It’s springtime, which means Florida is starting to heat up. Take advantage of the wonderful weather by exploring the local community. You may be pleasantly surprised by how much Tampa has to offer!
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
Orlando may have Ariel, but Weeki Wachee has a live mermaid show! Watch the park’s mermaids and princes put on a production of The Little Mermaid, or “ooh” and “ahh” at the Fish Tails Mermaid Show, where your favorite sirens swim to songs and share some fun historical facts.
If you’re looking for some fun in the sun, Buccaneer Bay is just a hop, skip and a jump away from the mermaid show auditorium. Zip down the four waterslides, spike a volleyball on the sand courts, wade with your little one in the kiddie pool or let yourself be lackadaisical in the lazy river. The entire waterpark operates using fresh Florida spring water.
Forget swimming with the dolphins – here, you can paddleboard with the manatees! Stand up paddleboarding (SUP) is a unique sport accessible for those of all ages and athletic abilities. If you don’t believe it, just check out the photos on SUP Weeki’s Facebook page.
Even if you’re a beginner, Pam and Jerry can train you on how to balance on your paddleboard, give you information about the area and point out wildlife along your trip. Most tours travel along the Weeki Wachee River, where the water is so clear you can see the marine life swimming beneath your board. Visitors can also paddle at Pine Island Beach. Pros are allowed to paddle alone or explore the waters of nearby Bayport Park.
Bayport Park is well worth a trip for those who relish the outdoors. The park includes seven acres of beautiful nature along the Gulf of Mexico and ocean views that are sure to stun at sunset. Enjoy the park on foot by hiking the many nature trails, taking a stroll along the boardwalk or watching for local birds. Many visitors come just to fish all day on the pier.
If you prefer a bit of adventure, hit the water in a canoe, kayak or power boat. When you’re done with your excursion, come back to solid ground for lunch or dinner. Bayport Park includes a pavilion with covered tables and grills for cooking up your latest catch (or some hamburgers and hotdogs, if that’s more your style).
Wildlife Survival Sanctuary
The Wildlife Survival Sanctuary is a must-see for animal lovers and is an easily doable daytrip if you’re in the Tampa or Orlando areas. This nonprofit is run by unpaid volunteers who rescue exotic animals from unsafe conditions as well as loving owners who can no longer afford to care for them. Their goal is to provide a forever home for animals who might otherwise be euthanized or mistreated.
The experience is a far cry from your average zoo trip. Visitors are taken on a personal, pre-scheduled tour to see all the leopards, tigers, cougars, servals, ostriches, emus and white-tailed deer up close, even during feeding time! The volunteers know these animals well and can give you insight into their lives and personalities and teach you about each species. Visitors will leave with plenty of pictures and a newfound appreciation for wildlife.
New Port Richey
After a major three-million-dollar renovation in 2016, Sims Park is looking better than ever. Locals may miss the old-timey wooden playground for its history, but children of all ages are sure to delight in the brand-new shaded playground and water splash pad. The park has also been cleverly integrated with the nearby Orange Lake.
Families can enjoy a spring afternoon at Sims Park by strolling the paths and riverfront walk, having a cookout at the pavilions or venturing out on the water from the boat dock or kayak and canoe launch. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a live performance at the amphitheater.
Richey Suncoast Theatre
Richey Suncoast Theatre is a great option if you’re looking for an escape from the heat or a perfect end to a day at the park. This theatre was founded by silent film era actor Thomas Meighan back in 1926. The current managers keep the spirit of Meighan and early film alive with annual film festivals in addition to their regular schedule of plays, musicals and live bands.
This upcoming season will finish off with the Addams Family musical comedy. Those with a passion for theatre can audition on Mondays and Tuesdays or join the crew as a stagehand (no experience needed). Just be sure to visit soon, as the theatre is closed from June through August.
Withlacoochee State Forest
Withlacoochee means “crooked river” and is an apt name for one of the largest state forests in Florida. Thirteen miles of the forest overlap with the Withlacoochee River, giving visitors plenty of room to canoe, fish and spot wildlife like gopher tortoises and bald eagles.
Outdoor enthusiasts of all types will enjoy Withlacoochee State Park’s myriad of trails. Hikers and horseback riders can challenge themselves to become Trailwalkers and Trailtrotters by traversing miles and miles of park pathways. You’ll even receive a nifty commemorative patch for your efforts.
This historic four-story home is a time capsule holding more than 11,000 artifacts from the 1850s through the 1900s. Visitors can take a one-hour tour through the May-Stringer House where they can see a fully furnished one-room classroom, doctor’s office and war room. If you’re feeling brave, schedule a Ghost Tour on the weekend for a chance to be spooked by the spirit of Jessie May!
Floridians who love frights will be happy to know that the museum throws a Halfway to Halloween event in May, offering tours for half price. Visitors are invited to wear their favorite ghoulish and ghastly attire.
Audiology Services for the West Central Florida Community
Here at Davis Family Hearing, we love our local community, which is why we work hard to make sure every one of our patients feels at home in our office. We offer diagnostic services, hearing aids, tinnitus treatment, cochlear implants and bone anchored implants for patients of all ages. Whether you meet with Dr. Joanie Davis, Dr. Michelle Frenton or Dr. Arielle Shashaty, you will receive a personalized hearing solution that best fits your lifestyle. Call us at (352) 666-8910 today to schedule your first appointment.
But Wait! There’s More…
Check out these activities to do in southern Florida this weekend! Then if you have more time, try out these adventures! Bring sunscreen!
Sergei Tiger from the Wildlife Survival Sanctuary
Richey Theater from Facebook
Buccaneer Bay from Pinterest
Other images by Creative Commons