Founder Carole Baskin never dreamt she'd one day oversee a 55-acre sanctuary inhabited by some of Earth's largest cats. In 1992, she and her late husband were at an exotic-animal auction seeking out llamas for their farm. A man had a 6-month-old bobcat that he could no longer care for, and the pair decided to give it a place to call home. They then traveled to a bobcat breeder for another playmate, but upon seeing the horrible conditions the animals were kept in, they bought all 56 kittens. They rehabilitated them back to health, and gave them permanent homes on their then-40-acre site. Soon, word of her knack for nurturing spread beyond the Tampa area, and callers began donating abandoned or orphaned cats. Her mission to save these animals also reached the ears and hearts of many celebrities, including contributors Harrison Ford and Bo Derek.
After 20 years of hard work and learning, Carole is still caring for abused and abandoned big cats at her rescue site, accommodating more than 100 medium and large creatures from bengal tigers and black leopards to lynx and lions. Her staff of volunteers helps care for the animals and leads groups in tours that educate visitors on the plight of these animals both in the wild and in captivity.
Tampa's Cinco de Mayo Fiesta is a cultural cornucopia celebrating the Mexican holiday with music, dancing, food, activities, children's attractions, and a car and motorcycle show. Follow the incipient online schedule—or flip through the Facebook page—for the still-developing calendar, which includes events such as salsa-dancing lessons, a tongue-tickling chili contest, and the glamorous Miss Tampa Latina pageant. During the daily happy hour 3 p.m.–6 p.m., thirsty guests can enjoy one free beer. Take in a salsa lesson, then meander over to the other salsa camp, where recently steadied shoulders will be tested against fiery tortilla-toppers at the salsa tasting station. While proud car owners buff their road babies for Friday's car and motorcycle show, their flesh-based brood can clamber (supervised) through the children's area and carnival rides.
The Murder Mystery Company's talented troupe of improv actors performs live-action murder mysteries at public and private events to sharpen guests' latent detective skills. Throughout the play, the cast drops hints and misdirects blame, inviting audience members to get involved in a web of intrigue and hilarity. Besides public dinner parties, murder mysteries can unfold during corporate events, team-building exercises, and birthday parties for aging Sherlock Holmes impersonators.
Wendy O’ Lenic, the Wendy of Wendy Fit, began her professional dance career in 1979 with a Vegas dance review. Over the years, her passion for movement evolved and found a new life in yoga. Her curriculum covers various disciplines including yoga, Pilates, and meditation. Within the earth-green walls of her studio, Wendy and her staff lead students through group classes, private and semiprivate personal training sessions, and specialty courses such as ballet core and kettlebell. Once annually, the studio co-sponsors a yoga cruise so that students can practice their moves in fresh air and catch views of dolphins doing planks.
Bodies glide through flashing lights and foggy atmosphere as music pours out of speakers, setting a scene reminiscent of a club—except it's a roller rink. Town & Country Skateworld is the brainchild of three local families who joined forces to give youth a safe place to socialize with other kids interested in starting venture-capital funds. The facilities encompass roller skating, laser tag, an arcade, and two bounce houses.
To keep families fueled, the snack bar's crew dispenses comestibles such as pizza and nachos. In addition to entertaining throngs of visitors during regular hours, Town & Country Skateworld's staff hosts celebrations ranging from birthday parties to corporate events.
Café Kiln offers a variety of ways to cultivate creativity. Paint and glaze a blank piece of pottery, fuse glass, tile your own mosaic, or nurse a tender hunk of clay into form. The all-inclusive art emporium doesn't charge a studio fee, and all supplies (glaze, tools, instruction, paints) are included. Start by selecting your piece of pottery or mosaic shape. Consult stencils and stamps for design direction if you're stumped on the design—with more than 100 colors to choose from, Café Kiln rivals the Crayola Big Box with its wardrobe of hues. Mosaic creations will be ready for you to take home that day. Allow a week for pottery pieces to be fired and glazed.