Tampa Bay in the storm season can be a bummer, with every afternoon given over to an impressive deluge or, at the very least, some ominous gloom. But you don’t need much to help you while away a wet afternoon. Here are just a handful of ways to keep away those rainy-day blues.
First stop: University of Tampa. Regal yet totally out of place with its minarets, keyhole arches, and ornate Moorish revival architecture, the opulent restored rooms (with original furnishings) of the university’s Henry B. Plant Museum provide a window to America’s Gilded Age, Tampa’s history, and the life and work of Henry Plant.
Now head north to University of South Florida. An enormous institution that casts its imposing shadow over the cultural scene of Tampa, it nonetheless is seldom visited by locals who aren’t lugging backpacks and books. A visit to the University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum is a good excuse to explore the university campus before parking at the small gallery containing a permanent collection of sculpture multiples by artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, and James Rosenquist.
Or skip the studious route and spend some time in rented shoes. Splitsville is Tampa’s finest bowling alley-cum-restaurant. It has good food, a whimsical environment, and the coolest bowling shoes ever.
But what’s more appropriate in moist conditions than swimming with the fishes? At the Florida Aquarium anyone six and older can do just that in the coral reef exhibit, and the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a working research facility and home to rescued and recuperating marine mammals, including the world-famous prosthetic-tailed dolphin named Winter.
Speaking of drippy conditions, to see some of the world’s most famous molten clocks, head to St. Petersburg’s Salvador Dalí Museum, the most comprehensive collection of permanent works by the famous Spanish master who himself is the most recognized artist in history (the waxed mustache and arched eyebrows certainly help with that).