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5 Tampa Bay experiences that make great gifts

From Segway tours to kissing an alligator, local attractions are a win.
Friends navigate a course at TreeHoppers Aerial Adventure Park in Dade City. There are nine courses full of obstacles and zip lines.
Friends navigate a course at TreeHoppers Aerial Adventure Park in Dade City. There are nine courses full of obstacles and zip lines. [ LANCE ROTHSTEIN | Times (2015) ]
Published Nov. 11
Updated Nov. 15

With all this talk of supply-chain issues disrupting holiday shopping, one gift you can never worry about running low on the shelf is an experience.

What’s a better gift than a memory? Years from now you can tell that story of how you rocked the Segway while tooling around downtown or that time you saw a ghost at Tampa Theatre.

Here are some experiences you can find around the Tampa Bay area that are gift-worthy.

Riders on Segways glide through North Shore Park in downtown St. Petersburg.
Riders on Segways glide through North Shore Park in downtown St. Petersburg. [ JAMES BORCHUCK | Times (2012) ]

Segway tour

Those goofy scooters you see motoring around town are surprisingly easy to master. And with lots of wide sidewalks in downtown St. Petersburg and Tampa, Segway tours are a popular way to spend time cruising along the waterfront. Doo’s Amazing Tours has two-way headsets to communicate with the group as they scoot for about 5 miles along the many parks along St. Petersburg’s waterfront. One-hour tours cost $50 and can be booked at doosamazingtours.com, or call 727-642-5133 for a gift certificate. At St. Pete Segway Tours there are two-hour tours for $65 throughout downtown. Gift cards are available at stpetesegwaytours.com, or call 727-498-2322. Downtown Tampa’s Riverwalk has made it easier to roll along the river. At Magic Carpet Glide, you can take a two-hour tour for $65 and ride through some of Tampa’s most popular destinations, including Bayshore Boulevard, Harbour Island, Curtis Hixon Park, the University of Tampa and the Tampa Riverwalk. Call 813-637-9797 or book a tour at magiccarpetglide.com.

Fans, many in costume, pack Tampa Theatre for a sing-along screening of "The Greatest Showman" in 2018. The historic movie palace hosts 600 events a year in a theater that looks like a moonlit courtyard with a night sky and twinkling stars.
Fans, many in costume, pack Tampa Theatre for a sing-along screening of "The Greatest Showman" in 2018. The historic movie palace hosts 600 events a year in a theater that looks like a moonlit courtyard with a night sky and twinkling stars. [ TAMPA THEATRE | Jeff Fay ]

Tampa Theatre

Take your dinner-and-a-movie game to a whole new level with a visit to this historic movie palace. Your average cineplex doesn’t have statues of gargoyles and angels and birds looking down on you as you munch on popcorn. Renowned Chicago architect John Eberson created the movie house, which opened in 1926 with its signature “atmospheric” style. It has a realistic night sky above with twinkling stars and ornate architecture designed to make you feel like you are in a moonlit courtyard, replete with clay-tile rooftops, old-world statuary and flowering vines. The theater hosts more than 600 events each year, so you can choose from a schedule of first-run and classic films, as well as live concerts and comedians. You can also take a tour. The 90-minute Balcony to Backstage tours held monthly kick off in the lobby at 11:30 a.m. and include a demonstration of the Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Organ, which rises from the floor of the stage. Tours, like most of its movies, cost $10. See tampatheatre.org to see the lineup or to buy gift cards. 711 N Franklin St., Tampa. 813-274-8286.

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Visitors to the 2021 Florida State Fair tour a row of concessions and vendors on opening day. Tickets for the Feb. 10-21 fair are on sale now.
Visitors to the 2021 Florida State Fair tour a row of concessions and vendors on opening day. Tickets for the Feb. 10-21 fair are on sale now. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

Florida State Fair

Tickets are on sale now, and you can save money by buying early when the Florida State Fair returns Feb. 10-21. Almost all entertainment experiences, including thrill shows, musical acts, circus shows, educational exhibits and agricultural experiences, are included with the price of admission. Tickets are $10, $8 seniors, $6 children 6-11. For the rides on the midway, any-day armbands are $30, weekday armbands are $20, but they can only be used on Feb. 10 and Feb. 14-17. Since this is the birthplace of the infamous Krispy Kreme doughnut burger, which remains a bestseller since it debuted in 2007, wrap the tickets with a box of doughnuts. Find tickets at floridastatefair.com. The fairgrounds are at 4800 U.S. 301, Tampa. 813-621-7821.

Climbers can zip-line between the branches at TreeHoppers Aerial Adventure Park in Dade City.
Climbers can zip-line between the branches at TreeHoppers Aerial Adventure Park in Dade City. [ LANCE ROTHSTEIN | Times (2015) ]

TreeHoppers Aerial Adventure Park

The attraction, which features zip lines and more than 100 obstacles up to 50 feet in the air, opened in 2015 in Dade City. The nine courses at TreeHoppers are made out of cables, ropes and wood, and are built off St. Joe Road, beneath a canopy of trees on 60 acres. Climbers are fitted with gloves and harnesses that are attached to the course at all times. Some courses are for beginners, and others would challenge most athletes, so they are color-coded to signify the level of difficulty. Where there isn’t an obstacle, like a rope bridge, there’s a zip line. Family members and friends who prefer not to adventure can watch from the paths that wind through the woods beneath the courses. Admission includes three hours of climbing for $58.95 for age 12 and older, $40.95 ages 7-11, $20.95 ages 5-6. The Little Lemur’s Course is free for ages 1-6. Memberships are also available. 27839 St. Joe Road, Dade City. 813-381-5400. treehoppers.com.

Kissing a gator is a popular highlight at Alligator & Wildlife Discovery Center, formerly known as Alligator Attraction, at John's Pass Village in Madeira Beach.
Kissing a gator is a popular highlight at Alligator & Wildlife Discovery Center, formerly known as Alligator Attraction, at John's Pass Village in Madeira Beach. [ DIEZ, CHERIE | Times (2012) ]

Alligator & Wildlife Discovery Center

One of the more reasonably priced ways to spend a day with the kids is this John’s Pass Village home for more than 180 animals. It is a landing place for exotic pet surrenders and rescues, including alligators, lizards, pigs, skunks, guinea pigs, rabbits, snakes, fish, frogs and Sid the sloth. The center is upstairs at the entertainment complex in Madeira Beach, but it has an elevator and is accessible by wheelchair. General admission tickets are $12, $10 seniors and military, $8 ages 3-12. They also have added encounters such as feeding a gator ($5) and a sloth encounter ($25-$75), and it’s $5 to hold and take pictures with one of their rescues, including, gators, snakes, scorpions and lizards. Gift cards are available when you book online. It is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. 12973 Village Blvd., Madeira Beach. 609-329-8751. kissagator.com.