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Explore Culture in the Tampa Bay Area

What do you do when you need a break from the sun and sand? Where do you go when the weather isn’t cooperating? There are plenty of things to do in the Tampa Bay area. Here are some ideas to consider:

Museums

Ringling Estate, Sarasota

The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art was built in 1929. It houses John Ringling’s large collection of artwork. The museum includes more than 20 galleries of fine art.

The grounds of the Ringling complex also include the Ringling Circus Museum, beautiful gardens, and the Ringling’s mansion.

The house, Ca’ d’ Zan (“House of John”) was built in the mid-1920s. It is in the style of a Venetian palace. It’s an impressive 36,000 square-feet over five stories.

The 82-foot high tower offers visitors a beautiful view of Sarasota. Contact the Ringling for details on tour options (not all tours enter the house).

Classic Car Museum, Sarasota

The Sarasota Classic Car Museum. It is the second oldest antique car museum in the U.S.

Exhibits include over 75 antique vintage autos. It even includes Abraham Lincoln’s funeral carriage.

The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature, Bradenton

The Bishop Museum is the largest natural and cultural history museum on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The museum includes a planetarium and the Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat. An underwater viewing window into a 60,000-gallon pool lets visitors watch the manatees.

Next to the museum is the Mosaic Backyard Universe. This exciting interactive area is designed for children of all ages. Explore the scale model of the solar system. Observe a turtle pond. Or get into an archaeology pit for digging-up fossils.

The Chihuly Collection at the Morean Arts Center, St. Petersburg

Check out the Morean Arts Center’s Chihuly Collection. The exhibit space was designed specifically for the artwork.

The Morean has been providing access to the arts in St. Pete since 1917. The other collections include contemporary art and ceramics.

The Florida Museum of Photographic Arts (FMoPA), Tampa

If you love photography, visit FMoPA in Tampa. FMoPA collects, preserves, and exhibits historic and contemporary works.

Since 2010 they have been sponsoring the Annual International Photography Competition.

Tampa Bay History Center, Tampa

The Tampa Bay History Center features the floors of exhibits about Florida’s natural and cultural history.

Learn about conquistadors and pirates. Discover the art of Cuban cigar rolling. Check out their theater and interactive exhibits. The Center is located along Tampa’s Riverwalk. The museum store showcases local artists.

Theatre & Music Venues

The Duke Energy Center for the Arts – The Mahaffey, St. Petersburg

Take in a show or concert at this elegant 2,031-seat theatre. The Mahaffey Theatre is part of St. Pete’s Center for the Arts. The theatre offers a wide variety of programming. Check out Broadway shows. Get a laugh in with stand-up comedians. Admire the beauty of dance troupes. Groove to the music.

The Straz Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa

The Straz, as it’s commonly known, is the largest performing arts center in the Southeast U.S. The Center enhances arts access and education in local communities.

The venue consists of three different theatres. They offer a variety of performances including pop concerts, Broadway productions, and opera.

Ruth Eckerd Hall & the Bilheimer Capitol Theatre, Clearwater

The Ruth Eckerd Hall is a performing arts center offering everything from popular music to opera.

The building itself is a work of art. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation designed the 2,180-seat auditorium.

The Bilheimer Capitol Theatre opened in 1921.  The theatre has been described as “one of the most beautifully finished playhouses in the South.”

freeFall Theatre, St. Petersburg

FreeFall Theatre presents a variety of classical and new works. They are committed to providing broad access to theatre to the community. The also host educational programs.

Explore more of the Tampa Bay area, click here.

Written by Marsha Adelson

Marsha is a retired Federal Employee, having spent 32+ years as a cartographer creating aeronautical navigation maps. After retiring, she started a second career as a Certified Tour Manager and Tour Guide. Although she focuses on guiding visitors to the Washington, DC area, she has escorted groups to many other places in the mid-Atlantic region. She’s had a lot of experience taking groups to museums, galleries, concerts, and staying in a wide variety of hotels and inns.

Marsha has been RVing for over eight years, traveling in a 35’ Newmar Baystar (Class A) named “Betsy”. In 2019, she, her partner and their two dogs went from the East Coast all the way to Fairbanks, Alaska and back, in Betsy, including spending a few weeks visiting the West Coast before heading back across the country. They’ll be heading west again this Fall to explore the National Parks’ “Grand Circle” of parks in Utah and Arizona. Marsha is a member of RVing Women and serves as the Secretary of the RVW Board of Directors.


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