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Tampa Staycation

by Meghann on September 6, 2012

Last Friday Derek and I attended a food truck rally at MOSI with our friends Diana and Andrew. Out of the 4 of us, Derek was the only one who had ever been to MOSI before and that was years ago. The rest of us agreed that it was all something we all wanted to do, but we just hadn’t made it a priority to do so. Truthfully there are a lot of random things around Tampa that we’ve all wanted to do, but haven’t had the time to do it.

Diana and Andrew had a solution to this – plan a Tampa staycation where you spend a weekend just doing all the things in Tampa you’ve always heard about, but have never done. I joked and replied “that’s what you do when family comes in town.” Which is true (when family comes in town my #1 goal is to entertain them by showing them around Tampa), but I really think they’re on to something here. So I put my thinking cap on and started thinking about what a Tampa staycation would look like for Derek and me. (note this is just what I would plan, unfortunately we don’t have an entire free weekend to execute it in the near future)

Friday night:

Cheese Tasting at Cheese Please


I had a friend mention this to me a few months ago and it’s been in the back of my mind ever since. Every Friday and Saturday night Cheese Please in downtown Tampa opens their doors for an evening of cheese tasting and cheese education. Every tasting has its own theme and includes an eight cheese course menu that’s paired with the perfect condiments and wines.

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Cost: $25.00 per person. Pre-paid reservation is required. Pay online or call to 813-805-BRIE (2743) or 813-766-0060

Saturday Morning:

Batting Cages


Derek is a baseball fanatic. He played in his youth and is semi-obsessed with following his favorite team (the Tampa Bay Rays) now. I’ve been begging him for over a year to take me to the baseball cages and teach me how to hit. I’m not sure where the best place to do this in Tampa would be, but I have a feeling Derek does! I just need to catch him in the right mood where he has enough patience to teach me how it’s done (note I’ve never played a game of baseball/softball – or even tried hitting a ball with a bat – a day in my life)

Saturday Afternoon:



MOSI = Museum of Science and Industry

Honestly, this place just looks like fun. There is a ropes course and zip line outside that’s visible from the road. Every time I drive by, I want to get out and climb on it. I’m sure there’s cool stuff inside too (science = cool), but really it’s the ropes course I want to play on.


MOSI also has an IMAX theater that Derek and I have been meaning to go to. We’ll have to save this for another staycation though.

Cost: $20.95 ticket included MOSI Exhibits Galleries, one Saunders Planetarium show, one standard IMAX® Dome Theatre Film and Kids In Charge! $7 add-on for ropes course

Saturday Evening:

Tampa Theater

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The gorgeous historical landmark is a not-for-profit theater that shows everything from modern day independent films to classic silent films. I’ve heard seeing a movie here is quite an experience, as they’ve kept pretty true to restoring the theater to its 1926 glory. Besides showing their nightly movies, the theater also hosts monthly events (like the Tampa Theater Wine Festival) and offers weekly tours (Backstage-to-Balcony).

Cost: Admission tickets for adults range anywhere from $8 – $12. Backstage-to-Balcony tours are $5

Sunday Brunch:

Ella’s Soul Food Sundays


I’ve been to Ella’s for dinner twice, but never for their Soul Food Sundays (which is what they’re famous for!). Check out Ella’s Yelp page and the Soul Food Sundays is the only thing everyone raves about on there. That means it has to be good. I already know what I’d order – chicken and waffles. 🙂

Sunday Afternoon:

Big Cat Rescue

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Big Cat Rescue, a non profit educational sanctuary, is home to over 100 unwanted, abandoned or abused exotic big cats. I wasn’t even sure it was a place that was open to the public until my future sister-in-law brought my future niece there last summer. She raved about the staff and how touched she was by the stories behind each of the cats. She told me I needed to visit it myself, and the place has been on my bucket list ever since.

So there you have it, our make-believe Tampa staycation. I think it sounds like a good time. 🙂

If you were planning a staycation in your town, what would it look like?

If you were planning a staycation in your town, what would it look like?

1 Annette @FitnessPerks September 6, 2012 at 4:56 pm

FUN! I am from StL, so I would def hit up the zoo, Fox theatre, Soulard Farmer’s market, the science center & omnimax, and the great parks!
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2 Olivia September 6, 2012 at 5:05 pm

I’m from Clearwater and have been to both the big cat rescue and MOSI. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! I agree with u tho lol there’s so many famous places around here. My friends from up north even rave about St. Pete beach, & I’ve never stepped a foot near there lol. We Floridians are surrounded by coolness and rarely take advantage of it!!

3 Elisabeth September 6, 2012 at 5:44 pm

I love staycations! I’m actually doing one this weekend (Sat-Mon) in Columbus, OH (not exactly a staycation because it’s an hour & a half south of where I live). 🙂

4 Carolyn September 6, 2012 at 6:07 pm

We go to Tampa Theatre a lot for movies. It’s pretty damn cool. Also Soul Food Sunday… Run, don’t walk! I’ve been twice and enjoyed it a lot.

As for other places, I’d like to go to the Tampa Museum of Art, the museum at University of Tampa, Tropical Heatwave festival, ad Tampa Bay Blues Fest. I’m sure there are many more places to go. I just can’t think of them.
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5 Steph @ 321delish September 6, 2012 at 6:29 pm

I’m saving this post! Someone actually mentioned the big cats rescue to Bill on a flight, and I really want to do it!
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6 Meghann September 6, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Let me know when you go! I’ll go too!

7 Chelsie @ Balance, Not Scale September 6, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Ohmygoodness! What an absolutely fabulous idea!!
I’m from Ottawa, the capital of Canada, and an absolutely beautiful city full of beauty and culture. My staycation destinations in town would differ based on whether it was summer or winter. Winter staples would inevitably include skating the canal (the longest skating rink in the world!), and eating Beavertails. You’d also be able to visit the parliament buildings, but they have a sound and light show at night in the summer. The market downtown is a fabulous a fabulous must-see. Canada Day in Ottawa is epic (hundreds of thousands of people crammed into 20 or so blocks downtown). I LOVE my hometown! 🙂
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8 Jaime September 6, 2012 at 7:27 pm

Great post idea!

Here in Victoria (BC, Canada) the city actually does an annual “Be a Tourist in your own Hometown” weekend. Various local businesses participate, including museums, horse rides, theatres, restaurants, etc and tickets are at a reduced rate. It’s a great way to get people out during the off-season to check out things they might not otherwise check out.

9 Tessa @ Amazing Asset September 6, 2012 at 7:37 pm

What a great post idea lady! Staycations are the best, and they really allow you to explore your town more then you ever have before! Mine would involve touring around (I live in a historic town), beach for a bit, go on a boat around the harbor, or kayak, and a seafood dinner… ice cream later enjoyed on the beach again 🙂
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10 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats September 6, 2012 at 7:43 pm

omg I would LOOOOOVE to go to the big cat sanctuary!!! How have you not gone!!?? Lol I am such an animal freak though. I think if I lived there I’d be tempted to quit my job and try and go work there…
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11 Becky @ runfundone September 6, 2012 at 9:07 pm

I’m glad you had fun around town!!!
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12 Steph September 6, 2012 at 9:20 pm

There are so many cool spots in Tampa. I’ve always wanted to take one of those overnight fishing charters out of John’s Pass in Maderia beach. That’s definitely on my Staycation list!
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13 Suzanne @ Fit Minded Mom September 6, 2012 at 10:10 pm

I’m from Ft Worth and there are tons of fun things to do here. Joe T Garcia’s Mexican restaurant in the Stock Yards, Longhorn parade through the Stockyards, a Texas Rangers baseball game OR Dallas Cowboys Game. The Zoo is also pretty awesome as is the food truck park in downtown. There is also the museum of Science and History with an incredible IMAX theatre and the Ft Worth Water Gardens. Honestly, I could go on and on but I will stop there :-)!
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14 Army Amy* September 7, 2012 at 7:31 am

I agree that there is a lot to do in Fort Worth! My husband and I were living in Allen, TX and took a mini-vacation to Ft. Worth for spring break one year. We stayed at a B&B, visited the modern art museum, went to the stockyards (we did the maze – so fun!), and really enjoyed ourselves!*
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15 Allison September 7, 2012 at 12:58 am

I love Ella’s! GrillSmith has a great Sunday brunch as well. I’d also recommend the Dali Museum, USF Bontanical Gardens, and definitely a trip to Clearwater Beach!

16 suzie September 7, 2012 at 1:15 am

I have a baseball question for derek!! I’m a baseball fanatic and have never meat a rays fan (maybe bc i’m from the east coast 🙂 but since i love hearing about people’s baseball love I was curious if he had a team he liked when he was younger since the Rays didnt start until 1998? And did he like them when they were the devil rays and losing or did he start liking them when they got really good under Joe Madden? I know this has nothing to do with hlb but I was just curious!! It’s nice to see a rays fan, I happen to have a lot of respect for that team (except Im a yankee fan so I dont like that they are closing in on first place right now!)

17 Derek September 7, 2012 at 4:37 pm

Hi Suzie – Growing up…I was a Braves fan. David Justice, Terry Pendleton, Greg Maddox, Tom Glavine, Fred McGriff, etc. I was lucky enough to get to one of their WS games as well.

I began really cheering for the Rays when they hired Lou Piniella. He’s a Tampa boy so that plus my love of baseball made me a Rays fan. I guess I’ve been legit for about a decade. =)

18 Kim@hungryhealthygirl September 7, 2012 at 7:06 am

I want to visit Tampa….looks like some fun stuff to do!
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19 Army Amy* September 7, 2012 at 7:34 am

There isn’t much to do where I currently live (Grafenwoehr, Germany) unless you want to hike or swim in the lake, which I guess can be fun. But I’ve only been here 3 weeks, so maybe there is fun stuff I just haven’t discovered yet.

Where I used to live (Allen, Texas) the number one thing people like to do there is shop! Whenever my friends visit from out of town we hit up the outlet mall and the specialty stores that you can’t find in other places. There’s also a place called Cosmic Jump (if you are looking for something active) or you can visit the uber fancy movie theater (Gold Class Cinemas).*
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20 Rachel Hires September 7, 2012 at 8:59 am


Whenever we have guests in town we take them to the Yeungling Brewery. It’s free, interesting (the bottling line is mesmerizing:), and you get free beer at the end.
There is a pretty shoddy set up while waiting for the tour to start in the form of a short documentary on the brand which play on a TV screen about 10 inches tall, but if you can get close enough, it’s actually interesting.

21 Meghann September 7, 2012 at 9:08 am

Yes! That’s actually another thing on our to-do list for Tampa. We tried going a few weeks ago, but the tours were already done for the day. One day we’ll make it out there, especially since Yeungling is Derek’s favorite beert.

22 Sneakers2sandals September 7, 2012 at 9:27 am

I love it!! This is such a good Tampa post. I want to do all these things!
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23 Cheryl September 7, 2012 at 11:51 am

Just as an FYI, Big Cat Rescue is awesome and totally worth it, but they are closed Sundays. I scheduled a tour for my BFF’s birthday this past spring. They advised best day to go is on a Monday tour, as the cats are very active/hungry after a Sunday off.

24 Amanda September 7, 2012 at 1:15 pm

There isn’t a ton of stuff up where I am (Rochester, N.Y.), but we do have some really cool museums like the Susan B. Anthony house and the George Eastman house. There’s also the Strong Museum of Play, but I’ve been there a few times. Plus there are a bunch of restaurants I have been dying to try!
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