MacDill Happenings

Things to Do in and around MacDill AFB

Archive for the ‘Communities’

Thinking of Buying A Home in The Tampa Area?

October 20, 2014 By: Laura Category: Communities, Things to do No Comments →

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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The Sesame Street/USO Experience Coming to the MacDill Area

October 06, 2014 By: Laura Category: children, Communities, Events, Things to do No Comments →

sesame street courtesyof uso facebook

On October 25th The Sesame Street /USO Experience for Military Families will be here in the MacDill AFB area. This great event will take place at the Marine Reserve Center located at 5121 W. Gandy Blvd., Tampa. The Reserve center is on your right before you cross the Gandy Bridge going towards St Peteresburg.

Sesame Street will present three shows that day one at 10:00am then at 1:00pm and the last one at 3:30pm. The tickets are being distributed starting today October 6th by the Airman Family and Readiness Centers both on MacDill AFB and the Brandon branch. The Brandon location is located at 710 Oakfield Drve, Suite 153 and the MacDill Branch is located next to the Post Office at 8105 Condor Rd., Builidng 18. You must have a valid Military ID to receive the free tickets.n For more information on ticket requirements please contact the Airman Family and Readiness Center at 813-828-0145.

This is the sixth year the USO has partnered with Sesame Street to bring Military Families this fun interactive show. The show features Katie who was created for this tour and was first introduced to families in 2011 by the First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden. Elmo and the rest of the Sesame Street characters pitch in to help Katie make new friends and to adjust to once again living in a new town and having to make new friends. This amazing show has been viewed by more than 412,000 military children at over 144 military bases!

If you love Sesame Street and its characters as much as I do and my children did (I think even as old as they are they still love them!) then you will want to get to the AFRC and grab some tickets before they are all gone!! If you are planning to attend the show or have attended one in the place please share your experiences with us here on the blog. I would love to see your pictures posted to our Facebook page.

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Things to Do In Tampa

October 02, 2014 By: Laura Category: children, Communities, Events, Things to do No Comments →

thingstodo courtesyof cikaco

This should be a great weekend to get out and enjoy everything the Tampa Bay area has to offer. The chances of rain are low and better yet the temperatures will start to drop. Overnight temps on Saturday and Sunday will be in the low 60s.

  • On Friday at 7pm, Dunedin will host the free Films in the Park series with a screening of the Disney classic, Mary Poppins. Dunedin is home to several beaches, including Dunedin Causeway, Honeymoon Island, and Caladesi Island State Park, which is consistently rated among the best beaches in the world
  • On Saturday at 8am, the Tampa Bay Dragon Boat Classic will take place in the water by Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park by the Channelside District in Tampa.
  • On Sunday from 9am to 2pm, FishHawk Ranch in Lithia will host Market Day. Come out to buy farmer fresh fruits and vegetables and other great tasting goodies.
  • Looking for a pumpkin patch? Pumpkin Patches and More has a great site to point you in the right direction! The site lists many Patches in Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas, Manatee and Hillsborough Counties all a short drive from the MacDill area.
  • 11th Annual Pumpkin Palooza Family Fall Festival will be held in St Petersburg on Saturday October 4th from 11:00a.m. until 5:00p.m. Enjoy food, games , entertainment and shopping from over 50 craft vendors. The event is sponsored by the GFWC St Petersburg Junior Woman’s Club. Located at 6000 38th N, St Petersburg.

So many fun things to do this weekend and we might even be able to wear a Fall sweater to enjoy them!!

Please share any fun Fall events you have planned this weekend.

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Why “We” Love to Live Near MacDill AFB

October 01, 2014 By: Laura Category: Communities, Self Improvement, Things to do No Comments →

8 Jul 14 1565 (2)

I recently asked the question “Why do you love to live here in the MacDill AFB area?” I received so many great responses. This is a great area to live in. We are located so close to so many other great areas like Orlando, Sarasota, Tarpon Spring, Crystal River and are only about a 3 hour drive to Miami. For most of the year the weather is one of my favorite reasons and that was almost a unanimous answer from all. Here is a shortened list of the reasons I received;

  • The wonderful Tampa Bay weather! Our high temperatures range from the 70′s to the 90′s and our low temperature can range from 50 to 76.
  • The Beaches. Not only does MacDill AFB have its own beautiful beach it is in close proximity to so many great beaches such as Clearwater, St Pete Beach, Little Harbor in Apollo Beach and my favorite Ana Maria Island.
  • The food. has written several articles lately stating Tampa has become a Foodie destination. The area has seen so many new restaurants. But it is the variety that is wonderful of course we have the wonderful Cuban and Mexican restaurants but you can also find great Indian, Asian ,Italian, Middle Eastern and German foods.
  • Sports teams. We have a professional Baseball team, football, soccer and hockey. If you want to see a professional basketball game you can just head over to Orlando. Between USF and UT we also have a variety of college sports. MacDill is also close to so many minor league baseball teams and some great spring training camps.
  • Jobs. I am not sure if everyone will agree on this one but with all the new housing being built here in the southern Hillsborough County area I am going to assume the job market has improved. The Amazon distribution center in Ruskin recently opened and a new hospital will open next year here in Riverview. I have also seen a new USAA building going up off of the cross town.With  Centcom located on MacDill AFB the opportunity for Veterans to find employment is increased.
  • The Outdoors. With the beaches and waterways of Tampa Bay you can definitely find something to do outside. Whether it is riding your bike or trying Stand Up Paddling you can always find an outdoor activity. The MacDill AFB Recreation Department has a host of items you can rent to enjoy the great outdoors. Did you know you can camp at the MacDill Beach or rent a pontoon boat from the marina?
  • The People. The people in this area are so friendly and hospitable. This is a family friendly area with many great school districts.
  • My favorite reason for living in the MacDill AFB area is and always has been the sunsets!! I have watched great sunset from the MacDill beach, Little Harbor, St Pete but my favorite is Holmes Beach on Anna Maria Island. Where is you favorite sunset?

If you do not live in the Tampa Bay area these are some great reasons why you should! If you need to find a home in the area check out all the homes listed on the website. Make sure to take advantage of the advanced search setting to find that property on the water!!

Share your reasons for living in the MacDill AFB area here in the comments section or on the Facebook page. Pictures welcome.

Enjoying Fall in Florida

September 23, 2014 By: Laura Category: children, Communities, Events, Self Improvement, Things to do No Comments →



The first day of Fall is officially here. Today is the first full day of Fall. Here in the MacDill AFB area it really does not feel or look like Autumn because it still a little warm. Since the majority of us in the area seem to be transplants we still enjoy trying to make it feel like Fall has come. I myself really enjoy what this season usually brings, cooler weather, beautiful colors and pumpkin patches. Being here in Florida is not going to stop me from enjoying those things so I have come up with some ways to make it feel like Fall here.

  • Get to Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts or wherever you get your coffee and have a pumpkin latte, pumpkin bread or a pumpkin doughnut!!
  • Pull out your Fall decorations, I do not let the 96 degree weather stop me from hanging my Fall wreath on my front door!
  • Plan your trip to a Pumpkin Patch. Try Hunsader Farms and Hydro Harvest Farms. Both will be having Fall festivals in October.
  • Visit Busch Gardens, Universal Studios or Walt Disney World for their great Halloween and Fall events. All of the parks do an amazing job decorating. If you are a military family make sure to check out the pricing at the IT&T office at the MacDill A.F.B Exchange.

I would love to hear how you make it feel like Fall here in the Tampa Bay area! Leave a comment here on this blog post or on our Facebook page. You can also send a tweet to @MacDillHappenin. If you have a great photo share that!!

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Rays Take on the Yankees!

September 14, 2014 By: Laura Category: children, Communities, Events, Sports No Comments →

The Tampa Bay Rays open a homestand with 3 game series against the Yankees starting on Monday. The first pitch will be at 7:10pm. It’s the final time that Derek Jeter will be playing shortstop in a Yankees uniform.

Courtesy of the Tampa Bay Rays

It hasn’t been the season that was expected out of the Rays, but they need to finish strong and get ready for next season! Inside the Trop, check out the Ray tank in centerfield. The walkway around the outfield will be open. In the Left Field Street area, fans can participate in a baseball-themed game show, take their picture on a Topps baseball card, have their name inscribed onto a Louisville Slugger bat, touch and feel real game-used equipment, and broadcast play-by-play of baseball highlights. At Right Field Street kids can experience the magic of baseball in the Rays Baseball Carnival, a real working carnival that includes plinko, spin the wheel, ring-a-bat and skee ball. Or take a swing against a computer images of real Major League pitchers in a batting cage or test their arms in the speed pitch, both found in the T.G. Lee Rookie Challenge area of the Carnival. There is also kids-themed areas such as “Bats, Balls, and Brushes”, “St. Petersburg Times Pressbox” and “The Science of Baseball.” Centerfield Street has the Cuesta-Rey Cigar Bar, baseball’s first in-stadium cigar bar, as well as the Batter’s Eye Restaurant, located in the “batter’s eye” in center field. Centerfield Street also has the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall-of-Fame. The Trop is about a 30 minute drive from MacDill AFB, but remember to give yourself some extra time because of the expected crowds!

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Is It Time To Buy A Home?

September 02, 2014 By: Laura Category: Communities, Self Improvement No Comments →

sold courtesyofactiverain

Could this be the right time to buy home? It seems to me as I am driving around the Riverview area that home builders think it is. According to Susan Gilbert of Double A Mortgages the mortgage rate is fluctuating around 4.25%  Also, some of the home builders such as Newland Homes at Waterset are offering great incentives. Maybe you just moved to the area for a job transfer or a PCS move with the Military and you just don’t know if the time is right. Here are some signs you may be ready to purchase a new home:

  • You are tired of renting and would like to own your home. You feel it is time to build some equity or if you are a military family you might think the MacDill area may be your forever home or a great place to buy and investment property.
  • You would like to be in a specific school district or area to make your commute easier.
  • You have been saving for your down payment and you have reached your goal.
  • You need to downsize or up-size. The kids have all moved out or you have a new little one on the way.
  • You are new to the area and want to put down roots and be a part of the community.

If any of these points apply to you then maybe it is time to buy a home! Now that you think you are ready make sure you do some research on the best mortgage rates, best loan ideas and the perfect location. The blog has lots of information on buying a home. The next step is to find that perfect home!

Good luck and please share any thoughts or comments you might have on making the big decision to buy a home here in the comments section or on the MacDill Happenings Facebook page.

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Things to do in Tampa Bay

August 22, 2014 By: Laura Category: children, Communities, Dining, Events, News, Things to do No Comments →

Courtesy of the Plant Museum
Lots of fun things happening this weekend August 23rd and 24th. For most of us in the MacDill AFB area it was back to school this week so some school shopping might be in order. Or maybe you just want to enjoy some family time enjoying the Tampa Bay area. Here are some great events going on:

  • Saturday is the Tailgate Taste Festival in downtown Tampa’s Curtis Hixon Park. Purchase wristbands for $25 to take a taste of area restaurants best tailgating food. Get ready for football season with everything from chicken to sliders to ribs with entertainment, and family fun. The event opens at 11am with a live video showing of the Tampa Bay Bucs taking on the Buffalo Bills at 4:30pm.
  • This is the second to last weekend of the Blue Star Museum initiative for active duty military members and their families. MOSI and the Henry B Plant Museum are participating along with several St. Pete museums.
  • Saturday evening at Al Lang Park in downtown St. Pete, the Tampa Bay Rowdies professional soccer team take on the Carolina Railhawks at 7:30pm. It’s also $2 hotdog night!
  • On Sunday at 3pm, the Tampa Theatre will play the 1926 silent movie “The Black Pirate”. This classic movies stars Douglas Fairbanks in the lead and will be accompanied by music from the Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Organ just like when it was originally released.
  • If you want to play golf this weekend, the Bay Palms Golf Complex on MacDill AFB is offering a $5 discount off of green fees if your driver’s license has a Brandon, Riverview, Valrico or Lithia address. This offer is good during August.

Speaking of golf have you checked out the great listing of golf course homes on This site can also help you find homes near the beach or with a pool.

Have a great time this weekend and please share with us any fun events you are going to attend. Share them here in the comments section or on our MacDill Happenings Facebook page. You can also Tweet at us at @MacDillHappenin.


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Communities Around MacDill AFB

August 18, 2014 By: Laura Category: Communities No Comments →

MacDill pic courtesyofAJtrips blogspot

If you’re getting ready to move to the MacDill AFB area, then you will find a large number of communities in buy or rent a house. Because of the relatively central location of the base and traffic patterns, you will find that driving time from most communities is almost similar depending on distance. So if you live north of the base in the Westchase area or east in the Brandon/Valrico area, you will find driving times from either location will be 30 to 40 minutes.

You will find most of Tampa is suburbia as described by the MilitaryByOwner staff writer, Karina, in here recent blog “Are we witnessing the return to Suburbia?” There is thriving downtown in Tampa and St. Pete, but you find that these are primarily targeted for young singles or couples. The majority of active duty families at MacDill AFB live in surrounding suburbs.

MacDill AFB is located in the southern part of Tampa. Main roads into the base are Dale Mabry and Bayshore. Known as “South Tampa” which is usually defined as the part of Tampa south of Kennedy Blvd, this community has homes that are within 5 to 15 minutes of driving time to the base.

West of the base is Pinellas County with the major communities of St. Petersburg, Clearwater and numerous smaller towns in between.

North of the base in Hillsborough County are the communities of Westchase, Citrus Park, Lutz and New Tampa. Access to these communities are aided by the Veterans/Suncoast Expressway and I-275.

East of the base in Hillsborough County are the communities of Brandon, Valrico, Riverview and Lithia. Using the Selmon Expressway aids in travel time from these areas. Hillsborough Area Rapid Transit (HART) has commuter express buses from this part of Hillsborough County.

You can share here in our comments section or on our Facebook page. You can also send us a tweet @MacDill Happenin.

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Swimming Pool Safety Revisited

August 16, 2014 By: Laura Category: children, Communities, Self Improvement No Comments →

Floating Around

Did you know that Florida is ranked as the state with the highest drowning rate in children? With Summer ending most of the United States will close the pools up and the risk for drowning will go down. But here in the MacDill AFB area we love to swim pretty much year round. With that in mind I though I would share a previous article written about swimming safety.

Take a look at the article Swimming Pool Safety and share it with your family and friends. This also a great article to share with friends who may have just moved or PCS’ed to the Tampa area. These tips can also apply to any bodies of water such as the beach or a lake.

Another water concern we have write now in the MacDill AFB area is the condition of the water at the beaches. Vibrio vulnificus, which is related to the bacterium that causes Cholera, can be found in the waters off of the coast because it thrives in warm saltwater. If ingested, it can cause stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea. But it can also infect open wounds and lead to skin breakdown and ulceration. It’s okay to go in the water, just make sure that you don’t have any open cuts or wounds. If you have a suppressed immune system due to things like cancer, diabetes or cirrhosis of the liver, you are better off just walking on the beach and staying out of the water.

Use this information and stay safe near the water not just during the summer months but all year.

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