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Make a day or night out of it. Visit the Historic Floridan hotel for lunch or dinner and then attend the Tampa Theater or the Performing Arts Center.
Historic Floridan hotel was originally opened in 1926 and in late 2012 was reopened after a million plus dollar renovation that took 7 years. The hotel has been restored to its previous grandeur and is a historic gem. It is located in the Eastern part of downtown Tampa and has free and convenient parking (this is a big deal for downtown Tampa).
The dining room at the Floridian in exquisite and lunches are very reasonably priced (dinners are more expensive obviously). I believe everything on the menu was less than $15 and the portions are large and the dishes done very well. The ambiance in the dining room is amazing. The dishes that stood out to me on the lunch menu included the wonderful selection of fresh fish and the Greek items. I took a picture of the seafood creeps I ordered. They were wonderful. Friends have told me that the bar in the hotel is beautiful but the drink prices are a bit steep.
The Floridan hotel is also a wonderful location for Tampa’s many downtown events and I would recommend taking advantage of the hotels location and visiting the following places also.
1) Do go to the Tampa Theater. The Tampa Theater was also built in 1926 and is within easy walking distance. The Tampa Theater is specialized in classic and art movies and is a venue for lots of events in Tampa. The theater also offers backstage tours. If you attend a movie here be sure to come early so you can hear the organist and see him magically appear on the stage. For more information see tampatheatre.org or my page at http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/p/m/1685f1/
2) Go to the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts (formerly the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center) which is one of the top rated Performing Arts Centers in the US (second only to the Kennedy Performing Arts Center in DC). Note you will probably want to drive and park if you do this unless you love a longer walk. See the following websites for more information
3) Another idea go to the Tampa Museum of Art and stroll down the river front for a nice walk with some amazing views. Note you will probably want to drive and park if you do this unless you love a longer walk.
4) Check to see what local events are in the immediate area. This may include an art fest or food fest down town. Check here for what is scheduled during your stay: http://www.tampasdowntown.com/
905 Florida Ave, Tampa FL 33602
This video shows the hotel in all its glory on opening day:
Check out the hotel's website: http://www.floridanpalace.com/
Written Jan 7, 2013
Have you ever wondered if you got what it takes to be the captain of a huge passenger airplane, or an F16 or F35 here is your chance you can in Dunedin Florida (not far outside of Tampa)
Small lights blink inside the cockpit as directions from air-traffic controllers roll in over the speakers. A pilot begins taxiing, speeding up until the plane rises off the runway and begins soaring over the water below. At least that's what it looks like to the participant and pilot who perch inside SimCenter Tampa Bay's celebrated Boeing 737 simulator, a realistic apparatus that has garnered mentions on the website of Plane & Pilot. The 737 will soon be joined in the Dunedin showroom by C-172 and Airbus 340 simulators, which will join together into one giant jet with a lion's face to fight the enemies of Earth.
1299 Main St.
Dunedin, Florida 346
Written Dec 3, 2012
If you are like me, you probably never heard of a Garden Club. Somehow Tampa has two, just miles from each other. Both are located in older, wealthier neighborhoods. I notice there is no Suitcase City Garden Club, and I'm pretty sure the Sulpher Springs Garden Club has seen its membership decline below zero.
I've come to realize that garden clubs are the rich city women's version of yacht clubs or country clubs (which Tampa has in close proximity to the garden clubs). Garden clubs are also the rich city women's version of the rural redneck men's rod and gun club.
The Davis Islands Garden Club is located between Marjorie Park and the Bayshore Marina. It is also next to the Junior League, which is apparently another kind of rich people's club. I thought it was cool that we had an antler club where I grew up.
This is a popular and inexpensive wedding venue. It has plenty of parking, it's right on the water, and very close to downtown--so close you could take the water taxi!
Written Sep 4, 2012
Plant City, a rather large town of 25,000 located between Tampa and Lakeland, is famous for its strawberries. It was named for named after prominent railroad developer, Henry B. Plant, whose name also adorns Plant High School in South Tampa, as well as the Plant Museum at University of Tampa.
Plant City is known as the winter strawberry capital of the world, and it hosts the annual Florida Strawberry Festival in February or early March. Wishnatzki Farms, the largest producer and shipper of strawberries in Florida, has its headquarters in Plant City.
Written Apr 7, 2012
Lake Wales, with a population of about 11,000 people, is most famous as the home of Bok Tower. Lake Wales was surveyed in 1879 by Sidney Irving Wailes and established in 1911-1912, and is location almost centrally between the coasts of Florida.
Bok Tower was constructed in 1927 around gardens constructed in 1921. The tower stands 205 feet tall on a hill that is 295 feet above sea level, towering over the local area. Bok Gardens is a botanical garden created in 1921 by Edward W. Bok, editor of the women's magazine called Ladies Home Journal. Bok Tower Gardens was dedicated by President Calvin Coolidge on February 1, 1929.
Other Lakes Wales attractions include the Shrine to St Anne des Lacs, Chalet Suzanne, and the 1920s commercial historic district .
Written Apr 7, 2012
Weedon Island Preserve is located just off Gandy Blvd about equal distance between St. Pete and Tampa. The park has several miles of trails, mostly boardwalks along the swamps, a 45-foot tall observation tower with views of both major cities, kayak launch and trails, picnic areas, and more. Long home to Native Americans, Weedon Island became home to early Florida settlers in the 1700s, and by the 1900s the island had an airport, speak easy and more.
We spent a good hour and a half here wandering the trails and boardwalks as sunset approached. We walked up the observation tower as the sun dropped out the sky, and we circled two of the boardwalks before spotting a raccoon near the visitors center just prior to dark. It was a great experience except for the bugs.... we can't wait to come back and kayak.
Written Feb 5, 2012
Tampa's September 11th Memorial is fittingly located on Patriots Corner, at the intersection of Bayshore and Bay to Bay. The memorial consists of a piece of steel from the World Trade Center in New York encased in an aluminum frame reminiscent of the two main World Trade Center buildings that were destroyed. The monument was dedicated on September 11th 2011, on the ten year anniversary of the tragic event. When completed the steel column will also serve as a sun dial.
Years after 9/11 the FBI finally released the pieces of the towers that were saved as evidence, and the Prt Authority of New York and New Jersey gave 1,300 pieces to veterans' groups, town halls, fire and police departments to be made into public monuments. Tampa has a second piece of WTC steel, located at the city's fire fighters museum.
Updated Jan 17, 2012
the fort foster historic site is located across US 301 from hillsborough river state park. originally fort alabama was constructed on the site and was renamed fort foster in 1836. the fort was built to protect a bridge over the hillsborough river on the fort king military road. in 1837 during the second seminole war there was a major battle at the fort. because of frequent seminole raids and disease the fort was abandoned in 1838. the fort you see today is a reconstruction. fort foster is listed on the national register of historic places. the fort is only open by tour on saturdays at 2 PM and sundays at 11 am. the tour begins at the hillsborough museum at the hillsborough river state park. for those interested in early florida history this is a very worth while place to visit in central florida.
from tampa take I-4 east to US 301 north. hillsborough river state park is located on US 301 north of the town of thonotoassa. the address in 15402 US 310 north.
Written Oct 8, 2011
Yeungling is from Pennsylvania... how can I visit the brewery in Tampa? Because Yuengling, the nation's oldest brewery, acquired an old Stroh's brewery in Tampa in 1999.
The brewery tour begins at the biergarten, and lasts about 30-40 minutes as you see the big mixing vats, the bottling line, the chemist's lab, even the official brewery tasters' room. The best part of course is the high-speed assembly line that must produce hundreds of bottles each minute.
After the tour, head back to the biergarten to sample Yuengling's eight varieties of beer: the classic Yuengling Lager, Light Lager, Black and Tan, Lord Chesterfield Ale, Porter, Yuengling Premium, Bock Beer and plain old Yuengling Light. Yuengling Lager is the flagship beer, amber and hoppy but not overpowering, and surprisingly was just "re-introduced" in 1987 after a long hiatus; Lager accounts for 80% of Yuengling's total sales. Light lager is reduced flavor beer with just 99 calories, developed in 2001. Black & Tan is a 60-40 mix of Porter and Premium beers, perfected in 1986. Lord Chesterfield Ale is named after Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, is a very light, kind of crappy American-style beer, known as "Chetty." Yuengling Porter, also known as "Pottsville Porter," is a rare bottom-fermented porter, and was one of the rare commeercially produced porters from the 1930s through the 1980s. Premium is a standard American pilsener, that used to be available only in Pottsville. Bock Beer is another reintroduction of a recipe that was discontinued in the 1970s, and is now a seasonal brew; the label design is based on the 1941 Bock beer label that features a goat drinking from a beer glass. Light is a low-calorie brew of the Premium Beer, so is also hard to find and probably only available in Pottstville.
The biergarten also has a nice gift shop with clothing, toys, rugs, and much more.
11111 North 30th Street Tampa, FL 33612
Updated Jul 26, 2011
Phone: (813) 972-8529
Davis Islands Park, at the far side of Davis Islands, has a small but popular beach area, a dog enclosure, picnic area, canoe launch and boat ramps. Davis Islands Park is adjacent to the Davis Island Yacht Club and Davis Island Seaplane Basin.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
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