1. Fun

Best things to do in Tampa Bay: Warrior Games, SummerFest, Summer Plant Festival

Comedian and actor Jon Stewart, shown here at the Department of Defense Warrior Games in 2018, will resume his emcee duties when the Warrior Games come to Tampa on Friday. [Master Sgt. Stephen D. Schester]
Published Jun. 19

VET SWEAT: Warrior Games

This is only the second time the Warrior Games have been held outside of a military base, and the first time in Tampa, so the city is pulling out all the stops to cheer on the athletes competing over 10 days in a Paralympics-style competition.

Comedian Jon Stewart will emcee the opening ceremonies on Saturday, with country star Hunter Hayes performing. Stewart will also host the closing ceremonies on June 30, with headliner Sara Evans. Both events are at Amalie Arena ($15 through Ticketmaster).

All the athletic events, however, are free. More than 300 athletes are in Tampa to compete in 14 sports, including archery, cycling, shooting, volleyball, track and field and, for the first time in Warrior Games history, rugby, tennis and golf. There are five teams representing each armed service branch and five international teams (Canada, UK, Australia, Netherlands and Denmark).

Don't be surprised to see the former Daily Show host cheering at a basketball or volleyball game.

"The level of competition is extraordinary to watch," Stewart told the Tampa Bay Times. "You've got Marines versus Navy. You've got Air Force teams from Australia, Denmark, England. ... You will be surprised by how competitive it is, but it's also the camaraderie, the tenaciousness and resilience of the athletes, the incredible pride."

Don't miss the cycling trial Sunday from 8 a.m. to noon on Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa between Rubideaux Street and Hyde Park. Paratoopers will float down to the ground to get things started. The Tampa Convention Center will be a good spot to see many sports at once, including archery, indoor rowing, wheelchair basketball and power lifting. Find a schedule at

MORE: Jon Stewart on Tampa's Warrior Games, Gasparilla and whether he'd ever do TV again

HOT PARTY: Zephyrhills SummerFest

Zephyrhills has a hot time in the city for SummerFest on Saturday. It includes a morning market (10 a.m.-2 p.m.) and festival in Zephyr Park (4-9 p.m.) with a dance competition, watermelon-eating competition, food vendors, bounce houses, face painters, balloon art and a 30-minute fireworks finale at 9 p.m. This is a dog-friendly event. Free. 38116 Fifth Ave., Zephyrhills.

GREEN THUMB: Summer Plant Festival

As many transplanted Northerners learn, the rules of gardening are different here. At this weekend's Summer Plant Festival at the University of South Florida's Botanical Gardens, learn from growers on how to create a tropical paradise in your yard. Shop for tropical plants, fruit trees, butterfly plants and cacti. There will also be an orchid talk, butterfly talk and information on beekeeping. $5, 11 and younger free. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday at 12210 USF Pine Drive, Tampa. (813) 974-2329.


  1. The tenth annual Shopaplooza returns to St. Petersburg for the Thanksgiving Day weekend, but this time at the Vinoy Park and with major changes. LocalShops1
    The annual festival highlighting everything local was previously held at Straub Park. But that’s not the only change this year.
  2. Enchant Christmas, coming to Tropicana Field Nov. 22-Dec. 29, will be similar to this display. The event, which is billed as the world’s largest Christmas maze, will feature a light maze, Christmas market, ice skating trail, Santa and a 40-foot ice bar. Enchant Christmas
    Enchant Christmas brings ice skating, a market, an ice bar and more.
  3. Andrew Bryant runs in the 5K race at the annual Tampa Bay Times Turkey Trot in Clearwater in 2018. Tampa Bay Times (2018)
    Earn your dinner at a Turkey Trot, meet the Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier or see a boxing match at the movies.
  4. Tents will be set up along St. Petersburg's Central Avenue for visitors to shop at the 22nd annual CraftArt Festival this weekend. Tampa Bay Times (2013)
    The huge CraftArt Festival kicks off holiday shopping season, and there’s a free movie in the park.
  5. This weekend will mark the opening of Tampa's Winter Village Ice Skating at Curtis Hixon Park. Tampa Bay Times (2016)
    Ice skating returns to Tampa, Cirque’s holiday spin, the ‘Crime Junkie’ podcast and sand sculptors on the beach.
  6. Nov. 18• Arts & Entertainment
    Enchant Christmas, coming to Tropicana Field Nov. 22-Dec. 29, is billed as the world’s largest Christmas maze. Enchant Christmas
    Tropicana Field gets a Christmas light maze, Broadway’s ‘Once on This Island’ opens and the Florida Orchestra takes on the Rolling Stones and ‘Ghostbusters.’
  7. Dressed in their holiday finest, the Seven Dwarfs parade down Main Street, U.S.A., at Magic Kingdom during "Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade." Walt Disney World
    Christmas is looking classier as two Disney parks get a holiday makeover this year.
  8. USF student Gabriela Young is the owner of Earth and Ivory, an online jewelry business with items made out of clay.  [Special to the Times | Sarah Foster] SARAH FOSTER  |  Special to the Times | @sarahtheartiste
    Gabriela Young went from selling bracelets to friends to making clay wares for customers with her business, Earth and Ivory.
  9. Third Eye Blind will perform at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg on Thursday. Courtesy of Danny Nolan
    Jannus Live welcomes a performance by Third Eye Blind, watch ‘Signature Move’ in Gulfport and the Gallery at Creative Pinellas brings the Arts Annual.
  10. Kevin Smith, left, and Jason Mewes pose during an interview on Sept. 25 in Los Angeles to promote "Jay and Silent Bob Reboot." WILLY SANJUAN  |  Invision/AP
    A daylong music festival aims to preserve a Tampa landmark, Jay and Silent Bob visit Tampa Theatre and Christmas Town at Busch Gardens opens.