Sunday, September 20, 2015

Let's go to Lakeland!

There is actually quite a bit to do out there in Lakeland and usually I just drive through on my way to Tampa/St. Pete. But not today! Time to stop and explore. The mission today is actually to hit two college campuses to check out the, wait for it... architecture!

Yep. First up is Florida Polytechnic University. I'm sure you have seen the futuristic, white dome from the side of I-4 in the area referred to as Orlampa. It is technically in Lakeland but Orlampa has such a nice ring to it!

This beautiful building is open to explore on the weekends and explore we did! Just be sure to be nice and quiet when you enter because sound does carry in that building. The whole place is done an a bare, industrial style while still being futuristic. The floors are concrete and the walls are stark white with glass here and there. There are interesting chairs placed here and there in sitting areas and upstairs is the book-less library. I'm still not sure how I feel about that. The offices are small, glass pods with windows to the outside. Downstairs are the classrooms, the robotics lab, the gaming design center and more. The space I love the most is the outside area that surrounds the building where you can sit under the slatted roof. The view is pretty amazing.

Surrounding the main building there are a series of 7 different ponds. The ponds and grounds are also beautifully maintained and you can catch a glimpse of wildlife here as well. Next time though, I want to see it at night! Looks beautiful all lit up as well. 

Oh, and the roof, well... it doesn't open but the panels shift to allow the light in or to keep the heat out. A pretty neat concept. We learned that if a storm is in the area it shuts down and then has to be manually turned back on to start doing it's job again. Pretty neat. 

So time to head to the next campus! Where? Why Florida Southern College, of course. Did you have any idea that right here in Lakeland there was such a large collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture? Yep, it's right there in Lakeland. 

This campus is absolutely beautiful and the area looks more like a park than a college campus. The Frank Lloyd Wright designed walkways take you around from building to building and allow a nice covered pathway around campus. There are several different tours available that you can sign up for or you can do it yourself by purchasing a map from the visitor center. 

Starting your walk out at the visitor center will let you see two different buildings as well as a water feature designed by Mr. Wright, himself. 

Besides the architecture there is a beautiful rose garden you can walk through and be sure to catch the water dome fountain when it is on. They are in the middle of a renovation of the dome but it does come on every half-hour. The day we visited it was only running at 50% instead of the full 100% but still, it was nice to sit and watch the fountain under the bright blue sky. There is a little coffee shop on site that serves Starbucks as well. Take a break, sip on some refreshment and take it all in.... ahhhh! Right here in Lakeland.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Hidden Gem in Howey-in-the-Hills

Yep, there's a city in Lake County named Howey-in-the-Hills. It's a quant little town but they have the best little market out there... the Howey Market.

So I was out that way for a training/meeting and my co-worker, Donna, told me about this market. Sold. If I can get out for a lunch adventure, I'm in! 

Need a kitschy gift? Check!

Need a great selection of craft beer? Check!!

What about wine? Check!
Delicious deli sandwiches? Oh yeah! Check!
Healthy snacks? Check!
Interesting soda selection? Check!
Fresh from the farm eggs and produce? Uh huh! Check!
Wooden puzzles? Yep, that too! Check!
Wonderfully, friendly staff? Check!
This place is a hidden gem. Check it out and see for yourself. Grab a sandwich and go across the way and picnic by the water. And find them on Facebook! They share sandwich specials and rare beers that they have in stock. Good stuff, I'm telling you! 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Stepping Back in Time at Tampa Theatre

So first disclosure: This is an AbKT and not so much an AbJ. I wasn't even aware of this venue but was amazed by the location. Just beautiful.

The Tampa Theatre is a venue out of the 1920's with a huge mix of different architecture styles. There are details every where you look. If you're anything like me the whole place is a "squirrel" kind of eye candy experience. Everywhere I looked there was something interesting or beautiful. I think I stopped mid sentence and said "Peacock!" one time. I also caught myself dazing off at the sky, er ceiling, since there are stars and clouds moving across the dome. This was in no disrespect to the wonderful company or the great movie.

Oh, the movie, yes. We saw Learning To Drive and it was a good movie as well. Very sweet and thought-provoking. I'd easily go back to see something else or to go to one of their events. Upcoming is Napoleon Wineamite. Seriously, how cool does that sound?

But I digress. My dear friend really captured the essence of the Tampa Theater with her article. Read it here. Seriously. 

When are we going back? Who's in?

Need a place to hit before or after? It's Tampa. Not a problem. We checked out New World Brewery in Ybor City and picked out from the large beer list and caught some live music as well.