More airport side trips: Tampa and Atlanta

Early this month I wrote a column for USATODAY.com about cheap, easy side-trips you can take from many U.S. airports. Since then, I’ve gotten email and tips on several more. Here are two of them:

Tampa resident Robert Danielson wrote with this tip:

“Adjacent to the south runway at Tampa International Airport (TPA) is “International Plaza,” Tampa’s premier shopping venue, with courtesy shuttles to the airport (about a five minute ride). Also, downtown’s Florida Aquarium is less than a 10-minute cab ride from the airport.”

And for folks with time to spare near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), there’s this story about the new airport-built 56.5 acre Sams Lake Bird Sanctuary park, a short ride from the airport.

The sanctuary has a reconstructed stream, bat houses, three observation decks, a half-mile walking trail, and three ponds that are now home to bass fish. Deer, turkey, nesting birds, and other wildlife have been seen on-site.

Why did the airport spend $5 million on the project?

“Federal law required the airport to complete the wetlands restoration project after constructing its fifth runway, which paved through 14 acres in the Flint Basin. The Clean Water Act Section 404 mandates the restoration for every acre of wetlands disturbed by infrastructure development. The Army Corps of Engineers gave the airport a permit to restore Sams Lake.”

Whatever it takes.