St. Petersburg & Tampa
Tampa is a city with skyscrapers and a diverse business industry, while St. Petersburg is filled with sun soaked beaches. Even though these cities are so different, geographically they are considered twin cities.

The area was first developed in 1845, right after the territory became part of the Untied States. The area grew rapidly, especially after Robert B. Plant extended the railroad to the Hillsborough River in 1884. This provided more access to the area and the development of many lavish hotels. In 1880, after phosphates were discovered, the mining and shipping industry really flourished through the 1890’s. Today, the port in Tampa is one of the seventh largest in the nation. During the Spanish American War, Tampa became the embarkation port for the U.S. troops headed for Cuba. Today the Mac Dill Air Force Base is the U.S. Operations Command headquarters.

While Tampa is a multicultural, diverse, business center serving major banks and various other large corporations, St. Petersburg has soon become a favorite tourist resort, where boating and fishing opportunities are practically unlimited.

We landed in Tampa International Airport full of excitement, yet exhausted at the same time. We headed to the hotel and slept for a couple of hours. After we had revived a little, we decided to head toward the pier in St. Petersburg. It was a beautiful drive, and we even crossed the Howard Frankland Bridge. It was a gorgeous view of the ocean.

Among all the art museums, gulf beaches, and tourist attractions in the Tampa/ St. Petersburg is the Great Explorations Museum. This museum is located right at the end of the St. Petersburg Pier. This is a fun hands-on museum for kids and adults alike. There are several areas or exhibits within the museum. One of the first exhibits you see as you enter the museum is the Experimental Gallery. This gallery is filled with mind games, brain teasers and activities that challenge the imagination of kids and adults. The Body Shop Gallery is also an interesting gallery. This gallery contains machines designed to test your physical strength and flexibility. These machines are also designed to show you how people in other parts of the world score as well. It is definitely interesting to compare the results. Another exhibit to electrify you is the Power Plant exhibit. This exhibit is all about the power of electricity. This exhibit shows you how to produce electricity using a potato, lets you see a version of Edison’s light bulb, and you can watch a brilliant arc of electricity climb Jacob’s Ladder. Apparently there was an exhibit called the Touch Tunnel of darkness. I don’t recall seeing this exhibit, but it sounds intriguing. It is a maze through 100 feet of twisting and turning darkness. I still regret that we didn’t get to experience this exhibit.

Since we were at the pier, we decided to do some sight seeing and shopping. The view from the pier is extremely pleasant. We had a great time walking around and looking at all the shops. We also enjoyed listening to a group playing some Reggae music on their steel drums. We both enjoy Reggae, and wished we had more time to sit and listen to them.

The next day was our 1st anniversary and we though it would be fun to relax and do some snorkeling. We got up early and decided to some more sightseeing and shopping first. I wanted to get some postcards and souvenirs. After the thrill of trying to pick out just the right postcard for everyone on our list, we headed toward St. Pete’s Beach. Eugene really wanted to drive over the Skyway Bridge that goes toward Sarasota. We did that, than headed back toward St. Pete’s Beach. It was a really gorgeous day and the temperature of the water was absolutely perfect. It wasn’t as clear as Cancun was when we were there for our honeymoon, so we weren’t able to see or snorkel, but it was still wonderful.

After a couple of hours we decided to head up to Clearwater to see if it was any clearer. It wasn’t much clearer, but the drive was pleasant, and the water was very refreshing. We talked to this really nice woman who told us a lot about the area and suggested a few restaurants for dinner. We left the beach and leisurely headed back to our hotel.

Later that evening we ended up at a microbrewery and restaurant called Hops. It was an inviting restaurant and the meal was absolutely wonderful. One of the best steaks I’ve had in a long time. We drank a little two much beer and I ended up forgetting our camera at the restaurant. Luckily, we retrieved it later that evening. I haven’t had too good of luck with remembering cameras. Other than that, it was a very wonderful anniversary.

We got up the next morning and drove over to the Orlando area for a couple of days. We came back two days later and visited a couple of wonderful museums. The first museum we hit was the Salvador Dali Museum. For those of you who are not familiar with Dali, he was a surrealist artist who was born in Figueres, Spain, on May 11, 1904. One of his most famous works to this day is his Persistence of Time. The museum it self opened in March of 1982, and now contains 95 original oils, over 100 watercolors and drawings, nearly 1,300 graphics and sculptures. The tour was very informative, and the docent was well educated in the life of Salvador Dali. She had an incredibly great understanding of the man and his works. There was a lot to see, but the museum was laid out very well. It was divided into different periods called: Early Works, Transitional Period, Surrealism, Classical Period, and his Masterworks. Among his early works and transitional periods was Cadaques-1923, Self Portrait (Figueres) - 1921, and Beigneuse (sic) - 1928. In the Surrealist exhibit we saw such paintings as Ouefs Sur Plat sans le Plat- 1932 (Eggs on a plate without the Plate), The Weaning of Furniture-Nutrition-1934, Archeological Reminiscence of Millet’s Angelus-1933-1935, Old Age Adolescence, Infancy(The Three Ages) -1940, and Slave Market with the Disappearing Bust of Voltaire - 1940. There was also the Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory-1952-1954, which is also considered part of the classical period. The most exciting part of the whole museum was his masterworks. They were absolutely incredible. Nature Morte Vivante - 1956 (Still-Life-Fast Moving), Velazquez Painting the Ifnfanta Margarita with the Lights and Shadows of his Own Glory - 1958, The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus - 1958, Ecumenical Council - 1960, Galacidalaesoxiribunucleicacid - 1963, and Hallucinogenic Toreador - 1969-70. These pieces are amazing and well worth taking a tour to hear and learn about. Dali was exceptional at double images or hidden images in his work. This complexity is what set him apart from other creative artists. Some of his works could take a while to decipher and we wished that it was closer to us so we could get a yearly pass to really analyze his work. It was a great museum that I would love to go back to the next time we’re in the Tampa area.

We were flying home later the next day, but we still had time to hit another museum. We checked out of our hotel at the Day Inns, and headed toward St. Petersburg. This time we went to the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Art. The museum was founded by Mrs. Margaret Stuart, and opened in 1965. It was designed by John Volk, and is also considered a work of art. . Today is it one the finest in the Southeast. The museum states they have over 4,000 objects extending from antiquity to the present day. This includes works from such major French artist as Fragonard, Iigee-Lebrun, Corot, Cezanne, Monet, Berthe Morisot, Gauguin, Renoir, and Rodin. They also have such There are several works of art by American artist such as Thomas Morna, George Inness, Robert Henri, George Bellows, and Georgia O Keeffe. Among all these artist are also Native American, African, Asian, pre-Columbian-art, and photographs. There is also a whole section dedicated to Steuben Glass. The week that we were there they also had an exhibit called “Art Glass of this Century” The museum well worth having to get up early for. It was the best one I’ve seen compared to the J. Paul Getty in LA. When we walked into the museum, there was a tour that has just started. We joined the group and learned a lot about the pieces of art as well as the artist. I love Monet, and they had several of his pieces on exhibit, including Parliament, Effect of Fog. One piece I had really looked forward to seeing was Poppy by O’Keefe. Unfortunately it was out on loan to a museum in New York. I was disappointed, but I realized that all museums have to trade once in a while. The whole museum is wonderful, but I fell in love with all the Steuben Glass. I wanted to take every single piece home. There wasn’t a piece that wasn’t absolutely gorgeous. They have it in a separate room, completely dark except the lights that illuminate the glass cases. It was a drastic effect, and I was in complete awe. I only wished we could afford to have something so gorgeous and beautiful. I kept going back to that room over and over again. Unfortunately time didn’t stand still, and we had a plane to catch. I was very glad we had a chance to see this museum.

Here are some other fun and interesting things to do in the Tampa/St Petersburg area.

Busch Gardens Adventure Island Lowry Park Zoo
Ghost Tours of Tampa Bay Zoological Museum Florida Holocaust Museum

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Page last updated August 2014