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Top 10 Perfect Parks

Florida’s gulf coast is more than just white sandy beaches and beautifully manicured golf courses, it’s also known for its eclectic mixture of parks! Next time you’re in the Tampa Bay area, save a little time for exploration and recreation with these scenic spots!

1. Busch Gardens: Let your inner explorer run wild at this African theme park! High-impact thrill rides combine with exotic African animals and captivating performers to get everyone’s heart racing.

2. Big Cat Rescue: Go on the prowl at this private park, its home to about 80 lions, tigers, bobcats, cougars, and more!

3. Sunken Gardens: A botanical paradise in the midst of St. Petersburg; this park houses cascading waterfalls, more than 50000 plants and flowers, gardens, butterflies, etc.

4. Dade City's Wild Things ZOO: Explore your wild side at this incredible park featuring some really crazy critters! This zoo delivers both educational and positive animal-human interactions for visitors of all ages.

5. Giraffe Ranch Farm: This park houses 47 acres of intimate safari expeditions and petting experiences, so you can experience these gentle giants up close and personal!

6. Lowry Park Zoo: This fantastic 56-acre zoo features exhibits focusing on endangered, threatened and vulnerable species. With incredible animal shows, demonstrations and rides, it’s no wonder the park is such a popular Florida attraction.

7. Clearwater Marine Aquarium: Here you can immerse yourself in the wonderful world of marine life. This aquarium is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of injured marine animals. They even house two super-star dolphins, Winter and Hope of Dolphin Tale!

8. Florida Aquarium: This aquarium is found in Channelside close to Tampa’s downtown district. It is home to over 20,000 aquatic plants and animals. Their most popular exhibits include the Ocean Commotion and Coral Reefs!

9. Adventure Island Tampa: Adventure Island Water Park is a great way to cool off as you head down corkscrew slides and waterfalls! If water rides aren’t your speed, you can kick back in an inner tube and relax by floating along a lazy river.

10. Tanked Immersion: At this incredible aquatic experience, located at the RumFish Grill on St. Pete Beach, anyone over 8 years of age can swim with more than 31 species of fish! The star of the tank is most certainly the electric green moray eel Frankie, who frequently pops out of his favorite piece of coral to greet diners and swimmers alike!

10 Movies Filmed in Tampa Bay

Here is a list of 10 popular movies that were filmed in Tampa:

1. Channing Tatum’s Magic Mike showcases the Tampa bay’s beach scenery as well as The Amphitheatre at Ybor City. The film is a loose portrayal of Tatum’s real life experience of being a male stripper, known as Chan Crawford, in Tampa before making it in Hollywood.

2. Known as a hot spot for Spring Breakers every year, St.Petersburg was featured in the James Franco movie, ‘Spring Breakers’. Trailer also shows the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Coral Reef Motel, located between Guy Harvey Outpost and TradeWinds Island Grand, was also displayed in the movie that also featured Selena Gomez, Vanessa Higgins, etc.

3. The 2011 Disney movie ‘Dolphin Tale’ was inspired by the true story of Winter, a dolphin that loses its tail and gets a prosthetic replacement. The movie was starring Harry Connick, Jr. and Ashley Judd.

4. Filmed in and around St. Petersburg, Ron Howard’s’ Cocoon’ was a movie about aliens turning a swimming pool into a fountain of youth. Some of the local scenes are from Silas Dent’s, a seafood restaurant across from TradeWinds Island Grand and St. Petersburg’s historic ballroom, the Coliseum.

5. What about the ‘Great Expectations’? Shot in 1996, the movie, an adaptation of the Dickens classic, starred Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow. The film shows the rundown conditions of Sarasota’s historic Ca’ d’Zan mansion. Built in the 1920s by John Ringling, the Venetian-style mansion dominates 20 acres of Sarasota waterfront.

6. St. Petersburg/Clearwater area’s Derby Lane was utilized in the 2001 action-comedy ‘Ocean’s Eleven’. For this movie, 2,800 local residents were hired as extras to perform for the cameras.

7. Have you been to the Lowry Park Zoo? Well we know that the crew of 1990’s ‘Goodfellas’ were. When mobsters Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) and Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) are sent to carry out a job in Tampa, guess where they decide to dangle an indebted gambler over the lion's den?

8. Honeymoon Island was portrayed as Puerto Rico in the movie ‘The Punisher’ of 2004. The $ 30-million movie starred Thomas Jane alongside of John Travolta with high speed chases on Sunshine Skyway Bridge, US 19 and I275.

9. 1990 film "Edward Scissorhands" were shot around the Dade City and Wesley Chappel. Tim Burton has used Tinsmith Circle, Carpenters Run in Lutz.

10. ‘Beneath the 12-Mile Reef’, a 1953 adventure film directed by Robert D. Webb featured Tarpon Springs as the movie featured Greek descendant father and son team as sponge diving experts who go in competition with another family that end up in violence.

So go get out there and see what else Tampa Bay offers you?

St.Pete Beach Wedding Checklist

Whether planning a casual, formal, intimate or festive Florida beach wedding, it's likely that your planning will be a little bit different than with your average wedding. Not to worry, we’re here to help you avoid those pitfalls associated with sandy nuptials and beachfront “I do’s”! Here's a guide to help you prepare for your big day at the beach. Before sending your ‘Save the Date’, make sure that the location of the beach is clearly outlined on the invitation or on your wedding website. Timing is everything, so you may want to consider fall in Florida for some very wedding friendly rates. 

With an average of some 361 days of sunshine each year, and a Guinness World Record for logging the most consecutive days of sunshine (768 days), St. Pete beach wedding venues are no doubt the best location for amazing sunsets, perfect wedding poses and stunning photographs to look back on for a lifetime. Oh, and don’t forget the flowers either! St. Pete beach is surrounded by plenty of Florists who are experts at enhancing the perfect ceremony and reception. Unwinding at an on-site spa like Body Works for some pre-wedding pampering with the whole bridal party the day of is also a must! While you orchestrate your big day with your wedding planner, keep your guests happy with options to relax in cabanas, sip tropical drinks poolside, explore local spots, and take selfies by the beachfront dunes- just make sure they use your wedding hashtag! Remember that the best location will have multiple wedding venues, both inside and outside, to help you celebrate once you exchange your vows!

Pets on Vacation: Best Tips for Fido & Kitty

As a pet owner, you may think that bringing your pet on vacation requires certain sacrifices, but there are ways to simplify the process. It’s always smart to bring your pets to the vet for a pre-trip checkup. It’s important to bring with their meds as well as the most recent copies of their medical records and vaccination history, needed for airlines and hotels. Make sure Fido’s carrying case is big enough for him to lie down, stand up and fully turn around in. Take him on a few test drives before the big trip to get him used to the crate and the car. Pack a pet travel kit with food, dishes, leash, plastic bags, and a pooper scooper. If you’re traveling in Florida, remember that the law says not to leave your pet alone in the car. When it’s 83º outside, with the window down 2 inches, the inside car temperature can reach to 109 in less than 15 minutes.

It’s a rare occasion to find a resort that offers a stress free pet-friendly atmosphere for travelers, that’s what makes TradeWinds Island Resorts on St. Pete Beach such a find! Just think, can you name another resort with a room service menu written for your cats and dogs in mind?