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Ybor City and The Florida Aquarium
If you are looking for a day out around an hour from the Parks area then consider a trip to one of the smaller Florida Historical State Parks and one that is unlike any other.
Found in Ybor City only a few miles from Downtown Tampa -the park consists of Ybor City Museum which is housed in the Ferlita Bakery building (a neighborhood bakery operated by the Ferlita family, Italian immigrants who established the business at that location in 1896), the Casita, (little house) and the Garden.
It costs $3 to get into the museum , visit the house and garden and children under 6 get in free. The museum tells the story of how Ybor city was founded and grew thanks to the cigar factories that sprang up in the 1800' s. Children will love the story of the Ferlita Bakery as told by the original oven that is in the museum. You will learn how many different people from all over Europe and South America all came to Ybor and helped develop the city and contribute to its growth.
The Casita is one of seven workers cottages left the hundreds that were built by the factory owners for their workers to rent. They were bought by the State and moved to the historic site in the 1970' s. The one you can visit is in the exact same condition as it would have been in the 1890' s -apart from the security and glass and compared to some modern homes it really is a surprise .
The garden is small but provided all the food the workers would have needed and the staff today keep it up together and as authentic as possible.
Having visited the museum enjoy a stroll round the city itself and take in the different buildings that are left from all the different communities that enjoyed life in Ybor . You will find building that range in style from Mediterranean to neoclassical and they are all remnants from times when the factory owners provided a good life both in the work place and socially for their workers.
From Ybor City take a streetcar to Tampa. These are modern replicas of traditional streetcars and are all fitted out with wooden interiors and have beautiful decorated ceilings. To ride all day on all the 3 transport systems in the area will cost $5 and you can hop on and off as you like but the best stop is the one right outside the Florida Aquarium.
The Aquarium is ranked highly by visitors and is worth a visit during your stay. It has exhibits that explain Florida dependence on water from the source underground to the open sea. Wander through wetlands to beaches to the Coral Reef off the Dry Tortugas right to the ocean itself seeing all the wonderful natural creations and animals you will find there. You can also come face to face with penguins but mind your shoelaces as they wander right up to you. If you would rather get close to the fish then you can go on a backstage tour or even choose to feed sharks. If you are a qualified diver you can even dive with the sharks. If not then maybe a swim with the fishes is your thing. Children can do this but they must be at least 6-years-old and be comfortable in the water. Children under 9-years-old must have a paying in-water parent or guardian participate If these are too adventurous for you then perhaps a boat trip to see if you can spot any of the 500+ bottlenose Dolphins that live in the Tampa Bay. The trip lasts 90 mins and a pair of binoculars is a good idea if you have them.
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