a day of local learning

Today was sort of our last day out and about with family before they head back early Monday morning, so we ended up taking them to see a couple of local sights that we thought might be fun (and also educational!) for the kids…

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

So the night before, Sara had the kids watch Dolphin Tale so that they could look forward to meeting Winter the next day. I wasn’t really sure what to expect of the aquarium itself, though – I’d never been, but I’d heard stories from others (including Sara) that it wasn’t kept up very well and was pretty small, so I guess you could say that I walked in the door with pretty low expectations to begin with…

I actually ended up really enjoying it, even though the ticket prices at the door ($20/adults; $15/kids) seemed a bit high. I don’t know – maybe I’m just losing a tiny bit of my cynicism in my old age, but as I walked around the various tanks, I realized that it really isn’t fair to compare it to someplace like The Florida Aquarium or even SeaWorld because it’s very clear that the primary focus is on rehabilitating injured animals, with tourism and education off to the side, and because it’s a non-profit effort to keep the place running, it’s not nearly as polished as you’d expect from a normal exhibit.

We weren’t really there a long time – maybe a little over an hour, but it was time enough to see Winter floating around in her tank (sans prosthetic tail, which was surprising), watch a neat demo with one of the other rescue dolphins, and then take a quick tour past the other animals. It’s not necessarily a place that I would rush just any out-of-town guest over to see, but it is someplace that I could see Sara and I making donations to in the future simply for their support of the area’s wildlife.

Glazer Children’s Museum

Now this was one that I was really looking forward to after a referral from a friend and boy, it didn’t fail to disappoint! The museum is downtown next to the big waterfront park that’s been getting a lot of publicity lately, and I love an excuse to go downtown. It’s a two-story building divided up into numerous sections each dedicated to teaching kids about all sorts of stuff – there was an area on currents and waterways, and weather, and how television and telephones work, and how roads and cities are planned, and an interactive supermarket … the list just goes on and on, and one thing that I really enjoyed was seeing how all sorts of local businesses had branded the various areas for their sponsorships (i.e. Publix had the supermarket, I think the Port Authority had the shipyard, etc…).

Here we actually spent several hours, nearly up to when the place was closing and everyone was really starting to run out of steam fast! Though I haven’t been to MOSI in many years to know if it’s improved (I wasn’t really impressed last time I went), the children’s museum is exactly the kind of thing I like to see with tons of hands on exhibits and plenty of good information for kids to pick up on while they play! This is one that I definitely would make a point to visit again for any future guests who come with young ones in tow!  :mrgreen:

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