Bearadise Ranch: 6908 245th St. E., Myakka City
Bearadise Ranch is home to the famous Welde family bears. Established in 1926 to educate and generate public awareness for habitat preservation and conservation for all bear species. The public can learn about bears and gain an appreciation for them on tours 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. with educational presentations as part of the tour offering plenty of photographic opportunities for the nature lover or bear enthusiast. Donations: $8 adults, $6 children ages 5-12, children ages 4 and younger are admitted free. Reservations are required. Information: 941-322-2462 or www.bearadiseranch.com.
Wild Wonderland at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo: Meet Santa and his merry mammals, real reindeer, at Wild Wonderland featuring animated displays, a million twinkling lights, free Zoo rides and traditional holiday treats creating a whimsical world of holiday magic 6:30-10 p.m. Dec. 26-30. For location, hours and tickets, call 813-935-8552 or www.lowryparkzoo.com.
Florida Aquarium Holiday FantaSea: The Florida Aquarium in Tampa will host Holiday FantaSea, a family-friendly celebration featuring real snow, dazzling holiday lights and more Dec. 26-30. Santa and his swimming elves, as well as special holiday mermaids, will swim throughout the massive tanks alongside all the amazing aquatic creatures each night during Holiday FantaSea. In addition, the Florida Aquarium will host two dazzling light shows each night, a huge holiday model train display, and extended hours during the event. For location, hours and ticket prices, call 813-273-4000 or www.flaquarium.org.
Blue Man Group: The Blue Man Group at Universal Orlando Resort has added showtimes throughout the holiday season and will perform at 3 p.m., 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. through Dec. 31. For detailed information visit www.universalorlando.com. The resort is at 6000 Universal Blvd., Orlando.
Bank of America "Museums on Us": Bank of America's "Museums on Us" is offering cardholders free admission to some of the most exciting cultural venues in the United States Jan. 3-4. Bank of America and Merrill Lynch cardholders can get free access to more than 150 participating museums in 94 cities and include the Florida Holocaust Museum and Tampa Museum of Art in Tampa and the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg. Present your Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit or debit card along with a photo ID to gain free general admission. The offer is valid for cardholders only, guests are not eligible. The program excludes fundraising events, special exhibitions and ticketed shows the first full weekend of each month. Information: http://museums.bankofamerica.com.
Preview Rates to New Cabana Bay Beach Resort Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort is celebrating its 2014 opening with a preview offer, allowing guests to be among the first to experience Universal Orlando's new moderate and value-priced property, inspired by iconic beach resorts of the 1950s and 1960's. For a limited time the whole family can experience Cabana Bay Beach Resort's new family suites with rates starting at $104 per night for a seven-night stay to $134 a night for a three-night stay. The offer is available now for purchase for stays from March 31-June 14, 2014. The offer is available for booking until Jan. 31, 2014. Conditions apply. To learn more, or to make a reservation, call 888-273-1311 or www.universalorlando.com. The park is at 6000 Universal Blvd., Orlando. For
Tampa Bay History Center: "Charting the Land of Flowers: 500 Years of Florida Maps," an exhibition featuring over 150 rare maps, documents and other artifacts from the 16th Century through today, will be on display now through Feb. 16 at The Tampa Bay History Center. The maps are on loan from the Library of Congress, the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University, the University of Florida, the Matheson Museum in Gainesville, and other collections and include the first printed map to use the name "Florida," the first printed map to use the name "Tampa," an earliest known map of the City of Tampa, an earliest plat of St. Petersburg, the first map of Miami Beach, and the first map of Ybor City. The history center is at 801 Old Water St., Tampa. For hours and admission, call 813-675-8985 or www.tampabayhistorycenter.org.
Leonardo Da Vinci "Machines" exhibit: The Da Vinci "Machines" exhibit, featuring more than 60 hand-crafted inventions built from Da Vinci's 500-year old designs and the life work of three generations of Florentine artisans will be on display through April at the Bradenton Municipal Auditorium, 1005 First Ave. W., Bradenton. The exhibition models are presented in four themes: Military machines, Flying machines, Nautical and Hydraulic machines as well as devices and inventions illustrating the Principles of Mechanics. The uniquely interactive machines are a popular aspect of each exhibition as visitors can touch and handle these models to gain a first-hand appreciation of how they work. Explanatory notes and illustrative panels with Leonardo's drawings from his codices accompany each model. The exhibit is a ticketed exhibition and will pair with the South Florida Museum with one ticket allowing entrance to both with a discount. For details on exhibit hours, tickets and detailed information, call 941-932-9484 or visit www.discoverdavinci.com.
Herrmanns' Royal Lipizzan Stallions Homepractice performances: Herrmanns' Royal Lipizzan Stallions will perform 3 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and 10 a.m. Saturdays through April at 32755 Singletary Road, Myakka City. See these magnificent white stallions at their homepractice performances. Donation: $5 at gate. Information: 941-322-1501 or www.hlipizzans.com.
Big Cat Habitat: Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary, a nonprofit safe haven for big cats, bears and other animals in need. Visitors can have an up-close view of the exotic and other animals in the sanctuary on self-guided tours. Regular admission: $15 adults, $7 children ages 12 and younger. Reservations are not required. Parking is free. Refreshments are available for purchase. Winter hours: 12:30-4:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays. The sanctuary is at 7101 Palmer Blvd., Sarasota. Information: 941-371-6377 or www.bigcathabitat.org.