TAMPA, Fl. - If the crowded malls and frenzied traffic have you questioning your Christmas spirit, you might want to pay a visit to the Henry B. Plant Museum this holiday season. The 31st annual Victorian Christmas stroll will take you back in time. The museum building was once The Tampa Bay Hotel, a sprawling, fashionable resort which opened in 1891. Travelers could get off the train and walk right into the hotel lobby. It operated as a hotel for some forty years.
“Then it was abandoned, because it was too big. It was a hotel that opened with over 500 rooms,” said Sally Shifke of Plant Museum Relations.
Every year, the museum brings back some of that grandeur and charm with lavish period Christmas ornaments and décor. The Stroll shows what Christmas used to feel like around the turn of the century.
“All of the stress seems to melt away, you listen to the music, you walk around, you see toys that maybe your grandparents played, and you’ll relate it back to what you’re buying for your children today. It creates a lot of conversation for families,” said Shifke.
There are fourteen exhibit rooms in all, each with dazzling Victorian décor. You might even catch some carolers singing. As for the toys under the tree, dolls, sleds, wind-up toys and figures made of wood or tin made popular gifts.
This year, the museum is offering a little something extra to keep the kids interested. Each of the exhibit rooms has a picture of Henry Plant hidden somewhere. It may be an item on the tree, or somewhere else in the room, but it makes for a fun exercise while soaking up the seasonal ambiance.
Admission is $13 dollars for adults, and $7 for children. The Christmas Stroll continues through December 30th. The museum is closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.