tbo: Tampa Bay Online.
Sunday, May 20, 2018
  • Home
Things To Do

Promise yourself a trip to these local destinations in 2014

Usually, a New Year's resolutions list is full of high expectations regarding weight, swearing and exercise.

So, three days into the new year, we're all but ignoring the scale, we cursed today at a lousy driver and the Christmas Nikes are still in the box.

You doin' much better?

We hope you are, but if you aren't, we have an idea.

This year we're turning our empty vows into local promises. We've made a list of places in the Tampa Bay area we've longed to visit and activities we've wanted to try but haven't — even though they are in our own backyard.

From visiting The Dali to eating at Bern's to participating in the Gasparilla Distance Classic, there are plenty of reachable resolutions — some even related to those vows we've already busted.

Here's our list. Feel free to share yours on our Facebook page.

This year we will:

Visit Big Cat Rescue: We've seen photos and read countless articles about the work being done at this nonprofit sanctuary, but never gone. In these serene surroundings visitors can glimpse a pride of lions, watch a leopard lounging in a tree or a bobcat having a sweet treat. And you can learn about the plight of big cats and help protect them. The 55-acre sanctuary in the Citrus Park area is home to more than 100 abandoned, abused or orphaned wild exotic cats. Big Cat Rescue is open daily; 1-888-316-5875 and www.bigcatrescue.org

Take the Caladesi Island ferry: Some of us have just begun to appreciate the serene beauty of our award-winning white-sand beaches, but it's time to take that a step further. The quiet Dunedin Causeway and Honeymoon Island boast some of the best sunsets you'll ever see, but the 20-minute ferry ride to Caladesi Island adds another layer of beach-going charm. The island features pristine beaches, nature walks, shells ... and did we mention the amazing sunsets?

Take a tour of the Tampa Theatre: The historic movie palace in downtown Tampa continues to rake in accolades as one of the most beautiful theaters to screen a movie — and yet there are locals who never have stepped inside. The theater, which screens first-run movies and classics, resembles a Mediterranean courtyard with twinkling stars on the ceiling and old-world statuary, including gargoyles. During the Balcony-to-Backstage Tour, you hear details about the art, mythology and the ghost (!) that may haunt the projection room. Tours are scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Tuesday and 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. Jan. 18; tampatheatre.org

Meet Winter the dolphin : The Bay area has its share of celebrities, from sports stars and wrestlers to the film stars who fly in to visit the Church of Scientology. But Winter is a bona fide movie star who can't get a restraining order. Seriously, the dolphin with the prosthetic tail inspires sick children and wounded veterans, and because of the success of “Dolphin Tale,” she's helped make the Clearwater Marine Aquarium the “Best Florida Attraction,” according to USA Today. Filming will wrap late this month on “Dolphin Tale 2,” so our plan is to get to Clearwater before Winter's head is too big for her pool. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is open daily at 9 a.m.; www.seewinter.com

Have dinner at Bern's: Tampa's most acclaimed restaurant, considered one of the best steak houses in the nation, boasts a legendary wine cellar with one of the largest collections in the world, the opulent Harry Waugh dessert room and tours of its bustling kitchen for every guest. So why is it that some of us have yet to sink our teeth into an eight-week-aged, charcoal-broiled, trimmed-to-order steak there? This year, we're not waiting for a special occasion. Reservations are taken online at bernssteakhouse.com or by calling (813) 251-2421.

Run or walk in the Gasparilla Distance Classic: Thousands of people run in the various races (5K to half-marathon) annually, and there are just as many who say they want to but don't. Runners are in training now, pounding Bayshore Boulevard's long sidewalk, tracking their pace and posting their ambitions on Facebook. The races are Feb. 21 to 23 and registration is ongoing at www.tampabayrun.com.

Conquer MOSI's Sky Rail Ropes Course: It isn't just overcoming your fear of heights, but also your fear of looking less-than-graceful while navigating a 36-foot-high gauntlet. We figure if we can get through the 35 components of the multi-level ropes course — which is in eyesight of Fowler Avenue, crowded with motorists getting a full view of our awkwardness — then we'll be ready to join the circus. MOSI's Sky Rail Ropes Course is open daily; (813) 987-6000 and www.mosi.org

Pick our own strawberries: Let's bypass the strawberries at the store and get some fresh air and some exercise (berry bends!) when local farmers open their fields for U-pickers later this winter. This, of course, has the added bonus, we hear, of a delicious strawberry shake for all our hard work.

Get some culture: The Bay area boasts some fine museums, including the Tampa Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg and the Ringling in Sarasota, to mention some biggies. But we're downright embarrassed we haven't been inside The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg. This year, it will get its 15 minutes of fame and more than 15 minutes of attention when the Andy Warhol exhibit opens in a few weeks. Open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas,; www.thedali.org

Cloe Cabrera, Clarisa Gerlach, Erin Kourkounis, Carl Lisciandrello, Kim MacCormack, and Christopher Spata contributed to this report.

Weather Center