Tampa, St Petersburg, Dunedin & Clearwater Things to do!
by Helga Marshmellow
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A Brief History of Florida's West Central Coast
Florida's West Coast, also known as the Gulf Coast due to its location on the Gulf of Mexico, is an area of incredible beauty, adventure and relaxation. You can definitely experience the best of Florida here - the whitest of white sand beaches, crystal-clear water, a warm sun that rarely takes a break, as well as exciting amusements guaranteed to make your visit forever memorable.

Swimming with manatees, kayaking amongst the mangroves, snorkeling, fishing, scuba-diving, parasailing - the list goes on and on. There is also a wealth of culture and learning opportunities to be found: museums are plentiful and display everything from historical artifacts to amazing art.

Tampa, while being the 53rd largest city in the US, still holds plenty of small-town charm. Its history speaks of pirates, railroad tycoons, Cuban cigars and fishing. But hundreds of years before that, Tampa, which translates to "sticks of fire" or "place to gather sticks" in the native language, was home to indigenous Seminole, Tocabaga and Calusa tribes. The Spanish Conquistadors were exploring the area as far back as the 1500's but decided not to establish any settlements here as they were searching for gold and treasures, and didn't appreciate the wealth of the area - fish, shells and other natural materials.

Tampa wasn't officially founded until 1824 when the United States Army established Fort Brooke along the nearby waterfront, now downtown Tampa. There was a small amount of fighting in the area during the American Civil War and then, by the late 1800's, the phosphate mining industry took off.

With the mining industry came a railroad boom, spearheaded by Henry B. Plant (be sure to visit the museum of the same name, located on the University of Tampa campus). The introduction of railroad lines allowed the commercial fishing industry to flourish. Next came cigar manufacturing and the relocation of thousands of workers (don't miss Ybor City, a lively, colorful tribute to the Spanish, Italian and Cuban immigrants whose lives centered around the cigar industry). Soon this naturally beautiful area of Florida became a prime tourist destination, with hundreds of hotels and resorts springing up almost overnight.

Tampa things to do and family fun adventure, here are the top Top things to do in Tampa Bay area (Hillsborough County)!

Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI)
Florida Aquarium
Firefighter's Museum
Lowry Park Zoological Garden
Henry B. Plant Museum, University of Tampa
Ybor City & Ybor City Museum State Park
TECO Line Streetcar
Raymond James Stadium Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Hillsborough River State Park
Legends Field NY Yankees
Gasparilla Invasion February Pirate Fest
Busch Gardens
Adventure Island Water park
Big Cat Rescue
Bayshore Blvd
Morris Bridge Park, Tampa
Flatwoods Wilderness Park
Lettuce Lake Park
Tampa Bay History Center
Secret City Walks Ybor City
Tampa Theatre
Magic Carpet Glide
Channelside IMAX theatre
Sweetwater Organic Community Farm
American Victory Ship
Big Red Balloon
Grand Prix Tampa
Splitsville Luxury Lanes and Dinner Lounge
Tampa Bay Downs

Top things to do on the West Central Coast
(Tarpon Springs south to Sarasota)

Great Explorations, The Hands-On Museum, St. Pete
Fort DeSoto Park Egmont Key State Park
Fred Howard Park, Tarpon Springs
Island Wind Tours, Tarpon Springs
Pinellas Suncoast, Gulf coastline
Jolley Trolley, Clearwater Beach
Tampa Electric's Manatee Viewing Center, Apollo Beach
Tarpon Springs Aquarium
Suncoast Primate Sanctuary, Palm Harbor
Simply Kayaking
Casadesi Island State Park
Downtown Dunedin
Honeymoon island State Park
Pier 60 Park, Clearwater Beach
Pass-A-Grille Beach, Pass-A-Grille
Pinellas Trail
Captain Memo's Pirate Cruise, Clearwater Marina
Celebration Station, Clearwater
Clearwater Marine Aquarium
Sand Key Park, Clearwater Beach
Hubbard's Sea Adventures, Madeira Beach
John's Pass Village and Boardwalk, Madeira Beach
Pinewood Cultural Park
Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary, Indian Shores
Merry Pier, Pass-A-Grille way
Boyd Hill Nature Park, St. Pete
Salvador Dali Museum, St. Pete
St. Petersburg Historic Sunken Gardens
St. Petersburg Museum of History
Science Center of Pinellas
Tropicana Field

Top things to do just outside Tampa
(Crystal River State Park, inland and south to Myakka River State Park)

Crystal River Manatee viewing
Crystal River Archaeological State Park
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, Spring Hill
Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, Homosassa
Fort Cooper State Park, Inverness
Withlacoochee State Forest, Brooksville
Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins Historic State Park, Homosassa Springs
John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota
Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, Sarasota
DeSoto National Memorial Park, Bradenton
Peace River State Canoe Trail, Arcadia
Legoland Florida, Winter Haven
Florida Railroad Museum
Pioneer Park, Zolfo Springs
Gamble Plantation Historic State Park, Ellenton
Manatee Village Historical Park, Bradenton
McKechnie Field, Bradenton
South Florida Museum, Bradenton
G. Wiz, Sarasota
Ca D'Zan, Ringling Estate, Sarasota
Ringling Museum of the Circus, Sarasota
Sarasota Bay Explorers
Sarasota Classic Car Museum
Sarasota Jungle Gardens
Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, Sarasota
Siesta Key County Beach
Myakka River State Park, 9 miles inland from Sarasota
Anna Maria Island Museum Bayfront Park
Longboat Key
Tampa family activities fun adventures!


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Miss Holly Woodhalls's Tampa Food'views:

Ceviche Tampa
2500 W. Azeele Street Tampa, FL 33609
(813) 250-0203

   Miss Woodhall highly recommends this wonderful spot if you are in the mood for a night of Spanish flavor - they have it all: many kinds of Ceviche (we tried the tuna, very rich), Sangria (voted best in Tampa Bay, not sure why though, we didn't like it and sent it back for a Mojito - mucho mejor!), live music and Flamenco dancers, gorgeous architecture.
   We couldn't stop eating their bread with basil dip (refills $2.00) and loved Banderillas Mixtas: skewered tenderloin, chicken and chorizo. The bartender could have been a bit more sociable, but we'd still go back in two shakes of our castanets!! Menu.

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