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Lonely Thanksgiving: How to get people out of your house

Check out manatees at the TECO Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach.

Times, 2012

Check out manatees at the TECO Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach.



Editor's note: Thanksgiving. A time for the entire family to gather around the table, smiling and laughing over a golden turkey as if life is just one big Publix commercial. Fortunately, some people actually get that experience. But many others don't. Maybe you and your family live in totally different states. Maybe you just don't have a family. Maybe you have chosen a family of friends. Or maybe you just don't want to talk to your family at all.We got you covered. All week, we're bringing you our Guide to Lonely Thanksgiving. Our critics and writers have offered their best advice for going the holiday alone, from TV to reading to eating out. It doesn't have to be a pity party. If you do it right, you can be thankful for your solitude, too.

What if you have the opposite problem, the problem of too much family? The kids are out of school and you’ve got relatives getting on your nerves and you’d really like to get these people out of your house. Rest easy, dear reader. Here are five ways to get out of the house this weekend:

See a manatee

As the weather gets cooler, Florida’s famous sea cows seek out the warm water coming out of the TECO Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach, where there’s an education building, picnic tables, a boardwalk and observation tower. Best of all, it’s free. The plant is at 6990 Dickman Road in Apollo Beach. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except for Thanksgiving. (813) 228-4289.

Get your shuffle on 

Forget the stereotype of shuffleboard and seniors — the hipsters have taken it back. And they’ve done it in the historic Mirror Lake St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club, where every Friday from 7-11 p.m. there’s a free family-friendly night. All equipment is provided. Instruction is available from volunteers. There’s an excellent playlist of music, and you can bring a cooler. Drop a donation in the bucket for the St. Pete Shuffle club that makes all this possible at 559 Mirror Lake Drive N, St. Petersburg. 

Build a sandy snowman

The powdery white sand of the area’s gulf beaches is ideal to build a snowman that won’t melt. While a day at the beach is a no-brainer as far as visitor entertainment, think about making a day of cruising up Gulf Boulevard, where you can find many a casual restaurant with lots of old-time Florida decor like Conch Republic Grill in Redington Beach. Or get some sweets at the Candy Kitchen in Madeira Beach. Or play goofy golf on the gulf with live alligators looking on at Smuggler’s Cove (five locations at

Ride a bike

Using an app, you can rent a bike for $8 on hour (less if you buy a monthly membership) and pedal around downtown Tampa’s River Walk. Coast Bike Share has 300 bikes distributed at 30 hubs in and around downtown Tampa.  Or check out the Pinellas Trail, stretching 47 miles from Tarpon Springs to St. Petersburg. See, for maps and even a list of bike and skate rental shops. The Upper Tampa Bay Trail is a set of paved trails that stretches just east of Oldsmar and heads north with lots of restrooms, water stops and picnic areas along the way. The main park trailhead is at 9201 W Waters Ave., Tampa, and a new 4.35-mile section just opened at the 7020 Lutz Lake Fern Road in Odessa.

Take a mural tour

Businesses in St. Petersburg just can’t leave walls blank these days. There were already a couple dozen murals scattered around downtown when 17 new murals were commissioned by the SHINE festival earlier this year, bringing top graffiti artists into the mix. You can get on a bike or drive around to find the murals, starting with the interactive map found on ( Or you can take a guided walking mural Saturday morning at 10 a.m. in the Central Arts District conducted by Florida Craft Art. $19 for adults, $11 for children ages 6-18, younger than 5 free. (727) 821-7391.

[Last modified: Monday, November 23, 2015 5:19pm]


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