Heritage Village in Largo, Florida

Heritage Village in Largo, FL photo by Monica Goslin

Heritage Village in Largo, Florida

Heritage Village in Pinellas County in Florida is a living museum park made up of 21 acres with historical buildings. This historical village park opened in 1977 and has twenty-eight 19th century buildings including a schoolhouse, church, general store, and old family homes.  You can visit each building, some have information boards in front of them, telling you about the previous owners and where in Florida the house was originally located. Some homes also have tours, which are very informative, such as the House of the Seven Gables, which is a tour I would highly recommend!

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Hours for Heritage Village, plus click for official website:

Wednesday to Saturday 10am – 4pm

Sunday 1pm-4pm

CLOSED on Mondays and Tuesdays

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Right next to Heritage Village is the Botanical Gardens that are open every day from 7am to 7pm. Click here for the official Botanical Gardens in Largo, Florida website.

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To see more photos of St. Petersburg, Florida including the Dali Museum, the Tampa Bay area and Heritage Village click here for travel stock photography of St. Petersburg, Florida.

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Tarpon Springs, Florida

Tarpon Springs, Florida photo by Monica Goslin

Visiting Tarpon Springs, Florida – home of the sponge and one of the largest communities of Greek Americans!

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TARPON SPRINGS, Florida

If you are in the Tampa Bay area, I recommend making a day trip to Tarpon Springs; well you really just need an afternoon.

Tarpon Springs has the highest percentage of Greek Americans of any other US city. The first Greek immigrants arrived in the 1880’s where they were recruited for sponge diving. The red tide of 1947 wiped out many of the sponge fields and divers had to turn to fishing. The sponge industry made a comeback in 2007 and the main street by the water has shops, and small museums that are quaint and yet full of information about the trade.

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 For what sponges to buy while in Tarpon Springs… I suggest buying a handful of silk sponges, which are very small and useful for applying or removing makeup. Make sure to get a few wool sea sponges, which are the highest quality and the most durable. I bought a wool sponge to wash dishes with and I am still using it 6 months later! Plus the sponges do not get moldy, harbor bacteria, or develop an odor, all of which are a great plus! Also you will find an array of goats milk and olive oil soaps.

If you like dessert and appreciate strong coffee, you can sit in one of the Tarpon Springs cafes and feel like you are in Greece because the staff and locals are all speaking Greek! It is great fun!

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Fun Sighting in Tarpon Springs, Florida:

While in Tarpon Springs I saw the best vanity license plate! The license plate stated:  “American by birth, Greek by the grace of God.”

I think that statement sums up the quirky charm of the sponge town of Tarpon Springs, Florida.

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To see more photos of Tarpon Springs, Florida and the sponges that you can buy in this American/Greek town click here for travel stock photography of Tarpon Springs, Florida.

PLUS see the stock photos of the Greek Parade in New York City – another area with a large population of Greek Americans.

Ybor City, Florida

Ybor City, Florida photo by Monica Goslin

Ybor City  – historic neighborhood of Tampa, Florida

Ybor City was founded in the late 1800’s by cigar manufacturers and was dominated by cigar factories for 50 years. Ybor City is a National Historic Landmark District. The name of the city comes from Vicente Martinez Ybor, a Spanish-born cigar manufacturer, originally located in Cuba and then Key West before he settled in Tampa. The cigar industry boomed in the 20th century, bringing many immigrants mostly from Cuba, Spain, and Italy. The city of Ybor declined after the Depression and World War II and only started to recover in the early 1980’s and now thrives on tourism, restaurants, and nightlife.

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How to get to Ybor City from Downtown Tampa – take the tram!

You can take the tram (one way ticket is $2.50) from downtown Tampa to Ybor City, walk down 7th Avenue, have lunch at the famous Colombia Restaurant and then head back to Tampa on the tram.

The tram in Tampa began running in October of 2002 and is 2.7 miles long with a total of 11 stops. Tampa’s first trams, or electric streetcars, were used in 1892 and were at their height of popularity in the 1920’s. The tramlines were shut down in 1946 until the new heritage line was started in 2002. The trams in Tampa are managed by the Tampa Historic Streetcar Inc. and owned by the City of Tampa.

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Colombia Restaurant in Ybor City – where to eat in Ybor City/Tampa

The Colombia Restaurant in Ybor City is an important historic landmark as the restaurant opened in 1905! Not only are there 4th and 5th generation family members of the Hernandez Gonzmart family working in the Colombia Restaurant today, but also it is said to be the oldest restaurant in Florida and the world’s largest Spanish restaurant!

Located on the main streets, 7th Avenue, you can’t miss it. The Colombia Restaurant in Ybor City is 2117 East 7th Avenue and is open every day!

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To see more photos of downtown Tampa, Florida including Ybor City and the Spanish tiles of the famous Colombia Restaurant in Ybor City, click here for travel stock photography of Tampa, Florida.

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Visiting Downtown Tampa

Downtown Tampa, FL by Monica Goslin

What to do and see in downtown Tampa, Florida

Visiting downtown Tampa you will find a rather impressive, although quiet, city center with stunning skyscrapers and a very pleasant waterfront park. Downtown Tampa is very walk-able and the central area you want to see starts at the waterfront park.

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Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park is an 8-acre sustainable park with features like reclaimed water for irrigation. The park accommodates a range of programs and performances, and includes a dog park, a river walk, and two interactive fountains.

Bordering the park is the Tampa Museum of Art and the Glazer Children’s Museum. Both museums are stunning architecturally and I highly recommend eating lunch or just enjoying coffee and gelato at the SoNo Café at the Tampa Museum of Art, where you can sit outside and enjoy the view while eating fabulous food and drinking great coffee. Click here for a link to the SoNo Cafe at the Tampa Museum of Art to find out more.

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From the park you just have to walk a few blocks to see the skyscrapers up close and see some interesting artwork, like the “Solstice” sculpture by Charles O. Perry in the courtyard of the Bank of America, which looks like a gigantic slinky! Plus you will notice the Rivergate Tower, which is the cylindrical building at the other end of the waterfront park. The Rivergate Tower is the sixth tallest building in Tampa, designed by Harry Wolf and is one of the tallest limestone structures in the world (probably a useful fact to know for jeopardy)!

You can easily reach the Henry B. Plant Museum from downtown Tampa by walking over the West Kennedy Blvd Bridge; find out about the Henry B Plant Museum in the previous post!

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To see more photos of downtown Tampa, Florida click here for travel stock photography of Tampa, FL.

Henry B. Plant Museum in Tampa

Henry B. Plant Museum photo by Monica Goslin

Visiting the Henry B. Plant Museum in Tampa, Florida

The Henry B. Plant Museum is housed in what used to be the Tampa Bay Hotel in 1891 and is now a National Historical Landmark.

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A brief history of Henry B. Plant

Henry B. Plant founded the Plant Systems of railroads and steamboats, bringing the railroad to Tampa, Florida in 1884. Plant built a transportation system over 20 years that included over two thousand miles of track, 14 railway companies, steamship lines and hotels. Mr. Plant not only connected cities along the Atlantic seaboard but also extended small railroads to provide better connection across the state of Florida and to the North. Tampa became a port for steamships to Havana as well! To read a short biography of Henry B. Plant, click here for the museums website page with the information of Plant’s life and how he started the business.

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Henry B. Plant built the Tampa hotel which still stands today, only now as a museum and part of the University of Tampa. The hotel was built in the style of a Moorish palace and opened in 1891 with 511 rooms.  Most rooms had baths, electricity and telephones, which was quite a unusual in that day and age!

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To see more photos of downtown Tampa, Florida click here for travel stock photography of Tampa, Florida.

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You can visit the Henry B. Plant museum and see rooms decorated as the hotel would have been, and see more artifacts and information about Mr. Plant.

Henry B. Plant Museum Hours:

Tuesday to Saturday 10am – 5pm

Saturday Noon – 5pm

CLOSED on Mondays

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Admission for the Henry B. Plant Museum is:

Adults $10

Seniors $7

Students $7

Children $5 (ages 4-12)

*Admission tickets current as of August 2012

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Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida

Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, FL by Monica Goslin

Visiting the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida

The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg Florida is certainly a must see, even if you aren’t a surrealism fanatic because the building itself is something to see!

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 About the Dali Museum in Florida including hours and prices:

A. Reynolds and Eleanor Morse who started collecting Dali paintings in 1943 just a year after they got married founded the Dali museum. The couple’s private collection was so large by the 1960’s that they opened a museum in 1971; however, they were searching for a larger location when a Community Coalition approached them from the city of St. Petersburg, FL, which is where they opened the Dali Museum in 1982. The newest Dali Museum building opened in January 2011. The collection of Dali paintings at the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg is the one of the best collections of Dali’s work in America.

 You can read more about the Dali Museum and the founders by clicking here for the official website.

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The building of the Dali Museum in Florida

I visited the Dali Museum in Florida recently, and while I am not a big fan of the artist’s work I do appreciate the complexity of it and I certainly admired the new museum building, which I think is just as interesting to see as the exhibition. Yann Weymouth at HOK designed the Dali Museum in Florida. The building was obviously designed with the artists work in mind, as there are strong contrasts between stone and glass, lines and curves, and complex angles. Perhaps the most dazzling element of the Dali Museum is the spiral staircase that continues to stretch towards the ceiling even after the steps are gone. The skylight ceiling is also a marvelous touch and allows that bright blue Florida sky to show through to the cafe on the ground floor. The Dali Museum building is really quite something to see!

 To read more about the architecture of the Dali Museum in Florida click here and you can find out how they designed the building to sustain hurricane force winds, rain, and even made it a sustainable green building.

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To see more photos of St. Petersburg, Florida including the Dali Museum, the Tampa Bay area and Heritage Village click here for travel stock photography of St. Petersburg, FL.

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The Dali Museum hours and prices:

Monday through Wednesday 10 – 5:30

Thursday 10 – 8

Friday and Saturday 10 – 5:30

Sunday  Noon – 5:30

*And the museum store stays open half an hour after closing!

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Admissions prices for Dali Museum in Florida

Adults $21

Children tickets range from free to $15 (depending on age) – see official museum website for details

*On Thursdays, tickets are $10 after 5pm!

**These ticket prices were current as of August 2012.

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