Campus News

Fun Places to Visit Around Saint Leo

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Is it boring just staying on campus all the time? Wouldn’t it be nice to get out sometimes? Well, luckily, this article can help. Here’s a guide to navigating this small town and the big city not too far from here.

There are many fun things to do around Saint Leo that many people may not be aware of, especially if they are new to the area. Looking for a place to hang out with a few friends? Try Pin Chasers or Eddie’s roller rink. Pin Chasers is a bowling alley located nearby in Zephyrhills. They offer bowling, dancing, and games in their mini-arcade; one may also enjoy their food and drinks. Be sure to reserve a lane online before going, in order to get the quickest service. Eddie’s Roller Rink, located five minutes away in San Antonio, is only open on weekends, but is still a fun way to pass time. For those who are not into bowling or skating, there is always Xtreme Adventures, located nearby in Lutz. They have a large laser tag arena, black light bumper cars, a rock-climbing wall, and an obstacle course based on the TV show “American Ninja Warrior.” For more of an adventure, try Treehoppers Aerial Adventure Park which allows visitors to work their way through different obstacles and zip line through the forests connected by cable and rope. The obstacles vary in difficulty and challenge physical fitness.

There are also a number of movie theatres in the area. Muvico Starlight 20 is about twenty five minutes away. Even closer along the I-75, is Cobb Theatre, a more upscale cinema, and for persons over 21, they offer a dine-in bistro during their films. Both theatres offer student discounts, so check them out.

Go out to eat at the numerous restaurants nearby like Koizi Endless Hibachi & Sushi Eatery for Asian-inspired dishes, Pancho’s Villa for Mexican food, Doc’s Pub & Grille, and On Q Smokehouse grill, for traditional American and barbeque dishes. There are also chain restaurants nearby like IHOP, Denny’s, and Golden Corral.

Looking to really venture out? Then, Tampa is the best bet. This major city is located about thirty minutes from campus and has a wide variety of interesting things to do that can suit everyone.

Grab a group of friends and head to the mall for a day of fun. There are tons of malls between Saint Leo and Tampa, each offering a unique experience and set of stores. A popular mall for Saint Leo students is the Shoppes at Wiregrass, mostly because of its close proximity. Wiregrass is an open air mall with shops ranging from retail stores like Forever21 and PacSun to department stores like JC Penney and Macys. As for dining, there are fast food restaurants like Moe’s Southwest Grill and Charley’s Philly Steaks, and dine-in restaurants like Pincher’s Crab Shack. There are also pagodas set up that do phone repairs and sell street food and other items. Another favorite is University Mall, located nearby the University of South Florida. It has about 165 stores which are similar to the ones located at Wiregrass. On the higher end are International Plaza and the newly built Tampa Premium Outlets. International Plaza and Bay Street is a large upscale shopping mall located nearby the Tampa International Airport. It features retail stores such as Burberry, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and department stores such as Dillard’s and Neiman Marcus. There are other stores such as Sephora, Apple, Toni & Guy, Auto Spa America, and the Disney Store. For dining, there is a food court that contains restaurants like Chick-fil-A and Chipotle, but there are also dine-in restaurants like the Cheesecake Factory, and California Pizza Kitchen. At the Tampa Premium Outlets, located in Wesley Chapel, shoppers can enjoy over 110 shops including, Coach, J. Crew, Nike,  Michael Kors, Saks Fifth Avenue, Forever 21 and Papaya. Visit the food court to enjoy tasty options from Green Leaf’s Beyond Great, Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen and Johnny Rockets. Lastly are the Westfield malls, located in Brandon and Tampa. They are both close by and feature a mixture of stores in the malls already mentioned. This includes Aeropostale, Aerie, Bath & Body Works, Charlotte Russe, H&M, Candy Barrel, and Express. For dining, they have Auntie Annies, Chick-fil-A, Cheesecake Factory, and Red Robin.

After the mall head out to a concert, as Tampa is a major stop on many artists’ tours. Tampa has been visited by acts like Kanye West, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Elle Goulding, and Toby Keith. The concerts are usually held in one of three places. They are the Amalie Arena, the Orpheum, or the Ruth Eckard Hall, all of which are about 40 minutes away from campus. Try spending a night on the town in Ybor City, which is also a major historical site. This small city features old world architecture and flair with a twist. There are many restaurants, night club and resting areas around the city, just park and explore. At night, the city is lit by dangling lights all around and comes alive with music and people.

For history and museum lovers, try visiting the Museum of Science & Industry. The museum features more than 450 interactive exhibits on topics such as space and astronomy, technology, robotics, gaming and more. Ride in the Meridian Shuttle, a completely driverless, electric vehicle, as it attempts to pass the Florida licensing test. Fly, drive or dive drones in the air, on land, or in water. There is also a ropes course and zip line which takes riders on an adrenaline-fueled adventure.

Like adventure? Then visit one of Tampa’s arcades or theme parks. Grand Prix is family fun center where visitors can play miniature golf, go go-karting on three different tracks, climb a ropes course, or play over 50 different games in their arcade. They are reasonably priced and offer fun activities both inside and outside. As for theme parks, there is Busch Gardens and Adventure Island. Adventure Island is a water park that allows visitors to enjoy slides, pools, and fun in the sand. Busch Gardens offers a unique blend of world-class roller coasters, live shows and interactions with more than 12,000 animals.

Into animals? Well there are many opportunities for animal lovers to visit and interact more closely with them. Visit the Florida Aquarium, one of the major attractions in the area. The aquarium hosts about 20,000 aquatic organisms ranging from frisky river otters to terrifying sharks. Some exhibits allow direct interactions between animals like bamboo sharks and sea stars. They also offer shows that are both entertaining and educational at the same time. Some shows include an interactive coral reef show and up-close animal tours. There is also the Lowry Park Zoo that house about 1,200 animals. They offer a unique experience that allows visitors to go behind-the-scenes and check out the inner workings of a zoo. There is also Big Cat Rescue, a sanctuary dedicated to big cats that have been abused and abandoned. They have about eighty big cats including lions, tigers, bobcats, cougars and other species. Some of the cats were rescued from being turned into fur coats, or retired from performing acts. Lastly, there is River Ventures where people get to swim and snorkel with manatees. There are also airboat and paddle tours for person who do not want to swim.

Despite the distance and long drive, there are other cities that offer fun things to do like St. Petersburg, a coastal city that has many beaches and more museums, and Orlando, home of the Orlando Magic basketball team and Disney and Universal theme parks.

Lastly, an important fact all Saint Leo students should know, the Campus Activities Board provides opportunities to take trips like these and much more. Just visit saintleotickets.com to buy tickets for events. The event changes every month and the ticket prices range from free to up to fifteen dollars, depending on the popularity of the event. So, there should be no reason to be bored on campus when the world is out there waiting to be explored and there are assignments to do.

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