I have absolutely fallen in love with history. The history I’m surrounded by on a daily basis. The history that I walk by, drive-by, and live by but yet have no idea what it really is.
I thought I knew. I mean, I think we all want to believe we know what has happened around us, but there is always something new to find out. Something new to uncover or simply to understand.
Have you ever had a conversation with someone who is such an amazing storyteller that it immediately makes you want to learn more about their stories? That’s what happened on our first night in Tampa Bay.
Kevin from VisitTampaBay.com met us on the Riverwalk downtown (future post coming about how wonderful that is) and gave us a bit of history about Tampa throughout the night. What is absolutely beautiful about Tampa Bay is that they embrace their history, they share their history. They have built their city around it.
True story. Kevin told the story of how Tampa is the “home” of the Cuban sandwich. Believe it or not, whatever you believe, but if he could get me that invested and interested in a sandwich… I knew I needed to uncover more about the city.
So if you are unaware, pirates are kinda of a huge thing in Florida. I’ve seen quite a few pirate-themed exhibits around the state, but this one hands down was my favorite. It didn’t glamorize the pirates the way some do, but it also didn’t skim the surface.
For example: the science behind their journeys is explored, in a way a seven-year-old could understand. Yes, hands-on too. Looking and learning about how ships navigated by the stars and then being able to use the tools they did, that is something I’ve never been able to do before. I’m still amazed by how they discovered tools like this out of necessity and how they can still be used today.
This isn’t an arts center that is stuffy at all. Every corner we went into had something that the kids were able to interact with. It was extremely welcoming, and the staff was more than accommodating.
If you add this to your trip I would say to block off a few hours to explore all of the floors. We spent a solid two hours there and could have been there longer.
Of course, pirates aren’t the only exhibit that your kids will enjoy. On the first floor, the History Center explores Florida’s indigenous tribes, specifically ones located around Tampa Bay. There is also an in-depth look at the cigar factories and how their establishment in Tampa helped the development of the city. I’m not sure how I didn’t know the impact this industry had on the west coast of Florida.
Cowmen & Crackers showcases Florida’s cattle ranching history, putting kids in the middle of an actual cattle drive. The fun part about this is that the saddles move back and forth. So as the cowboys are driving cattle on the screen, your kids can act like they are too.
One of the most fun parts, for us, was the Brick History.
This is a traveling exhibit, so will only be there until mid February 2020. After that make sure to check their website for information about what might be there.
I don’t know why but the fact they detailed the displays all the way down to Lego chickens made me laugh. You could spend so much time simply looking at each one.
You can also build your own.
So we did. It was adorable that after the boys saw all of the world displays, they wanted to make one too and were invested in their projects.
Look at how awesome these are. So much fun to look at each detail. You will love them as much as your kids do. My favorite are the huge castles in the middle. They have the outside and the inside fully decorated and detailed.
While you are there there is an adorable restaurant on site. No, not an overpriced concession stand. A place you can actually site down in the middle of Tampa Bay history. If you are there around lunch or dinner, try The Columbia out.
For more information or to see what other fun you could have there visit their website.
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