MacDill Happenings

Things to Do in and around MacDill AFB

Things to Do in Tampa Bay

October 23, 2014 By: Laura Category: children, Events, Things to do


The cool weather has finally arrived in Tampa! The humidity during the day is almost non-existent and it’s almost cool enough in the evenings for a light jacket! There are always a lot of things to do in Tampa.

  • John’s Pass Seafood Festival starts on Friday at 3pm with a Halloween Block Party. The Festival runs through Sunday.
  • In St. Pete on Friday and Saturday is Howl-O-Fest at Boyd Hill.  This family friendly event will have hay rides, arts & crafts, and a spooky trail.
  • On Saturday starting at 11am, Ybor City’s Centro Ybor will host a free Pumpkin Patch.  There will be free pumpkins for kids while they last.  And kids can go trick-o-treating at the shops in Centro Ybor.
  • The Hyde Park Village Art Fair will start at 11am on Saturday in south Tampa.
  • This will be the last weekend before Halloween so you may want to go out and get scared! Florida Haunted Houses will give you a list of many scary attractions to visit including haunted houses, hay rides and a haunted lake!
  • Do you still need t visit a pumpkin patch? Pumpkin has all the information you need to find pumpkins and corn mazes in the MacDill AFB area.
  •  The local amusement parks and the Lowery Park zoo will be holding the last of their Halloween events. Remember to check the IT&T office on MacDill for discount tickets and share your pictures with us on our Facebook page!
  • Check out a sunset! They have been spectacular the last few days!! Share with me your favorite beach to watch the sunset! Mine is Holmes Beach on Ana Maria island.

Lots of fun and scary things to do this weekend! If you have an event you would like me to share leave me a comment here on the blog. (See comments section below) or leave a comment on Facebook or tweet to @MacDillHappenin.

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Are You New to The MacDill AFB Area?

October 22, 2014 By: Laura Category: Communities

Are you new to the MacDill AFB area?

Are you new to the MacDill AFB area?

Have you recently moved to the area? Are you planning a move to the MacDill AFB or Tampa Bay area? If so here is some information that might be helpful with that move. I have shared some of this information in the Spring time when most military families tend to their PCS moves. But I have noticed on some of the social media sites I follow that not only are military families moving to the area but so are civilian families.

This area has a lot of exciting things going on that are bringing more people to the area. The city of Tampa is making sure the port of Tampa stays one of the busiest ports in the country.  The Channelside area is looking at some great expansion ideas and Amazon is here with its new distribution center in Ruskin. Top that off with great weather and easy access to the rest of Florida this makes a great choice whether it is because of PCS orders, job transfer or retirement.

Here is some great information about the area and please share this with friends or family who may be moving here or thinking of moving here.

  • MacDill AFB along with Tampa is located on the beautiful Tampa Bay and the base sits right at the tip of the Interbay Peninsula. The entire area is full of great vistas.
  • Housing. For military personnel you have the option of living on base or off. Check with Harbor Bay for information on base housing and for anyone military or civilian check out the resources on Here you can find homes for rent or sale but you can also find information on local Realtors and Mortgage lenders.
  • Check out all of the information under the 6th FSS MacDill AFB for newcomers to MacDill.
  • For civilians and military check out the information on the South Tampa Chamber Commerce site. Lots of business, event and volunteer information on this page. The Brandon Chamber of Commerce is also very informative.
  • Hillsborough County Schools. Great information if you will have children attending school here. Make sure you read up on the school of choice information when looking at schools. We have some great traditional, magnet and charter schools. For military children their is a school liaison on base that can help with school questions.

This is information I found helpful when I moved to the area. If you have any information that you think I should add please share it with me here in the blog comments section below or share it with me on Facebook. I look forwarded to reading your comments and adding them to my list for future articles!

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5 Fall Travel Ideas

October 21, 2014 By: Laura Category: children, Things to do

Five Fall Travel Ideas

With the holidays just around the corner it might be a great time to take a mini vacation. This time of year you may find travel a little less expensive and hopefully less crowded. Living here in the MacDill AFB area we have many close options for mini vacations. We can head out to the beach, over to Orlando or even venture down to Miami to enjoy the colorful nightlife. But, if you are like me you might be craving something a little different. Here are some options you might be interested in;

  • How about a cruise? With hurricane season just about over it is probably safe to venture out on the sea. Take a look at the deals on Military Cruise Deals.
  • How about taking in some Fall colors? Make plans to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You could fly or even better drive up and make a stop in Atlanta. If you visit the park on Veterans Day the admission is FREE.
  • How about going all out and heading to Europe! According to About Travel this is a great time to head across the pond, low air fare, cheap hotel rates and smaller crowds make this a great time to visit Europe.
  • Fall is a great time to visit either Disney World or Disney Land. Best weather, less crowds and great hotel/air fare deals.
  • Florida has some great travel destinations other than theme parks. How about taking a weekend and spending it in Jacksonville or Pensacola. Both offer lodging on base. Take a look at for hotel ideas.

Make sure if you are planning a mini vacation to take a look at what the IT&T office on MacDill AFB has to offer. They have more information than just discount tickets so stop by and see them. Also, always ask when booking travel etc… if their are any discounts you can use such as a military or AAA.

If you need more ideas check out some of the articles written on the blog page. This recent article on Fall Family Fun made me homesick for Virginia (until it snows)!

Share with me your travel ideas!

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Thinking of Buying A Home in The Tampa Area?

October 20, 2014 By: Laura Category: Communities, Things to do

Tenant Screening

Is purchasing a home near MacDill AFB a scary idea? Have you been thinking of purchasing a home here in the Tampa Bay, but are worried about the economic conditions in the area? These questions came to mind when I was recently reading an article by BankRate  stating that Florida still has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country. According to their statistics Florida ranked 10th with South Carolina ranking 1st for the month of September. The article “4 Reasons We Fear Home Buying” on the blog also made me want to ask these questions.

The Tampa Bay area looks to be recovering. New restaurants are popping up everywhere. New businesses are coming to the area. Amazon recently opened its distribution center in Ruskin along with a new distribution center already opened in Lakeland ,and a new USAA building is going up along the Selmon Expressway. But the most interesting transformation in the area is the amount of homes being built in the Riverview area. While driving south on 301 in the Riverview area you can find new homes being built by Lennar, KB homes, Taylor Morrison and Ryland to name a few. If I was moving to the MacDill AFB area this would definitely be an area I would look in. But would the reasons stated in Karina’s article be on my mind? To overcome some of these fears such as am I paying too much or understanding the home buying process, you need to do your research. Here are some great ways resources;

If you are feeling a little fearful when deciding to buy a home or not then take a deep breath and sleep on it!! Do your research and you will know if the time is right for your family to purchase a home.

Please share with us your ideas on buying a home at this time. You can share here on the blog or on our Facebook page.

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Mac”Thrill”ville Haunted House Tonight!

October 17, 2014 By: Laura Category: children, Events

Scary Halloween

You don’t have to go to far tonight for a good scare!  MacDill AFB has its own haunted house, the Mac”Thrill”ville Haunted House is open for business this evening.  Unlike those haunted houses out in town, you can get scared for free. The haunting starts at 5pm and runs until 8pm.  The haunted house will be at Bldg 65 which is across the street from the Bay Palms Golf Complex.  There will be plenty of parking.  This is a free event and is open to everyone.  The house isn’t too scary so little children should be okay with the house.  It’s a place to have fun!  There will also be a children’s activity and crafts area!

If you do want to see what is available out in town, then you have some great options.

      • Zoo Boo at Lowry Park Zoo runs from Friday to Sunday.  It’s $18 for adults and $14 for children ages 3-11.
      • Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens is great place for a scare!  Tickets run from $65 to $50.
      • Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Party at the Magic Kingdom at Disney World starts at 7pm this weekend.
      • Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios offers some great thrills!

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Things to Do in Tampa Bay

October 16, 2014 By: Laura Category: Concerts, Events, Pets, Things to do

vacation tips courtesyofcenyt

The weather has started to cool down and it looks like there is no rain in the forecast.  Looks like a great time to get and see the sights and event in Tampa Bay!

  • The Clearwater Jazz Festival starts today and runs through the weekend.  This is one of the biggest Jazz events in the country with some of the biggest names in music.
  • On Friday,  the Humane Society of Tampa Bay is having a Pumpkin Patch for Dogs. You can bring your pets for photos among pumpkins, gourds and Halloween decorations.  It’s free.  You only pay for the cost of pumpkin if you want to take one home.  Proceeds from the pumpkin sales support homeless pets.
  • Hyde Park Village in south Tampa has a pumpkin patch that open all week at various times.
  • On Friday, Tampa Theatre starts its 15 nights of fright during as part of their A Nightmare on Franklin Street Series with a showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show.
  • On Friday night and Saturday afternoon, Collective Soles in New Tampa will present their first mixed repertory concert of the 2014-2015 season titled, Unmasked, to celebrate the Halloween season.
  • On Saturday, take a ride on the streetcars during the TECO Streetcar Fest with rides only costing a quarter from 10am to 1:30pm.
  • On Sunday, the Tampa Bay History Museum will host “A Night at the Museum: Family Trick or Treat” from 4pm to 7pm.
  • On Sunday evening at 7pm, River Tower Park in Seminole Heights will be the location of the Florida Orchestra’s Pops in the Park. It’s free, so bring some chairs and dinner and enjoy the music.

Hope you enjoy the weekend! Share with us any fun events you are hosting this weekend.

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5 Money Saving Tips

October 14, 2014 By: Laura Category: News, Self Improvement, Things to do

piggy_bank courtesy of takeiteasyinlife

With the Holiday season just around the corner you may be looking at ways to save a little cash. I recently saw a few articles on tips on saving money and came up with a few of my own that apply to those of us living here in the MacDill AFB area. I was also inspired by recent articles posted on the blog. One article discussed how to learn to  save with the Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace program. My niece actually took a class on this subject.  Here is my take on saving a combination on several sources;

  1. Eat at home.  I used to budget my grocery bill around a 7-day a week menu. I soon realized I needed to rethink that and budget in my dinners out. I also try to find restaurants who offer a military discount or a kids eat free deal. PDQ has recently started offering a military discount on the first Monday of every month.
  2. Shop wisely. Look for stores that offer a military discount, senior citizen discount or any discount that might apply. For example I believe Joanne’s and Micheal’s both offer teacher discounts. Old Navy, American Eagle, Lowe’s and Home Depot are just a few of the stores that offer military discounts. Ask everywhere you go what discounts are offered. Use the commissary, this is a great place for your bulk items, cereals, meats and canned goods. Use your local produce markets for produce.
  3. Watch the thermostat. A programmable thermostat is a great way to keep utility bills down.
  4. Prepare a budget. While preparing your budget be realistic. Don’t tighten your purse strings so tight you do not have any money to enjoy a night out etc.. One tip I saw is pick two days a week that you  would not spend any money. No Starbucks Tuesdays could be a possibility.
  5. Educate yourself. See what courses are offered on base, through your work place, community college or your church.

What tips do you use to save money?  Do you have a favorite restaurant or store that offers a military discount? I would love for you to share you ideas here on the blog or on our Facebook page.

If you are saving money to buy a home take a look at all the great home has listed in the MacDill AFB area.

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Use Your VA Home Loan to Buy a House!

October 13, 2014 By: Laura Category: News

sold courtesyofactiverain

A VA home loan is one of the best benefits that a veteran or as an active duty service member is entitled to use.  The VA doesn’t provide the mortgage but they guarantee a portion of the loan so that the lender can provide you with more favorable terms.

With a VA home loan, you can purchase a house without a down payment. There is not a private mortgage insurance premium requirement. There is a limit to the amount you can be charged for closing costs. Closing costs may be paid by the seller. The lender can’t charge you a penalty fee if you pay the loan off early. You don’t have to be a first-time buyer and you can reuse the benefit. And the loan is assumable as long as the person assuming the loan qualifies.

Your real estate agent will work with you on using a VA loan. With the large number of veterans and active duty service members in the Tampa Bay area, you will find many real estate agents and mortgage brokers experienced in using VA loans. There may be a little more paperwork involved with a VA loan, but not having to put any money down is too good to pass up.

This article by a guest blogger on the MilitaryByOwner website will provide more info on VA loans.

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Hockey and a Movie in Tampa

October 12, 2014 By: Laura Category: children, Events, Sports


Courtesy of the Tampa Theater

Columbus Day is a Federal holiday, but kids still have to go to school on Monday.  But parents if you have the day off there are some things that you can go to during the school day or even wait and take the kids. Later in the week, take in a free movie.

If you’re a golfer, then during the day would be a prefect time to play a few holes of golf at MacDill AFB’s Bay Palms Golf Complex.  Don’t forget about the excellent Fairway Grill for a great breakfast or lunch.

If you want wait until after school, then the Tampa Bay Lightning take on the Montreal Canadians at 7:30pm at Amalie Arena in the Channelside District. The ticket special tonight is the Bolts BBQ Package which includes your choice of 2 Promenade (lower level) or 2 Terrace (upper level) seats, 2 BBQ sandwiches and sides and 2 non-alcoholic beverages. Regular ticket prices start at $34.75.

Help the Tampa Theatre celebrate its 88th birthday by attending a free screening of the “The Grand Budapest Hotel” on Wednesday. Start time is 7:30pm. Built in 1926 as one of America’s most elaborate movie palaces, the Tampa Theatre is designated a historical landmark. The theatre has a lavish, romantic Mediterranean courtyard, replete with old-world statuary, flowers and gargoyles. This is definitely a must see place of Tampa.

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Things to Do in Tampa Bay

October 09, 2014 By: Laura Category: children, Dining, Events, Sports, Things to do


There are always a lot of things to do in the Tampa Bay area especially during the weekend. Lucky we live near MacDill AFB because that allows us to start the fun early with the opening of the National Hockey League season tonight.

  • The Tampa Bay Lightning kick off their season tonight against the Florida Panthers at 7:30pm at Amalie Arena.
  • For USF alumni and college football fans, this Saturday is the Homecoming game for the USF Bulls as they take on the East Carolina Pirates at Raymond James Stadium at 7pm.
  • What’s October without Oktoberfest? Curtis Hixon Park on the waterfront in downtown Tampa is the location for the 5th Annual Oktoberfest which runs from Friday to Sunday. Admission is free for active duty and retired military personnel with an ID card. It’s $10 for a daily admission for everyone else.
  • On Friday and Saturday is the Head of the Hillsborough Rowing & Paddling Regatta Festival, featuring a time-trial rowing competition and a race for paddle boards, kayaks and dragon boats.
  • On Saturday from 4pm to 10pm, St Pete hosts the Downtown Food & Wine Festival at Straub Park. Over twenty area restaurants will showcase their signature dishes, all in small-sized portions so you can enjoy as many as you’d like. With plates priced from $2 – $8, it’s easy to create your own “culinary tour” of our local flavors. For all the wine lovers and craft beer enthusiasts, grab a glass at one of the Liquid Lounges

Hope you enjoy the weekend! Share with us any fun events you are hosting this weekend.

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