Busch Gardens. Tampa’s biggest tourist attraction is just like Africa, but without all the natives, dust and disease. Busch Gardens is the ultimate conservative fantasy of the future of environmental preservation. Who needs to suspend oil drilling in pristine natural habitats when you can instead move all the animals into small, controllable sanctuaries and enjoy them from above in the air-conditioned comfort of a monorail car? Note to visitors: It is currently against Busch Gardens’ policy to shoot and kill the animals while on the Serengeti tour. The staff apologizes for the obvious inconvenience, and promises to fight for open-carry laws that would include the right to fire on any animal whose head would look cool on your wall. 10165 McKinley Drive, Tampa, 813-987-5082, buschgardens.com.
Clear Channel Studios. Modern conservatism owes a huge debt to right-wing talk radio. While Rush Limbaugh is the acknowledged Grand Poobah of Rep rap, he’s seen increased competition in recent years from a range of challengers, most notably Glenn Beck. You’ll remember Beck from his now-cancelled Fox News show, the massive rally at the Lincoln Memorial, and his habit of speaking awkward truth to power (or other talk show hosts) with gems like, “… [Obama] has a deep-seated hatred for white people …” But did you know that Beck’s fame avalanche started as a small radio snowball let loose down the cultural hill from his DJ perch at the Clear Channel building in Tampa? It’s true. Back in 2000, Beck led the charge to end the Florida recount from his studio on Gandy Boulevard, helping to put George W. Bush in office before relentlessly cheerleading for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thanks, Glenn! 4002 W. Gandy Blvd., Tampa, 813-839-9393, clearchannel.com.
Morgan Street Jail. Now an abandoned, empty field behind a cemetery and a bus terminal in downtown Tampa, the Morgan Street Jail property was slated to be the site of the first high-speed rail terminal in the U.S. That was before Gov. Rick Scott killed the project and the thousands of jobs it would have created (you go, Rick!) by refusing billions in (hiss!) stimulus funds, overnight ripping the heart out of hopeful residents (mostly poor, minority Democrats) and leaving the area an empty blot on the local landscape. Bring a camera and snap some photos. You can show them off to your liberal relatives when they accuse you of being against the preservation of open spaces. 1301 N. Morgan St., Tampa.
Chick-Fil-A. Convention week is chock full of events that are going to leave you famished, but where can you get a nearby nosh and support hardcore conservative principals at the same time? Head for the nearest Chick-Fil-A, of course. For delegates representing many northern and western states where the fast food chain has yet to expand, this may be your only chance to express your hatred of gay marriage by eating a pickle-soaked fried chicken sandwich. The closest location to the RNC happens to be a few miles from the Forum, on the campus of the University of Tampa. True, you might have to rub elbows with some academics (avoid eye contact, and if you must make small talk, stay away from topics like economics and global warming) when waiting to order, but that’s a small price to pay to make a political point over lunch. 401 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, 813-258-7257, chick-fil-a.com.
Lakewood Ranch. Discover your personal Nirvana at Lakewood Ranch, a deed-restricted super-community nestled off the interstate 30 minutes south of Tampa Bay. Sure to be designated a city soon (goodbye, low-class Bradenton!), Lakewood Ranch is a Republican wet dream of a neighborhood: Big houses, wide streets, strip mall/big-box shopping (relax, there’s an Applebee’s nearby), and a black/Latino population limited mostly to service people and lawn maintenance crews. Real estate values are down across the state, so now is the time to buy. Just ask the recently moved-in Terry Bradshaw! What’s that you say, Lakewood Ranch is too young and happening for a conservative retiree like yourself? Can I interest you in a little place called The Villages? University Parkway, Exit 213 off I-75 in Bradenton (for now).
Ronald W. Reagan High School. Formerly Doral High School (no relation to the cigarette company, though selling corporations the naming rights to our public schools is an idea whose time has come, right?), Ronald W. Reagan High is the first and only institution of higher education in Florida to tastefully adorn the building with The Gipper’s all-American moniker. The bad news: It’s in Doral, Florida, which is basically Miami. The good news: Your trek down south will also dutifully honor the great communicator, as you’ll be traversing the Ronald Reagan Turnpike to get there. One piece of advice: Bring extra money. The Reagan seems like a great idea when you get on, but the tolls really add up as you trickle down the road. 8600 NW 107th Ave., Doral, 305-805-1900.