Arts & Culture

Best Ways To Learn About Presidential And American History In Tampa Bay

February 10, 2013 8:00 AM

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File photo of WW2 Medals (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

File photo of WW2 Medals (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

George Santayana uttered the famous phrase, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” History is more than just names and dates, and studying it doesn’t have to be boring. Check out some of these incredible living history sites right in the Tampa Bay area.

American Victory Mariners Memorial & Museum Ship
705 Channelside Drive
Tampa, FL 33602
(813) 228-8766
www.americanvictory.org

The American Victory ship was scheduled to be scrapped, but instead was rescued in 1998 and converted into a museum ship and memorial. It was one of the famous Victory class ships built during World War II and it now retells the tale of how the U.S. Merchant Marine and the Navy Armed Guard defended the U.S. Merchant Fleet during the war. Now on display to the public, both guided and self-guided tours are available. Several of the ship’s rooms, including the captain’s quarters and galley cold storage, are decorated in authentic period memorabilia. To get a peek at the American Victory, you can either take a tour or take a Living History Day Cruise. There is even a special weekly event for kids and families called Kids Ahoy! Kids Ahoy! every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. which promotes education through fun activities like scavenger hunts, snacks and arts and crafts.

Related: Best Ways To Celebrate Native American History And Culture In Tampa Bay

The Armed Forces Military Museum
2050 34th Way N,
Largo, FL
(727) 539-8371
www.armedforcesmuseum.com

The American Victory ship was scheduled to be scrapped, but instead was rescued in 1998 and converted into a museum ship and memorial. It was one of the famous Victory class ships built during World War II and it now retells the tale of how the U.S. Merchant Marine and the Navy Armed Guard defended the U.S. Merchant Fleet during the war. Now on display to the public, both guided and self-guided tours are available. Several of the ship’s rooms, including the captain’s quarters and galley cold storage, are decorated in authentic period memorabilia. To get a peek at the American Victory, you can either take a tour or take a Living History Day Cruise. There is even a special weekly event for kids and families called Kids Ahoy! Kids Ahoy! every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. which promotes education through fun activities like scavenger hunts, snacks and arts and crafts.

Cracker Country
Florida State Fairgrounds
4700 Orient Road
Tampa, FL 33610
(813) 627-4225
www.crackercountry.org

What is a cracker, you ask? In the 19th century, pioneers in undeveloped Florida would let cattle roam freely in the woodlands. Cow hunters would get the animals moving by “cracking” a whip in the air, resulting in a loud noise like a rifle shot. When early settlers heard this sound, they would say, “Here come the crackers,” and the name stuck. History comes alive in Cracker Country. Thirteen original buildings dating back to the 19th century have been preserved and are open for tours, including a church, school house and post office, among others. There is even an authentic kitchen garden that is a smaller version of those maintained by rural Florida settlers. The garden is home to heirloom vegetables, herbs and flowers that are the same variety as those grown in the 19th century. Even the seeds are harvested, saved and replanted to preserve authenticity.

Florida African American Museum
P.O. Box 47508
Tampa, FL 33646
(813) 363-5070
www.faamoftampa.org

The Florida African American Museum operates in several locations throughout the state, including Rosewood, Brooksville and Mims. The Tampa campus is currently under construction, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out. The museum offers trips year-round to significant historic sites in Florida by deluxe motor coach. These trips are open to both kids and adults and cost around $200 per person, depending on the length of the trip. Sites include the L.B. Brown House in Bartow, Fort Mose in St. Augustine, Kingsley Plantation in Fort George Island and others.

Heritage Village
11909 125th St,
Largo, FL
(727) 582-2123
www.pinellascounty.org

Heritage Village, Pinellas County’s 21-acre living history museum, is located in the heart of Pinellas County. The natural pine and palmetto landscape is home to some of Pinellas County’s most historic buildings. First opened to the public in 1977, Heritage Village is funded in its operations by the Board of County Commissioners and supported in its activities by the Pinellas County Historical Society.

Related: Best Bizarre Statues Or Public Art In Tampa Bay

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.

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