Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ballast Point Park ~ Tampa, Florida

Ballast Point Park is a located on Tampa Bay (featuring awesome views of downtown Tampa and the Port of Tampa), down the street from Bayshore Boulevard, one of the most picturesque points in Tampa.

click photo for enlarged view

The park dates back to Tampa's earliest days, originally named Jules Verne Park.  The Hillsborough County Historical Commission placed a historical marker at the park which reads:
"Formerly Jules Verne Park . . .

Mrs. Chester W. Chapin, controlling owner of the company which operated the city's first electric trolley cars, purchased these acres and in 1894 developed this site into a tropical park as a terminal for her line. 
She named it for the French writer Jules Verne (1814-1905) who in his famous novel "From the Earth to the Moon" first published in 1865, chose Tampa town as his launching site for the imaginary shot of his rocket to that planet near one hundred years ago."

The park features a lovely fishing pier that brought back so many memories of my childhood.  As we ventured down the pier today, flashbacks of fishing with my dad came to mind.  The one memory that stands out are the ugly blowfish that were often caught off that pier.  They really freaked me out as a child!

click photos for enlarged views

As a dating teenager, the pier was a fun spot to enjoy a relaxing evening after having dinner out.  That pier has been a fun spot for me as I became an adult, looking for a frugal way to spend a very enjoyable evening, either fishing or merely walking the pier watching others fish.  There is something about fishing piers at night that fascinate me in the simple way of just enjoying one of nature's gifts . . . the sounds, the sights, the smells.  It is an awesome way to spend an evening!

click photo for enlarged view

We passed by the familiar picnic pavillions and I could almost feel the happy childhood excitement and wind on my face as I ran around and played with my cousins and second cousins.  Family picnics back in the day meant the whole family got together . . . such happy memories just walking around that park!

Each sheltered picnic pavillion includes a grill, lots of picnic tables in shady surroundings that includes a children's playground. 

The tree-lined walkways along the water are popular among joggers, walkers and rollerbladers with quick access to Bayshore Blvd.

Some views of Bayshore Blvd., downtown Tampa and Port of Tampa from the Ballast Point Pier:

click photos to enlarge views

It was one of those overcast days in Florida . . . hit and miss showers all over town.  Notice the difference in cloud formations . . . watching the sky fascinates me!

Ballast Point Park is an awesome place to spend the day picnicing with family, relaxing on a park bench enjoying the Florida sunshine, fishing on the pier or just passing the day or evening watching others fish . . . there is also a restaurant on the grounds (have no idea what the food is like).

Check it out if you find yourself in Tampa and just want to enjoy a little relaxation with spectacular surroundings . . .

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Discover Tampa through our eyes!

The Captain and I have been all around Tampa for one reason or another.  Since we recently got married, there have been so many IDs to get, change, update which have taken us from one part of town to the other . . . numerous times.  It gave us the idea of doing blog posts featuring the diversity of Tampa, what makes it so special and why I would not live anywhere else in the world.

Today we went off just for fun.  MacDill Air Force Base was having a Veterans' Appreciation Day, so we started our day off with an awesome brunch at the dining room usually designated for active military only.  WOW I was impressed with the quality of food and the great service we received.  After doing some shopping and checking out all the various veterans association booths (did I mention that I love being a military wife?), we decided to continue our adventure and forget about going straight home.

Our first stop was Ballast Point, which is located on Tampa Bay . . . down the street from the base and across the bay from downtown and the Port of Tampa.  We checked out their lovely pier and relaxed at the picnic area, enjoying a beautiful Florida day, taking lots of photos along the way.

Ballast Point is off of Bayshore Boulevard, which runs along Tampa Bay, leading to Downtown Tampa.  I kept clicking photos throughout the drive all the way through downtown.  It was at that point we decided to make it a dedicated photo taking day.  We took some awesome and unusual shots of gorgeous buildings surrounding downtown, ending up in Historic Ybor City, which is where we finally landed, parked the van and headed out to our adventure.

My roots are in Ybor City and the changes made through the years have made me so proud of my latina heritage which lies in the historic district.  

The highlight of our day was a ride on the streetcar from Ybor City, back towards downtown to Channelside, home of The Florida Aquarium, the Tampa Bay Lightning (St. Pete Forum), cruise ship terminals, dining ships that include a tour of Tampa Bay and the quaint shops and restaurants of the artsy Channelside district itself.

The new ultra-modern condos that have gone up and still going up around Channelside and downtown are each unique with gorgeous architecture and landscaping . . . quite the contrast a streetcar ride away from the historic Ybor City architecture that takes you back to another time, very reminiscent of Bourbon Street in New Orleans.

We had a blast . . . but the bad news is soon after jumping on the streetcar to begin our journey to Channelside, the camera batteries died.  Major bummer . . . we are planning on going back tomorrow, weather permitting, to take even more photos of Ybor City and finally take some photos at Channelside.

It is awesome to show The Captain around his new home and share my roots with him.

I'll take each section of town as a blog post with lots of photos to share my city with all of you, along with a little history and some "back in the day" memories.

Can't wait to continue our adventure tomorrow!

UPDATE  :(  
. . . maybe next weekend?