Parks & Rec: No, not the TV show

Well, at least it's not the 80's.
Parks & Rec, 2020
I'm going to start this blog with a disclaimer: I did not like this place, at all. "But Mark," I hear you shouting, "Then why should I even bother reading this?" Because I feel like there is a market for it. And a dude in his 30's who enjoys craft beer and more intimate spaces most definitely is not their target audience. 
Coins, 2020
Branching off of the popular Downtown St. Pete bar of the same name, Parks & Rec Tampa opened in (as far as I can see) 2019. The bar covers an outdoor area, mainly used for giant beer pong and Jenga, an indoor area with a handful of arcade games and a DJ, complete with TV's showing ESPN (because, of course you would), and an upstairs second story with pool tables, air hockey, and a few more games. I counted no less than four different bars, which was impressive for the size of the space used. The entrance to the bar is adorned with security who seem to be st…

Christmas Town at Busch Gardens: Dashing Through The... Sand?

It's a Christmas tradition... In Florida!

Christmas Town, 2017

I never knew exactly how much stuff happened at Busch Gardens. I had always been aware of Howl-O-Scream, but I never knew about their concert series, or their food & wine, and I especially never knew about Christmas Town. Stormy talked me into getting a pass at some point last year (which is, to date, the best deal going in Tampa right now), and we've made it a point to hit Busch Gardens at least once a month, partake in passholder perks, and enjoy the events that seemingly happen every month. But enough of the formalities, you didn't come here for that.

Decorations, 2017

I know I'm going to get the questions, so I'll answer it now: Christmas Town is included in park admission and runs "select dates" (mainly Friday-Sunday) until December 31. Also keep in mind that the lights don't go on until closer to sunset. The darker it gets, the better! This is the one Christmas/Holiday event in Tampa that will literally keep the entire family happy. Have young kids who aren't tall enough to ride Falcon's Fury? Perfect! They can visit Rudolph and Santa. Have some teenagers who just want to hash out some adrenaline? Even better! Busch Gardens has some of the best coasters in the southeast. Have some people in your group who don't want to meet Santa and Rudolph but don't want to go on the coasters? Well, first off, stop associating with them, but there are a ton of animals to pet, more animals to view, the train, and a ton of Christmas inspired shows. 

Tree of Lights, 2017

The music around the park keeps the mood flowing, as do all of the decorations. The more time you spend looking around, the more you'll discover. There are special Busch Gardens Ornaments on sale in the shops, they do a food & wine type deal in Gwazi Park with special foods and alcoholic beverages, and lights set up around the entire park. This has to be one of the biggest displays I've ever seen. It's impressive to see how much work actually went in to this event. They even opened the Stanleyville Theater for a show of Christmas joy. The usual Dragonfire Grill show has been replaced by a Santa variety show. The ice skating show has been replaced with a Christmas inspired ice skating show. All of them are incredibly fun to watch (with the exception of the Santa variety show... It's kind of cheesy. But kids will love it.). 


 Singers, 2017
                                                                                            Statue, 2017

If the shows, lights, foods, and meet & greets weren't enough, they also offer up some local vendors to come out and sell their goods. It's a cool little place to meet members of the community and to buy some unique gifts you aren't bound to find elsewhere (and, if you need even more options, check out some of these stores). Busch Gardens also turns their train into a one stop, singalong extravaganza after (I believe) 6:00 pm. The best part is, outside of the train, none of this effects the rides themselves. You can still ride your favorite rides while waiting for Santa to come out, or you can catch the new Ice Skating show while waiting on the singalong train to roll through. There is so much to do here that you wont be able to get bored.

Decorations, 2017

Things to know before you go:

- The park is (typically) open until 10:00 pm on Christmas Town nights. The one notable exception being on New Year's Eve when the park is open until 1:00 am. 
- The park gets ridiculously busy on these days. Be a little more patient than usual.
- This event is fun for all ages and lifestyles. From the adrenaline junkies to the introverts. 
- The event is free with park entry.

Who is your favorite character to get a picture with? Do you go to see the lights, to sing on the train, or to ride the coasters? Leave a comment below. If you'd like more information on Tampa, check out my YouTube Channel and if you'd like to support my efforts, don't hesitate to buy a shirt from our Spreadshirt (we have new designs!). Also, don't be afraid to click subscribe and you'll instantly be notified whenever a new entry is posted. If you'd like to meet other people who love Tampa, consider joining our Facebook Group. Thank you all and I will see you next time!

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