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Bay area offers more than beaches and tanning

While summer is here and the temperatures rise along with the humidity, thousands crowd the beaches in hopes of getting a nice tan while cooling off in the water. This guide is to help those who are unaware of the many other great places around the Bay area and wish to venture outside of the normal activities. Summer is the best time to get to know any city.

1. Tampa Theatre (Downtown Tampa) – The theatre, located in downtown Tampa was built in 1926. At the time, it was one of the most detailed movie theatres in America. Designed by famed theatre architect John Eberson, audience members are introduced to a Mediterranean influenced courtyard, which is quite unusual for any theatre, at least in the Bay area. The theatre, located just a couple of blocks from the newly renovated Tampa Art Museum, is constantly passed but its location almost seems hidden. Rest assured, this isn’t some eerie haunted place, but rather it’s a rich, lavish paradise filled with history. In 1978, the theatre was named to the National Register of Historic Places as a Tampa City Landmark. During the summer, the theatre has special summer shows that usually occur on weekends, which makes planning to attend one easier. The showings are usually classic black and white movies such as “Casablanca” and “Gone with the Wind.”

For more information on summer movies:

2. Sunken Gardens (St. Petersburg, FL) – Despite being located close to the downtown St. Petersburg area, this botanical wonder is often passed as the only indication that it’s there is the perfectly maintained retro “Sunken Gardens” sign. The 100-year-old garden is also the oldest living museum in St. Pete as some of the plants there are among the oldest in the region. Whether you’re trying to get fit for a wedding at the gardens or trying to tone your body during the summer, the gardens host a variety of workshops from “muscle sculpt” to something quicker such as “lunchtime yoga.”

For more information about the various workshops:

3. Florida Museum of Photographic Arts (FMoPA, Downtown Tampa) -Another area often passed by, mainly because of its small space but more importantly because of its discrete location, is the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts. Across from the Sheraton Hotel, on the corner of Ashley and Jackson streets sits a museum known to many in the Tampa art community as a well-respected establishment. Built in 2001, the museum is dedicated to photography and every summer hosts various workshops for children and the more experienced photographers.

More information and a calendar of summer and fall events:

4. Pangea Caf (Downtown Clearwater) – Off of Harrison Street in the downtown area, a small international caf brings together people from all over the world through music, food and location. The small brick setting gives the caf a comfortable feeling. Along with a mini international market, it offers breakfast, lunch and dinner items. This summer, it has hosted various shows covering art and live music. It’s a place to relax, grab a bite to eat and then walk a couple of blocks over to the beach.

More information:

* St. Petersburg Calendar of Events:

* Tampa Calendar of Events:

* Clearwater Calendar of Events: