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Crowds have thinned and breezes picked up it’s a good time to plan a getaway. If Tampa has been off your travel radar in the past few years, consider a trip west on Interstate 4. The Tampa Bay replica louis vuitton area has premium beaches, first class hotels, a vibrant business community and cultural diversity, all steeped with the ambience of a sunset loving coastal town.

“Been there, done that,” you might say to Tampa’s world class art high quality replica handbags china museums, the living history in Ybor City and the theme park fun at nearby Busch Gardens. But things change quickly in the Sunshine State, and the Bay area has a slew of new offerings, from boat tours and trendy shops to a touch of Aussie land at Lowry Zoo and an electric streetcar system.

This fall the talk of the town is the much anticipated return of the electric streetcar. Resurrected after a 55 year absence, the Teco Line Streetcar System takes passengers to popular tourist sites along a 2.3 mile route from the Channel District to Ybor City. The canary yellow streetcars stop at sights such as the Florida Aquarium, cheap replica handbags the Ice Palace and the Tampa Convention Center. A one way fare is $1.25; an all day pass is $3. Children ages 4 and younger ride free, and there are discounts for youths and seniors. Future extensions of the route will provide a park and ride commuting option for downtown workers.

Sports fans might plan a trip around a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game. First year coach Jon Gruden has the Bucs looking strong, and tickets are available for December games. For information, contact Ticketmaster at 407 839 3900 or search online using the key words “Tampa Bay Buccaneers tickets.”

If you haven’t visited Ybor City in a few years, Tampa’s historic Latin Quarter has new offerings such as Centro Ybor. The entertainment complex, which opened in 2000, is a mix of retailers, restaurants and entertainment venues situated around a plaza in the heart of Ybor City.

Travelers in Florida are usually rewarded with lower prices in December, and Tampa is no exception. The Tampa Bay Convention Visitors Bureau has teamed with various hotels and attractions to offer five themed Getaway Packages, starting at $87.50 per person, double occupancy. Among the 15 participating attractions are Busch Gardens, Tampa Museum of Art, Lowry Park Zoo, Florida Aquarium and Florida International Museum. The participating hotels include the Hilton, Hyatt Regency, Saddlebrook Resort and Holiday Inn.

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It might be the old favorites such as Busch Gardens that fake louis bag keep folks coming back to the Tampa area, but try spicing things up with some of the newer attractions options. Starkey family’s Anclote River Ranch. The leisurely tours take riders through pasturelands, hammocks, flatwoods and oak scrubs that appear much as they did in the 1800s. If horses aren’t your thing, Flatwoods Adventures offers range buggy tours. Its Palmetto Patch shop features locally crafted gift items and foods.

Tour times vary Perfect Quality Louis Vuitton Replica and reservations are required. Horseback tours cost $65 per horse for about two hours; buggy tours cost $15.75 for adults, $14.75 1:1 replica handbags for seniors and $8.75 for children ages 3 to 12. Highway 41 on State Road 54. The ranch also offers monthly Full Moon dinner tour packages. Call for details.

The Lowry Park Zoo, 1101 W. Sligh Ave., 813 935 8552, has had an Australian accent since Wallaroo Station, a 4.5 acre Australian themed children’s zoo featuring kookaburra, kangaroos and wallabies, opened in May. Children can pet a variety of animals, feed fish and explore educational exhibits on topics such as Aboriginal legends. daily. Tickets are $9.50 for adults, $8.50 for seniors, $5.95 for children ages 3 to 11; younger children are admitted free. Riders clutching duckbill shaped kazoos climb aboard a World War II Army amphibious troop landing vehicle for an 80 minute excursion by land and water. Tours start at the Newk’s Lighthouse Cafe Quack Shack in downtown Tampa, waddle through downtown, then splash into the Hillsborough River before paddling back onto land for a gander at historic Ybor City. Separate tours of St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay depart from the Pier in downtown St. Petersburg several times daily, and reservations are suggested. Tickets are $18.50 for adults, $16.50 seniors and $9.95 for children ages 3 to 12; younger children are admitted free. Of course, you can still view the more than 2,700 animals that call Busch Gardens home, see live shows and ride Gwazi, the wooden roller coaster, or churn up your stomach on one of the other steel roller coasters. Busch Gardens is 8 miles northeast of Tampa at the corner of Busch Avenue and 40th Street. Adult admission is $49.95, children ages 3 to 9 are admitted for $40.95; younger children are admitted free. Guests listen to the sounds of the bay, including dolphin, crabs and oysters. You’ll birdwatch at an island bird sanctuary established by the National Audubon Society and go seining on a spoil island. General admission to the aquarium is $15 for adults; Dolphin Quest excursions are an additional $18 replica louis vuitton bags , or buy a combo ticket for $30. Admission is discounted for children and fake louis bag seniors. daily.


Saddlebrook Resort, 5700 Saddlebrook Way, Wesley Chapel (813 973 1111; 1 800 729 8383) renowned for its golf, tennis and spa facilities, is in the midst of renovating its guest accommodations. The resort is aiming for an elegant yet airy ambience. Updates include marble floors and vanities, designer fixtures for the bathrooms, and granite pass through serving bars for fake designer bags suite kitchens. The improvements are part of an $8 million project that should be completed by the end of the year. The resort’s heavily wooded grounds sprawl over 480 acres 15 miles north of Tampa. Rates range from about $140 to $220, double occupancy.

On the waterfront, the Tampa Marriott Waterside (700 South Florida Ave.; 813 221 4900) is one of the town’s newest hotels, opening its doors in March 2000. The hotel features amenities such as restaurants, health club, hair salon and spa. This month, the luxury resort style hotel plans to open a marina. The 32 slips will accommodate boats of all sizes and allow visitors to arrive at the hotel via boat for a meeting, a meal or an evening stay. Don’t have a boat? The marina rents canoes, kayaks and personal watercraft. Room rates start at about $130, double occupancy.

The Hilton Garden Inn Tampa/Ybor City (1700 E. But the hotel has a lot going for it in terms of convenience it’s just across the street from the new Centro Ybor, 2 miles from downtown Tampa, and 5 miles from Tampa International Airport. Its in house restaurant offers a full breakfast buffet. Each room has a microwave, fridge and coffeemaker. Rates start at $80, double occupancy Discount Replica Louis Vuitton Bags , and parking is free.

Close to Tampa’s newest mall, Citrus Park Town Center, is a recently opened Hampton Inn/Veteran’s Expressway (5628 W. The 86 room hotel features a fitness center and pool. A variety of restaurants are within walking distance. Room rates start at about $69.


The Columbia Restaurant (2117 E. 7th Ave., Ybor City, 813 248 4961) has grown from a small corner shop opened in 1905 to a 1,660 seat, 11 room restaurant that takes up a city block in Ybor City. Yes, the Orlando area has a Columbia Restaurant in Celebration, but it’s worth a trip to visit the original. The Columbia’s newest addition is a 5,000 square foot, state of the art kitchen. One of the restaurant’s main dining rooms, the Don Quixote, is being refurbished to its 1950s decor. Dinner entrees are priced from $15 to $24.95. The high quality designer replica handbags wholesale $7 million, 180 foot yacht takes visitors on lunch and dinner cruises on the Bay. The lunch cruise includes a three course meal and captain’s narration, while the dinner cruise features a three course meal and entertainment. Fares start at $29.95 for a lunch cruise; the Sunday brunch cruise is $34.95; and dinner cruises start at $49.95. Combination lunch cruise and Florida Aquarium admission ticket packages are available on Wednesdays and Saturdays starting at $31.95 for adults.

Roy’s (4342 W. Boy Scout Blvd.; 813 873 7697), the Hawaiian import of chef Roy Yamaguchi, opened in November 2000. The restaurant, across from the International Plaza Mall, offers innovative Hawaiian and Asian cuisine in an elegant yet casual environment. Entrees range from $20 to $30.

The red carpeted walls of Bern’s Steakhouse (1208 S. Howard Ave.; Hyde Park; 813 251 2421) that have surrounded presidents and Hollywood celebrities for years are gone. Bern’s Andre Tchelistcheff Room, named for a famed winemaker, has been redone with mahogany paneling. The Florentine Room, Irish Rebellion Room and Harry Waugh Dessert Room also have been renovated as part of a $100,000 update. Local dining critics have variously described the building as a “warehouse” and a “bordello,” but its late founder, Bern Lexer, didn’t set out to be an interior designer. The restaurant ages its own beef, grows its own organic vegetables, roasts its own coffee, and even maintains saltwater fish tanks. The 212 page wine list offers about 7,000 selections. Dinners are served in small rooms filled with memorabilia scavenged from old theaters and Lexer family travels. Entrees range from $18 to $35.


With the mall explosion in Central Florida, shopping might not be the magnet that lures you to Tampa. But shopaholics won’t be disappointed by the Bay City’s offerings. New in the last several years are:

International Plaza (2223 N. Westshore Blvd.; 813 342 3790), which has more than 200 stores, such as A/X Armani Exchange, Louis Vuitton and Tiffany Co. Department stores include Nordstrom, Lord Taylor and Neiman Marcus. Restaurants such as California Pizza Kitchen and the ever popular Cheesecake Factory tempt shoppers to rest their feet and feed their stomachs.

Citrus Park Town Center, (8021 Citrus Park Town Center; 813 926 4644), which aims for a Main Street USA theme with large windows, cheap louis vuitton bags from china life size sculptures of children and decorative street lamps. The highlight for adults is the area’s largest Pottery Barn and for kids 1:1 replica handbags , an indoor playground.

In addition to traditional malls, Tampa now has a waterfront entertainment and shopping complex called Channelside (813 223 4250), with movie theaters, restaurants, shops and nightclubs. Channelside, at 615 Channelside Drive next to the Florida Aquarium and Garrison Seaport Center, features boutique shops selling swim and beach wear, wines, cigars, coffee and gifts. It is one link in the ongoing redevelopment of Tampa Bay’s waterfront. And a cool December evening is a great time for a stroll.

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