Since its construction in 1944, the 455-foot SS American Victory has weathered quite a few storms, including World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. From those storms, the steamship developed a rich history filled with stories that echo throughout its three-level cargo holds, hospital, flying bridge, mess halls, crew cabins, and lifeboats. Located in downtown Tampa, behind The Florida Aquarium, the cargo vessel now serves as a museum with exhibits showcasing rare artifacts including photographs, uniforms, medals, documents, and naval gear. Guests on the shipboard museum may take in the history at their own pace with self-guided tours, or book a guided tour led by knowledgeable docents able to walk backward as smoothly as Michael Jackson.
Linden Galleries' abundant selection of original artwork (starting at $20), print reproductions (starting at $20), and customized-framing solutions offer unlimited options with which to finally cover the shame of your scandalously exposed walls. Custom framing (starting at $50) is completed on-site in their Carrollwood Village gallery and comes with a choice of regular or acid-free matting and four types of glass (regular, reflection control, Plexiglas, and UV-shielding conservation glass) encased by the frame of your choice, from among Linden's 5,000-strong collection. Linden's talented framesmiths are also trained extensively in the frame-healing arts (starting at $20) and regularly employ their magical powers to mend fractured frames, fuse fissures in broken glass, and resurrect the lifelike vibrancy of sun-faded and mead-damaged photographs.
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Normally, you wouldn't expect to cross paths with giant glowing pandas, dragons, and other mythical creatures at the zoo, but that's exactly what visitors at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo will find. The luminescent creatures are all part of the Zoominations festival, which celebrates the ancient Chinese art of lantern sculpture.
Spread across 26 acres, Zoominations features 30 unique and beautiful scenes inspired by Chinese folklore, inviting guests on a cultural journey that has toured London, Toronto, and Beijing. Millions of LED lights and lanterns illuminate the festival grounds, showcasing the ingenuity of skilled artists from the Sichuan Province in China. Zoominations also boasts an Asian market, nightly performances, and dining experiences on select nights. For more information about what to expect, visit the Zoominations Facebook page.
The Florida Aquarium gives families a glimpse into the mysteries and magic of the undersea world and some of the land that surrounds it. For the holidays, the Aquarium is celebrating with its Holiday FantaSea, which starts December 26th and goes through December 30th. During the celebration, there will be light shows and exhibits open late along with a play area where guests can enjoy real snow.
The new Journey to Madagascar exhibit provides a look into the island's unique wildlife and diverse geography as well as the nearby Indian Ocean coral reef. The marine life exhibits spotlight the creatures that live in the bay or deeper underwater, even allowing kids to touch rays and sharks at Stingray Beach or lock eyes with sea turtles. Kids also see the sights of a 60-foot dive at the coral-reef exhibit's walk-through tunnel, whose underwater coral cave and brightly colored fish earned the aquarium a place in Parents magazine's top 10 aquariums for kids. A trip down the Wetlands Trail allows visitors to get face to face with playful otters and more circumspect Burmese pythons, while the Penguin Point opens a window into the lives of the best dressed of the flightless water birds.
Tampa resident and history lover Lonnie Herman?s longtime fascination with history has evolved into a broad expertise about the area's vibrant streets where newspapers are printed in three languages. The personable former executive also has the gift of being an evocative storyteller. This convergence of interest and talents resulted in Lonnie's company, Ybor City Historic Walking Tours. The guides' upbeat narration carry small groups down vibrant 7th Avenue with detailed anecdotes that reveal the complex past behind Ybor City's cigar factories, Columbia Restaurant, and the story of the eponymous Vicente Martinez-Ybor, who founded the city as a place to store his statues of himself.