he makes for a debonair ghost at the several places that have credible accounts of seeing him.
Join the Tampa Terrors and hear the incredible stories of Charlie Wall and see some of his many haunts from when he was living and now that he is dead! Many more fascinating characters animate this fun city, and Tampa Terrors has tales of the fascinating people from the past for your entertainment and edification.
Mother nature also shapes Tampa’s character. For instance, did you know Tampa is the lightning capital of the United States? Tampa sits at the start of Lightning Alley, which heads off northeast towards Titusville on the Atlantic coast. The humid air blowing in off the sea on three sides of the Floridian peninsular creates a frequent and spectacular light show. Tampa also has more lightning fatalities than any other city in America. One man was trying to finish painting the side of his house on a steel ladder; he never got it done. Another was raising his golf club to try and lock in his low score; that round remains unfinished. ‘Dr Lightning’ a National Weather Service employee, tracks fatalities and is trying to raise awareness of the benefits of staying inside during storms. Although the death toll is reducing, it is still the highest in the country. If you come at peak lighting season, watch out when the skies darken!
Tampa Terrors heads out almost all weather, and we currently don’t have any ghosts of lighting deaths on the tour. However, below are just a few of the 8 or 12 locations that we will visit on your tour.
While researching the stories for this tour, we came across some further afield locations with some more haunting stories. Some of them were too far away to include on this walking tour, but they made it onto our blog, where we share the fascinating stories that prove Tampa is the most haunted city south of the Mason Dixon line.
Known for its clock called Hortense, this odd but pretty building was just renovated, but that didn’t eliminate the many ghosts within. Perhaps the Seminole Indian gargoyles that look out from the roofline and see everything saw the mysterious goings-on that led to so many spirits here today.
The first structure here was an Indian shell mound. That was raized when the Army built the fort in 1823. Fort Brooke once covered the entire tip of downtown Tampa. The ramparts are gone now, the last big gun shipped across the river to the Plant Museum. The many spirits of its past haunt the parking ramp that is there today—making for some very startled car owners when they shine their lights into the dark corners today.
This Tampa institution is a movie theatre that was once the envy of the country. The glamorous exterior is just a prelude for the sparkling lobby and main auditorium. It has several ghosts, hear their stories in lurid detail on our extended tour and you will know the dark secrets of this ornate gem of a building.