Monthly Archives: October 2014

Visiting MOSI in Tampa, FL – A Guide to the Museum of Science and Industry

MOSI TampaOne of the foremost museum experiences in Tampa, Florida, area has long been the Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI). I’ve grown up visiting MOSI and continue to enjoy visiting this award-winning science center as an adult.

Offering dozens of hands-on opportunities to engage in the scientific wonders that make up the world around us, MOSI is the largest science museum in the Southeast United States. MOSI offers an IMAX dome movie theater, planetarium, nature trail, butterfly habitat, and hurricane wind simulator, among dozens of other highlights.

One of the most popular exhibits is Kids in Charge! — a wing of the museum dedicated to teaching children about the science principles of the world around us with fun, engaging props and games. Throughout the year, MOSI also hosts several events, including Einstein on Food and Wine, and the Festival of Chocolate.


The History of MOSI in Tampa

MOSI dates back to 1962, when Hillsborough County approved funds for a youth museum in Sulphur Springs on the banks of the Hillsborough River. The small museum was originally named the Museum of Science and Natural History, and in 1967 became the Hillsborough County Museum. By 1972, the museum had its first professional director.

In 1976, the museum acquired its current site and in the late 1970s hired core professional staff to guide the new museum. In 1980, the facility was completed in it was opened to the public in 1982. By the late 1980s, more land was acquired to accommodate a multi-phase growth plan that includes the iconic IMAX dome structure and the Kids in Charge! wing to the west of the main exhibit area.

MOSI is a fully established museum with many credentials, including accreditation from the American Association of Museums and the Association of Science-Technology Centers.


Spending a Day at MOSI in Tampa

A trip to MOSI means planning on at least a half day of non-stop seeing, doing, and exploring. If you go during a busy time of the year, such as the summer, I’d simply allocate an entire day at the museum. I suggest arriving early and check out what is showing at the IMAX theater, which usually plays documentaries geared toward science as well as some popular films.

Sometimes the event floor has a feature exhibit or expo. Right now, 3D Printing the Future is going on, and this free event takes visitors through the amazing world of printing three-dimensional objects ranging from fashion accessories to body parts. You can even play with 3D concepts in the workshop area.

It’s easy to spend an hour or two at the main exhibition hall, and if you’ve got children in tow you’ll probably spend the same amount of time — or more — at Kids in Charge! I personally enjoy presentations at the Saunders Planetarium and riding the high-wire bike that is carefully balanced with a counterweight. Oh — that bike takes you 30 feet over the main lobby floor, so don’t look down!

There’s also a zip line and ropes course, which I’ve not had the chance to partake in yet but have heard is something I must do when I get the opportunity. The multi-level ropes course takes brave souls almost four stories above the ground, and the zip line takes thrill seekers 65 feet up along a total of 700 feet of cable.

Be sure to stop by the BioWorks butterfly garden. You could make hundreds of fluttering friends! On the way out, you might want to take a little trek through the historic tree grove, which flourishes with more than a dozen trees grown from seedlings of trees associated with significant people or events. For example, there’s a sweet gum that’s the seedling of a tree that witnessed the flight of the first airplane. I’m not sure what is more relaxing — time in the BioWorks butterfly garden or a leisurely stroll through the tree grove.


Where is MOSI in Tampa?

MOSI is in North Tampa at 4801 E. Fowler, so it’s right across from the USF Sun Dome and about 1.5 northeast of Busch Gardens, about halfway between I-75 and I-275.

MOSI is open Monday through Friday, 10 AM to 5 PM and Saturday and Sunday 10 AM through 6 PM.

General admission for adults is $22.95 and for kids 6-12 tickets are $18.95. MOSI also participates in CityPASS, the unique combo ticket that gets you into MOSI and other attractions in the area (including Busch Gardens) for a discounted price. Parking is $5.

Alessi Bakery Cuban Sandwiches, Scachatta & Pastries Rule

Alessi Bakery ScachattaTampa has several excellent restaurants that are considered iconic to the city — Alessi Bakery is one of those select places that are among the greats. Alessi Bakery dates back to 1912 and has been an institution in the city ever since.

Alessi Bakery is well known for its great Cuban sandwiches, delicious deviled crabs, sumptuous pastries, and elaborate wedding cakes. And I can’t write this piece without a shout out to the Alessi scachatta.

What is scachatta, you ask?

Scachatta is a type of flat, square pizza. Alessi’s scachatta is a Sicilian recipe involving a soft, evenly textured bread, lightly scattered cheese, a sweet — but not sugary — tomato sauce, and seasoned ground beef.

You could go to Alessi’s just for the scachatta… and many people do. But I have never left with scachatta alone. In fact, a meal at Alessi Bakery for me is never complete without a Cuban sandwich and something from the pastry counter.

And, at the place “where quality rules,” you will never be disappointed when you sink your teeth into an eclair, brownie, or one of their countless specialty sugar cookies. They always have something colorful for the season or nearest holiday, cookies celebrating the local professional sports teams, and they even sell political cookies. They even let you “vote” for your favorite candidate based on which cookies you buy.

Back to those Alessi Cuban sandwiches for a moment. Now, if you’re privy to the Tampa Cuban sandwich wars, you know that everybody has their own idea as to what bakery has the “best” Cuban sandwich, most “authentic” Cuban sandwich, or what have you.

Alessi Cuban sandwiches come on crunchy Cuban bread and are filled with ham, salami, Spanish pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard, and mayonnaise. As diehard Cuban sandwich aficionados know, a “real” Cuban sandwich doesn’t come with lettuce and tomato. If you want either of those on your Alessi Cuban sandwich, you better stop by the sandwich counter for a special order.

And while you’re at that special order counter, which is off to your left when you enter Alessi Bakery, be sure to buy a deviled crab or papa rellena (“stuffed potato”). If you’re like me, you’ll top them off with lots of Texas Pete hot sauce (packets are provided for free at Alessi Bakery) and have lots of napkins on hand (also complimentary!).

Last but not least, the service at Alessi Bakery is top notch. I’ve always been greeted with friendly smiles and helpful, courteous staff. The lines can get a little long during lunch, but isn’t that supposed to be a good thing? When it comes to the restaurant industry, I’ve always heard that long lines equal excellent food. Among the third generation of Alessi Bakery patrons in my family, I can see why this restaurant is as much a tradition in my household as it is in the Greater Tampa community.

If you want to stop on by and see for yourself how great Alessi Bakery is, they’re located at 2909 W. Cypress Street in West Tampa, about two miles west of downtown Tampa and around two miles southeast of Raymond James Stadium.

If the weather is nice, be sure you take some time to enjoy your meal on the covered deck attached to the west side of the bakery, or sit under the shade of the store’s covered front walkway — you will find plenty of tables and chairs in both locations. If you’re heading to the Florida State Fair in February, you can find Alessi Bakery selling their treats to fairgoers inside in the Expo Hall.

10 Ideas For Winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers Gifts

buccaneers-giftsThe Tampa Bay Buccaneers pulled off an incredible 27-24 last-moment win last Sunday against the Steelers in Pittsburgh. Until September 28, 2014, we’ve never pulled off such a feat against the Steel Curtain in Blitzburgh.

And now with Walmart decking the halls with Christmas cheer, I’m getting in the mood to start buying gifts soon. So what shall I put in my gift “sack” (I warned you about my puns) for my fellow Buccaneers fans?

Here are 10 Buccaneers gifts sure to score some cheer:

#1 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tickets

What better gift can you get for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan in your life than tickets to a game? While Buccaneers tickets are among the most expensive gift on this list, they are the perfect gift to help make some cherished memories for that special diehard Bucs fan. Just hope and pray that the Bucs win that game!


#2 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers Super Bowl XXXVII Memorabilia

Whether it’s a good season or a rough one, we Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans will always have fond memories of a magical season when all the stars seemed to align and our team was on the path of glory. Not only did we go 12-4 in the 2002 regular season and walk onto the field against the Oakland Raiders at Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego, but we won, and did so decisively: 48-21.

Are your eyes misting as you recall the splendor of seeing our Buccaneers hoist the Vince Lombardi trophy? You could see tears of joy (hopefully joy) if you give a beloved Buccaneers fan near and dear to you some memorabilia of our Super Bowl win.

What about a glass Coca-Cola bottle emblazoned with Super Bowl logos and those familiar red and pewter hues? Or a souvenir book from the game? How about used ticket stubs from Super Bowl XXXVII? Local sporting goods stores may have some great Buccaneers Super Bowl XXXVII swag on hand.

If you can’t find what you want locally, then hit up eBay.


#3 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers Bobble Heads

I can never really get enough of those bobble heads. They are probably the most exciting thing to hit the knick knack collector’s shelves since the advent of those dashboard Hawaiian hula dancers that swept the kitsch market in the 1960s — back when mainland America was in love with tiki culture.

Many Buccaneers players both current and are immortalized by bobble head figures. There are tons of Buccaneers bobble heads out there. And they are a true keepsake. I still have my Jon Gruden bobble head from the days of Buccaneer glory.


#4 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jerseys

Any favorite players who that Bucs fan near and dear to you loves? Whether for an old-school Bucko who would savor wearing a retro creamsicle Lee Roy Selmon “63” jersey, a fan who thinks Mike “A Train” Alstott was THE pewter and red poster boy, or somebody who believes Quarterback Mike Glennon should stay as a starter (and will proudly wear #8) jerseys are super gifts for fans in your personal ring of honor.

Buccaneers jerseys are available in sizes from child on through adult, and there are now specially fitted jerseys designed for female fans.


#5 – A Piece of Buccaneers History

Tampa Stadium was the home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from the team’s first game in 1976 all the way through the end of the 1997 season. During those years at the “Big Sombrero,” the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made a lot of history — both good and bad.

But, in winning seasons and during those we’d rather forget, Tampa Stadium was the cradle for the team during the early days of the Buccaneers franchise. Any seasoned Buccaneers fan would love to own a piece of the stadium, or anything memorializing it.

Buccaneers Gifts

Be sure to check for Tampa Stadium concrete and field dirt on places like eBay or in Tampa-area novelty shops.

If you fail to find what you’re looking for in the way of concrete chunks or other physical relics, don’t forget there are many posters and postcards of Tampa Stadium that can be bought for less than $20.


#6 – Creamsicle & Bucco Bruce

Many fans may not want to admit it, but they do love that orange and creamsicle of yesteryear. The orange hues and Bucco Bruce, the face of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1976 right on through to the mid 1990s, will always have an important place in Buccaneers history.

It seems like I’m spotting more and more throwback Buccaneers items every year in sporting memorabilia stores and even big box retail outlets. But if you can’t find what you want locally, there’s plenty of creamsicle online.


#7 – Buccaneers Autographs

Why not buy some memorabilia signed by one of the players or coaches? Pieces like these vary in price, based whose autograph you’re buying and what item was signed. However, autographs from the more notable figures from yesteryear, including Lee Roy Selmon, Doug Williams, John Lynch, Mike Alstott, Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, and Ronde Barber, are tops on most any diehard Bucs fan’s wish list.

Don’t forget Buccaneers coaches Lovie Smith, Jon Gruden, Tony Dungy! Buccaneers autographs from our teams leaders, both past and present, make awesome gifts.


#8 – Buccaneers Car Swag

Maybe the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan you’re thinking of already has his or her home decked out in pewter and red (or creamsicle), but maybe their car needs some Buccaneers-colored touch, too.

From magnets to flags to bumper stickers, there are plenty of great Buccaneers car accessories that’ll make any fan beam with Buccaneers pride on the road.


#9 – Buccaneers Yard Pennant

Could you tell that favorite Buccaneers fan of yours loved the team just by looking at their front yard? If not, maybe it’s time to buy something that will help them show all the neighbors that they’re living in the red zone of a true Buccaneers fan.

One of the boldest ways to do that is buying a Buccaneers yard pennant. These can be hung from flagpoles and are excellent for showing off some Buccaneers team spirit!

One caveat… If you can, find out whether or not deed restrictions in the Buccaneer fan’s neighborhood would prevent the display of flags, banners, and other similar items. You don’t want to get that favorite Buccaneers fan in trouble with the homeowners’ association!


#10 – Super Bowl XXXVII Video

Back to Super Bowl XXXVII again here…

And nothing brings back memories of one of the greatest moments in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ history than watching a video of Super Bowl XXXVII, when the Bucs beat the Oakland Raiders on an international stage.

VHS cassettes (remember those?) and DVDs of Super Bowl XXXVII range in price from around $10 up to $30.