I know what you're thinking. Everyone has done the Tampa Trifecta some point in their life, why bother reading yet another blog post about eating in Ybor City, strolling along the riverfront and ending up at Busch Gardens. Well, this isn't that trifecta. In fact, I totally made that up. Maybe that's somebody's trifecta, but it certainly wasn't ours. No no, OUR Tampa Trifecta was the world famous Dinosaur World, the Seminole Hard Rock Casino and then an evening baseball game at Publix Marchant Field!
I had spent years and years passing Dinosaur World, conveniently located right off of I4, and always wondering, "How much further to the beach?" and then looking at the GPS. My sad attempt at a joke notwithstanding, I didn't give much thought to Dinosaur World other than it was just another tourist trap from a bygone era, built trying to lure in folks going to and from the Orlando theme parks. Well, turns out I was partially right but there is so much more than just plastic dinosaurs!
Dinosaur World is about, eh, 10 or so acres full of model dinos all about. There is a playground, a T-Rex Trivia House, some Wooly Mammoths that were impossible to sit comfortably on (see pictures below) and tons of signs that described the local fauna and floral.
I was pleasantly surprised at how big the place was. The path took you all around the property, and across some boardwalks where there were koi and more dinos abound.
After walking around, sweating in the wonderful Florida sun, we perused the gift shop, which was the only thing at Dinosaur World that fit the roadside stereotype. Having had our fun, we hopped back in the car and as we had more time than expected, headed for Hard Rock.
I'll be honest, we spent about thirty minutes here. We've been here before and there are some really cool music artifacts afoot. My personal favorite includes a set of jumpsuits worn by The Jackson Five and an ascot worn by Jimi Hendrix at the Monterey Pop Festival.
Since we're both suckers for being in casino, we spent most of the time just wandering around the floor and enjoying the sights and sounds. However, we did find an Iron Man slot which was a lot of fun. Assuming we'll venture back there again sometime, I'll bring more than five dollars.
From Hard Rock to Joker Marchant Stadium, it usually takes around twenty-five minutes, according to Google maps. However, this was not a usual time. But really, is there any "usual" time when you're dealing with I4? I don't think so. It took us around forty-five minutes to get to the stadium, and the only reason I mention this is because we were about to gnaw on the water bottles we had brought. Like the actual bottles themselves. We were quite famished.
And you might be asking yourself, "Why on Earth didn't you eat more things throughout the day?" Because it was all-you-can-eat night at the ballpark! Seriously. ALL. YOU. CAN. EAT. Hotdogs! Popcorn! Pretzels! Peanuts! Pizza! More foods that start with P!
Publix field is very charming, and maybe one day, I'll gather some fun facts about the stadium. But today is not that day. But the entire stadium is well-maintained, always clean and just a great ballpark. And this day was no exception. It was also an exception for how much food I usually consume at a ballpark. I won't give the details, but the amount of hot dogs I ordered rhymes with the word "door" and the slices of pizza I had rhymes with the word "mind you're own damn business."
Once we settled into our seat--you know, I didn't even mention the truly best part of this whole experience: including the AYCE package, two tickets were only $25! And our seats were located right behind home plate! Best seats in the house by far! I didn't choose these in particular, the ticketing system chooses the seats after you select a section, but we definitely lucked out on this one!
The game was filled with hits, strikes and great catches. So basically every baseball game that's been played. But there's just something about going to a live sporting event, especially ones that are cheap, that make things alright. It also helped that in the bottom of the ninth, the Flying Tigers had about six or seven hits and won the game.
At the ballpark, they had this wall graphic showing all the teams in Florida and where they are located, so now we have plans to visit all the various stadiums because baseball and exploring are fun! We also have plans to travel around the state to follow the Tigers during Spring Training, so this is a good warmup.
After consuming our weight in free food, watching some great baseball we headed home--oh, another thing: the easiness of parking and getting out of this parking lot was just the best. No parking fee, parked about a hundred feet from the entrance and then just zipped out. It just makes everything so much easier when you're not stuck in traffic after a fun evening out.
A Tampa Trifecta in the books, and a great day for it as well. Adventure is always out there!