DAZE OFF

Suggestions on what to do during that lull between Christmas and New Year's.

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Traffic be damned, you're going to see the world beyond your cubicle while you have some time off. You're going to do it all and then some. You're going to rock this joint, whatever that means, and spray paint the town red, or if not the town then you'll graffiti your name somewhere. Bottom line is you're full of energy but haven't got a plan yet.It's OK. That's our job.

And our suggestions for channeling your holiday vacation angst run the gamut from figure skating to a walk on the beach to seeing the traditional holiday blockbuster. Here's to getting off the couch.

It's rightly uncommon for a true Floridian to grow up ice skating, but Rollerblading translates well enough. Heck, so long as you have decent ankle strength and can hack falling on your ass a couple times, you're good to go. There's fresh ice in need of being skated at the Ice Sports Forum, Countryside Mall and Park Side Mall. Hours vary at each location, though, so be sure to call for open skate availability.

The Ice Sports Forum (10222 Elizabeth Place, Tampa, 813-684-7825) is the official training facility of the Tampa Bay Lightning and has two regulation rinks. Skating costs $7, $5.50 for kids, $3 for skate rental. Countryside Mall (U.S. 19 N., Clearwater, 727-723-7785) has a rink at its hub. It's good if you want to work in some ice time around your post-Christmas shopping. Skating costs $6.25, $5.50 for kids, $3 for skate rental. And Park Side Mall (7200 U.S. 19 N., Pinellas Park, 727-527-2276) may be the least expensive of the area's rinks, but it's just as suitable for a novice who wants to give skating a shot. Only problem with these mall rinks is your wipeouts are on display for all the people-watchers. Skating costs $5.50, $4.50 for kids, $2 for skate rental.

The area's best single-track mountain bike trails — located at Boyette Park, Croom, the Wilderness Parks and Alafia River State Park — are maintained by SWAMP (South West Association of Mountain Bike Pedalers). SWAMP offers guided weekly rides for folks of all skill levels (as long as you can grind out 10-15 miles), but if you go unguided, you ride at your own risk. For info such as directions and trail maps to these hard-to-find and tricky-to-navigate trails, visit the club's website, www.swampclub.org, or call 813-689-5109. Don't forget your helmet and plenty of water.

For more leisurely bike outings and wooded sites for hikes, see the list of parks and trails after this column. The listings also include area beaches and attractions.

God bless you if you actually have the will to visit a theme park.

On the other hand — there may not be a more pleasant place to stroll this time of year than the beach. There are no crowds, no infernal heat. It's just you, bundled up, plodding along, admiring the view. There may be some joggers and may be some joggers and Canadian or British tourists swimming, but pretty much it'll be like you've stepped into the pages of a J. Crew catalog.

The major museums in the area all have fine exhibits at the moment, and it would be an oversight to pass your holiday time off without taking in some art.

The Salvador Dali Museum (255 Beach Drive N.E., St. Petersburg, 727-896-2667) currently has a pair of rarely seen Dali-illustrated books in addition to its permanent, comprehensive collection of the surrealist's masterworks.

Tampa Museum of Art (600 N. Ashley Drive, Tampa, 813-274-8130) has two worthwhile shows. I See the Rhythm is a tour of African-American musical history — beginning with African tribal drumming and ending with the hip-hop of today — composed of 15 paintings and several multimedia works by artist Michele Wood. And Photography's Multiple Roles is an ambitious panorama of images that proves the medium's breadth, totaling 170 photos, objects and installations.

Museum of Fine Arts' (255 Beach Drive N.E., St. Petersburg, 727-896-2667) two big exhibits are Little Luxuries: Baby Rattles and Teethers from the 18th to 20th Century, which is exactly what the subtitle says, and Red Grooms: Selections From the Graphic Work, another self-explanatory show. The Grooms exhibit includes 130 prints by the engaging pop-influenced artist, including a number of large-scale works.

For a dose of work by local artists, visit Artists Unlimited (223 N. 12th St., Tampa, 813-229-5958), a hive of studios in the Channelside neighborhood that's presently displaying a members' show, and the Arts Center (719 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, 727-822-7872), whose annual holiday show is running alongside an invitational exhibit of glass vessels and wall pieces.

Solid solo shows by area artists include a 35-year retrospective of Clyde Butcher's landscape photography at Tampa Gallery of Photographic Arts (Old Hyde Park Village, 746 S. Village Circle, Tampa, 813-251-1800) and Smell of Expectation, new mixed-media works by deconstructive/pop/outsider artist Bask at Covivant Gallery (4906 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, 813-928-4661).

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