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Aerial view of Hillsborough County, Tampa Bay Area, Florida

Hillsborough County FL: Your Guide to Tampa Bay's Vibrant Hub

Welcome to Hillsborough County, Florida - a vibrant hub in the heart of the Tampa Bay area. With a rich history, diverse attractions, top-notch education, and a thriving business scene, Hillsborough County FL offers an exceptional quality of life. In this guide, we’ll explore the best of Hillsborough County, covering everything from attractions and activities to local government, communities, events, and more. So, let’s embark on this exciting journey together!

Tampa FL

Key Takeaways

  • Explore Hillsborough County’s attractions and activities, parks & nature reserves, museums & cultural institutions and family-friendly activities.

  • Learn about the comprehensive educational experience provided by Hillsborough County Public Schools with its commitment to excellence and diversity.

  • Enjoy safety initiatives such as law enforcement agencies working together with crime prevention efforts for a secure environment in the county.

Exploring Hillsborough County: Top Attractions and Activities

Hillsborough County, home to over 1.5 million people, offers a variety of attractions to suit all interests and ages in the Tampa Bay area. As the county seat, Tampa offers an array of exciting experiences, from the thrilling rides of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay to the aquatic wonders of The Florida Aquarium.

Beyond these popular attractions, the county also serves as an entry point to the stunning parks and nature reserves that display Florida’s unique flora and fauna, managed by the Florida Division.

Parks and Nature Reserves

For nature lovers, Hillsborough County offers a diverse selection of parks and nature reserves, where you can enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and birdwatching. Notable parks in the county include Lettuce Lake Conservation Park, Lithia Springs Park, and Eureka Springs Park, providing pristine environments for wildlife encounters.

Beyond their natural beauty, these parks in Plant City also provide educational programs and guided tours, allowing visitors to understand the local ecosystem and the effects of events like Hurricane Idalia.

Museums and Cultural Institutions

Hillsborough County also boasts a rich cultural scene, with a variety of museums and cultural institutions that showcase the area’s history and artistic talent. Must-visit museums include the Henry B. Plant Museum, Tampa Bay History Center, and the Glazer Children’s Museum. These museums feature a range of fascinating exhibits, from World War II artifacts to interactive displays designed to engage and educate children.

A visit to these institutions offers a unique insight into the county’s past and present, as well as its vibrant arts scene.

Family-Friendly Activities

A happy family enjoying a picnic in one of the beautiful parks of Hillsborough County, FL

For families, Hillsborough County offers an abundance of activities that cater to children and adults alike. Some of the top attractions include:

  • Busch Gardens: Known for its thrilling rides and animal encounters

  • Adventure Island: A water park with slides, pools, and lazy rivers

  • ZooTampa at Lowry Park: A zoo with a variety of animals and interactive exhibits

  • The Florida Aquarium: A marine life attraction with exhibits and touch tanks

With these options, there is no shortage of fun and excitement for the whole family in Hillsborough County.

Whether you’re looking to keep the kids entertained, or simply want to enjoy a memorable day out, Hillsborough County has something for everyone.

Education in Hillsborough County: A Look at Public Schools

Group of students in Hillsborough County Public Schools

Education plays a pivotal role in shaping the future of Hillsborough County, with the Hillsborough County Public Schools serving as the third-largest school district in Florida and the seventh-largest in the United States. With a diverse student population and numerous programs supporting students and families, the district has a strong commitment to enhancing academic performance and fostering success.

Hillsborough County Public Schools Overview

Hillsborough County Public Schools comprises over 200,000 students, with a student-to-teacher ratio of 16:1. Led by Superintendent Van Ayres, the district offers a wide array of educational opportunities, including adult education, career and technical education, and the prestigious International Baccalaureate (IB) Program.

The district’s long-standing commitment to excellence is evident in its ongoing efforts to improve educational outcomes and support a diverse student population.

Programs for Students and Families

Hillsborough County Public Schools offers numerous programs and resources for students and families, ensuring that all students have access to the support they need to succeed. Initiatives include the Exceptional Student Education (ESE) Department, which provides services for students with disabilities, and the Youth Leadership Forum (YLF), which aims to empower high school students with disabilities.

Additionally, the district offers support for English learners through its ELL Department and ESOL program, ensuring that all students have the opportunity to excel academically.

Teacher Recruitment and Diversity Efforts

Hillsborough County Public Schools recognizes the importance of recruiting qualified, diverse teachers and promoting an inclusive educational environment. The district utilizes various strategies for teacher recruitment, such as recruiting fairs, online job applications, and hiring events, along with an Office of Teacher Recruitment dedicated to attracting and hiring skilled educators.

The district is also committed to promoting diversity among educators through initiatives that create a welcoming and supportive atmosphere, racial equity policies, and diversity requirements for professional growth.

Local Government and Services in Hillsborough County

Hillsborough County Commissioners meeting in Tampa Bay Area

Hillsborough County’s local government plays a pivotal role in ensuring the well-being and prosperity of its residents. The county commissioners oversee a range of services, from emergency management to transportation and infrastructure, working tirelessly to maintain a thriving community.

Hillsborough County Commissioners

The Hillsborough County Commissioners are responsible for overseeing county operations and services, including managing growth, land use, and infrastructure. The current commissioners are:

  • Harry Cohen

  • Ken Hagan

  • Gwen Myers

  • Michael Owen

  • Donna Cameron Cepeda

  • Pat Kemp

  • Joshua Wostal

These elected officials work closely with County Administrator Bonnie M. Wise to ensure the efficient and effective implementation of county policies and decisions.

Emergency Management and Fire Service

Safety and preparedness are top priorities in Hillsborough County, with emergency management and fire service playing a critical role in maintaining public safety. The county’s emergency management system revolves around the Hillsborough County Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP), which guides the response to natural or man-made disasters.

The Office of Emergency Management has jurisdiction over the entire county and coordinates all emergency operations, while the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue provides firefighting and emergency medical services.

Transportation and Infrastructure

Hillsborough County is committed to improving mobility and connectivity for its residents. The county’s transportation and infrastructure initiatives include setting performance targets, crafting a Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), and focusing on interstate improvement projects.

The county is also improving public transportation along Kennedy Blvd by implementing the Transit Development Plan (TDP) and introducing new services such as the Brightline train station in Ybor City.

Business and Economy in Hillsborough County

Businesses in Tampa Bay Area

Hillsborough County boasts a thriving business and economy, driven by key industries such as export, agriculture, defense, specialized manufacturing, and patents in healthcare and other fields. The county is home to several major employers, including the State of Florida, MacDill Air Force Base, BayCare Health System, Publix Super Markets Inc, and the Hillsborough County School District.

This strong economic foundation attracts businesses and entrepreneurs alike, creating a supportive environment for growth and innovation, with many experiencing business impacted positively.

Key Industries and Employers

The key industries shaping Hillsborough County’s economy include export, agriculture, defense, specialized manufacturing, information technology, healthcare, life sciences, defense and security, and financial and professional services. The main employers driving the region’s economy are MacDill Air Force Base, Hillsborough County Government, Bloomin’ Brands, SYKES, and Hillsborough Schools. These industries and employers play a significant role in supporting the local workforce and providing job opportunities for residents.

Small Business Support and Resources

Hillsborough County recognizes the importance of small businesses and offers various support and resources to help them succeed. The Entrepreneur and Small Business Support program, the Florida SBDC at Hillsborough County, and targeted programs for minority and women-owned businesses are just a few examples of the assistance available. The county also offers workshops, consulting, and other forms of assistance to support the launch and growth of small businesses, thereby enabling entrepreneurs to contribute to the local economy and create jobs.

Workforce Development and Job Opportunities

Workforce development is a key priority in Hillsborough County, connecting residents with employment opportunities and ensuring a skilled workforce for local businesses. Initiatives such as the Targeted Industry Sector Workforce Training and Placement Program and partnerships with educational institutions and community organizations provide training and mentoring programs to support job seekers.

These efforts not only help individuals find meaningful employment but also contribute to the overall economic growth and prosperity of the county.

Community Events and Celebrations in Hillsborough County

People looking for job opportunities in Hillsborough County

Hillsborough County is a vibrant community, filled with events and celebrations that bring residents together and showcase the area’s unique culture. From annual festivals and parades to holiday traditions and cultural events, there’s always something happening in the county to delight and entertain.

Annual Festivals and Parades

Some of the most popular annual festivals and parades in Hillsborough County include:

  • Gasparilla Pirate Festival

  • Sant’Yago Knight Parade

  • Gasparilla Music Festival

  • Thunder by the Bay

  • International Cuban Sandwich Festival

  • Bay Area Renaissance Festival

These events celebrate the area’s rich history, diverse culture, and strong community spirit, offering residents and visitors alike an opportunity to experience the best of Hillsborough County.

Holiday Celebrations and Traditions

Hillsborough County is also home to a variety of unique holiday traditions that bring residents together for festive fun. Some of these events include:

  • Victorian Christmas Stroll

  • Winter Wonder holiday celebration

  • Apollo Beach Lighted Boat Parade

  • Christmas Lane

  • Hillsborough County Fairgrounds holiday light spectacular

  • Tampa Bay’s Festival of Lights & Santa’s Village

  • River of Lights along the Tampa Riverwalk

These events offer a magical way to celebrate the holiday season.

Cultural and Artistic Events

In addition to festivals and holiday celebrations, Hillsborough County hosts a range of cultural and artistic events that showcase local talent and creativity. From museum exhibits and fine art displays to concerts, comedy shows, classes, workshops, and family-friendly events, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Some notable events include the Black Heritage Celebration, the annual fine arts camp for young people, and outdoor music festivals.

To stay informed about upcoming cultural events in the county, visit the Hillsborough County Arts Council website at hillsborougharts.org.

Living in Hillsborough County: Neighborhoods and Real Estate

People celebrating at annual festivals and parades in Hillsborough County

Hillsborough County offers a diverse range of neighborhoods and communities, each with its own unique atmosphere and amenities. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful suburban retreat or an urban oasis, there’s a place for everyone in Hillsborough County.

Combined with a strong housing market and an array of real estate options, the county is an ideal location for both homebuyers and renters.

Popular Neighborhoods and Communities

Some of the most popular neighborhoods in Hillsborough County include:

  • Hyde Park

  • Harbour Island

  • Gibsonton

  • Bowman Heights

  • Florence Villa

These communities cater to a variety of lifestyles, from bustling urban centers to tranquil suburban enclaves. With a focus on community engagement and a commitment to creating a welcoming environment, Hillsborough County neighborhoods offer residents a strong sense of belonging and a high quality of life.

Housing Market Trends and Prices

Hillsborough County’s housing market has seen consistent growth in recent years, with median home prices on the rise. In October 2023, the median home price was $390,000, representing a 0.2% increase from the previous year. This strong market, coupled with a diverse range of housing options, makes Hillsborough County an attractive destination for homebuyers and renters alike.

For more information on the local housing market, consult resources like Redfin, Rocket Homes, and Realtor.com.

Tips for Homebuyers and Renters

For those looking to buy or rent a home in Hillsborough County, it’s important to be well-informed and prepared. Real estate experts recommend the following steps:

  1. Take advantage of down payment assistance programs.

  2. Complete a homebuyer education course.

  3. Get pre-qualified.

  4. Consult with a real estate professional.

By being well-informed and understanding the local market, you can make a decision that best suits your needs and budget.

Health and Wellness in Hillsborough County

People looking for homes in popular neighborhoods and communities in Hillsborough County

Health and wellness are essential aspects of life in Hillsborough County. The county’s healthcare facilities provide residents with access to quality care, while fitness centers and mental health support services ensure that residents can lead healthy, active lives.

Healthcare Facilities and Services

Some of the major healthcare facilities in Hillsborough County include:

  • Tampa General Hospital

  • St. Joseph’s Hospital

  • H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute

  • Morton Plant Hospital

  • AdventHealth Tampa

These facilities offer a wide range of services, from primary and specialty care to outpatient treatment and pharmaceuticals.

With access to quality care and specialized services, residents of Hillsborough County can rest assured that their health is in good hands. For more information, visit hcflgov.

Fitness and Recreation Centers

Hillsborough County is home to a variety of fitness and recreation centers that cater to all interests and abilities. Some favored options include:

  • Emanuel P. Johnson Recreation Center

  • Riverview Park & Civic Center

  • Bryan Glazer Family JCC

  • New Tampa Recreational Center

  • Jackson Springs Community Center

  • Roy Haynes Park & Recreation Center

These centers provide a range of activities and facilities, from indoor basketball courts and fitness classes to playgrounds and educational programs, making it easy for residents to stay active and healthy.

Mental Health and Support Services

Mental health is an important aspect of overall well-being, and Hillsborough County offers a range of support services for those in need. Organizations that provide resources and assistance include:

  • ACTS

  • Crisis Hotline

  • NAMI Hillsborough

  • Mental Health Clinics

  • BayCare

These organizations can help individuals navigate mental health challenges and access the care they need.

By ensuring access to mental health support, Hillsborough County is committed to fostering a healthy, resilient community.

Safety and Security in Hillsborough County

People receiving healthcare services in Hillsborough County

Safety and security are paramount in maintaining the well-being of Hillsborough County residents. Law enforcement agencies work diligently to protect the community, while crime prevention and community policing initiatives foster a safe and secure environment for all.

Law Enforcement Agencies

The primary law enforcement agencies in Hillsborough County include the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Highway Patrol, and the Tampa Police Department. These agencies collaborate to prevent crime, uphold public safety, and respond to emergencies, thereby ensuring a safe and secure community for residents.

Crime Prevention and Community Policing

Crime prevention and community policing initiatives in Hillsborough County focus on:

  • Reducing crime

  • Enhancing public safety

  • Education

  • Outreach

  • Collaboration with local law enforcement

By promoting community involvement and fostering strong relationships between residents and law enforcement agencies, Hillsborough County is able to create a safe and secure environment for all.

Summary

In conclusion, Hillsborough County is a diverse, vibrant hub, offering a wide range of attractions, educational opportunities, local government services, businesses, events, and more. With its strong sense of community, thriving economy, and commitment to health, wellness, and safety, this flourishing county is an ideal place to live, work, and play. So, why not explore Hillsborough County for yourself and discover all that this dynamic region has to offer?

Frequently Asked Questions

What cities make up Hillsborough County?

Hillsborough County cities include Tampa, Plant City, Brandon, Temple Terrace, and Gibsonton.

Is Tampa considered Hillsborough County?

Yes, Tampa is located in Hillsborough County and is the largest city in the area. It occupies a total land area of 175.8 square miles and its borders include the north shore of Tampa Bay and the east shore of Old Tampa Bay.

What is the racial makeup of Hillsborough County?

Hillsborough County has a population that is predominantly White (non-Hispanic) at 679k, followed by 236k White (Hispanic) and 224k Black or African American (Non-Hispanic) residents.

Is Hillsborough County rural or urban or mixed?

Hillsborough County is a mixture of urban and rural areas, providing residents with both city and countryside lifestyles.

What are some popular attractions in Hillsborough County?

Popular attractions in Hillsborough County include Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, The Florida Aquarium, ZooTampa at Lowry Park, and many parks and nature reserves.


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