USF Riverfront Park Offers Relaxing Escape For Students

Bonnie Buchanan, a student employee at USF Riverfront Park, and Olivia Parrillo, a Riverfront Park visitor and fellow USF student, both love the outdoors.

The students frequently visit Riverfront Park either to work, relax or enjoy the outdoors when they have time off school.

“It’s good for people to come out here and get in touch with nature and not be staring at their phones the whole time,” Buchanan said. “It’s just a really good way for students to enjoy what Florida’s wildlife has to offer.”

Riverfront Park is located in Tampa, close to a mile from USF’s Tampa campus. The park offers canoeing and kayaking rentals, as well as many other outdoor activities.

“I definitely would recommend it, it’s worth every penny, especially when you are on a college budget,” Parrillo said. “It’s worth the $10 for either two people or three people in a canoe or kayak.”

Riverfront Park is also home to a vast array of Florida wildlife.

“A big variety of wildlife, we definitely see a lot of alligators in the river and on the bank,” Buchanan said. “Definitely a lot of bird watching, different kinds of egrets.”

Buchanan has been a Riverfront Park employee for six months and graduates in the spring of 2017.

“My favorite thing about working at Riverfront Park is teaching the ropes course and seeing people face their fear of heights,” Buchanan said. “It sure beats sitting behind a desk all day.”

Riverfront Park is open Monday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Kayaks Allow for Interaction with Wildlife on Weeki Wachee River

The Kayak Shack is a small business that is located on the Weeki Wachee river. Visitors from all over the world come to The Kayak Shack to visit the crystal clear spring. One can rent kayaks, canoes, and stand up paddle boards seven days a week from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.

The Kayak Shack has been operating since 2009. Owners Jonathon and Amber Cone have been running this small business since its inception.

“[When] we started out we weren’t running our shuttles to the top of the river.” said Jonathon Cone. “It was mainly beach people coming over from Rogers Park to rent kayaks here; they would do it hourly…and started out with 16 boats and absolutely…this entire area has gotten extremely popular; …each summer it’s busier and busier; spring break and even the winters are…starting to pick up.”

Now, they have two transportation buses and over 30 kayaks to rent out.

Once you’ve rented one of their boats, they transport you to the top of the river. Then, paddle about five miles back to The Kayak Shack where your car is parked.

While paddling along the river one may many fish, birds, and perhaps even a manatee.

“We see manatees to the point where you’re kinda used to those, even though they are really cool,” said employee Jason Burry.

You can also go swimming in the nearly constant 72-degree water, jump out of trees or swing on a rope swing.

Visit their website or call and make a reservation in order to schedule a rental.

website: www.weekiwacheekayakrental.com
phone: (352) 610-4169

Study abroad but explore locally

This generation of “millennials” has a newfound urge to travel around the world. Wanderlust has been redefined and University of South Florida students have multiple opportunities to study abroad.

Dr. Rick Wilber, a mass communications professor, has been taking students to Ireland for the past two to three decades.

“There are a lot of wonderful places to go and a lot of great people to meet,” Wilber said. “It’s not surprising that this generation of students is taking advantage of the opportunity.”

The trip originally started off as backpacking through Scotland. But over the course of three to four years, Wilber says they started to spend more and more time in Ireland and less time in Scotland that it became the Ireland trip.

The new generation has many aspirations to travel the world but often forgets that there are many wonders in the great state of Florida. Stacie Aviles, a graduate student from USF, has become accustomed to taking any adventure she can fit into her busy schedule.

“I don’t think Florida gets a lot of credit for its nature,” Aviles said. “Lettuce Lake Park and Flatwoods Park are just two of many places students can go within a 10 minute drive.”

If there is one thing that Aviles wants her fellow millennials to remember, it is to steer away from the social media realm.

“Don’t spend so much time on your phones when you’re up there.” she said. “I know the views can be really breathtaking but just remember to take it all in for yourself.”