With Florida feeling like a permanent steam bath, everyone is getting out of town for a summer escape.
Our features staff needs vacation, too. Events editor Sharon Kennedy Wynne just got back from an Italian dream trip. Food editor Michelle Stark went to New York City to see Hamilton on Broadway before Lin-Manuel Miranda left the cast, which you can read all about in Latitudes on Sunday. Entertainment news editor Caitlin E. O'Conner, a familiar face in this column space, traveled to Niagara Falls and the Finger Lakes, where her boyfriend proposed. Congratulate the happy couple!
And I just got back from a low-key family visit to Indiana. We went camping, hiking, boating in a cavern, canoeing, checked out the Children's Museum of Indianapolis. I don't think I've ever worn less makeup on a more casual trip, and I'm fine with that.
But what if you just can't break away? Dead heat not withstanding, we're lucky to live in a place with options galore. Sharon has some ideas for perfecting your Tampa Bay staycation at tbtim.es/1426, from Busch Gardens to the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks to our lush natural beaches.
And this issue is also full of long weekend potential, if you put your mind to it. Here are a couple ideas for extending one-off activities into a mini staycation.
GWEN AND FRIENDS
Pop music/culture critic Jay Cridlin says after some troubled years, Gwen Stefani is back on her game. She's performing with her old friend, Eve, Tuesday at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre. Leading up to the event, why not get a room at the nearby Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino? You can play some games, take a dip in the pool and dine at celebrity chef Marc Murphy's joint, Grey Salt.
Star Trek Beyond opens this weekend. Take a day off work, and invite your nerdiest friends over for a viewing of old episodes or prior movies. Better yet, rent an Airbnb with a big screen TV. Make themed snacks (Caramel Spockcorn!). This binge-watching and snacking technique also can be applied to the new Absolutely Fabulous movie, reviewed right here.
TOUR OF AIR CONDITIONING
Art critic Lennie Bennett has the right idea. She agrees it's too hot out to do, well, anything. Now is the perfect time to visit local museums. Start at the Chihuly Collection in St. Petersburg, where Ya La'ford's new interactive work is on display. Check out the Dalí Museum, the Tampa Museum of Art, the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, the Dunedin Fine Art Center, and on and on. Get more recommendations from Lennie's Art Planner. Make it your goal to find an interesting lunch or dinner spot around each museum. And please, have a drink. This is your vacation, after all.