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"Travel Blog: Tampa/St. Petersburg"
Author:  planetpurl
Beautiful Gulf Beaches, awesome Cuban food, cruise ships, major league sports, and, of course, yarn glorious yarn. Join us as we cruise Florida's west coast for a little yarn shopping.
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The Tampa Bay Area [Back to Blog]

The Tampa Bay area has a lot to offer vacationers -- the Port of Tampa cruise terminal, The Tampa Bay Bucanneers football team, Yankee spring training, Tampa Rays baseball, a spectacular marine aquarium, tasty Cuban/Spanish cuisine in the myriad restaurants in the historic Ybor City area, and Busch Gardens theme park, just for starters.  And if it's broad sandy beaches and the smooth warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico you're after, they're everywhere you turn.  3 of the country's top 10 beaches are in the Tampa area.  The smooth waters are great for family beach vacations.

My favorite stop in Tampa is Ybor City, the historic area where Cuban cigar rolling was the main trade.  No visit to Tampa/St. Pete is complete wihout a stroll through this area and a stop for a cup of Cuban coffee at a sidewalk cafe.  If you've never had Cuban coffee, it makes Italian espresso look like water.  You can almost stand a spoon it, it's so strong. 

One of our favorite restaurants anywhere is The Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City.  Although there are a few branches of this landmark restaurant around Florida, the original one, built in 1905, is in Ybor City.  It takes up a full city block and seats over 1500 people.  The restaurant is still run by the original family, though now on its 4th and 5th generation.  The paella and the fish dishes are not to be missed.

Another great spot is the Florida Aquarium.  The 200,000 square foot aquarium facility is home to an incredible array of exhibits and features.  There's a fun outdoor water park for toddlers and young children, dolphin eco-tours, swim with the sharks for scuba-certified divers over 15, swimming in coral reef tanks for visitors over the age of 6, behind-the-scenes tours and more.  The Florida Aquarium is located in the Channel district in downtown Tampa.  There's lots to do outside the Aquarium as well.  The Channelside complex includes an IMAX theater, lots of shops and great restaurants. 

And of of couse, there's Busch Gardens.  Whether your thing is roller coasters or rare animals, there's something for you here.  This "outpost" of the Busch Garden franchise is called "The Dark Continent."  You've probably guessed that there's an African safari theme going on. 

Busch Gardens is home to America's first "dive coaster," climbing 200 feet and diving at 90 degrees and with no floor.  And that's just one of almost a dozen thrill rides.  But Busch Gardens is also home to the "Serengeti Plain" and other animal habitats where you can have close encounters of another kind with hippos, giraffes, lions, hyenas, baboons, and -- well, you get the idea.

And when you're tired of tanning, eating, swimming with sharks and screaming your head off on roller coasters, there's always YARN SHOPPING!
06/12/2009 0 comments | add comment
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