Spring has sprung! May Day, a secular holiday celebrated on May 1st in the United States, Europe and some other parts of the world, is dedicated to celebrating the coming of spring. The Tampa Bay area offers residents plenty of ways to celebrate the spring season.
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The Florida Botanical Gardens
12520 Ulmerton Road
Largo, FL 33774
Nothing says “spring” better than bright green plants and colorful flowers in bloom. The Florida Botanical Gardens, a Pinellas County government program, is designed to educate visitors about Florida’s native plants, invasive plant species, wildlife, habitats, fruit and more. Guests can visit a variety of Florida habitats and may see turtles, raccoons and all types of birds including the endangered bald eagle. Seasonal display gardens show guests which plant species are in bloom at this time of year. Children can join “Flora” on the children’s trail and learn all about butterflies, animals and Florida fruit. Thinking of starting a garden of your own? Specialists at the Florida Botanical Gardens will be happy to give you some tips on how to get started.
BioWorks Butterfly Garden
Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI)
4801 E. Fowler Ave.
Tampa, FL 33617
Walking into MOSI’s butterfly garden is like entering an enchanted forest. The BioWorks garden features butterflies that are native to West Central Florida, and has a free-flight enclosure, a garden containing nectar-producing plants, an animal husbandry lab and a multimedia classroom. Guests can view butterflies in any part of their life cycle as they are raised from eggs to caterpillars and set free in the flight enclosure. The free-flight area gives visitors an up-close view of butterflies as they feed on nectar. If you’re interested in starting your own butterfly garden in your backyard, the classroom will offer brochures and information to get you started.
Fort DeSoto Park
3500 Pinellas Bayway S.
Tierra Verde, FL 33715
This free, hour-long activity is fun, relaxing and educational for the whole family. A guide will take you through one of Fort DeSoto’s six natural communities, including the Arrowhead Trail, Mangrove Tour, Campground Tour, Beach Tour, Soldier’s Hole or Bird Watch. You will explore the natural ecosystem of the park and could see any number of plant and animal species including mangroves, wetlands, sea turtles and over 300 species of birds. Registration for a guided hike is required in advance, so call ahead to reserve your spot on the tour.
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USF Botanical Gardens
University of South Florida
4202 E. Fowler Ave. NES107
Tampa, FL 33620
The USF Botanical Gardens are maintained by faculty and students of the College of Arts and Sciences. In addition to having various plant and animal species on display for viewing, there are also many beautiful, healthy plants for sale to bring home to your own garden. This 16-acre enclosure houses over 3,000 plant and animal species year-round. Workshops and other events are held at the gardens every month, including the popular Bee-Keeping Workshop, which takes place on the third Saturday of each month. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $3 for children and $1 for USF students with ID.
13100 Verges Road
Thonotosassa, FL 33592
This award-winning environmental science education center is an incredible hands-on experience for kids to learn about nature. Visitors rotate through six activity areas including an animal compound, interpretive area with small invertebrates, river exploration and shoreline sampling. Kids will learn about the role that water plays in Florida’s ecosystems, the food chain, the role that humans play in maintaining the health of the environment and much more. Summer camps are also available for budding scientists.
Amanda Mole has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil and cooking since she was tall enough to reach the stove. She believes that food provides more than just vital nutrients: it is an irreplaceable part of countless cultural and social activities. As a Tampa Bay resident for the past 21 years, she is well acquainted with the incredibly diverse range of restaurants, bars, and food festivals that the area has to offer. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.