Oh the places we’ll go: Simple pleasures Floridians can’t wait to reclaim

From double high fives at sporting events to free cookies at the Publix bakery, here’s what Times staffers and readers are looking forward to after getting their vaccines.
Some of the scenes readers are dreaming of in a post-pandemic future: A grandmother taking her grandson to Publix for a free bakery cookie. Friends reuniting over drinks at a crowded bar. Families having people over for dinner and hugs.
Some of the scenes readers are dreaming of in a post-pandemic future: A grandmother taking her grandson to Publix for a free bakery cookie. Friends reuniting over drinks at a crowded bar. Families having people over for dinner and hugs. [ Photo illustration by LISA MERKLIN ]
Published April 26, 2021|Updated April 27, 2021

After over a year of pandemic living, widespread vaccinations across Florida inspire hope. There’s so much to look forward to resuming.

While some people are planning reunion parties, dreaming of summer holidays and booking plane tickets for later this year, this next chapter also marks the return of many small but satisfying moments.

For Clearwater’s Lori Battisfore, taking her 3-year-old grandson, Eddie, to Publix for a free sprinkle cookie from the bakery is high on her list.

“We have shopped only when necessary and alone, usually during the first hour the stores are open to avoid crowded indoor spaces,” she wrote in a message via Twitter. “It is not worth risking our grandchild’s exposure to the virus just for a free cookie, but it was fun pre-pandemic.”

After a tough year, Gibbs High School science teacher Jennifer Krantz is looking forward to setting up labs and other hands-on activities for her students.

“My biology freshmen will huddle around microscopes whispering about how they have no idea what they are looking for. I’ll stop by, twists some knobs, and the whispers will hopefully turn to loud ‘Oh wow’s and ‘Now I see it,’ ” she wrote.

Tampa Bay Times readers and staffers shared these simple pleasures they are looking forward to or have recently started enjoying again. Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Going places

  • Restaurants, theater and movies, Saturday Art Walks, all the places you run into friends randomly instead of having to schedule a Zoom meeting to talk to them. — Times book critic Colette Bancroft
  • Church, especially with congregational singing. — @libbyshannon via Twitter
  • As a carless person, having the “freedom” to take Lyfts again. — Times lead engagement producer Ashley Dye
  • Seeing the inside of my son’s preschool and being able to walk him to his class. — Tanya Gogue via Instagram
  • Seeing the light in my 5-year-old’s eyes return when he sees a friend at the park where there is no yellow caution tape over the slide. — @irish_dan82 via Twitter
  • As someone who doesn’t have central A/C in my apartment, I’m looking forward to being able to hang out in indoor spaces (coffee shops or bars or whatever) where I can just sit in the air conditioning. — Times reporter Jack Evans
  • Running a race with my friends. — @SassyMammaTpa via Twitter
  • Sampling perfumes at the mall. — Daniell Delashaw via Instagram
  • Getting back to my hot yoga studio. — Times Clearwater reporter Tracey McManus
  • Full stadiums and arenas, and everyone yelling at the officials at the same time. — Times sports trending and outdoors reporter Mari Faiello
  • Double high-fives at Lightning games. — Keni Magoulas via Instagram

Eating and drinking

  • Can’t wait to sip a Starbucks coconut cappuccino while I walk aimlessly through Target. — @Spiralcma via Twitter
  • Going out to breakfast. Eggs don’t travel. — Times consumer affairs reporter Sue Carlton
  • Eating sushi in a restaurant again. — @DeanAllman via Twitter
  • Trying your friend’s food and drinks, and deciding who ordered the best stuff. — Times reporter Romy Ellenbogen
  • Buying an overpriced beer at a baseball game. — @MayMillz via Twitter
  • Having potluck lunches at work. — @glenh via Twitter
  • Just sitting in coffee shops reading a book. — @JesseCumberland via Twitter
  • I realize this is the best time of year to dine outside in Florida, but I can’t wait to sit at a crowded bar INSIDE a restaurant, scrunched up next to strangers while eavesdropping on everyone around me. — Times food critic Helen Freund


  • Taking a photo with masks off. — @carloseats via Twitter
  • Having vaccinated friends indoors to visit. — @michelle0728 via Twitter
  • Playing music for a flesh-and-blood — not virtual — audience with my band @AcmeJazzGarage & other groups. — @PBoothMedia via Twitter
  • Soft smiling at strangers as I pass by. — Emily Herron via Instagram
  • Being able to physically touch someone (i.e., put a hand on their shoulder, hug, etc.) when you’re helping them through a tough time. — @alison_vicent via Twitter
  • Hugs. I just want a hug. And another. And another. — Times senior deputy editor for news Amy Hollyfield
  • So looking forward to going back into the physical classroom where I can interact with my University of Tampa students in real life. — @KirkHazlett via Twitter
  • Can’t wait to gather with my card-playing friends for a few rounds of Spades and talking crap! — Times photo editor Boyzell Hosey
  • I formed a rock band with four of my friends in St. Pete called My Cat Umi just a couple of months before the pandemic hit. As more people get vaccinated, we’re looking forward to practicing again and introducing ourselves to the local music scene with a live show. — Cari Robaldo via Instagram
  • Petting other people’s dogs again in public! — Eleni Sullivan via Instagram
  • Random conversations and jokes with strangers as we wait in line for food/coffee/drinks. — Times real estate reporter Emily Mahoney
  • Sharing a good laugh with my friends in person. There is nothing like having a simple moment of fun and giggles. I am eager to sit close to them and share laughter that is infectious with joy — not a deadly virus. — @darla_delight via Twitter
  • Reading people’s facial expressions! — Times health equity reporter Margo Snipe

Times engagement producer Bernadette Berdychowski contributed to this report.