While they had gators, a hippo and lovely birds, I was a bit disappointed that the manatee feedings had moved to a tank rather than by the spring. Apparently, the spring had been blocked off to wild manatees and after a particularly cold winter, some federal bureaucracy said they had to open access. While this was undoubtedly a plus for the wild manatees, the captive/rescue ones now had their turf limited and by unsightly chain link fences to boot.
But government interference aside, it was a great morning.
On Christmas Eve (day,) we went out for one last touristy adventure. There is an aquarium in Tampa that seemed promising and not too far away. En route, we read Trip Advisor reviews, most of which were positive. But…there were a few disconcerting ones calling it a cramped place and a rip off. Having already set our course and committed, we soldiered on. Fortunately, the same review led us to check for a groupon, which we bought on the way and saved $30. Go bargains!
Luckily, we found it great! While not huge, there was two solid hours of fun there. And at that point, we were all aquariumed out anyway.
There was an excellent exhibit with a high ceiling and a man made river running through. The sides were Plexiglas and you could watch the fish as they swam by. There were all sorts of birds flying (relatively) free throughout.
How do I know Maggie needs a pet? She let this spoonbill bite her face three times.
There were large tanks with sharks and sea turtles and smaller ones with things I had never seen - like this sea horse.
In the defense of the aquarium critics, we were there on a low traffic day. This was located right by the cruise ship port. If you had a bunch of cruisers or a few school groups, this could have been much less pleasant. But as this was a Parker Lewis can't lose vacation, we had all the space we needed.
After lunch, which we managed not to have in the aquarium cafeteria, we wanted to do just a bit more. Luckily, we found a Museum of Science and Industry that has a reciprocal relationship with our own science museum. Woohoo! Free admission!
Truth be told, I didn't find it all that compelling. But it was packed with hands on gear and we pretty much had to drag the kids out of there so we could make it home for dinner. And the price was right.
Maggie was the only one brave enough to try the tightrope bicycle. She said in spite of the net, it was still pretty scary.
I don't know if I would send a Tampa visitor there, but it worked out great for us!
Now all that is left from the trip, Christmas!