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'Secret Tampa Bay': Explore hidden gems in our area

Author Joshua Ginsberg has safe, socially-distant ideas for the whole family, including the pets!

TAMPA, Fla — As Floridians, we're lucky when it comes to entertainment. We live near several tourist destinations like Busch Gardens, Disney World and of course our award-winning beaches. 

With so many big attractions, it can be easy to miss some hidden gems.

Author Joshua Ginsberg has your answer: "Secret Tampa Bay: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful and Obscure."

Credit: Joshua Ginsberg

"My hope is that this is really a bit deeper dive into the history, into some stories that maybe only the locals know, and to hopefully a lot of things that might even surprise locals who've lived here their whole life," Ginsberg said.

The book highlights the local history and culture of Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater and beyond. Ginsberg says he got the idea to write it as he and his wife prepared to move to our area. 

RELATED: Tampa & St. Pete make list of Best Staycation cities

"Before moving here, my wife and I decided when we were leaving Chicago, that our means of saying farewell to the city was going to be to try to experience as many things as you could only do in that one location as possible," Ginsberg said. "That was not only a great way to say goodbye to a place but a really fun and interesting way to get to know a place as well."

Ginsberg gave us a few outdoor recommendations that make it easy to follow social distancing guidelines.

The first is in Lakeland.

"Florida Southern College, what Frank Lloyd Wright called his Child of the Sun campus, is the largest single site of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings anywhere on Earth," Ginsberg said.

Credit: Joshua Ginsberg

Florida Southern College has nearly 20 different structures all built by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. You're able to walk around with the family and pets, while still keeping a distance from others.

Credit: Joshua Ginsberg

Since Ginsberg's Shih Tzu, Tinkerbell, joins him for many of his adventures, he shared another pet-friendly option as well -- Dinosaur World in Plant City. The park is both family and pet-friendly, set in the lush natural gardens of Central Florida.

Credit: Joshua Ginsberg
Author Joshua Ginsberg and his shih tzu, Tinkerbell, pose in front of Triceratops statues at Dinosaur World in Plant City, Florida.

Saturday, you can meet Joshua Ginsberg from a safe, social distance and have your copy of "Secret Tampa Bay: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful and Obscure" signed! He'll be at the South Tampa Trading Company from 4-7 p.m.

RELATED: Tampa Bay cities some of the most pet-friendly in the US, report says

Being a tourist at home is especially important during the pandemic. In fact, Tampa Bay's economy depends on it.

Visit Tampa Bay says tourists spent $4.2 billion in Hillsborough County in 2018. That accounts for about $401 million in state and local taxes alone. All of it was generated by 23.6 million trips to Tampa Bay -- the equivalent of every person from Florida visiting the country at least once during the year. 

Many Floridians are also working in the tourism industry. 53,446 jobs in our area in 2018 were sustained by tourism, according to a study by Tourism Economics. That means 7.4 percent of all jobs and 5.9 percent of all wages earned in Hillsborough County are thanks to tourism.

RELATED: Coronavirus continues to impact tourism across Tampa Bay's southern counties despite economy reopening

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