Water parks, hiking trails, museums and more

A complete guide to summer recreation on land and water

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THE PIER, 800 Second Ave. N.E., St. Petersburg (727-821-6443). The Pier's five-story inverted pyramid-shaped building is filled with a variety of shops, restaurants and fun stuff for the kids. At the ground level, visitors can take advantage of a myriad of adventure opportunities, from Segway tours to boating and dolphin tours. The 2,000-square-foot Pier Aquarium takes up the second floor and features a handful of exhibits; new admission rates for the aquarium are $5 general/$4 students and seniors ($2.50 admission on Sundays). The Columbia Restaurant — located on the fourth floor — offers a menu of fine Spanish/Cuban food, and on the top floor, visitors can have a frozen drink at Cha Cha Coconuts while taking in a spectacular view of Tampa Bay. Other dining includes Captain Al's and the Dockside Eatery. Hours are 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Fri.-Sat., and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sun.; attractions and restaurant hours vary. stpete-pier.com.

SUNKEN GARDENS, 1825 Fourth St. N., St. Petersburg (727-551-3100). Paths meander through this four-acre, 100-year-old garden, which 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 and fruit trees, and wildlife and gardening programs. Hours: 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Mon.-Sat., noon-4:30 p.m. Sun. Admission is $8 adults, $6 seniors, and $4 ages 2-11 (free for members and children under 2). stpete.org/sunken.

TAMPA BAY GHOST TOURS, locations vary (727-398-5200). Four tours are offered: "Maritime Mysteries & Pirates of the Pass" in John's Pass Village (tours leave 7:30 p.m. daily, $14 adults/$10 ages 11 and younger); "Haunted Halls & Horrifying Hermits" in Pass-A-Grille/St. Pete Beach (6:30 p.m. Wed., Fri. and Sat., $32/$19); "Guys & Ghouls" in Gulfport (8:30 p.m. Tues., Fri. and Sat., $14/$10); and "The Dark Side of the Sunshine City" in downtown St. Petersburg (8 p.m. Tues.-Wed., 8 and 10 p.m. Thurs.-Sat., $14/$10). Reservations are required. allthebesthaunts.com.

UNIVERSAL STUDIOS, 1000 Universal Studios Plaza (East I-4 to exit 74A), Orlando (407-363-8000). This Hollywood-inspired theme park boasts movie-based rides such as Back to the Future, Terminator 2 ... 3D, Twister ... Ride it Out! and Jaws. You can also see the Nickelodeon set and the house used in Psycho. After you've toured the movies, trek through Citywalk, a 30-acre hot spot featuring a stadium movie theater, shops, nightclubs, and restaurants, including Hard Rock Cafe, NBA City and Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville. Hours vary week to week. Admission is $69.99 adults, $58.99 ages 3-9; children 2 and younger enter for free. universalorlando.com. Citywalk hours: 11 a.m.-2 a.m. daily. Admission is free, but some clubs may charge a cover; an all-access Party Pass is available for $11.99, or a Party and Movie pass for $15. universalorlando.com.


THE ARTS CENTER, 719 Central Ave., St. Petersburg (727-822-7872). With five separate galleries, the center boasts a wide range of art by locally, nationally and internationally known artists. Currently on display: Jun Kaneko, an extensive exhibit of ceramic sculpture, drawings and paintings created over the past two decades by contemporary artist Jun Kaneko, through May 10. Upcoming: three exhibits held in conjunction with the biennial Handweavers' Guild of America conference that all features artists working in fiber — Practical to Poetic: Fiber Invitational, Salsa y Salsa: Convergence Juried Exhibition, and Laura Militzer Bryant: Crossings, May 23-Aug. 16; and Re:Member September, the center's annual non-juried members' exhibition, Sept. 5-28. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tues.-Sat. Free admission. theartscenter.org.

FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL MUSEUM, 244 Second Ave. N., SPC Downtown Center, St. Petersburg (727-341-7900). A parade of traveling exhibits pass through the museum on a regular basis. Currently, FIM presents Vatican Splendors, one of the largest touring collections of art, documents and historically significant objects spanning 2,000 years and culled from Saint Peter's Basilica, the Vatican Museums and the Swiss Guard. Among the 200 rare objects are mosaics, paintings, papal rings and jewels, gifts to popes from figures like Napoleon and the Dalai Lama, and armor, swords and vestments of the Papal Swiss Guard, through May 11. 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sun. Admission is $20 adults, $17 seniors, $15 military, $13 students (free for ages 5 and younger). floridamuseum.org.

FLORIDA MUSEUM OF PHOTOGRAPHIC ARTS, 200 N. Tampa St., Suite 120, downtown Tampa (813-221-2222). Currently on display at the nonprofit photography museum is Masters of Black and White Including Selections from The Drapkin Collection, an exhibit of images by significant American 20th century photographers, among them, Berenice Abbott, Diane Arbus, Ruth Bernhard, Harry Callahan, Paul Caponigro, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Jill Freedman, Philippe Halsman, Dianora Niccolini, Len Prince, Eugene Smith, Aaron Siskind and Edward Weston, through May 31. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tues.-Sat. Admission is a suggested $4 donation. fmopa.org.

GULF COAST MUSEUM OF ART, 12211 Walsingham Road, Largo (727-518-6833). Mysterious Clarity: Mark Messersmith, Ray Burggraf, Lillian Garcia-Roig features Florida landscape paintings done in three radically different styles, May 17-July 27; large-scale abstract landscape paintings are presented in Victoria Block: Narrations, Aug. 9-Sept. 28; and Studio Works is the annual juried Studioworks exhibit spotlighting GCMA's instructors and students, Aug. 9-Sept. 28. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tues.-Sat., noon-4 p.m. Sun. Admission is $8 adults, $7 seniors, and $4 students with valid I.D. and ages 7-18 (free for museum members and kids 6 and younger). gulfcoastmuseum.org.

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