This downtown Tampa attraction focuses on Florida marine life and habitats. See indigenous sea life displayed in more than 1-million gallons of fresh and saltwater, a coral reef display, limestone caverns, an underground aquifer, beaches and marshlands, hands-on shark and ray exhibits and more. Admission is $15 for adults. 701 Channelside Drive, Tampa. 813-273-4000. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Florida Botanical Gardens
See what's in bloom at this cute, 182-acre park filled with native Florida plants and exotic tropicals, displayed in both natural and formal gardens. The park is also a natural habitat for Florida wildlife. The park's open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is free. Donations are appreciated. 12175 125th St. N., Largo. 727-582-2200.
Lowry Park Zoo Permanent Exhibits.
Recognized today as one of the top three mid-size zoos in the country, Lowry Park Zoo currently features 41 acres of lush, natural habitats comprising five main exhibit areas: The Florida Manatee and Aquatic Center, Asian Domain, Primate World, and Children's Petting Zoo. The newest addition to the zoo is Wallaroo Station, a 4.5-acre Australian exhibit. Regular admission costs $9.50; $8.50 for seniors; $5.95 for kids 3-11. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. 1101 W. Sligh Ave., Tampa. 813-935-8552. Wild Wonderland. The annual Wild Wonderland winter festival features real snow, a Zoo-wide Christmas lights display, Santa's Magic Castle and, of course, all the animals up past their usual bedtimes. Dec. 12-23, 6-9 p.m. Admission costs $8.50, $6.50 for kids 3-11.
The Pier's inverted pyramid-shape building (hard to miss) is filled with a variety of shops, restaurants and fun stuff for the kids. There's live music at Captain Al's every first and third Thursday and every Friday and Saturday; plus live music at Cha Cha Coconuts every Friday through Sunday. The Pier Aquarium takes up the second floor, and Great Explorations Hands-On Museum is on the third. Cha Cha Coconuts tropical restaurant gets the prime top floor, complete with observation deck. Other restaurants include Captain Al's and The Columbia. Hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday -Thursday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. Attractions and restaurant hours vary. 800 Second Ave. N.E., St. Petersburg. 727-821-6164.
SS American Victory
The SS American Victory served during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War as a cargo carrier, and is now open to the public for self-guided tours. Admission costs $6 for adults, $3 for kids 6-12 and free for children under 5. Located adjacent to the Florida Aquarium, Tampa. 813-228-8766.
This unique, 4-acre garden with meandering paths drops 15 feet below street level and combines lush tropical areas with flowing ponds and waterfalls. There's also a Butterfly Aviary, with 300 native butterflies, exotic flowering trees and fruit trees, and the Gardens offer frequent wildlife and gardening programs. Admission costs $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and $3 for kids. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday. 1825 Fourth St. N., St. Petersburg. 727-551-3100.
Weeki Wachee Springs
6131 Commercial Way, Spring Hill. 877-469-3354. Winter Wonderland. Weeki Wachee holds its first holiday program in more than 10 years. Trek up there for shows such as Tails of Christmas Mermaid, Holiday Horse Play and Magic of Illusions. Dec. 20-21, 6-10 p.m. Admission costs $7.95, $6.95 for kids 3-10.HolidayCandles, Carols & Canes The Tampa Bay Gay Men's Chorus performs its 15th anniversary holiday concert. Sat., Dec. 21, 8 p.m. $20. Friday Morning Musicale, 809 Horatio St., Tampa. 813-251-1990.
Century Opera Singers Christmas Carolling
Stay after the Tarpon Springs Christmas Parade to hear selections from The Woggle Bug as well as joining in with the Century Opera singers for some carolling. Free and open to the public. Sat., Dec. 21. Tarpon Springs Heritage Museum, 100 Beekman Lane, Spring Bayou, Craig Park, Tarpon Springs.
A Christmas Canoli: Or a Tale of Two Families *
Yellow Snow Productions puts on its humorous adaptation of Dickens' A Christmas Carol. It's what happens when you cross Ebenezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim with The Godfather and The Sopranos. Dec. 19-20, 8 p.m.; Dec. 21, 3 p.m. & 8 p.m.; Dec. 26-27, 8 p.m.; Dec. 28, 3 p.m. & 8 p.m. Tickets cost $7-$10. Silver Meteor Gallery, 2213 E. Sixth Ave., Ybor City. 813-300-3585.
A Christmas Story *
American Stage celebrates the holiday season with its Theatre For Families production of A Christmas Story, based on the writings of American humorist Jean Shepherd. Dec. 13-22. Tickets cost $15, $7 for kids 12 and younger. American Stage, 211 Third St. S., St. Petersburg. 727-823-7529.