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Get Down by the Bay
Is there ever a bad time to visit Florida? It’s a rhetorical question, of course, but where to go in the Sunshine State can be the best problem you will deal with all year…. especially this year! However, strong consideration should be given to a community that is becoming more of a tourist destination than ever – Tampa Bay, Florida.
Below we will talk about five Can’t-miss attractions that must be seen if visiting this shining star on the Gulf Coast. And if you’re lucky, you might even find newly minted residents, Tom Brady and his wife, Gisele Bundchen, roaming the property of one of these hot spots below!
Big Cat Rescue-12802 Easy Street, Tampa Bay, FL
Few had heard of Big Cat Rescue before but that all changed after Netflix’s Tiger King series featuring the eccentric Joe Exotic and his nemesis, Carole Baskin. Big Cat Rescue is Baskin’s baby and so too are the 51 big cats ranging from lions to tigers to cougars and bobcats.
The park is now closed due to the global pandemic and public tours could be banished for good according to the website which stated, “We don’t know if we will ever resume doing general public tours again. Even after the virus concerns subside, the betrayal by the liars who produced Tiger King, and the lies viewers were told in the series, creates a concern about having visitors we do not know.”
All of that said, private tours will most likely get restarted after the pandemic is over and life returns to normal – whatever that looks like. Donations are also being accepted at this time.
Raymond James Stadium – 4201 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa Bay, FL
If you want to take in a professional football game, this would be the place to do it because unlike many NFL venues, the “Ray Jay” is allowing fans inside at a reduced capacity. Football in Tampa has never been hotter than it is right now with the addition of Tom Brady slinging passes in a Bucs uniform during the twilight of his career.
On Sunday, December 13th, the Bucs have a hard match against the Vikings which will pit one of the best whoever played in Tom Brady versus a Kirk Cousins with the Vikings. But if you can’t make it to a game, it’s worth getting a tour that is offered to the public on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and selected Fridays at 2:00 P.M.
Ybor City – Northeast of the Downtown Tampa on I-4 at Exit 1, Tampa, FL
In the 1800s if you wanted a cigar in America there was no better place to find it than Ybor City. The red brick buildings housed many of the nation’s biggest cigar factories but it all went up in a puff of smoke once the Great Depression struck.
However, this former ghost town is now booming again and those former cigar mills are now nightclubs, restaurants, microbreweries, and even art galleries. It is a place not to be missed if you want to get your Tampa Bay groove on with live bands, flowing mojitos, and an outstanding locale to people-watch after the sun goes down.
Busch Gardens – 10165 McKinley Drive, Tampa, FL
The most popular attraction in Tampa Bay is the 60-year-old Busch Gardens. It is a part amusement park and part wildlife sanctuary which makes visiting it a must-see for anyone in the Tampa Bay area.
According to their website, the newest attraction, Iron Gwazi, is North America’s tallest wood and steel hybrid coaster, as well as, the fastest and steepest hybrid coaster in the world. It will plunge riders from a 206-foot-tall peak into a 91-degree drop, reaching top speeds of 76 miles per hour.
Christmas Town is officially here! Tag us in your favorite moments from the park using #deckthegardens 🎄 pic.twitter.com/sEXzA4AURu
— Busch Gardens Tampa Bay (@BuschGardens) November 20, 2020
This is only one of several roller coasters and thrill rides on the property. On the other side of Busch Gardens, you will find over 200 species of animals ranging from lions, to gorillas, to giraffes, and even elephants roaming the immaculately designed animal habitat that has received the Humane Certified™ seal from American Humane. US News & World named it one of the best zoos in the United States.
Bern’s Steak House – 1208 S Howard Ave., Tampa, FL
If you want a hip, contemporary food with a flair for attracting jet-setters then there are plenty of those available in Tampa Bay but Bern’s Steak House is not that destination. However, what it does represent is the most iconic restaurant in the area and one that boasts one of the largest wine collections on the planet. A delightful Caymus Cabernet would be the perfect complement to one of Bern’s succulent chateaubriands.
This is a fine dining masterpiece and one that shouldn’t be missed if you have the budget for it. Bern’s is open seven days a week for dinner with reservations required and no shorts allowed. They say if you haven’t eaten a Bern’s steak then you have never known true happiness. More hyperbole than truth? Go to Bern’s and see for yourself!