Travel Guide to Florida - - WEST CENTRAL FLORIDA -

If beauty is in the eye of the be­holder, West Cen­tral Florida has plenty to share. One show­piece sits on the Tampa River­walk a pedes­trian walk­way that me­an­ders through the city along the Hills­bor­ough River. The Tampa Mu­seum of Art is housed in an ar­chi­tec­tural work of art de­signed by Stan­ley Saitowitz. In­side, an in­cred­i­ble col­lec­tion of con­tem­po­rary and clas­si­cal art, as well as en­tic­ing trav­el­ing ex­hi­bi­tions, are on dis­play. From the mu­seum, fol­low the River­walk south to the Florida Mu­seum of Pho­to­graphic Arts, show­cas­ing works by lo­cal, na­tional and in­ter­na­tional pho­tog­ra­phers, as well as his­tor­i­cal col­lec­tions.

No­body does pi­rates like Tampa Bay. The newly ex­panded Tampa Bay His­tory Cen­ter brings to life pi­rates, ship­wrecks and trea­sure—com­plete with a 60-foot replica pi­rate ship to climb around, a real 1700s ship’s trea­sure chest and an au­then­tic 1703 map of the Caribbean show­ing ex­actly where to at­tack ships full of trea­sure. The ex­pan­sion also in­cludes a car­to­graphic re­search cen­ter and houses over 6,000 maps dat­ing back as far as as 1493.

Back in down­town Tampa, step into sim­pler times amid the splen­dor of the sto­ried 1920s “movie palace,” the Tampa The­atre. Tour the mes­mer­iz­ing the­ater be­fore the main fea­ture be­gins, then sit back and re­lax while a vol­un­teer or­gan­ist ser­e­nades you on the Mighty Wurl­itzer Or­gan be­fore the cur­tain rises.

Within walk­ing dis­tance of each other in down­town St. Peters­burg are the Mu­seum of Fine Arts, with thousands of ob­jects span­ning 4,500 years, from an­tiq­uity to the present, and the Dalí Mu­seum with the world’s largest col­lec­tion of Sal­vador Dalí’s work out­side of Spain, in­clud­ing 1,300 graph­ics, photos, sculp­tures and ob­jets d’art; 96 oil paint­ings; and more than 100 wa­ter­col­ors and draw­ings. The struc­ture hous­ing the Dalí Mu­seum is in it­self a sur­real piece of art. The Chi­huly Col­lec­tion re­cently moved to its new lo­ca­tion on the Morean Arts Cen­ter cam­pus in St. Pete’s Cen­tral Arts District, and fea­tures amaz­ing works of glass art by the mas­ter him­self.

To the north of Tampa, Dunedin is filled with gal­leries and reg­u­larly hosts arts and craft shows through­out the year. If you’re in the area Jan­uary 6–7, 2018, head over to the 21st An­nual Down­town Dunedin Art Fes­ti­val, which show­cases more than 100 of the na­tion’s most tal­ented artists and a broad spec­trum of me­dia in­clud­ing sculp­tures, glass, paint­ings, jew­elry and ce­ram­ics. Ad­mis­sion is free. Ev­ery spring, world-class Scot­tish ath­letes de­scend upon Dunedin for the an­nual High­land Games & Fes­ti­val that in­clude a tra­di­tional Scot­tish gath­er­ing with mu­sic and dance, a pa­rade and a full day of events and com­pe­ti­tions.

For a peek into the his­tory of the area, check out the an­nual Fort Cooper Days event in In­ver­ness, where re-en­act­ments of the Sec­ond Semi­nole War are held twice a day along with liv­ing his­tory demon­stra­tions.

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