*** This giveaway is now CLOSED! Thank you to everyone who participated. The winners are comment #2/RunDMT, comment #5/Jen K. and comment #15/Marie Hester. CONGRATULATIONS! ***
I was excited to be included in this Blog Hop. My topic? Sunny Fun in Tampa Bay. That’s a pretty broad topic, as there is plenty of both here! Having covered family events in the Bay area for almost three years now, I could probably give you a hundred reasons why living here is so exciting. But after a lot of thought, I narrowed it down to 5 things I love most about living in Tampa Bay. Here they are:
1.) Theme Parks
There is no place in the country that has as many theme parks and water parks as Central Florida, so if you love roller coasters and live shows, Tampa Bay is a great place to be. Busch Gardens Tampa and Adventure Island sit right in the heart of Tampa, FL. Just a short drive east and you’ll hit LEGOLAND Florida, SeaWorld, Universal Studios and Walt Disney World, as well as smaller attractions like Dinosaur World, Bok Towers Gardens and Fantasy of Flight. Within Tampa Bay and in addition to Busch Gardens, visitors can enjoy visiting MOSI, The Florida Aquarium, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, Glazer Children’s Museum, Clearwater Marine Aquarium and Great Explorations.
2.) Beaches and Preserves
The west coast of Tampa Bay borders the Gulf of Mexico with miles of white, sandy beaches that, combined with our balmy weather, offer families a chance to collect shells, look for sharks’ teeth, and make sand castles year-round. Although there are many places to enjoy our beaches, here are few notable locations:
— Clearwater Beach: This beach has dozens of shops and restaurants just across the street for when the kids get peckish, and there is a lifeguard on duty from 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily. Pier 60 hosts a nightly sunset festival with strolling entertainers, and there are even FREE family movies on Friday and Saturday nights.
— Fred Howard Beach & Park (1700 Sunset Drive, Tarpon Springs, FL 34689): This is a 155-acre park located on the Gulf of Mexico. It’s beach is a popular swim area (a lifeguard is on duty 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily from March to September) and ideal for watching sunsets. In the park, visitors may see nesting ospreys and eagles, gopher tortoises and fox squirrels, as well as many different kinds of butterflies and birds. The causeway is perfect for sunbathing and fishing, and dolphins (and occasionally manatees) may be seen in the area.
— Fort De Soto Park (3500 Pinellas Bayway South, Tierra Verde, FL 33715): Fort Desoto was named America’s Top Beach for 2009 by Trip Advisor, and the nation’s #1 Beach by “Dr. Beach” in 2005. The park, the largest in the Pinellas County Park System, has 1,136 acres of beach and protected areas, and includes a Spanish-American war-era fort listed in the registry of National Historic Places. It is home to beach plants, mangroves, wetlands, palm hammocks, hardwoods and scores of native plants, as well as more than 328 species of birds, and is a refuge for the loggerhead sea turtle. You may be surprised to learn, however, that swimming is not recommended in many areas of the park due to strong water currents. There are two designated swim areas — East beach and North Beach.
3.) Parks and Playgrounds
Several cities that make up the Tampa Bay area are 2013 Playful City USA Communities, including New Port Richey, Oldsmar, Safety Harbor and Tampa. You can enjoy many great parks and fun playgrounds throughout the Bay area. Two I often encounter because they offer many kid-friendly community events throughout the year are:
— Largo Central Park: This 70-acre park features Largo Central Park Playground, a brand new playground boasting 117 play events with a soft synthetic safety turf and lots of shade, and Rainbow Rotary Playground, a playground that is completely accessible to disabled users. This park is also home to Largo Central Railroad. Train Weekends take place on the first FULL weekend of every month (10 a.m.-4 p.m.), and guests can ride the miniature trains for FREE (although donations are appreciated).
— Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park: Located across the Hillsborough River from the University of Tampa and next door to Glazer Children’s Museum and Tampa Museum of Art, this park has a lot to offer. Bring suits, towels and sunscreen for an afternoon of playing in the water fountains, or climb and twirl on the playground equipment. On Saturday mornings, families can create something unique at The Art Spot (11 a.m.-2 p.m.) at the Tampa Museum of Art, and the park comes alive the first Tuesday of each month (March-August; 2-6 p.m.) for a FREE Fit Kids Playground community event.
4.) Food Trucks and Fruit
Tampa Bay’s Gourmet Food Trucks hold rally’s at locations all around the Bay area, and if you haven’t been to one yet, you really should. But just as tasty are the U-Pick blueberries (April-May), the fresh-picked strawberries in Parksdale Farm Market’s famous strawberry shortcakes, the authentic Thai food you can enjoy riverside on Sunday mornings at Wat Mongkolratanaram of Florida, and a Cuban in Ybor City. (By the way, Michelle Faedo’s On the Go, a Food Truck serving Cuban sandwiches and deviled crabs throughout Tampa Bay, won first place at Tampa’s first Cuban Sandwich Festival in the traditional category.) Don’t miss an opportunity to taste some of the local flavor while you’re here!
5.) Family Events
There are so many great — and often FREE — family events taking place every weekend in and around Tampa Bay. This is not a town you can be bored in! Whether you are planning a visit or move to the Bay area or live here, be sure to bookmark this website to stay up-to-date on all the amazing kid-friendly family events there are for you and your family to enjoy.
Hop With Me!
Find out what other bloggers love about the cities and states they live in:
Manasota Family Fun shows us the Suncoast of Florida
Atlanta with Kid takes us on a tour of Atlanta
Meet Penny introduces us to the Alabama Gulf Coast
Busy Kids, Happy Mom travels back in time to (Historic) Virginia
Jersey Family Fun shares the great attractions in New Jersey
Super Suburbs showcases the kids fun near Chicago
Nothing if Not Intentional highlights family travels in Indiana
Child Central Station explores the Upper Peninsula of Michigan
KC Edventures shows us places to discover in Kansas City Missouri & Kansas
Adventures in Wunderland highlights some fun in Southern California
Washedtee.com offers simple, classic T-shirts — made in the U.S.A. — to wear everyday and everywhere. Thanks to their generosity, Three (3) lucky WDTB readers will win one of these great looking shirts for themselves!
Here’s how to enter:
MANDATORY ENTRY: Check out the T-shirts on WashedTee.com, then come back here and post a comment with the following details:
— State (the state you would want printed on the shirt)
— Style (whether you would prefer a crew neck or v-neck)
— Color (your preferred shirt color shirt)
BONUS ENTRIES: Visit another blog on the hop, then come back here and post a comment with the name of the blog and one great thing they mentioned about their state.
The Fine Print: A maximum of 9 entries per person will be allowed. Only responses that conform to the above requirements and are posted on THIS PAGE will count as official entries in this giveaway. This giveaway is open to residents age 18 and older residing in the continental U.S. ONLY. The contest period ends on Wednesday, June 5, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. EST. Three (3) winners will be selected at random using random.org and notified by e-mail; The winners will have 48 hours to reply back before a new winner will be selected. (Winners will need to provide name, address, size, color of shirt, crew neck or v-neck, and state to be printed.) To be fair, comments that don’t meet these requirements, false entries, or duplicate comments will be deleted and not count as entries in this giveaway. WashedTee will ship prizes to the winners. No P.O. Boxes please. WDTB is not responsible for the shipping of the prizes.
Disclosure: I was given the opportunity to participate in this blog hop and offer a T-shirt giveaway. I did not receive any compensation for my participation in the blog hop or giveaway. I do not have any personal affiliation, financial or otherwise, with any of the locations, businesses or activities I mentioned in this post.
Heart-shaped Kites Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of WashedTee.com
“Love Where You Live” Button © Jacquie Fisher / KCEdventures.com
Heart-shaped Kites Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net