Companion Tours                    

Let’s have fun in Tampa! With the much appreciated help from James Lyn Provo, I have a diverse week of activities for you to enjoy in Tampa.

We’ll start off Monday with a tour of Ybor City, a national Landmark district. Our guides are Grandchildren of immigrants who came to Ybor City seeking their opportunity to work and achieve the American Dream. We’ll get a unique perspective of the “Latin Culture” as they show us the city that their descendants helped to develop. Companions will be given the choice to enjoy lunch at the world famous Columbia restaurant, which is Florida’s oldest and the world’s largest Spanish restaurant. In the afternoon we’ll be touring the Henry B. Plant Museum, which is housed in the 1891 Tampa Bay Hotel. The Museum interprets the turn of the century Tampa Bay Hotel and the lifestyles of the Rich and Famous during the “Gilded Age”. The museum will transport us to the Victorian period, the beginning of Florida’s tourist industry and the early years of the city of Tampa.

Tuesday we will be going to experience Busch Gardens. Your ticket is a 1-Day admission to Busch Garden with second visit free, with validation at customer service inside the entrance gates. The tickets also include a meal voucher that you can redeem at any quick-serve restaurant in the park. These special admission tickets, with second visit free and meal voucher, are available for companions, attendees and exhibitors. They are good from Oct. 28 – Nov 6. They need to be pre-ordered. Transportation is only available for our Tuesday outing.

We’ll be exploring the Tampa Aquarium on Wednesday. We’ll have the opportunity to see more that 20,000 aquatic animals and plants from playful river otters to intimidating sharks during our visit. For the brave at heart, you can touch a bamboo shark in the lobby touch tank or a sea star in the No Bone Zone. We’ll also be able to come face-to-beak with endangered penguins during their daily Penguin Promenades. After lunch at the aquarium, we will depart on the Wild Dolphin Cruise, an entertaining tour aboard the Bay Sprit II, a 72 foot powered catamaran. During our 90 minute cruise we will be able to view some of the 500 wild dolphins who call Tampa Bay home.

Thursday we’ll be venturing to St. Petersburg, where we will be visiting the Dali Museum and the Chihuly Glass Collection. At the Dali Museum, we will visit the most comprehensive collection of works by the late Spanish surrealist, Salvador Dali. We’ll enjoy a private decent tour, in a new museum that includes headphones for maximum enjoyment, while enjoying breathtaking views of Tampa Bay as we go thru the new galleries within this “glass enigma”. In the afternoon, we’ll enjoy a decent led tour of the Chihuly Collection. This presentation is unique because it is the first installation of Chihuly art in a building that was designed especially for that purpose. The art and the architecture of the museum both work together to create an experience unlike any other Chihuly art exhibition. We will also visit the Morean Arts Center Glass Studio and the Hot Shop where we’ll watch glassblowers create one-of-a-kind pieces.
Again this year, we will have a room to gather in every morning, so plan to bring your breakfast and join us even if you are not coming on a tour that day.

I hope you will enjoy the program that I’ve planned and hope you’ll join us in the fun of exploring Tampa!

Marilyn Ruzic, Tour Coordinator

Please note: ALL of these tours have a minimum number of required participants for the tour to go OR to qualify for special pricing. Please sign up before the deadline, if possible,

Marilyn Ruzic will be available in the AVS Registration area in the Lobby of the Tampa Convention Center from 2 – 6 on Sunday, and in our breakfast area before the start of each tour. She will be happy to assist with any questions. If Marilyn is not available, please consult the staff at the AVS Registration Manager’s counter and they will contact her for you.


Monday, October 29, 2012:
Classic Ybor City National Historic Landmark District Tour and Henry B. Plant Hotel Museum Tour

8:00 a.m. Meet in the gathering breakfast room
8:45 a.m. Meet our tour guides in the lobby and board our bus.
9:00 a.m.

Depart for our city tour of Ybor City Museum State Park:

• The Ferlita Bakery
• La Cassita: The cigar maker’s house museum
• Replica of a European Style Garden
• The Museum Store

Riding tour of “La Setima”

• The Italian Club
• Central Ybor
• The Ritz Theater
• Jose Marti Park
• The El Pasaje Hotel

La Segunda Central Bakery
El Centro Asturiano De Tampa

12:30 p.m. Lunch on your own with suggestions of guides
World Famous Columbia Restaurant

Advanced reservations are required because the wait would be too long for walk-ins. You need to indicate your decision when you register for the tour
Menu can be checked out at:
2:00 p.m. Henry B. Plant Museum Tour
4:30 p.m. Return to hotel.
Price: $72.00 before Oct. 1st
$82.00 after Oct. 1st

Tuesday -  October 30, 2012: Day at Busch Gardens - CANCELLED

Special: 1 day ticket with 2nd day free and meal voucher available for attendees w/o transportation to use between Oct. 29 and Nov.6th

8:45 a.m. Gather in meeting room
9:45 a.m. Meet in the lobby and board the bus
10:00 a.m. We will be dropped off at Busch Gardens where everyone will be on their own or in small groups of their choice

We will go to Customer Service to validate 2nd day free admission
5:30 p.m. Meet bus to return to the hotel

Wednesday, October 31st: Florida Aquarium & Wild Dolphin Cruise

9:00 a.m. Gather in meeting room
9:30 a.m. Walking to the Aquarium along The Riverwalk
Stopping to see things is part of the adventure! 
10:00 a.m. Aquarium exploration on our own
1:45 p.m. Board catamaran Bay Sprit II for cruise (1.5 hour)
3:30 p.m. Return to hotel by walking or trolley ($2.50)
Explore Aquarium more and return to hotel at your leisure
Price: $36.00 before Oct. 1st
$38.00 after Oct. 1st

Thursday, November 1st: The Dali Museum, Chihuly Collection,
Glass Studio & Hot Shop

9:00 a.m. Meet in greeting room
9:30 a.m. Meet in the lobby and board the bus
10:00 a.m. Docent guided tour of the Dali Museum
12:00 p.m. Lunch on our own
1:00 p.m. Docent guided tour of the Chihuly Collection
Glass Studio and Hot Shop
4:30 p.m. Return to hotel
Price: $85.00 before Oct. 1st
$95.00 after Oct. 1st







Tour Name

After 10/1

No. of Tickets

10/29 - Monday

Classic Ybor City National Historic Landmark District Tour


10/29 - Monday

Lunch reservation for the Columbia restaurant. 


10/30 - Tuesday

Day at Busch Gardens -CANCELLED


  *10/30 - Tuesday Day at Busch Gardens -CANCELLED
Transportation NOT included

10/31 - Wednesday

Florida Aquarium & Wild Dolphin Cruise


11/1 - Thursday

The Dali Museum, Chihuly Collection,
Glass Studio & Hot Shop


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(Make payable to AVS in U.S. dollars and drawn on a U.S. bank, AVS Tax ID No: 04-2392373) Address: AVS, 125 Maiden La., 15th Fl., New York, NY 10038
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