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DISCOVER PASCO

POINTS OF INTEREST

1) West Pasco Historical Museum

2) The Super Playground at Sims Park

3) Pithlachascotee River

4) Phoenix Parachute Center

5) Skydive City

6) Saint Leo Abbey

7) Crystal Springs

8) Pioneer Florida Museum

9) Fort Dade Antiques Mall

10) Withlacoochee State Forest

11) Saddlebrook Resort

12) Pasco-Hernando Community College

13) Gulf View Square Mall

MUSEUMS

1) West Pasco Historical Museum (Sims Park), 6431 Circle Blvd., New Port Richey. Housed in an old two-room schoolhouse, the museum has collections mainly from Florida, which include antique buttons, Wedgwood and black-and-white portraits of Native Americans. Hours: 1-4 p.m. Fri.-Sat. Admission: free, but donations accepted. Call (813) 847-0680.

8) Pioneer Florida Museum, off U.S. 301 N, north of Dade City on Pioneer Museum Road. The museum's 10 acres hold six buildings, including a one-room schoolhouse and the oldest two-story building in Pasco County. The not-for-profit group holds festivals and open houses throughout the year. Hours: 1 to 5 p.m. Tues.-Sat., 2 to 5 p.m. Sun. Tours available by appointment. Admission: $2 for adults, $1 for children 6-16. Call (904) 567-0262.

ATTRACTIONS

6) Saint Leo Abbey, U.S. 52, Saint Leo. This East Pasco monastery of Benedictine monks celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1989. The monks who founded the abbey came to Central Florida from Belmont Abbey in North Carolina to set up schools for local children. A year after founding the abbey, the monks opened a high school boarding institution, which in 1963 became Saint Leo College, a liberal arts institution. In 1965, the monks turned the school over to a board of lay Catholics. The monks also operate a retreat center, and directed or undirected retreats are available to individuals and groups. The church is open to visitors from 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. seven days a week. Call (904) 588-2830.

9) Fort Dade Antiques Mall, 505 E Meridian Ave., Dade City. The 4,000-square-foot building houses 20 antique dealers, which offer wares such as gourmet candy, an 1850 pine blanket chest, a 1954 jukebox and a custom frame shop. The mall is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mon.-Sat. Admission: free. Call (904) 521-3336.

13) Gulf View Square Mall, U.S. 19 and Embassy Boulevard, Port Richey. Pasco County's only mall contains 95 stores including Burdine's, Dillard's, Sears, Montgomery Ward and JCPenney. Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mon.-Sat., noon-5:30 p.m. Sun. There is a mall walkers club, which usually meets from 9 to 10 a.m. (813) 848-3600.

RECREATION

2) The Super Playground at Sims Park, off Main Street at the Pithlachascotee River, New Port Richey. This park, designed with the help of Pasco County schoolchildren, has outdoor playground equipment as well as picnic tables, grills and a band shell where concerts are held periodically. The park is open from 7 a.m. to dusk every day. Call 841-4560.

4) Phoenix/Zephyrhills Parachute Center, off State Road 54 E (or 301N), Zephyrhills. Airmasters Parachute School, Inc. is located on the 35 acre site. Jumps from DC-3s or a Casa 212 are $15 each for the experienced sky diver. Sky divers from all over the country and world come to the 30-year-old center's special meets at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. Hours (May-Oct.): 9 a.m.-sunset Wed.-Fri., noon-sunset Sat.-Sun.; (Nov.-April) 7 a.m.-sunset daily. Call (813) 788-5591.

5) Skydive City, south corner of Zephyrhills Municipal Airport, Zephyrhills. This parachuting center is set on 10 acres. Sky divers jump from DC-3s or Twin Otters. A 20-minute lesson and tandem jump for two people (student and instructor) is $149. A sky-diving ticket for the experienced jumper is $15. From May 2 through Oct. 31, the center is open from 8 a.m.-sunset Fri.-Sun., 3 p.m. to sunset Wed.-Thurs. From Nov. 1 through May 1, it's 8 p.m.to sunset daily. Call (813) 783-9399.

11) Saddlebrook Resort, I-75 at SR 54, Wesley Chapel. Set on 480 acres, the resort boasts two golf courses designed by Arnold Palmer plus 45 tennis courts. Tennis star Jennifer Capriati lives and trains at the resort, which is home to the United States Professional Tennis Association. Call (813) 973-1111.

7) Crystal Springs Recreational Preserve, 1609 Crystal Springs Road, Zephyrhills. Other than the natural spring for swimming, Crystal Springs offers two sand volleyball courts, a nature trail, fishing areas, picnic tables, grills and areas for scuba diving, snorkeling and a canoe outpost. Hours: 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tues.-Sun. Admission: $2. Call (813) 782-5218.

NATURE RETREATS

3) Pithlachascotee River, New Port Richey. This scenic body of water is approximately five navigable miles long. It is a state designated canoe trail and is made up of both salt and fresh water.

10) Withlacoochee State Forest, northeastern Pasco County. The forest covers approximately 163,000 acres in Pasco, Hernando, Citrus, Lake and Sumter counties and is home to various endangered and threatened species. Pasco County contains the Richloam tract, 10 miles north of Dade City, which has a 25-mile overnight hike trail and several 5-mile or 10-mile day hikes. Within the Richloam tract is Lacoochee Park, a day-use recreation site with boat ramps and a small pavilion. Overnight camping is available to hunters during hunting season. Canoe access to the Withlacoochee River is occasionally available. Call (904) 754-6777.

12) Pasco-Hernando Community College (PHCC), largest campus located at 10230 Ridge Road, New Port Richey. In fall 1991, more than 5,500 students were enrolled in the two-year college. Other campuses are in Dade City and Brooksville. The New Port Richey campus regularly brings in bus and truck versions of Broadway shows to the college's 540-seat theater. The PHCC theatrical season runs October through Easter. (813) 847-2727.

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