Welcome to the Tampa Bay Vanderbilt Chapter! Home to more than 1,100 alumni, we have many fellow Commodores looking to make new friendships, connect with former classmates and network with Vanderbilt alumni.
We host a variety events throughout the year: networking, educational, community service, athletics watch parties, and even lecture-style seminars from Vanderbilt professors called Commodore Classrooms. To keep updated on upcoming local events, please make sure your mailing and email addresses are up to date in your VUconnect profile. You can also follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn for real-time updates!
We're always on the lookout for new activities that are of interest to the local chapter as well, so if you're interested in doing a particular activity or outing with fellow alumni, please reach out!
If you have any questions, feel free to contact one of us directly.
Chapter Leadership - Tampa
- Levy Nguyen, BA'10, President
- Jim Hillsman, BA'79, Alumni Association Board Member
- Bill Jung, BA'80, Alumni Association Board Member
Life After Vanderbilt Guide - Tampa
Tampa Bay has seen a lot of growth in the past couple of years-Zillow even named Tampa the hottest real estate market for 2022.
Where to Live
Downtown Tampa - Downtown is becoming the livable, workable and recreational core of the city. Rents are at a premium, but if you work downtown, the convenience could be huge.
Things to do:
- Enjoy a walk (with drink in hand), run and bike on the river.
- Rent paddleboards and boats to use on the river.
- Attend major celebrations on the riverfront, like Superbowl and Stanley Cup parades.
- During First Fridays along the riverwalk you can stop by any of the many restaurants and mobile vendors who participate in the event.
- Water Street, the $3.5 billion eat-work-play-stay downtown development has a variety of buildings including apartments, a hotel and a grocery store.
Ybor City - Ybor City (pronounced EE-bor) is a five-minute drive northeast of downtown Tampa. Once the cigar production capital of the United States, the neighborhood is on the National Register of Historic Places and has kept its historic scale, making it the original live-work-play neighborhood in the Bay Area.
Things to do:
- Paying homage to the area's historic roots, the Columbia is Tampa's oldest and most famous restaurant.
- Ybor's main strip is lined with bars and clubs where you can get tasty libations.
- The GaYbor District, is home to the area's annual Pride Street Festival and Diversity Parade.
Seminole Heights has many trendy restaurants and shops. You'll find places such as a hip-hop ramen bar or a restaurant where every dish starts with the letter "C." Among these areas' older homes, the Florida bungalow is in abundant supply and has become a sought-after style of home for young professionals and families moving to the area.
"South Tampa" is west and south of downtown (including the two islands) and encompassing the peninsula south of Gandy. This region incorporates everything from multimillion-dollar mansions on the islands, to military and short-term housing adjacent to the Air Force base at the southern tip. South Tampa is generally considered one of the desirable places to live, with geographic benefits of being surrounded by water (which helps with the intense Florida summers) and also being located between downtown Tampa and downtown St. Pete west of the bay. Tampa's airport is just northwest of the peninsula, making the area near it, Westshore, also a major business district and contributing to the popularity of South Tampa as a place to live.
Hyde Park includes many historic homes, but also an urban village with many boutiques and restaurants.
Soho is home to students at the University of Tampa and has a variety of apartments, bars, restaurants and clubs.
South of Gandy (SOG) and Port Tampa's two main streets are Dale Mabry and MacDill making them the main commercial and retail corridors.
St. Petetersburg Most of the neighborhoods here will have a more modern and semi-suburban feel to them. You'll find larger artery streets with more typical strip centers that branch out into residential communities. With a bay as a geographic barrier, St. Pete as a whole is generally more affordable, but if you work in Tampa, you'll have to deal with the two bridge chokepoints like many others in the daily commute.
Things to do:
- Restaurants, music venues, breweries, cultural venues, parks and boutiques, and the downtown area is easily walkable.
- First Friday and Second Saturday shuts down Central Avenue to vehicular traffic for people to enjoy live shows, art exhibits, museums and restaurants.
- St. Pete also hosts Second Saturday ArtWalk where 200-plus artists exhibit their art downtown. Nearly 40 studios and galleries participate, and the event also includes local live entertainment and food.
- The area's beaches are also a mere 10 miles from downtown.
- St. Pete Pride weekend is held in June, and the city closes streets for festivals, the 27/82 concert, and the LGBT pride parade. A variety of block parties, food and music stands, and art festivals all occur throughout different neighborhoods.
- Tampa Bay Blues Festival is hosted every year in Vinoy Park in St. Pete and is considered one of the best blues festivals in the country.
- Gandy Beach Mangroves, which is right off Gandy Blvd. as one enters the St. Pete side of the bay, offers a great paddleboarding location. There's a power plant that keeps the water warmer during the winter months, making it a great spot to see some manatees in the winter.
- If you're into car racing, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is usually the season opener (or at the very least, the first race on U.S. soil) for the IndyCar Series in March.
More Things to Do in the Area
- Visit small beaches around the Bay Area (such as Picnic Island, which is also dog friendly), though these aren't the relax-and-tan-in-the-sun type.
- Visit picturesque beaches 30-40 minutes away from most of the popular areas to live. Some of these beaches include: Clearwater Beach, St. Pete Beach, Madeira Beach, Anna Maria Island and Siesta Beach.
- Gasparilla happens toward the end of January, and related events last through March. The main kickoff is the pirate invasion, during which a pirate ship replica invades the city. The invasion is accompanied by a parade with floats built by local businesses and organizations and is Tampa's version of Mardi Gras. Other large-scale events are the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts, the Gasparilla Distance Classic (a footrace), the Gasparilla Film Festival and the Gasparilla Music Festival.
- MacDill Air Fest occurs in April, and is one of the largest military air shows in the U.S.
- Metrocon, the largest anime convention in Florida, takes place over three days in June or July at the Tampa Convention Center.