Ybor City, near Tampa, was founded in 1890, rooted in cigar manufacturing, the city flourished for many years. Boasting a diverse population and influence from several cultures, Ybor City is a vibrant destination for vacations.
A trip to Ybor City offers a variety of things to do. Visitors can explore the history of the city, find adventure in the sea, or relax in one of the many hotels.
For those who enjoy their vacations on the spooky side, there is a haunted side of Ybor City found in the most unexpected places. Hotels, beaches, bars, and breweries, all offer paranormal activities if you know where to look.
Ybor City offers a variety of haunted locations perfect for ghostly adventures. Here are five of the most popular, and haunted places to visit in Ybor City. If you want to do a ghost story tour of the Tampa area, go here.
The Florida Brewery
The tallest building in Ybor City, The Florida Brewery was built in 1890. Vicente Ybor, Cigar industrialist and founder of Ybor City, decided to try his hand at brewing beer.
As the first brewery in Florida, the opening of the Florida Brewery was quite the soiree. Free beer was provided to the patrons late into the night.
As it happens, two of the guests over indulged. An argument, allegedly over a beer, escalated into a physical altercation. One of the young men suffered severe head injuries, leading to his ultimate demise.
Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, employees and guests have reported sightings of his spirit and hearing his voice echo through halls.
Now a law office, the Florida Brewery has retained its history, character, and ghosts. Employees of the Swope Law Group will happily share the supernatural encounters experienced there.
Objects move by themselves, a slight breeze as felt as if someone is walking by, though no one is there. When it’s quiet, there is a voice, with a Spanish accent, and a little drunk, still arguing, supposedly, over a beer.
The Don Vincente Inn
Built in 1890, the Don Vincente Inn is one of the oldest buildings in Ybor City, and one of the most haunted. Dubbed “Hotel Hell” by the Travel Channel and locals, this historical inn has a varied and spooky history.
The building has had many functions over the years, initially a real estate office, it later served as a hospital and a medical clinic for nearly twenty years, before becoming a hotel. In the many years since it was built, it has seen a fair share of deaths; not all of those who perished here have moved on.
Guests report all manner of spooky sightings. Lights flickering on and off, footsteps without anyone present, faucets turning on and off, chills, and light breezes are all commonplace throughout the building.
Room 302 in particular seems to be a popular place for ghostly apparitions. Several people have reported waking or entering to find a man standing at the foot of the bed, only to disappear when contact is made.
Perhaps the most famous ghost at the Don Vincente is that of Jose Luis Avellanal, son of Dr. Avellanal.
When the inn was a medical clinic Dr. Jose Ramon Avellanl worked there, often treating people who had been injured by his son. The younger Jose would often hurt people, throwing rocks or shooting rubber bands in his youth, then inflicting more severe harm as he grew older.
While his parents attempted to help him, ship him off to boarding school and keep him in solitary confinement, there seemed to be no stopping him.
Legend says that the young Avellanal as an adult impersonated his father, performing fatal medical procedures. He would use underground tunnels to return to the basement of the Don Vincente and dispose of bodies in the incinerator.
To this day, people who have visited the basement of Don Vincente claim to have seen the young doctor and, at times, his nurse, as well as the spirits of his victims.
Though the Don Vincente is now a residential apartment complex, the ghosts seem to be present, both inside the building and on the grounds as well.
The Old Tampa Book Company
Another old building in the heart of Ybor City, the Old Tampa Book Company was once a tailors storefront. A quaint, unassuming building, the little bookstore has had some scary sightings.
The current owners acquired the shop more than twenty years ago, from the tailor. With the shop came two chairs.
There is no verified history about the chairs themselves, or known stories about deaths in the store, however, the owners and the patrons have seen those two chairs move on their own.
It was also reported that a bloody pair of scissors has materialized on the floor when no one else was around.
Passersby have noted a man in the window, wearing a top hat with a woman who appears to be in pain. The ghostly pair have also been seen in pictures taken of the shop.
Still in business and open to the public, the Old Tampa Book Company is a great place to find new books and maybe spot a spirit.
Plant Hall at University of Tampa
Now an academic building, Plant Hall was constructed in 1891 by a railroad tycoon, Henry Plant. A 500 room hotel, it was visited by the likes of Babe Ruth and Theodore Rosevelt.
No one is sure when the hauntings started, but there are few ghosts commonly seen throughout the building.
One of the most common, and terrifying spirits is known as “the brown man”, and many believe he may be Henry Plant. Dressed in a brown suit, with white hair and glowing red eyes, he often appears on stairways in the building.
It is said that if one acknowledges the man in the brown suit, he will rush up to their face before disappearing.
Others have reported seeing a ghostly couple dancing in the ballroom. There have been accounts of man in bibbed overalls pushing a janitor cart down the hall, and the sound of someone walking into a classroom and having a seat though no one is there.
The building is open and reportedly safe, students continue to attend classes there. A walk around the campus could very well lead to a ghostly encounter.
Sunshine Skyway Bridge
The Sunshine Skyway Bridge is reportedly one of the most haunted roads in the United States. Construction on the original bridge was completed in 1971.
In 1980 the bridge was hit by a freighter, causing part of the bridge to collapse. Several cars and a greyhound bus went into the water, only one person survived, 35 perished.
Drivers on the bridge have reported seeing the bus drive along the bridge, feeling a breeze from it, and at times even smelling gasoline.
One of the more popular stories from this bridge is that of a woman often seen standing alone late at night. Many motorists have stopped to offer help, only to watch her disappear once she is in the car.
Any time of day or night appears to be a good time to drive over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and see what spirits await on the other side.
Ybor City has a rich and diverse history. It has come a long way from the days of Vincenti’s cigar manufacturing. Overcoming several obstacles including the fire of 1908 and the great depression, the city remains a popular tourist destination.
For those who like a little adventure and mystery, the haunted side of Ybor City has a lot to offer. From harmless drunk ghosts to some that may be a little more malevolent there is a haunted destination for everyone.
When in the area, be sure to wander the streets of Ybor City. Look in the window of the book store, find a haunted hotel, or maybe just walk across a bridge, and see what kind of haunted history there is.