Creative Ideas for Social Distancing in Tampa Bay

Check out some "stay at home" ideas, courtesy of Sharon Wynne and the Tampa Bay Times! Click here for more fun ideas for the whole family.


Doctors have long urged us to get outside for some fresh air and exercise. Across the country, public parks, playgrounds, and beaches are closed to enforce social distancing. This week Florida closed all its state parks, but there are still plenty of paths and neighborhoods that you can jog, walk, or bike around the Tampa Bay area! Just make sure you are keeping a safe 6 ft. away from everyone else.


You're avoiding public spaces, practicing social distancing, and working remotely. You've stocked up on snacks and have an endless variety of movies to stream as you stick close to home. And yet, you can not stop thinking about getting away from your house, or even your immediate neighborhood, for just a little while. You just might even miss your commute! Maybe it's time for a drive, check out some of these spots for a great view. 

Sunshine Skyway bridge: There is no shortage of beautiful drives over water in Tampa Bay. One of the best is the Sunshine Skyway bridge connecting Pinellas and Manatee counties. If you time it right, you can drive south over the span and park right near the water at the South Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier and rest area to watch the sunset. The north fishing pier and rest area at the other end of the bridge has an equally breathtaking view of the bridge itself, which is now illuminated at night.

Courtney Campbell Causeway: The Courtney Campbell Causeway is one of 26 roads officially designated by the state as a Florida Scenic Highway. If you've ever crossed the 9.5-mile bridge between Tampa and Clearwater, you know the aqua blue water sparkles, especially in March, when the water is usually most transparent. It's also not unheard of to see dolphins there!

Bayshore Boulevard: Same for Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa as far as the dolphins go, if you're headed north. If you turn around and take it back south, it's all mansions and palm trees, and Ballast Point Park near the southern end has parking spaces that face the water. A perfect spot to sit in the car and eat or watch for pelicans.

Beaches: A drive toward the beach is always magical, even if you're not able to go to the beach. One of the best views in Pinellas County is the final stretch of the Pinellas Bayway bridges heading west after Isla Del Sol toward St. Pete Beach. There is, at one point, a simultaneous view of the waterfront homes along the Intracoastal and the Don CeSar resort on the beach. Once in St. Pete Beach, the gravel lot at grassy Larazillo Park is an excellent place to park for a minute.


How about a scenic drive-in theater? The nation's largest theater chains, Regal and AMC, will be closed until further notice, but Tampa Bay's three operating drive-in theaters will be open this weekend. All three allow you to bring your own food and tune in to the movie's sound through the radio.

Tampa's Funland Swap Shop drive-in is $7 for adults, $2 for kids, and has two screens. The Ruskin Family Drive-In, which focuses on family-friendly films, is $6 per person and $1 for kids, with a $5 fee for bringing food. The Joy-Lan Drive-In in Dade City, which sometimes shows classic movies, is $6 for ages 10 and up and $2 for younger.


Chad Mize changes exhibitions monthly, and going forward, they will debut online. Gallery hours will be by appointment only, and there are no current plans for opening receptions. The current exhibition "Conspiracy," which includes a work by Carol Davis (Paul Is Dead, pictured), is timely. It will remain up through the end of March, followed by "Flower Power" on April 2. Articles Art Gallery, the Leslie Curran Gallery, and Collectors Exchange, all owned by Curran, will close to the public for the next two weeks and will also be by appointment only. They represent many local and national artists, including Hawaii-based Camille Izumi, whose work can be viewed and purchased at

The Morean Arts Center's website includes a virtual tour of the "Fresh Squeezed" exhibition and a video called Prompt, in which random words are chosen from the dictionary to inspire art projects.

Scroll for hours through the glass artists on the Duncan McClellan Gallery website featuring live online assistance. Sign up to receive emails for even more eye candy.

The Dunedin Fine Art Center has created a Facebook group called "Paint By Number: Daily Paintings" to encourage people to post their work.

Many museums have YouTube and social channels rich with content. Here's a list of their social media handles.

The Dalí Museum: @thedalimuseum

The James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art: @jamesmuseum

Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg: @mfastpete

The Ringling Museum of Art: @theringling

Tampa Museum of Art: @tampamuseumofart


While away your self-isolation hours by following three local artists who actively post their work on social media.

Cam Parker: The Tampa-based artist paints on everything from walls to jackets. He specializes in celebrity portraits, which he usually presents to celebrities at their shows. @painkillercam

Selina Roman: The Tampa photographer sets up surreal scenes in old Florida beach motels, the nostalgia of which is hitting home more than ever. @selinaroman

iBoms: St. Petersburg artist Jabari Reed explains the layered meanings behind his paintings and documents his process. @thisisiboms.


Here are five things you can do with your kids while maintaining a safe distance. 

See the Florida Aquarium animals: If you haven't checked it out yet, the Florida Aquarium in Tampa has launched its first-ever SEA-SPAN Facebook Live "to keep kids learning and adults entertained during these difficult times." Their first video featured their famous lemurs, Lulu, Remy and Annie. They've also had story time with one of their educators and musicians playing tunes, and they started this week letting their penguins waddle around the exhibits. It's adorable. Visit the aquarium's Facebook page at 10 a.m. daily. The aquarium also posts the SEA-SPAN sessions on its website ( and YouTube so that the shows can be watched on-demand.

Learn sign language: An American Sign Language teacher is hosting free sign language classes that will run weekdays at 1 p.m. on her Instagram: @aslrochelle. All are welcome, but she says it is "especially great for school-aged kids." She plans to run them every week until May 29 or until her kids go back to school.

Take a cooking class: Delish launched an Instagram Live series teaching parents and kids some fun and easy recipes they can make together. The session, hosted by editorial director Jo Saltz and her own children, features kid-friendly recipes such as pizza waffles and puppy chow. Episodes will air weekdays at 1 p.m. and last 15 to 20 minutes.

Learn how to doodle: Children's author Mo Willems, creator of the Caldecott-winning Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, is live-streaming a doodle tutorial each weekday during the coronavirus outbreak. You can watch the doodle tutorials live at 1 p.m. on the Kennedy Center website:

Storytime: Josh Gad, the actor who voiced Olaf in Frozen, is reading children's books on his Twitter feed @JoshGad every night. He began with Olivia Goes to Venice and has kept the trend going with The Day the Crayons Quit and The Giving Tree. Parents seem to be getting just as much of a kick out of it as the kids, posting positive comments for the #GadBookClub on his live streams. Gad said he realized that every night before he puts his daughters to bed, he reads to them to help relax and wind down from the day. "It is the one thing I can do while I feel so fundamentally helpless," he wrote.


If there's any live music happening in Tampa Bay this weekend, you're not meant to hear it. What we have in spades, however, are live-streamed concerts. All kinds of performers have taken to the platform of their choice — YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitch

Here are some of the best so far. Track them down if you can:

#TogetherAtHome: Global Citizen, a charity aimed at ending extreme poverty, kicked off this daily series with Coldplay's Chris Martin playing a solo home show and chatting with fans. Since then, John Legend, Charlie Puth, Niall Horan, OneRepublic, Common, and more have streamed performances on YouTube, Instagram, and other platforms.

Ben Gibbard: The Death Cab for Cutie and Postal Service singer jumped in early, playing request-filled acoustic sets at 7 p.m. each night. The shows also raise awareness for different charities in the band's home state of Washington, one of the areas hardest hit by COVID-19.

'Til Further Notice: When Willie Nelson's Luck Reunion Festival got canceled, performers took to Twitch to play songs from their own homes. You could see not just Willie, but Lucinda Williams, Jewel, Nathaniel Rateliff, and Paul Simon covering the Everly Brothers with Woody Harrelson.

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