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Bay Pines VA Healthcare System

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Living Environment – Psychology Postdoctoral Fellowship Training

The Bay Pines VA Healthcare System is located in Bay Pines, Fl., close to the major cities of St. Petersburg and Tampa in what is called, the Tampa Bay area.  The 2007 Census states Tampa is third largest city in the Southeastern United States, behind Miami and Atlanta. The "Greater Tampa Bay" area has just over 4 million residents and generally includes the Tampa and Sarasota metro areas. St. Petersburg, which is located roughly 15 minutes from Tampa on the opposite side of the Bay, is the fourth largest city in the state of Florida, which is home to roughly 4 million residents. Census 2006 data revealed the median income for a household for the Tampa Bay area is $39,602. English as a first language accounted for 77.43% of all residents, while Spanish accounted for 17.76%.

Weather
With a purported average of some 360 days of sunshine each year, Tampa is nicknamed "The Sunshine City." For that reason, the city and surrounding area of ST Pete is a popular tourist, and retirement destination, especially for those in the United States from colder Northern climates – particularly New York City, Detroit, and Chicago. The Tampa Bay Area has a humid subtropical climate with a definite rainy season from June through September and the area is occasionally visited by tropical storms and hurricanes. The last time a hurricane directly struck the area was in 1921. Many portions of the area, especially along the bay and in south St. Petersburg have tropical microclimates. Royal palms and coconut palms, as well as other tropicals, grow to maturity and fruit. Average temperatures range from 54 to 90, with the warmest months during the summer.

Schools
Tampa hosts several well known colleges and university, including the University of South Florida, Tampa University, Florida Metropolitan and Stetson University of Law. St. Petersburg has a branch of the state university, as well as St. Petersburg College and Eckerd College. The Poynter Institute, a school for journalists, future journalists and teachers of journalism, is also located in St. Petersburg.

Arts and Culture
The Tampa Bay area is the home to a number of attractions and theme parks, including Busch Gardens Africa, Adventure Island, Lowery Park Zoo, and the Museum of Science and Industry. A popular celebrated event is the Gasparilla Pirate Festival, usually referred to simply as Gasparilla, also known as the Mardi Gras of Tampa, is usually held on the last Saturday of January. It has been held yearly since 1904.

Current popular nightlife districts include Channelside, Ybor City, SoHo, International Plaza and Bay Street, and Seminole Hard Rock. Downtown Tampa also contains some nightlife, and there are more clubs/bars to be found in other areas of the city.  Also, a children's museum, museum and arts district, and "central park" are scheduled to open in Downtown Tampa in 2010.

St. Petersburg regularly places top 25 in the nation among arts destinations. St Pete hosts a children's museum (Great Explorations), Museum of Fine Arts, a History Museum, a Holocaust Museum, and the Salvador Dalí Museum. There are also various other smaller art galleries and entertainment venues, such as: the Midtown Royal Theater, the Arts Center, Florida Craftsmen Gallery, Mahaffey Theater complex, the Coliseum, and Palladium Theatre, especially in the Downtown area, which has seen a boom in development since the mid 1990s.

The St. Petersburg Pier is a popular tourist attraction. It contains a small aquarium open to the public, retail shopping, adventure activities, and both casual and fine dining restaurants. Downtown is the location of the Bay Walk shopping and nightlife destination. Every Saturday morning, from October to May, the downtown area holds a farmers market, of sorts. Local produce farmers can be found selling their fruits up and down the downtown region, as well as live bands, barbecue vendors, and artists of all kinds. Several nightlife hotspots include Jannus Landing; the surrounding restaurants and bars; and the Central Avenue district. Several ethnic and domestic culinary specialties can be found throughout the downtown area.

Beaches and Parks
The Tampa Bay area is home to more than a dozen Florida State Parks and Historic Sites including Caladesi Island State Park recently named America’s top beach destination by Dr. Beach and known to beachcombers as a shell-seeker's paradise; Hillsborough River State Park in Hillsborough County, where the river tumbles over outcroppings of Suwannee limestone, creating a series of rapids; and Myakka River State Park in Sarasota County, one of the state's largest parks, which hikers can venture through pine flatwoods, over marsh and swamp and across a dry prairie.

St Pete area hosts numerous parks and the Pinellas Trail a 34 mile long trail where one can safely enjoy bicycle riding, strolling or jogging. The Pinellas Trail is truly one of Florida's premier urban trails. Stretching from Tarpon Springs to St. Petersburg, the trail links some of Pinellas County's most picturesque parks, scenic coastal areas and residential neighborhoods. Boyd Hill Nature Park located on Lake Maggiore is a 245-acre (0.99 km2) preserve where you can see many of the endangered plants and rare wildlife of Tampa bay. There is a bird exhibit which houses bald eagles, owls, hawks, and other species. St. Petersburg is well regarded for its beaches. In 2005, Fort Desoto was rated the number one beach in America by the annual Dr. Beach rankings [1]. Trip Advisor also has the beach ranked number one in the nation for 2008.

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Recently, St. Petersburg has become known and regarded as one of America's most livable cities

Travel
Tampa International Airport provides air transportation for most passengers. Smaller airlines, with destinations to smaller cities and towns, operate at St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport, with most tenants providing only seasonal services. Orlando and Sarasota offer major airports as well and are within 1 ½ hours driving time from the Tampa Bay area.

Amtrak services Tampa via the Tampa Union Train Station, located in a historic building near the port between downtown and Ybor City. The Silver Star reverses its direction at Tampa Union Station on its way between Miami and New York.

The Port of Tampa is located downtown and hosts several cruise lines.

Mass Transit
The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) operates streetcars as well as the bus system in Tampa. HART has a signed transit deal with the University of South Florida, allowing students to ride for free on most bus routes.[2] In addition, students from several other colleges and universities can purchases passes at half price from their school. The TECO Line Streetcar System, which links Ybor City, the Channel District and Downtown Tampa

Mass transit in St. Pete is provided by the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA). There is also a sightseeing trolley, called the Looper that travels to key downtown destinations daily.

1. (2010, August 22). St. Petersburg, Florida. [Online] Wikipedia. Retrieved August 24, 2010 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Petersburg%2C_Florida *

2. (2010, August 10). Tampa, Florida. [Online] Wikipedia. Retrieved August 24, 2010 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tampa,_Florida#cite_note-88#cite_note-88 *

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