Four Warm Winter Days in St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Tampa

posted on Wednesday, February 04, 2015 at 12:59:06 PM

This week we're exploring some of the Sunshine State's favorite cities. Join us with your family for the ultimate Florida Vacation!

Day One: You arrive at Tampa International Airport, pick up a rental car and make your way to your home for the next several days: the historic Vinoy® Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club. The architecture here is pretty stunning: Mediterranean Revival that’s reminiscent of the 1920’s. The Vinoy has earned a National Register of Historic Places designation, and as you explore this unique resort, you realize it’s well-deserved indeed. The bell tower, the veranda, the gallery, the esplanade, the library and the beautiful marina views all combine to underscore the fact that this is no run-of-the-mill resort. Inspired, you promptly make a dinner reservation at Fred’s, an exclusive steakhouse specializing in indulgent dishes. And why not – you’re on vacation.

Day Two: You’re up early for coffee and pastries in the resort’s Veranda Café, then off to nearly Clearwater Beach to visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. The aquarium has become world-famous in recent years as the home of Winter and Hope of the “Dolphin Tale” movies. After a late lunch, it’s back to Tampa and the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), which features more than 450 hands-on exhibits. You take in a hi-res movie in the IMAX® DOME Theater, and then finish the day by gazing up into the starry night sky in the Saunders Planetarium.

Day Three: Busch Gardens Africa in Tampa is known as one of the top zoos in North America, and brings you face-to-face with more exotic and endangered animals than any destination outside the African continent. The park is home to a variety of unique animal encounters, and provides you with the opportunity to test your strength in a tug of war with a Bengal tiger, and get up-close-and-personal with orangutans. Rides on Cheetah Hunt, SheiKra, Montu, Kumba, the Stanley Falls Flume, Gwazi, the Tanganyika Tidal Wave and the Congo River Rapids literally take your breath away, and you round out the day by visiting the Serengeti Plain, the Edge of Africa, the Bird Garden and Penguin Point. Go ahead now, post all of your inspiring animal pics for your friends to see.

Day Four: It’s the last full day of your trip, and you’re determined to explore more of historic St. Petersburg – by Segway. Once comfortable on this unique vehicle, you cruise along the bay, past the St. Petersburg Pier, and by the area’s Victorian-style homes. You stop at the site where the first-ever commercial flight left the ground and learn about the Tocobagan Indians, whose princess became the inspiration for the Disney story of Pocahontas. Once the tour is completed, you board your own speedboat and zip through the waters just offshore, past fort De Soto Park, and islands that serve as national wildlife refuges. The speedboat is equipped with a two-way communication system, which enables a guide to provide narration throughout. You feel the warm breeze and giggle – what a great trip it’s been!

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