Only a tank (or less) away from Tampa Bay are many place to explore, learn, see, do...for less than the cost of a weekly Starbucks coffee. Here are some ideas:
- The Butterfly Rainforest, Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville - Alachua County: In an overgrown patio enclosure on the campus of the University of Florida you can find, not Gators, but the second largest collection of live butterflies in the world. Each day more species are flown in to the rearing labs, form 55 to 65 species at any given time, from as far away as Australia and Africa. Visit the "Wall of Wings" at the entrance, a three-story display of butterflies and moths, then go inside for an interactive adventure through the rainforest itself.
Butterfly Rainforest is open all year, seven days a week except for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Please note: Last ticket sold 30 minutes prior to closing.
Monday - Saturday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sunday 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Closed Thanksgiving & Christmas
Webb's Citrus Candy Factory, where you can watch candy made the old-fashioned way, in Florida's oldest citrus candy factory. Since the 1920's, the candy factory has been crafting Florida's original citrus candy, and since the seventies, bought by the Webb's of NY, combined specialty chocolates such as the now-famous Goat's Milk recipe. Located off US 27 and State Road 547 at Davenport, this is one sweet trip!
Heritage Lake Tours Eco Boat Tour--"Gators and Heron...Anhinga, Oh My!" East of the Dead River Bridge on Highway 441, where the Dead River flows into Lake Eustis you can find a slice of what Old Florida still remains, in what is touted as "the most beautiful mile of water in the world". A popular attration for Audobon Society members, this 1.5 mile ride aboard the "Sea Haven" is an all-able accessible trip into the wilderness. "Narrated nature tours depart daily, except Sunday, between October and May at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.; and between June and September at 10 a.m. Cost per person is $12.50, though specialized group tours for a minimum of 20 passengers are offered. The boat is ADA accessible and the tour is not recommended for children under 6 years old."
Future Farm Local Harvest - Ruskin, where the family can get up-close and personal with hydroponics. These no-dirt grown local crops are featured at Disney's Epcot, but here you can actually pick your own, only 30 minutes from downtown Tampa. The produce here uses one-tenth the water of trational crops, and no insecticides--21,000 plants on less than one acre of land! Hours are Mon - Saturday 8 AM - 5:30 PM, Sundays 10:30 - 5:30.
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Loretta J. Buckner
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