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Tampa, FL, USA

Cats and pirates in Tampa

The Calusa Indians lived on the shore of the southwestern coast of Florida. Tampa is supposedly named after the Calusa phrase, "sticks of fire," which likely refers to the incredible lightning the area experiences every summer. The local hockey team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, was named after these intense strikes as well. But don't worry, you have a one in 12,000 chance of being struck. Have no fear and visit this beautiful, coastal area.

Raymond James Stadium
Drive your Tampa rental car to this Florida stadium to catch a Tampa Bay Buccaneers National Football League game. The first game played here was on Sept. 20, 1998, when the Bucs rallied to beat the Chicago Bears 27-15. The pirate ship in Buccaneer Cove was created by the company that makes props for Walt Disney World. Every time the Buccaneers score a touchdown, the ship's cannons fire seven times. For every field goal, the cannons shoot three times. Perched on the ship is an animatronic parrot. The bird talks to passersby and can even single a crowd member out for a chat. The University of South Florida Bulls football team also plays at the stadium. Their fans come in droves, decked out in gold and green. The stadium reaches capacity when all 65,890 seats are filled. Get your foam finger and take a seat, and the Buccaneers parrot just might pick you for a chat!

Big Cat Rescue
If you love lions and tigers, you'll love this animal sanctuary. There are over 100 rescued big cats here, from tigers and cougars to lions, bobcats and more. The animals were abandoned or abused because they did not make good pets, or were orphaned by their parents. Some used to have lives as performing acts in circuses and shows across the country. Leonardo DiCaprio, Jane Goodall, players on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team and the New York Yankees, and even the legendary Jack Hanna have all visit or worked with the sanctuary. When you visit you can take a tour of the facilities with a keeper or a guide. You can also visit during feeding time, when the animals are especially active. The big cats like to run, jump and play and can be seen swimming in their pools or lying about in the sun. Children under age 10 are not allowed unless it is for the weekend 9 a.m. tours. Get your tickets in advance to be sure that you can go on a day that works for you.

Tampa Theatre
​Architect John Eberson designed this Tampa treasure that was built in 1926. He is famous for his renowned movie palace designs and has built more than 100 theaters all over the globe. He spent his winters in Tampa and was inspired by the colorful atmosphere of Florida. If you drive your Tampa rental car to this theater, you will see the Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Organ, a huge 14-rank, three-manual instrument that was in the theater when it originally opened. It was eventually moved to a radio station and then a church but was brought back to its original location by the Central Florida Theatre Organ Society in the 1980s. It is played before almost every show at the theater. The shows range from thriller Hollywood hits to documentaries and famous musicians. You're sure to find something to watch at this beautiful theater.