MacDill Happenings

Things to Do in and around MacDill AFB

Archive for the ‘Communities’

Christmas Events in Tampa on Sunday!

December 13, 2014 By: Laura Category: children, Communities, Events No Comments →

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One of the highlights for a Christmas event on Sunday is the  Tampa Theatre presentation of the holiday classic “White Christmas” on Sunday. This 1954 classic musical stars Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Vera-Ellen, and Rosemary Clooney. Filmed in Technicolor, White Christmas features the songs of Irving Berlin, including the title song, “White Christmas”. A successful song-and-dance team become romantically involved with a sister act and team up to save the failing Vermont inn of their former commanding general. Also before the film, join everyone in singing Christmas carols along with the Mighty Wurlitzer organ. There are mini tours of the theatre before every show. So make sure that you get there early. The start time of the movie is 3pm, but doors open at 2pm. Tickets are $10 for the General Public.  Chosen by LIFE magazine as one of “America’s 21 Wonders,” Tampa Theatre is one of America’s best-preserved examples of grand movie palace architecture. Built in 1926 as one of America’s most elaborate “movie palaces”, the Tampa Theatre today is a historical treasure of Tampa. Inside the Tampa, audiences are transported to a lavish, romantic Mediterranean courtyard replete with old world statuary, flowers, and gargoyles. Tampa Theatre was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and is a member of the League of Historic American Theatres.

The “Santa Speedo Run” takes place in Ybor City at 1pm. This 1-mile run benefits Brighter Seasons for Children with an entry fee of $35.

Winter Wonderland at the Lowry Park Zoo starts at 6:30pm. Check out Santa and his reindeer along with the million Christmas lights on display. Admission is $15.

Let us know about other events that you plan on attending during the holidays!

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Take a Visit or Make Move to Jacksonville!

November 15, 2014 By: Laura Category: Communities, News No Comments →


If you are looking for something different to do over the holidays or maybe you are looking for a mini vacation idea then a drive up to Jacksonville might be the answer. Or maybe you have orders to PCS to the Jacksonville area. Our family has spent Thanksgiving in Jacksonville numerous times with our daughter when she was attending Jacksonville University. The drive up and over to Jacksonville will take you about 3 hours and 22 minutes from Tampa. I recommend the I-4 to I-95 route.  MapQuest at times will take you up I75 and across 301 via Gainesville. On a few of our trips we planned lunch in either Orlando or St Augustine.

Jacksonville has a different feel and look than Tampa. Since Jacksonville sits on the Atlantic the beaches are a little different. The water is a little cooler and a deep blue but very beautiful. One of the best reasons to take your mini vacation is the accessibility to two Navy bases. If you’re a golfer, then both bases, NAS Jacksonville and NS Mayport, have great golf courses.  Both bases have plenty of nearby housing off base.

Downtown Jacksonville boasts 5.6 miles of beautiful riverfront, including almost 3 miles of riverwalk. The Jacksonville Landing
located on the river in downtown is a shopping and entertainment center that hosts over 350 events annually, including live music every weekend. The Riverside Arts Market is prefect place to spend a Saturday afternoon in the downtown area.

The Jacksonville Zoo is must see! Spread out on more than 93 acres, you can see more than 1,800 animals and a 1,000 exotic plants.

A visit the Jacksonville area could include a relaxing visit to Amelia Island and stop at the historic St.Augustine.

Whether it’s short visit or a PCS move, Jacksonville will have something new for you to explore and enjoy almost everyday!

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Are You New to The MacDill AFB Area?

October 22, 2014 By: Laura Category: Communities 1 Comment →

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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Thinking of Buying A Home in The Tampa Area?

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

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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 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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