Trip to Fla.

sweetkountryJanuary 24, 2008

I may be going to Florida (Tampa area) in the spring (Mar.) but money will be tight. I am looking for ideas for inexpensive fun things to do while I am there. We like nature/animals and maybe some gardens/museums. My DD would like to swim with the dolphins if it is possible. Where do the Fla. natives go and what do you do? Any ideas?

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lakeron(9 Lakeland)

I'll let the Tampa/St.Pete people answer specifics about their area but I'd suggest you start looking at FL web pages for info and ideas. Off the top of my head Homosassa Springs comes to mind to see manatees. I have found that the 'worst' people to ask about attractions/diversions are the locals. Have frequently met people from places I've visited and they are amazed when I mention something that they never knew existed. :-)
Don't know what state you're in but keep in mind that FL is pretty big and it takes a while to go anywhere. Tampa to Orlando is about 70 miles so figure your gas $$ since you say you're watching your pennies. Which brings up another thing, I don't think anything is free/cheap here. Things that used to be free, like the Space Museum at Kennedy Space Center, have been taken over by some theme park operator and now cost $$.
As to swimming with Dolphins. Don't know about Tampa but Sea World, Orlando has a 'Dolphin Experience' at Discovery Cove - BUT IT'S NOT CHEAP! Their web site may have the gory details.
And now to the line in your post that got my attention, "What do FL natives do and go?" ROTFL
First you have to find one. You're more likely to meet someone from NY, NJ, MI, Canada, Asia, or Europe than a native Floridian. Even the Seminoles were made up largely of refugees from other Indian tribes! Best I can define a 'Floridian' is one who doesn't begin their sentence with, "The way we did it back home..." LOL
As to what we do, about the same as you. Go to work, come home, watch TV, and go to bed. Repeat the next day. Weekends for gardening, honeydos, maybe a BBQ, movie, beach, dinner out, night club, etc. We're really not that different - no costumed native dances around sacrifices to stone gods. Sorry to disappoint you. Couldn't resist that. :-)

BTW, I'd post your request to the Discussion page as OT Tampa to get the FlaGWs attention as many don't check out the Conversations page.
Hope this helps and thanks for an amusing evening,

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 1:07AM
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Well, walking along the beach in Clearwater picking up shells and watching the beautiful sunset and a romantic walk on the pier is free.Canoe rides in some of Florida wilderness is not too expensive. Florida is a great place to see plants and flowers in a tropical/subtropical environment. Deep sea
fishing in the Gulf of Mexico is a wonderful experience and the cost is not outrageous. Look for botanical gardens.
as for restaurant, you may want to visit ebo city and try the
"ropa vieja" or "paella".
I want to welcome you and your family to Florida. Enjoy and take it all in. It really is a paradise.


    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 8:36AM
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I don't know Tampa well at all but I have had DeSoto Park on my "to do" list for a while. I think it's been named one of the top 10 beaches in the world.
It's got more than beach going on.

Also there's a section in Tampa with great Cuban food, Ybor City. Had a great meal there a while ago.

A nice day trip would be to Tarpon Springs. Historic fisherman village with Greek influence from sponge gathering. They are reviving that industry. (another on my "to do" list).

If you like zoos there is the Lowry Park zoo.

I second Homosassa Springs. Manatees are cool.
I also highly recommend walking on the beach and watching sunsets. Sometimes the best things are free.

P.S. Florida natives don't swim with the dolphins in the winter. Brrrr. I grew up on Fla east coast and we used to laugh at people walking around in shorts in January.
I can always spot a real Floridian because they're wearing long sleeves in January.

Have fun.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ft. DeSoto Tampa

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 4:46PM
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LOL, by natives I really didn't mean the spear carrying, drum beating kind. Honest!

Years and years ago I did go to Fla. and we went to Homossassa Springs and did enjoy it. We might try that again. I have been looking around the net and Tarpon Springs and the Lowery Zoo have both come up frequently so I am adding them to my list. The Clearwater Beach sounds cool, I would love to get some shells.

Naplesgardener, you made me giggle and brought back some good memories. I went to S. Carolina once in Oct. (it was a fun vacation) and the 'natives' there kept apoliging because it was only about 70 degress. When I had left Ohio for that vacation it was down in the 40's...believe me it felt warm to me! Right now in Ohio it is hovering in the single digits so no matter how warm or cool it is in Fla. in Mar. believe me it will feel warm to me. But I guess it would seem funny to all of you who are used to that weather.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 5:43PM
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Here are some things from my own "list" (born in O-ho-ho myself) - some I have been to or done, others I have not.

Manatee Viewing in Tampa area

Area Beaches

Florida Aquarium

Sunken Gardens

Florida International Museum

Butterfly Garden in Gainesville
(Might be good for a stop on the way down or back up)

Bok Tower & Gardens in Lake Wales

Manatee Swim in Crystal River/Homosassa
(This is not the one we did, so I can't comment on the company. The experience was one that will last a lifetime! There are a "bunch" of different companies in the Crystal River area that offer tours)

Selby Garden in Sarasota

Ringling Museums (yep, the circus guy) in Sarasota


    Bookmark   January 26, 2008 at 8:01PM
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lakeron(9 Lakeland)

Came across a write-up in our local paper and thought you might be interested since its near Tampa.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 2:24PM
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Last year we met friends over there and paddled Weeki Wachee Springs. We got to paddle with the manatees. It was free for us because we had our own kayaks but there is an outfitter at Weeki Wachee Springs that rents them. It is a downhill paddle, LOL, meaning that there is a current, so it is a real easy paddle but you need a pick up at the bottom. Here is a link to our pictures.

Here is a link that might be useful: Manatee pics

    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 3:05PM
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Joanm - what in the world was climbing the tree? Looked like a platypus or something equally odd?

Loved the pics, will have to put that on my "to-do" list.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 4:06PM
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It was a decoration on the tree. But prior to reaching the tree he was telling us a crazy story about the rare tree climbing alligators in that area. As we came upon the house he said "look, look, there is one right there". That guy is a nut. It is a really pretty river, the manatees were just a bonus

    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 6:33PM
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