Discover the “Outback for Tykes”.
Hidden within one of Tampa’s north side neighborhoods is the Lowry Park Zoo a top-notch facility, ranked the #1 Zoo for Families by Parents magazine. Compact in reality it seems unending and provides a natural place for wandering. Stroller friendly elevated boardwalks provided easy movement and ideal shaded viewing spots.
Wallaroo Station is a special enclave created for the youngest of guests. With a distinctly Australian theme it includes Billabong, pony treks, a tree house, petting area and a chance for kids to curry a goat, no experience necessary. Like the main entrance there is a delightful fountain designed for carefree encounters with water. A bonus for weary adults, rocking chairs are provided with ever-changing kid views. Discovery:
Unique to this zoo is a Florida manatee hospital and aquatic center. There is above water viewing area and an incredible set of underground viewing rooms. Bonus Points:
A Tampa secret this wonderful facility embraces the holidays. Each year families celebrate with the Wild Wonderland Winter Festival. Twinkling lights, mood music and goats pretending to be reindeer make the holiday fun and carefree. (1101 West Sligh Avenue, Tampa, 33604-5958. (813) 935-8552 or www.lowryparkzoo.com
) We love MOSI.
We found our science fix at The Museum of Science and Industry. In the entrance hall two diplodocus dinosaur skeletons hang suspended and invite discovery of more. As with any large museum geared to brain trips a plan is necessary. Less is always more. From riding a trapeze bicycle above the gallery entrance to operating robot arms within a display case there are many learning points. The themed areas are well organized and the interactive stations abundant. One of our favorite spots, the inside of an operating room with a patient, had a video camera showing open-heart surgery in progress. We also discovered an awesome translucent body on a bike - weird but memorable. Bonus Points:
During each holiday season the skilled staff explores both the real North Pole and the magical world of Santa's workshop in the holiday exhibit, "The North Pole," from November - January. A ride-aboard train transports kids around the scene.
Unique to MOSI the Disasterville experience that provides visitors with a safe way to experience hurricane force winds without the real threat of deadly flying objects or rising water. Within sight of the hurricane encounter is a tranquil enclosed butterfly garden. We saw all stages of development including the wiggling of a cocoon as its owner began evacuation. Discovery:
This facility is the location of the first IMAX Dome Theatre in the state of Florida and it has an ever-changing list of IMAX films. The museum also is the home of The Saunders Planetarium with ongoing programs providing unique ways to visually make sky/earth connections. A bonus to stargazers MOSI has a roof top sky watch program complete with qualified star guides and telescopes. (4801 E. Fowler Avenue, Tampa 33617. (813) 987-6000 or www.mosi.org