Tampa Bay


Alex and I visited Florida for a week in April for — what else? — baseball! The Giants were on the road to play the Tampa Bay Rays and Miami Marlins in succession, and since both of those ballparks were still on Alex’s list, we decided to join the road trip and visit both stadiums too. We weren’t the only ones with this idea! We saw plenty of fellow San Francisco fans at both games, and it rather felt like we outnumbered the meager Florida fans at the stadiums. (One team is horrible and the other one has a not-very-good stadium). But more on the baseball to come. First, here’s what we saw in Tampa Bay!

First of all, the Tampa Bay Rays are actually located across the water from Tampa, over in St. Petersburg. We actually stayed the whole time in St. Pete too and didn’t actually see Tampa at all. But here’s the Chihuly Collection in St. Pete.

Along with a visit through the Chihuly galleries you get to go to a neighboring complex to watch a glassblowing demo, included with the price of admission.

These guys were very good at doing everything extremely well while looking extremely bored. I imagine they do this many many times a day. Still pretty fun to watch in person though!

Sticking with my love has brought me to so many random baseball towns, hahaha.

I think the Cardinals and Mets plaques have something to do with the fact that their spring training is here in Florida?

Tampa Bay’s stadium was interesting, because it’s located pretty close to the town of St. Pete’s, such that we were able to snag some free street parking nearby. I don’t think we’ve ever done that at any other ballpark. It was built in 1990 but definitely looks like it’s from a much older era. It’s the only ballpark in the MLB that has a dome that cannot open so it’s entirely indoors, and it’s got a lot of concrete, bearing some resemblance to the much-derided Oakland Coliseum (which was built in 1968).

The Rays have also undergone some really confusing rebranding efforts. They started out the Devil Rays, similar to manta rays. But I guess some people didn’t like having Devil in their name, so they rebranded as the Tampa Bay Rays, but in the process decided that meant rays of sunshine instead of the animal… but then they also kept the animal, so now it’s both…? And we were there on a Devil Rays day, where they wear the old jerseys.

The one cool thing about this stadium though is that they have a whole stingray touch tank! Well, I’m not sure how much they like being touched all day, but it was very fun and unique.

They had a couple little alcoves in the promenade area that were converted into mini museums. We spotted some of our Giants that were former Rays, like this Cy Young Award for Blake Snell, who’s there being honored in our dugout.

Someone asked once if we get any sort of discount for MLB games at other teams’ stadiums, being Giants season ticket members. The answer is no, but the discount is just the perceived savings from everyone else’s ballparks being soooo much cheaper than ours in San Francisco. For the price of our normal tickets at home we were able to sit right next to our visitors’ dugout, near the field where all the players walk right by. Pretty nice! We got to witness the Jung Hoo Lee fan club up close and personal.

We were psyched to follow our Taiwanese pitcher Kai-wei Teng to Florida! We were able to catch him walking between the bullpen and the dugout and got his signature! Unfortunately he has since been sent down to the minor leagues but we’re hoping he’ll make it back up soon.

We had lots of fun!

The next morning, we checked out the market in St. Pete. It’s kind of like a farmers market but mostly food stands and other vendors and not much produce.

Then a visit to the Dali Museum. Where we tried out this Oculus virtual reality demo. Interesting use case!

There was a special exhibit on Impressionists and Dali that basically described Impressionists as the rebel precursors to Dali’s surrealists. Dali wanted to be an impressionist first, but maybe he was just even more of a rebel than they were.

More interactive digital displays!

And finally, a quick lunch at Mullet’s Fish Camp. Excellent. Great outdoor beach vibes.

And then we were off to Miami!

Anna Wu is a wedding and portrait photographer based in San Francisco. She compulsively documents and blogs all of her daily adventures. Follow her on instagram and view more of her professional work at annawu.com.