Visit Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park

Summer has barely began and already Florida is being declared the next “hot spot”. However, don’t let that get you down. Now is the perfect time for a Virtual Summer Vacation; follow along with us to virtually travel and explore all of the destinations you didn’t know about before; make a list of your favorite destinations for your 2021 Travel Bucket List. Our bucket list keeps getting longer so I know when this virus is on the down turn and there is a vaccine I will be a totally informed traveler.

First, let’s hit the road for a virtual ZOO tour. First stop : ZOO TAMPA. Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park has over 1,300 animals broken down by themed exhibits. Zoo Tampa practices safe social distancing and has implemented a new modified operations plan which can be downloaded on their website. Safety is a priority and there is zero tolerance for deviating from new rules and regulations.

Let’s go to the zoo! First stop, ASIA. Get up close to many rare and endangered animals. and take part in aviary feedings and rhino encounters.

  • ASIA (15 exhibits). In Asia you will find a netted aviary for visitors to feed birds; a small yard with komodo dragons and a medium sized pool yard with a Malayan Tapir surrounded by a moat with a Visayan Warty Pig. Have you ever seen a Sulawesi Babirusa? Kind of looks like a wart hog. The most exciting of exhibits in Asia is the Cloud Leopard and Great Indian Rhinocerus. There are Great Asian Pond turtles and a Burmese Black Tortoise.

Florida (55 Exhibits) The Florida Boardwalk and Manatee Mangrove is home to many native wildlife species. This is a long, native exhibit with paths and an exhibit building. You will find manatees, alligators, american Flamingos, snakes and brown pelicans along with turtles and a Florida panther.

Primates (10 exhibits) The majority of the primates here are endangered species. A personal favorite, the primate area includes a Chimpanzee, Orangutan, Lemurs and more.

Africa (21 exhibits) Africa is the most popular exhibit at the zoo along with “Expedition Africa” a guided cart ride and a Giraffe Meet and Greet. There is also a backstage white rhino encounter. The exhibit is complete with Meerkats, African Elephants, Zebras and Rhinocerous along with Hippo’s and Giraffes, Africa is a family favorite.

Wallaroo Childrens Area

Wallaroo Childrens Area is an Australian themed family area which provides hours of family fun for children of all ages. The area includes the Tasmanian Tiger Coaster, Splash Area, Koalas, Wambats, Llamas and more!

The zoo is currently open, however, reservations are required. Please contact Zoo Tampa directly at (813)935-8552 or head over to their website ZooTampa. The zoo is located at 1101 W Sligh Avenue Tampa, FL 33604

FAQS

  • Parking is Free
  • No reentry is permitted
  • All bags, backpacks and packages are subject to inspection
  • A designated picnic area is located outside of the park
  • Only one bottled water per guest is permitted
  • Coolers, suitcases and bags with wheels are prohibited
  • Service animals are permitted with proper credentials
  • No kennels form domestic animals are on site

If you have special dietary needs, please contact guest relations.

Don’t miss the exciting animatronic Dinos Alive!

Summer Camping: Sebastian Inlet State Park

Wow! Who would have thought the Summer of 2020 would be the summer of the RV Nation? The numbers are staggering. RV sales have skyrocketed 600% over last year and 80% of those are first time buyers (per a podcast on iheartradio). I will admit I tossed around the idea of purchasing or renting an RV. However, I decided I’m going to pitch a tent and head to Sebastian Inlet State Park.

I grew up glamping in an RV so this tent thing is going to be interesting. Whether you are an expert or a novice camper I have come across some awesome resources and information to share. I love www.girlcamper.com. This resource offers a ton of information and tips for the novice to the expert. There are a podcast and information on parks throughout the United States. I was planning on hitting the road this summer to drive from Florida to Utah but then Corona Virus happened and there is too much social unrest. Needless to say, I will be staying in Florida. First stop, Sebastian Inlet State Park: A little gem on the Atlantic.

photo from Sebastian Inlet Webcam

Since I love the beach I am dialing it down to Atlantic parks. One of my favorites is Sebastian Inlet State Park; which is 45 minutes from my home. Having grown up on the Treasure Coast, Sebastian inlet is a favorite surf town. As a teen, I would attend surfing competitions and events in Sebastian. Camping isn’t directly on the beach but close enough. You will never get bored or run out of things to do. The south side of the inlet is for campers. There are beautiful beaches, a boat ramp, canoeing, and the Indian River Lagoon. Be sure to have exact cash when paying in cash. The park also takes credit cards. Contact the park directly at 321-984-4852 for current safety precautions and Cororna Virus updates. Check out their webcam for really cool pictures and beach conditions. If you are looking for a little authentic Florida nightlife, the atmosphere at Captain Hiram’s Resort offers restaurants and bars right on the Indian River. Dine and have a few drinks among live entertainment. This beautiful resort is approximately 12 miles from the Inlet State Park but it’s worth the trip to break away from the campground. Before heading over, check with the resort for their updated Corona Virus policies on capacity and live entertainment. Follow up with the resort on their pet policies if you are traveling with pets.

Theme Parks this Summer: What You Should Know

It’s a big week here in Orlando: Theme park openings are happening in FULL FORCE! Just last week Universal Orlando had its soft opening for Annual Passholders only. The following day it opened to the public. For some guests the reopening was a little chaotic and confusing.

Per Universal Studios Orlando, their Annual pass-holders should have received an email with specific instructions telling them to make a reservation to gain entry to the park. A few AP holders I know did not receive an email. They were turned away but were told they could enter if they were staying on the property. So, like any Universal fan dying to hit the parks, they made a reservation at the Cabana Bay Hotel and into the theme park they went.

Universal Studios Orlando Halloween Horror Night
Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights

New times require new rules: Temperature checks along with face masks are required upon entry. This is strictly enforced. Don’t think for a minute you will be able to slide by without a mask. Once entering, my source said things were surreal. She stated how odd it was to walk around empty streets. Not only was it odd to walk around empty streets but, the seating on rides is set to social distancing guidelines.

All of the safety precautions sound reasonable. It seems there are two schools of thought surrounding this Corona Virus. Some are throwing caution to the wind and are determined to live life with precautions while others choose to live in a bubble until there is a vaccine. I think I fall somewhere in the middle. Nevertheless, life does go on.

As Universal Studios opened the first week of June, Sea World is happy to open on June 11th and Walt Disney World phased reopening is set to begin July 11th. With all of the new policies in place it is imperative to go to the theme parks website and make a reservation to enter the park. You cannot just show up and expect to gain entry. Part of the reason for this procedure is they have to limit capacity. A reservation system is the only way to capture the number of attendees on a specific day to control its occupancy rates. Keep in mind, occupancy rates are at 30 – 50 percent. Reservations are required!

A good thing to keeping the occupancy down is less crowds. It doesn’t necessarily mean short wait times. Yes, wait times are shorter but not by a lot because the seating on the rides is spaced out. Thus, fewer people per ride at a time.

I am looking forward to heading to the theme parks at the end of the month. I will have a mask, hand sanitizer and most importantly A RESERVATION!

Theme park reservations are required to gain entry.

Summer 2020: The New Normal

Summer 2020 will clearly be like no other. We will travel under a set of circumstances referred to as The New Normal. The Coronavirus has changed virtually every aspect of our lives; however, just as the saying goes: when the going gets tough, the tough get going. So, let’s GET GOING. Hi

Whether you live in Florida or are visiting once the beaches and parks are open there are plenty of SAFE, SOCIALLY DISTANT activities to enjoy. There are 175 state parks, 9 trails and over 50 places to go camping. But, don’t just hit the road; some are open and others are still closed. The first State Park I am looking forward to is Bahia Honda State Park.

Exploring Top Rated Bahia Honda State Park

Take for example, Bahia Honda State Park in Big Pine Key. Though limited campsites are open, the cabins will open on June 9, 2020. The immense beauty of Bahia Honda State Park centers around the sound of the ocean, watching the sunrise, walking the shoreline and its natural habitats. While visiting the park there are several activities: Bicycling, fishing, hiking, snorkeling, and boat tours to name a few.

The amenities of Bahia Sound State Park are top notch (for a camping). The park is special needs accessible with and amphitheater, cabins, canoe launch, picnic pavilion, as well as a shower station and much more.

This highly rated park is recognized by the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, Green Lodging and Clean Marina. And is rated 4.7 stars. To find out availability, safety updates and the latest openings go to www.floridastateparks.org

View from Bahia Honda State Park (photo: google images)

My Bucket List Begins

Bahia Honda State Park is going to be on the bucket list for Summer 2020 Travel. As we map out safe activities for the family Florida State Parks are at the top of the list. However, the theme parks are not completely off limits.We will consider theme parks towards the end of the summer. As everyone experiencing this pandemic for the first time, it is an ever changing on a regular basis.

The key element is to be safe. I will practice social distancing, wearing a mask and gloves as long as needed. For those with kids who will be home most of the summer trying to come up with new games and actvities check out mom blogger, Mariana Frances, www.thisfloridamom.com

Prepare to Launch

Heading to Florida’s Space Coast to see a rocket launch is definitely a must for any resident or traveler in Florida. Even the locals who have seen countless launches head outdoors to catch a glimpse of space exploration in the making. On Wednesday, May 27th I hit the road in hopes of getting a better view of the rocket launch. In typical Florida fashion the rain rolled in and the launch was SCRUBBED. It is rescheduled for Saturday the 30th. Weather permitting, I will be on the road again with details about all of the small pit stops on the way to the Kennedy Space Center.

photo from Pexels

To find out more information and a detailed launch schedule go to https://www.spacelaunchschedule.com/kennedy-space-center-launch-schedule/

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