BEST OF BROADWAY
If you love Broadway musicals, the STRAZ Center is just the ticket. This extraordinary 335,000 square foot performance center stages some of Broadway’s greatest hits Including Cabaret, Wicked, An American In Paris, and other Tony Award-winners, as well as grand opera and a variety of concerts, performances and events. With five halls, three restaurants, a coffee shop and the Patel Conservatory, it’s the second largest performing arts center in the U.S. Find it at 1010 N.W. C. MacInnes Place, Tampa. Info 813-229-7827; strazcenter.org.
BEST Rib Eye
Bascom’s Chop House
It’s hard not to love everything on Bascom’s menu. The seafood which is delivered daily and beautifully prepared, is always top drawer and the center cut prime chops are as good as they get. But it’s the glorious, 16 oz bone-in Ribeye that has us hooked. Hand cut from Certified Angus midwestern grain-fed steer, this rich, well marbled steak is served charred outside with an intense, rich steak flavor that’s hard to find. If you like great steak, put this one on your bucket list! Find it at 3665 Ulmerton Rd., Clearwater. 727-573-3363; bascoms.com.
BEST RESORT FOR AGES 2 -12
If there’s anything that makes you long to be a kid again, it’s this totally awesome 150-acre interactive theme park specifically designed for kids 2 -12 years old. With more than 50 unique rides, 10 theme zones and all kinds of really cool attractions, it is the absolute bomb! Lots of special events here, too. FYI: The water ride, “Quest For Chi” is an absolute blast! Find it at 1 Legoland Way in Winter Haven. 877-350-5346; legoland.com.
BEST TASTE OF KEY WEST
Gulfport, St Petersburg
Before you travel all the way down to the Florida Keys for a taste of Key West, first check out the tiny hamlet of Gulfport which is tucked in the northwest corner of St. Petersburg. Known for its artsy, Bohemian vibe, Friday night Art Walks and kitschy galleries, Gulfport is also home to some really terrific restaurants where you can find all kinds of tasty dishes like the famous crab cakes at Back Fin Blue Restaurant and “Beef on a Weck” at O’Maddy’s.
BEST ATTRACTIONS DEAL
Tampa Bay City Pass
With the Tampa Bay City Pass, you can save a whopping 53% off combined admission to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay along with four additional attractions in the Tampa Bay area including The Florida Aquarium, Lowry Park Zoo, Clearwater Marina Aquarium (home to Winter, star of the popular Dolphin Tale movies) and your choice of either the Museum Of Science and Industry (MOSI) or the Chihuly Collection. City Pass Booklets are valid for nine consecutive days beginning with the first day of use. Such a deal! Find it at citypass.com/tampa.
BEST SHARK ENCOUNTER
The Florida Aquarium
Ok, Ok, so maybe going nose-to-nose with a 600 lb Great White is not your idea of a great day at the beach, especially when it flashes those pearly whites at you. But fear not. At Tampa’s Florida Aquarium you can actually swim or dive with sharks as well as with 1600 other colorful fish including sting rays, barracudas, sea turtles and more — all without being a certified SCUBA diver! It’s all part of the Aquarium’s special “Shark Swim”program — an in-water reef experience that is truly an adventure of a lifetime (must be age 9 or older to participate). The Aquarium’s Coral Reef Gallery simulates an actual reef in the Dry Tortugas just off of Key West. While you get up close and personal with the fishes, friends and family can watch from the exhibit pathway. How cool is that!
BEST HANDS-ON MUSEUM
Museum Of Science & Technology (MOSI)
You are going to be totally wowed by the fascinating ever-evolving MOSI which includes a ton of hands-on exhibits and activities for all ages. Kids, in particular, will revel in the brand new interactive state-of-the-art technology exhibit where they can actually touch the future. Other highlights: a Roller Coaster Simulator, 3-D Printing Exhibit, Ropes Course and Zip Line, Hurricane Simulator, an amazing IMAX Movie Dome Theater, Butterfly Garden and lots more. Be sure to check out the “Kids In Charge” building which is the largest children’s science center in the country. Find it at 4801 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. Info: 813-987-6000; mosi.org.
BEST TASTE OF JAPAN OISHI
Sushi & Steakhouse
Fabulously good Japanese food is the hallmark of this stylish, romantic restaurant that serves up super-fresh Japanese specialties, inventive sushi rolls and sizzling Hibachi steak, chicken and seafood. The appetizer menu alone is worth the trip and includes authentic preparations of Baby Octopus marinated in sweet vinegar sauce, Beef Tataki with ponzu sauce, tempura vegetables and a slew of other hot and cold offerings. All of the Noodle dishes, Donburi rice bowls and Katsu are also sensational, so bring your appetite and prepare yourself for one amazing meal! FYI: Daily Happy Hour (3-7:30pm) and Early Bird (3 – 6pm) are two of the best deals in town.
BEST CIGAR EMPORIUM
Davidoff Of Geneva
With 5,000 square feet of humidified space, this smoking-hot cigar emporium showcases a unique collection of premium cigars, must-have accessories and curated pieces. But what really puts it over the top are the added amenities which include multiple indoor-and-out smoking lounges, private lockers and an elegant full service bar with top shelf libations. Yowza! Find it at the Metwest International Shopping Center, 4142 Boy Scout Blvd. near Tampa’s International Mall and Airport. Info: 813-513-7560; davidofftampa.com.
BEST SUSHI WITH A VIEW
Jackson’s Bistro Bar & Sushi
Amazing sushi, fantastic water views and a large outdoor dining patio/ tiki bar make this happening harbor front spot the perfect place to click your chopsticks and revel in an extensive lineup of fresh sashimi, sushi appetizers and all kinds of signature specialty rolls. Some of our favorites: the Maine Lobster Tempura Roll with eel sauce and spicy mayo along with the Happy Sumo Roll (blue crab, spicy tuna, cream cheese & cucumber topped with eel and tempura chips – yum!). There are plenty of American options, as well, including succulent Point Judith Calamari Rings with sweet chili spicy mayo and some of the biggest and tastiest coconut shrimp on the planet. Find it at 601 S Harbour Island Blvd., Tampa. Info: 813-277-0112; jacksonbistro.com.