Sightseeing in Egypt Lake-Leto


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After becoming a success in the railroad and steamship industries, 1800s businessman Henry B. Plant set his sights on a new venture: building a luxury hotel near Florida's cerulean shores. His vision landed him in an area that was but swampland and sand in 1889 Tampa. But three years and $3,000,000 later—including $500,000 in furniture and art—he successfully opened The Tampa Bay Hotel, a 511-room luxury destination sprawled over six acres.

Today, Henry's architectural and engineering feat serves as the home of the Henry B. Plant Museum, an institution that educates visitors on Plant's life, the Victorian period, and life in early Tampa. Among the building's groundbreaking aspects, the hotel was among the first in Florida to feature electrified rooms and pampered guests with in-house billiards, a babershop, and a telegraph office. His guests even enjoyed in-room telephones and private baths with hot and cold running water, a lofty accomplishment considering man wouldn't invent soap for another 13 years. The museum has now been restored to its former glory, showering current visitors in Victorian opulence, art, and its historic achievements.

401 W Kennedy Blvd
Tampa,
FL
US

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.

705 Channelside Drive
Tampa,
FL
US

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.

12926 Dale Drive
Tampa,
FL
US

Tampa's Museum of Science & Industry—also known as MOSI—has all the answers; even to questions you hadn't thought up yet. What would it be like to live on the moon? Head over to Mission: Moonbase for a detailed simulation. What did the night sky look like in the distant past and what will it look like in the future? The Saunders Planetarium can conjure the starscape of any era. These are just two of the museum's 450 hands-on activities, which also include The Amazing You—an interactive exhibit that explores the process of human development—and the BioWorks Butterfly Garden.

All of these activities feed into the nonprofit, community-based museum's mission of making science fun and accessible to curious citizens of all ages. It is home to a massive children's museum, a water treatment facility that doubles as an exhibit on marshy ecosystems, and an IMAX dome theater—the only one of its kind in Florida.

4801 E Fowler Ave
Tampa,
FL
US

The Tampa Bay History Center is the only Smithsonian-affiliated museum in the area, is Tampa's highest-rated museum on TripAdvisor, and was featured on an episode of the History Channel show "Museum Men." It's not hard to see why. It takes its visitors on a walk through time, and while it might only feel like an hour or two has passed, the journey actually covers 12,000 years. Beginning with Florida’s first native inhabitants and the Spanish conquistadors, the story charts a course through history that touches on explorers, railroads, sports stars, and everything in between—ultimately depositing guests back in the present day.

  • Size: Three floors of exhibits and 15 permanent galleries that tell the Tampa Bay story, plus visiting exhibits
  • On Exhibit Now: Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown featuring classic Peanuts comics and memorabilia
  • Hands-On Activities: Imagine life as a pioneer via the replica cabin and other interactive features inside the Patrick Smith-inspired A Land Remembered gallery.
  • Don't Miss: one of the largest cigar memorabilia collections in the world inside Cigar City
  • Dining: Enjoy waterfront dining in the Columbia Cafe, located inside the History Center
  • Special Programs: public tours; crafting days for kids; book clubs; guest speakers
801 Saint Pete Times Forum Dr
Tampa,
FL
US

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.

701 Channelside Dr
Tampa,
FL
US