From SouthShore, travel time to most Tampa attractions is less than 30 minutes; major attractions in the St. Petersburg/Clearwater and Orlando areas are a comfortable 90-minute drive away. Below is a list of local favorites.
Manatee Viewing Center - Attracted by the warm water discharge of Tampa Electrics Big Bend Station, manatees can be seen from an observation platform. The center also features an Environmental Education Building, with displays on the physical and biological characteristics of the manatee. A self-guided nature trail follows a tidal flat walkway. The viewing center is open from mid-November through April and is located in Apollo Beach, just a few miles north of Ruskin. Call (813) 228-4289 for a recorded message.
Busch Gardens - A 335-acre African themed family entertainment park, featuring an unparalleled combination of world-class animal habitats, thrilling rides, and award winning shows - fun for the entire family! For a recorded message with information call (813) 987-5082.
The Florida Aquarium - Explore the natural wonders of Floridas waters and come face to face with fascinating aquatic creatures in air-conditioned comfort. The journey begins in one of Floridas pristine springs and continues through unique wetlands, marshes, bays, beaches and coral reefs. For hours and information call (813) 273-4000.
Lowry Park Zoo - The Natural Habitat Zoo features more than 1,500 animals in lush, tropical settings. It is ranked as one of the top three mid-sized zoos in the country. Lowry Park Zoo includes a Florida Manatee and Aquatic Center, Native Florida Exhibit, Primate World, Asian Domain, aviary and petting zoo. Tampa (813) 932-0245.
MOSI - Museum of Science & Industry - MOSI is the largest science center in the Southeast and home to MOSIMAX, Floridas only IMAX Dome Theatre. MOSI offers more than 450 "hands-on" interactive activities, which make science a real-life adventure. Some of MOSIs features are the BioWorks Butterfly Garden, the Saunders Planetarium, and the GTE Challenger Learning Center (a 21st century classroom with space station and mission control simulators).
Ybor City - Once known as the cigar capital of the world, Ybor City, a National Historic Landmark District, is rich with the culture of the past as well as the talents of the descendants of thousands of Cuban, Spanish, Italian and Jewish immigrants. Experience wrought-iron balconies, ethnic festivals, fine Latin and American cuisine and even hand-rolled cigars. Enjoy walking tours, specialty boutiques, flamenco dancers and eclectic nightclubs.
Gamble Plantation State Historic Site - Built in the mid-1800s, the Gamble mansion is the only antebellum plantation house surviving in south Florida. The house is furnished in the original mid-19th century style, as it appeared when the plantation was one of the most successful sugar producers in Florida. A guided tour depicts a time and way of life that were very much a part of Floridas unique history. Ellenton, 20 minutes south of Ruskin, (941) 723-4536.
Solomons Castle - One of Floridas most unique experiences, Solomons Castle is a true castle, and it is a true wonder. The castle is the home of internationally known sculptor Howard Solomon. Built by the artists own hand, the castle has a tower, a moat and more than 90 interpretive stained glass windows. Galleries contain Solomons art - wonderful, creative and sometimes quirky. Walk along the magnificent nature trail in the sylvan setting of picturesque Horse Creek. Located in Ona, about 90 minutes to the southeast, (941) 494-6077.
Cypress Gardens - Established in 1936, Cypress Gardens is Floridas first theme park. In addition to world-class tropical gardens and ski show, this is a 200-acre theme park is a natural experience for the whole family, with animals, shows, rides, musical and special events. Cypress Gardens is located in Winter Haven, between Tampa and Orlando, (941) 324-2111, (800) 282-2123.
Sea World - A marine-life adventure park with more than 200 acres of shows, attractions and exhibits that combine entertainment and education to create incredible, once-of-a-lifetime adventures. Located in Orlando, a 90-minute drive, call for daily information (407) 351-3600, (800) 432-1178 inside Florida.
Universal Studios - Two exciting theme parks bring action packed adventure and memorable encounters. Live the movies at Universal Studios Florida, with over 40 unforgettable rides, shows, movie sets and attractions. Live the adventure at Islands of Adventure, which brings together the most captivating experiences and lets visitors explore timeless stories, myths and legends. Universal Studios is located in Orlando, 90-minutes from SouthShore, 1-888-U-ESCAPE, (407) 363-8000.
Walt Disney World - Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney-MGM Studios, and Disneys Animal Kingdom. With four theme parks theres something for everyone: Live storybook fantasy, touch the future, travel the world, immerse yourself in showbiz glitz and glamour, and become an explorer in a kingdom of animals. Just south of Orlando, less than 90 minutes away. General information (407) 824-4321.
Football fans can see action packed competition when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers face some of the National Football Leagues top teams. Named for the swashbucklers made famous by Tampas Gasparilla Pirate Fest, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play home games at the new Raymond James Stadium from August through January.
Tampa Bay Lightning, the most exciting young team in the National Hockey League, plays 41 times a year at the fabulous new Ice Palace in downtown Tampa. Catch the excitement during the October through April season.
Springtime brings one of Americas favorite pastimes to the area - baseball. Legends Field in Tampa is the spring home to the New York Yankees and home to the Class A Florida State League Tampa Yankees. Other teams having spring training camps in the Tampa Bay and central Florida area are the Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds, and Toronto Blue Jays. The Tampa Bay Rays, a major league team that had their inaugural season in 1998, play at St. Petersburgs Tropicana Field. From the western shores of Ruskin and Apollo Beach, the stadium is directly across Tampa Bay, and only a 30-minute drive for baseball fans.
Greyhound racing at Tampa Greyhound Track or Derby Lanes in St. Petersburg attracts thousands of pari-mutuel bettors with a chance to cash in on a winning streak. Between the two tracks, the greyhounds run from January through June. Thoroughbred horse racing runs from January through
March at Florida Downs in Oldsmar.
For race car enthusiasts, the East Bay Raceway provides year-round races every Saturday for sprint and stock cars.
In November, the raceway hosts the Fall National Sprinters competition. For more information call (813) 677-2223.
Golf & Tennis
A year-round golf season makes SouthShore area a golfers paradise. In Sun City Center alone, you will find 126 holes of golf (another 36-holes will open by 2002), as well as the famed Ben Sutton Golf School for seniors. Challenging and well-maintained golf courses in the area await vacationing golfers and residents. Features of local golf clubs include championship and executive courses, PGA instruction, practice ranges, pro shops and restaurants.
Serve up a game of tennis at several area locations, public or private. Private facilities offer junior and adult clinics and individual lessons. Public tennis courts are located at recreation centers that are maintained by the Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation Department.
Boating & Fishing
As the name implies, much of SouthShore is surrounded by water! Rivers and inlets meet Tampa Bay in one of the best boating and fishing spots on the Suncoast. Area marinas cater to boaters needs, from slips to supplies, parts to repairs. High and dry storage facilities are available as well as full-service and do-it-yourself boat yards.
The pristine waters of the Alafia River, along with Little Manatee River and grass flats of Tampa Bay, provide shelter to a variety of fish. Tampa Bay also provides big fish excitement with tarpon, cobia, grouper, and king mackerel as well as cast netting for mullet, shrimp and bait. In flats and salt water portions of the Little Manatee River, anglers land shook, redfish and mangrove snapper, trout and flounder. Up river, fresh water fishing includes bass, brim and freshwater catfish. Charter captains know the local waters and can provide the ultimate fishing experience. Canoes, kayak and small motor rentals are available from local marinas.
Anglers are required to carry a license for either salt or fresh water fishing. Licenses may be purchased from local department stores or the County Tax Collector, which has a satellite office in Ruskin (813) 307-6500. There are certain exemptions to licensing; contact the Tax Collectors office for details.
Other sports you'll find in the SouthShore communities include softball, swimming, volleyball, horseshoes, hiking, biking, soccer and bowling.
Area fishing tournaments include: Alafia River catfish tournament, held on Labor Day weekend and the South Shore Fishing Tournament held in late spring.
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