Local lounge life

Don’t be devastated if you can’t afford a cruise to the Bahamas or a trip to the Keys this Spring Break. You don’t have to be bored because the Tampa Bay area has a lot to offer.

During the day, you can kick back and relax at the many beaches around the Bay Area. Clearwater Beach is the hot spot, and there’s always something going on around Pier 60, from sunset celebrations and sparkling nightlife to beach volleyball and water activities during the day. Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill can tempt you with good food and ice-cold drinks just a few feet away from the sandy beach.

If you’re planning to go to Clearwater, you have to get there early. During Spring Break, the beach is packed with high school and college students, and traffic can get frustrating.

If you find Clearwater Beach a little too crowded, St. Pete Beach can offer a calmer setting. Along Gulf Boulevard are several motels, restaurants and beach shops. An advantage with St. Pete is the free parking near the Dolphin Village shopping center. The beach has water activities, volleyball courts and if you walk to the Don Cesar, a pink hotel palace where you can enjoy lunch and drinks in a luxury environment.

Travel a little further north from St. Pete Beach and you will find several smaller beaches. Treasure Island, Sunset Beach and Indian Rocks Beach are among the beaches located on the Gulf Coast.

Busch Gardens is a good alternative to the beach if your body cannot handle any more sun or sand. Montu, Kumba, Python, Scorpion and Gwazi will make you scream like a 5-year-old. At BuschGardens.com, you can visit the theme park and check out the cool rides before you go.

Right next to Busch Gardens is Adventure Islands. It consists of 30 acres of water-filled fun for all ages. If you go there with a group of friends, try the Wahoo Run.

After a fun day outside, it is nice to sport your tan at the many nightclubs and bars in Tampa. Worth mention are Banana Joe’s and Howl at the Moon in Channelside, the strip in Ybor City and the many lounges in Hyde Park.

In addition, Volunteer USF can offer you an alternative Spring Break if you would like to devote your time to helping others. According to Amy Simon, they have 10 trips during the week.

“110 students have already signed up, but there are still a few spots available,” Simon said.

According to their information flyer, “the Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program is designed to promote and encourage group community service projects among USF students.” They cover issues such as youth, AIDS, seniors, housing, environment, health, disabilities and others.

They still have a few open spots in four programs. You can work with people with disabilities in Green Cove Springs, Fla., at-risk youth in Georgetown, S.C., Latin-American youth and homeless people in Washington, D.C. or senior citizens in Atlanta.

The cost varies with the different programs. For more information, contact Volunteer USF in the Marshall Center basement, call 974-5053, or e-mail vservices@admin.usf.edu.

Spring Break doesn’t have to be a costly vacation to the Bahamas or Key West. There are plenty of things to do if you are stuck in Tampa. You just have to get creative.