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.
As they flock to the nearby beaches of Clearwater or the nightlife of Tampa, most tourists overlook Dunedin, a pretty burg known for its sweeping views of the Gulf of Mexico. But, thanks to the segway-riding guides at Sun Glide Tours, the region’s hidden gem just became much more accessible. Astride their two-wheeled steeds, visitors can explore the Pinellas Trail that cuts through downtown, steering their segways alongside runners, bikers, and the town’s famous rollerblading squirrels.
Snorkel with Manatees' expert divers lead tours on underwater sojourns to discover peaceful manatees and environs beneath the waves. Offering both group and mini manatee tours year-round, the guides monitor each diver to ensure safe practice with the animals. Their Crystal River scallops tour scours the ocean floor for tasty scallops while avoiding crabs auditioning for The Little Mermaid revival, and the Snorkel with Manatees excursions explore the Crystal, Homosassa, and Chassahowitzka Rivers on airboat. They also teach the fundamentals of their craft during discover scuba-diving lessons.
Dash Around Tours' experienced guides cart up to 14 sightseers to scenic central Florida locales, such as Cocoa Beach, Lake Eola, and Kissimmee, aboard the Dashmobile, a van replete with complimentary food and drinks. During unique expeditions, quirky tour guides take digital pictures for the group's future perusal on the web, as well as dole out their own brand of trivia about central Florida that they admit is more useless than a megaphone at mime school. The tour price includes admission to area attractions, but riders must provide their own change for retail purchases.
Tantalizing Tastes & Tours guides Jerry and Jasmine Bacon shepherd diners through the Fine Dining Tour, introducing palates to the seasonings and styles of four or five handpicked restaurants. Private chauffeurs depart at 6 p.m., driving guests to gourmand gems such as City Fire, at which diners indulge in upscale American fare, and The Nile, whose chef populates a menu with authentic Ethiopian dishes. As journeys roll along, panoramic views of downtown unfold, guides elaborate on places of interest, including Amway Center and City Hall, and rousing games of trivia require guests to consult their noggins to answer questions such as "Is Antarctica actually real?" Drivers will also pick up and drop off residents of other cities for an additional cost, including Kissimmee ($25), Lake Buena Vista ($20), and International Drive ($10). The directors request that guests refrain from wearing shorts, flip-flops, or clown noses on the excursion.