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Topics - TBTourist

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Beaches / Gandy Causeway Beach
« on: February 11, 2010, 03:41:35 PM »
The beach on the Gandy Causeway is located just West of the Gandy Bridge on the St. Petersburg side of Tampa Bay.  You can drive your car right onto the beach and set out your stuff right in front of your car if you like.  That makes it easy to get to your cooler in the trunk.  LOL!

There are no life guards, no bath rooms nor any amenities, but the water in the bay is shallow and your dog will have a good time there.  So will your kids if you bring some toys for them to dig into the sand with.  

Watch out that you don't drive your car too far into the soft sand, or you might not get your car out without help.  On the west end of the beach there are Mangroves where you can park your car into little secluded holes between the trees.  If you do that at low tide, then your tires may be under water at high tide.  The tide rises and falls there by a foot or two depending upon if the wind is blowing  from the South or not.

Today the place was almost deserted because it was barely 50 degrees out there!  Enjoy the photos below by clicking them to make them larger.  

Tampa Bay Entertainment and Attractions / Bay Area Renaissance Festival
« on: February 11, 2010, 11:25:31 AM »
The Bay Area Renaissance Festival begins on Feb.13th and it runs until March 28th and it's open on weekends with free parking.  Click the following link for more information.

Beaches / Sand Key Beach in Clearwater
« on: February 08, 2010, 10:36:16 PM »
Sand Key is a part of Clearwater Beach that's just south of the main Clearwater Beach area.  You cross over the big bridge from Clearwater Beach that crosses the channel out to the Gulf of Mexico from Clearwater Bay, and that's Sand Key.  Sand Key is the barrier island that separates Clearwater Bay from the Gulf of Mexico. 

The huge condominiums are as expensive as they are beautiful.  However, it's a public beach, so if you can find a place to park, you can walk the public access walkways to the beach itself.  There's a free parking lot located in the 1400 block of Gulf Blvd.  That's where the following photos were taken. 

Click the image to make it larger.

Tampa Bay Entertainment and Attractions / Busch Gardens Tampa
« on: February 08, 2010, 10:19:18 PM »
The Busch Gardens Amusement Park in Tampa is definitely a fun day!  The roller coasters are awesome and the animals in their zoo are fun to look at also.  Unfortunately the Busch Gardens theme park and Anheiser Busch Beers were sold to a German Company, so they no longer give everyone a free beer like they used to!  Dang it!  Plus, they raised their admission price to $75 for adults, so plan to spend all day there to get your money's worth. 

For locals, you can get a year long pass to use all year for some extra money, so that's what we did.  That way, we could go for a few hours and then come back another day to see more.  It was less exhausting that way, but after a year of attending, that was enough.  See more info on their website below.

Parks / Al Lopez Park in Tampa
« on: February 07, 2010, 05:48:01 PM »
Al Lopez Park in Tampa is located just north of the Tampa Bay Bucaneer's football stadium on N. Himes Ave.  It hosts many events throughout the year and it has many features that we like.  

It has a fishing pier/fishing pond on the entrance driveway and the children's play ground is one of the best installations I've seen.  We went there today for some fun and I took the following photos for you to see.  It was a good time for the kids to blow off some steam before the Super Bowl happens tonight!  Go Saints!  Who Dat?

Click the photos below to make them larger.

Here's a link to more info:

Tampa Bay Entertainment and Attractions / Tampa Bay Black Heritage Festival
« on: February 07, 2010, 12:10:07 PM »
The Tampa Bay Black Heritage Festival happens every January in Al Lopez Park in Tampa for the street festival portion.  Other events are scheduled as well.  Visit the website below for more information.

We have attended the festival in the park for several years and this year the highlight was a band called Lakeside.  They have many hit songs like "Fantastic Voyage" and others.  They had the crowd singing and dancing for about an hour.  Below is a photo of them that I took.  Click the photo to make it bigger.

Tampa Bay Entertainment and Attractions / The Florida State Fair
« on: February 06, 2010, 01:22:36 PM »
The Florida State Fair happens every February and it's happening right now this week.  We usually go every year just for the fair food, LOL!  Discount tickets are in available in advance at SweetBay Supermarkets, and you save a couple bucks over the ticket price at the gate.  

It's like any other state fair around the country, although I think the Ohio State Fair is bigger.  I attended that fair for decades.

The link to their website is below.

Update:  We went on Sat. Feb. 13th for the afternoon and I took a few photos that are displayed below.  Click the picture to make it larger.  It was a beautiful blue-sky day but it was chilly!  It was barely over 50 degrees and by 5pm it was under 50.  It was a long walk for several hours but the Fair Food was good, as always!

Day Trips, Weekends and More! / Cocoa Beach Weekend Trip
« on: February 06, 2010, 12:25:58 AM »
You just have to go check out Cocoa Beach for the weekend!  I had no idea that it was the surf capital of Florida until August of 2009. 

When you drive down I-75 from Georgia into Florida, you see several billboards for the Ron Jon Surf shop, and when we went there, I didn't know it was such a big deal!  I've driven by those bill boards for years, but that store is huge and it's full of surf stuff and bathing suits and sandals and dang, is it ever expensive!  We bought some post cards for a couple bucks.  We're El Cheapo tourists!  LOL!

There are surf boards hanging all over the second level and you can even buy an official Ron Jon used long surf board for only $3,000 from his private collection!  What a deal!  LOL!  Three grand for a wooden surf board?  LMAO!

Anyways, we ate at a Mexican Restaurant at the beach called the Azteca Mexican Restaurant.  It was really nice and clean and you can see our photos below. 

It was located in a big hotel whose name I can't remember and we went to the beach afterwards.  Below are some photos from the restaurant and from the beach in front of the hotel on the Atlantic Ocean.  Click the photo to make it larger and enjoy! 

It's worth a trip over there from the Tampa Bay Area.  You can cross Florida on I-4 and the Beeline Expressway in about 2 1/2 hours.  It's freeway all the way until you get close to Cocoa Beach, so it's a nice ride.

Just watch out on the roads, because the Florida natives have lead foots and they go 80 when the speed limit is 70!  Stay out of their way and stay out of the left lane!  LOL!

Tampa Bay Entertainment and Attractions / The Florida Aquarium
« on: February 05, 2010, 05:43:19 PM »
The Florida Aquarium is definitely a fun day!  It's relatively inexpensive and of course, if you love fish you'll love this.  They have a wetlands area, a swamp area, a beach area, a coral reef area, a shark tank, a stingray petting tank, and all sorts of exotic fish. 

I especially liked the huge tanks with the coral reefs.  There's a huge two story wall of glass with a sitting area and it's soooo relaxing to sit there and observe the fish.  They even have rocking chairs in that area, so grab one of those. 

If you're interested in diving with the sharks, they will let you do so on certain days and probably by appointment for an extra cost.  But, seeing their diver in the shark tank and hearing them talk to the crowd to answer questions is way cool also. 

Click the link to go to their website for more information.

Hotels and Motels / The Beach Life
« on: February 05, 2010, 12:42:35 PM »
Here's a Florida vacation and travel guide site and it's a local search directory.

Hotels and Motels / The USA Hotel Zone
« on: February 05, 2010, 12:36:19 PM »
The USA Hotel Zone is a good place online to find hotels in the Tampa Bay area and other parts of Florida too!

Here's a link for Tampa:

Here's a link for the rest of Florida:

Tampa Bay Entertainment and Attractions / Lowery Park Zoo 1
« on: February 05, 2010, 12:24:10 PM »
The Lowery Park Zoo is a great value for the family and it's a lot of fun too.  We went in the Summer which is the rainy season here in Tampa.  First, it was very hot out there that day and then the clouds blew in and a nice shower fell on us to cool us off.  

The exhibits are real nice and you can get up pretty close to the animals.  They also have a great play area for the kids.  

You can see the photos below by clicking them to make them larger.  Unfortunately, the rain came before I could get any pictures of the chimps and apes, so that will have to wait until another time.  Go see them when you have a chance!

I forgot the link, so here it is:

Tampa Bay Entertainment and Attractions / Lowery Park Zoo 2
« on: February 05, 2010, 12:17:01 PM »
Here are some more photos from the Lowery Park Zoo.  Click the image to make it larger.

Tampa Bay Entertainment and Attractions / Gasparilla Pirate Festival
« on: February 05, 2010, 11:45:52 AM »
The Gasparilla Pirate Festival happens each year, usually in January.  They have a children's parade the week before the main event and people think it's great fun!  We went a couple years ago, so photos from that day are below.  Click the image to make it larger and here's a link to all of the information.

Day Trips, Weekends and More! / Kennedy Space Center 1
« on: February 05, 2010, 11:08:42 AM »
We went to Cocoa Beach last year at the end of August for the weekend to celebrate our 1st wedding anniversary and we had a great time!  The highlight of our trip was a night launch of the Space Shuttle from the Kennedy Space Center.  We had never seen a Space Shuttle launch before and to see it at night was spectacular!  It lit up the entire sky and we could feel the ground shake and we could hear the roar.  I took some photos, but it's only an orange dot in the black sky.  I should have done a time exposure... hindsight is 20/20 as they say.  

The night launch was Friday night, so we decided to spend Saturday and Sunday touring the Kennedy Space Center.  When you buy a ticket, it's good for two days, so we managed to see everything that way.  It's simply too big to see in just one day.  

Kennedy Space Center has a new attraction/ride called the Shuttle Launch Experience.  It vibrates and tilts to give you the sensation of an actual launch and it was great fun to do after seeing the night launch the night before.  

They also have movies and an IMAX theater that took up some time.  Plus there are several buildings to walk through and look at all of the exhibits.  It's very fascinating as Spock on Star Trek used to say.  

On the second day, we took the several hour bus tour of the launch pads and facilities, preparation buildings, space station modules, and it really did take several hours.  That's why you can't see it all in one day.  See posts 3 and 4 for those pictures.  

I was especially happy to see the Space Shuttle launch pad that was used 2 days before we saw it.  It was cool to see the launch facility right after the night launch.  

We had a very memorable weekend and we highly recommend that you take a weekend to visit it.  As of this writing there are only about 5 launches left before the Shuttle Program ends, so go check it out!  

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