Tampa- how does this sound?

Old Jan 23rd, 2009, 11:36 AM
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Tampa- how does this sound?

We booked a trip to Tampa for the International Rum Festival before we looked at the schedule to find out that it's really only two evenings, not three day of tastings! Oops. We'll be there March 25-30. We get in in the evening on the 25th, and need to be at the airport around noon on the 30th.

We're staying in the Sheraton Suites by the airport (courtesy of Priceline- I'm not thrilled with it, but the price was right).

We will have a rental car, but we haven't booked that yet.

Our plan is just to get settled in and head out for dinner on Wednesday.

On Thursday, we're going to Lakeland for a 6:05 Tigers spring training game. We may hit the Sun n Fun Air museum, but it sounds like it may be too kid oriented. Anyone been? Any other suggestions in that direction?

I think we'll hit the Big Cat Rescue on Friday, but I really got the impression it wouldn't be a super long tour.

We may go to Four Green Fields Friday night, or we may do the rum festival barbecue (if they ever get it planned). But Four Green Fields is a definite at some point in the trip.

Saturday we're going to wander around Ybor City and then go to the big rum tasting.

Sunday I think we'll go to Crystal River (may have the name wrong) to see the Manatees.

Any other suggestions? A lot of my plans are things that won't take very long.

Busch Gardens doesn't interest us much, I promised Tom he never had to go back to Orlando, and the beach would only occupy us for a few minutes.
cocontom is offline  
Old Jan 23rd, 2009, 12:04 PM
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The air museum is pretty interesting; I think you would like it for an hour or so visit.

Ybor City (IMO) isn't all that great and is probably worth no more than 2-3 hours unless you plan to have a meal in addition to that time.

Perhaps you have a specific reason to go to Crystal River. Otherwise, there are lots of other places that are more interesting.

If you are into art, the St. Petersburg Museum of Art usually has something special. Right now they are planning an Albrecht Durer show that I believe will still be on when you are here.

So many places to enjoy a nice dinner -- you probably have a long list already. Howard Avenue in Tampa has probably 20 or more restaurants just on that one street. Good luck.
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Old Jan 24th, 2009, 12:52 PM
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The timing for Ybor City sounds about right- if we sleep in and meander out (which we will), then we should have just enough to do with a leisurely lunch, wander, then a snack or dinner before the rum tasting. They'll have food, but I do want more than canapes before I start on the hard liquor.

Ok, just checked a map on Crystal River- it is not where I thought it was, and has been scrapped.

Any other suggestions for Sunday?
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Old Jan 24th, 2009, 02:38 PM
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It isn't clear what kinds of things would be interesting to you. If you categorize your interests to one or more of the following areas, I'd be glad to make more suggestions:
-Food, simple or fine
-City sights
-Country drives
-Unique towns
-Museums or art
-Interesting architecture
-Nature

You've already implied you don't especially care for a visit to the beach, which tells me you don't care to just look at the Gulf or any other similar body of water, either. The big bay bridge south of St Petersburg over Tampa Bay might be a nice drive over and back if you like those sorts of things.

Maybe you could think about these ategories of "stuff" to enjoy and come back with some more choices.
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Old Jan 24th, 2009, 09:10 PM
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You will be really close to International Plaza which has some nice shops if you are into shopping.

You really aren't that far from St. Pete. Some things to consider are the Art Museum (already mentioned), the Holocaust Museum, or the Dali Museum (my fave).

I'm in agreement about Ybor that things aren't so happening there. One thing we like to do instead is to go to Channelside (about 10 mins away) and have a drink at one of the places outside in the courtyard and just relax. Also, the Florida Aquarium is right next door.

I know you said you weren't interested in Busch Gardens but you might want to consider Lowry Park Zoo for a slower pace.

I'm glad Four Green Fields is a must for you. Have you been there before? It's one of my favorite places.

I grew up in Tampa and I've never heard of the International Rum Festival. Interesting....
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Old Jan 24th, 2009, 09:43 PM
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You can do a longer tour at Big Cat Rescue than just the regular day tour.

There are several private tours which offer more detailed experiences with our cats. We offer a feeding tour, which starts when the day tours end. You get to observe the changes in the animal personality when it's feeding time. In addition, you get some more private time with both the keepr and the cat to get to know the species better.

You can also do a mini expedition tour which allows you to make enrichment treats for the cats and then you get to go watch the keepers distirbute them. It trings you face to face with a completely differnt animal than you saw on the regular tour. You also get more education. on the species .
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Old Jan 24th, 2009, 10:01 PM
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I beg to differ about Ybor--I find it has loads of charm and character, architecture and local flavor. (It's not all bars.) I mean no offense, but I'm surprised that someone from Tampa would find anything to like at Channelside, which to me is a catchment area for cruise passengers! To each his own. FWIW, I think your Ybor plan sounds fine.

Coco, even if you're not a beach person, I would strongly recommend a visit to Honeymoon Island, which has such pretty beachfront and a nice off-beach trail system, too. You can kayak or take a ferry to Caladesi Island, which has great shelling, but that may take more time than you wish to invest.

In the same general area, downtown Dunedin has some lovely restaurants, to fill out the day with lunch or dinner. The Black Pearl gets high marks from foodies, but I've not been.

And rejoice, you needn't go all the way to Crystal River to see manatees. Go here:
http://www.tampaelectric.com/manatee/
It's terrific, and free, and a much shorter drive.

The Museum of Fine Arts and the Dali, both in St. Pete, are great to visit, as coldwar says. And Moon Under Water is a nice English pub that's right across the street, practically, from the MFA; serves nice Indian-ish dishes. It's a good strolling area.

Another idea is to drive or stroll around Hyde Park in S. Tampa, and stop for lunch or dinner in Hyde Park Village or nearby. Bayshore Drive is lined with beautiful mansions, and the neighborhood has loads of lovely restored bungalows and older homes. Restaurant BT, Timpano and The Wine Exchange are in the Village and all good; Ceviche is nearby and has great tapas.

Btw, International Plaza, despite the name, is a mall, perhaps a bit more upscale than usual but otherwise typical in every way.

I hope you enjoy your visit, weather should be great!

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Old Jan 24th, 2009, 10:06 PM
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Oh, is Tom into cigars at all? Tampa's famous for them, and there are tons of cigar bars, plus a couple of places where you can see them rolled by hand.
This is one of the original companies founded in Tampa and still based in Ybor, once the cigar capital of America:
http://www.tampasweetheart.com/
There's a cool Ybor City museum that sells cigar logo items, including purses made from old cigar boxes:
http://www.ybormuseum.org/
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Old Jan 24th, 2009, 10:07 PM
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Yikes, sorry for all the posts, but after the museum, stop at The Bunker for coffee and a snack:
http://yborbunker.com/
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Old Jan 24th, 2009, 11:39 PM
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It's 12 degrees out- just thinking about the weather there might keep me from shooting holes in my freezer!

Tom is into cigars- I got the impression from friends who have been before (one was a judge last year) that cigars are also highlighted at the festival, but it could just be that it's in Ybor. I'm not sure how long they've been doing them, but it used to be called the International Cane Spirits Festival. Here's the website: http://www.polishedpalate.com/events...mainevent.html

I had a moment of sheer genius earlier today. I found the electric company manatee webcam, pulled it up, couldn't see anything, then it dawned on me that it was because it's dark outside!

I think we decided to add Hyde Park onto the Ybor day.

How is the aquarium? The zoo is an option too, but I'm not sure I really want to go to either on a weekend.

I have not been to Four Green Fields. I heard about it a several years ago, but I had two nights in Tampa with a huge group, and the cat herders didn't want to go. The second time was July 4th and we were already at Indian Rocks Beach and not willing to fight the traffic back. I'm excited to finally get to go!

Honeymoon Island sounds neat, but we've admitted that for the sake of our marriage, we will avoid kayaks. Hiking is good though.
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Old Jan 25th, 2009, 06:24 AM
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Let me clarify about Ybor. There are parts that are charming and appeal to me namely the museum and the architecture. My opinion about Channelside was to sit and have a drink outdoors not about the shopping, etc.
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Old Jan 25th, 2009, 06:26 AM
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Hit reply too soon....

We love the sangria at Tinatapas which is at Channelside so that is our specific spot FWIW.
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Old Jan 25th, 2009, 04:30 PM
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Four Green Fields is cute! It's a tiny thatched-roof cottage with friendly staff, a pleasantly grotty atmosphere, good live music on occasion, and tolerable pub food. I like it a lot.

Another good English pub in Tampa is Mad Dogs and Englishmen. Really good food there, and it's a pleasant hangout with a small outdoor patio.
http://www.maddogs.com/

You might hear tell of MacDinton's and The Dubliner. These are 20-something meat markets on weekend nights, to be avoided at all costs! (They're in Soho, which is adjacent to Hyde Park)
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Old Jan 25th, 2009, 08:35 PM
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I will comment on Ybor. It can be a lot of fun. We're there for breakfast, at La Tropicana, every Saturday morning. The Saturday market is pleasant and gets better with time.

The Bunker is good for snacks or lunch - their Cuban toast is delicious. They serve coffee and tea. And, in the afternoon/evening, if you want a glass of wine or a beer, they are good. Next door, Mermaid's slipper has wearable art.

Or other good lunch places are The Tampa Bay Brewing Company and the brand new L'Olivier (a French bistro which just opened this past Friday, though the owners have a similar restaurant in St. Pete.) La Creperia has good food, too. Certainly, the Columbia has appeal, but I take it for granted. They're good for dinner, too.

If you're around in the evening, the Good Luck Cafe has jazz/blues and L'Olivier has a can-can show.

We enjoyed the Tampa Bay History Center when it opened last weekend. The streetcar gets you there from Ybor and you are right in Channelside.

This is a little disjointed, so please excuse me, but I'm really tired.

Enjoy!


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