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.
Since 1980, Time For Wine has colored the palates of wine lovers with a wealth of limited-production vintages from around the world that are typically unavailable in stores, restaurants, or juice boxes. Personal consultants continue the cherished traditions of European wine tasting by helping clients select a choice bottle with thorough sampling, taste analysis, and metaphors that may involve freshly cut grass or the musk of a well-travelled nickel. The boutique's sommeliers can make house calls to customers to host tastings of wines such as Italian chianti and South American malbec, and mail orders of finely aged grape juices ship within 24 hours. Customized labels grace specially ordered bottles with family photos, family crests, and personal messages.
The state of Florida was once entirely underwater—and Florida Eco-Adventures’ tours explore the parts that still are. Founders Mac and Suzanne McCormick lead adventurers through waters such as Kings Bay that, thanks to its 72-degree waters, is a wintertime refuge for West Indian Manatees. The Silver River, meanwhile, hosts a more eclectic array of wildlife, ranging from gators—although they’re too shy and skittish for regular sightings—to sunfish and rhesus monkeys.
The nonprofit Lowry Park Zoo has more than 1,500 animals living on nearly 60 acres of land. One way the Zoo maintains its animal habitats and conservation programs is to hold the annual ZooBoo fundraiser each fall, welcoming families for a slew of Halloween-themed attractions. The event’s spooky theme is evident upon arrival, as the Zoo’s walkways are filled with costumed youngsters. Haunted houses await to elicit giggles, gasps, or shrieks, and parents can easily determine which haunts are appropriate for their brood by consulting the Zoo's skull rating, which designates the scary level of each event, ranging from "all ages" to "scary to the extreme". Admission also includes free unlimited spins on rides such as the Batty Bumper Boats or Scary-Go-Round Carousel. After visiting with some of the Zoo's creepiest residents at the Flying Fox Bat House and Creepy Crawlers Lane, kids and adults can take in the dazzling light displays at the Little Beasties Bungalow or take a break and fill up on seasonal snacks at one of several concessions areas.
Though West of the Moon Art Glass has been around for more than 35 years, its facilities are brand new. Because of a recent relocation, their artisans inhabit a fresh space, where they sculpt custom stained- and leaded-glass works of art for local homes, businesses, and even churches that recently decided to install windows. Their experienced hands masterfully tackle any task customers set before them, whether it be a window, a light fixture, or a wall sculpture. The same meticulous attention goes into leading classes, which grant pupils the tools to craft their own masterpieces from materials that range from fused glass to faux bone. For those who prefer to skip right to the finished product or lack the space in their garden to grow their own glass, the gift shop sells jewelry, sun catchers, and window panels.
Ybor City was founded in 1886, when cigar manufacturer Vicente Martínez Ybor moved his factory from Key West to the area currently known as Tampa’s Latin Quarter. Martínez Ybor's legacy lives on today in the fragrant smoke that unfurls from the area’s cigar shops and George Burns impersonators. Meanwhile, a mix of Cuban, Spanish, and Italian clubs add a lively beat to the city’s cultural landscape.
Fueled by the desire to open others up to the sights, sounds, and history of this rich city, Electric Glide Tours stocked up on a fleet i2 Segway models, leading one- and two-hour urban jaunts filled with historical factoids and eye-grabbing scenery. Tourists can even make pit stops at the birthplace of the pressed Cuban sandwich on Electric Guide Tours’ guided tours of the city. While the company specializes in Ybor City adventures, their guides can also craft custom tours—dubbed “Red Carpet Tours”—of locations such as South Tampa and Old Hyde Park.