Tampa is situated on the largest bay port in the State of Florida. As you might expect in Florida, the weather is generally gorgeous and this naturally leads to an abundance of outdoor activity options. There are plenty of parks and preserves for the nature enthusiast and the beach and waterways are always a major drawcard.
In total contrast, downtown Tampa is a delightful and eclectic mix of modern old historic quarters. Ybor City, for example, is a historic neighborhood founded in 1880 that was built up around the cigar industry. Today it is known for its vintage shops, boutiques, and the Ybor State Museum. There are few better places to go if you want to sample Cuban food.
Busch Gardens Theme Parks include an amusement park with an African theme, rides for the kids and young at heart, and a zoo with more than 2700 animals. This will keep the kids happy for many hours.
On this day trip, you are going to be heading south to the Everglades National Park which is the largest subtropical wilderness in the country. Along the way, you will have many varied and interesting opportunities to break your journey and explore some southern culture.
St. Petersburg is a gentle twenty-four-mile drive from Tampa crossing the Old Tampa Bay and here you will definitely not want to miss The Dali Museum. Opened in 1982, this is the largest collection of Salvador Dali’s work outside of Europe.
It contains 2400 works varying from sculptures to oil paintings, and prints to watercolors. This gallery perfectly exhibits the flamboyant character of one of the world’s most renowned contemporary artists.
The collection was previously owned by the Morse family who bought their first Dali piece in 1942 and then collected his works for a further forty years. They would originally display their collection in their own home. When they decided to donate their collection they were inundated with galleries that wanted some of the works. They chose St. Petersburg because this community rallied together to create a building that would house the entire collection. Michelin Guide classes this as ‘a building to see in your lifetime’ and describes it as one of the most interesting museums in the world.
An hour from St Petersburg is the world-renowned Venice Beach. This is a town with a definite bohemian vibe to it. It is teeming with shops, restaurants, and galleries. Its two and a half-mile boardwalk is colorfully dotted with performing artists of every ilk.
There is more than enough to keep you occupied here, but if you would like to pepper your stay with something slightly unusual, head for one of the neighboring gulf beaches where you can search for fossilized shark’s teeth. The area is very popular with fossil hunters and you might well find teeth of up to three inches. If you are really lucky you could stumble on one as large as five inches, and these sell for a premium so you might just pay for your vacation.
Ninety-nine miles away lies the town of Naples situated on the Gulf of Mexico. Head for the pier where you might be lucky enough to spot frolicking dolphins. Even if you aren’t fortunate enough to see any of these creatures, this is a great place to watch the sunset.
If you head across town, a seventeen-minute walk will bring you to the refurbished Naples City Docks. Tin City seeks to recreate the original maritime heritage and here you will be able to browse shops selling crafts, nautical themed gifts, and antiques. It is also packed with restaurants and eateries.
Everglades National Park is thirty-six miles away and here you arrive in a completely different environment. In the 1.5 million-acre world heritage reserve you will be able to spot alligators, tropical wading birds, and mangrove forests. You will have the option of boat trips, guided tours, and even kayak safaris.