17 Best Things to Do in Tampa: Fun & Exciting Family Activities

Best Things to Do in Tampa

What You Will Learn (Click to Expand)

Unveiling Tampa's Kid-Friendly Adventures

Tampa, A Haven for Family Trips

Tampa, Florida, isn’t just another city—it’s a vibrant hub of activities and attractions perfect for families. From cultural experiences to fun-filled adventures, there’s an endless list of Things to Do in Tampa that cater to all ages, from tiny tots to teens. Your trip is more than just a break; it’s an opportunity to create lasting memories.

Dive into the array of family-friendly activities and discover the vibrant wonders awaiting you in Tampa.

Top Rated Attractions for the Whole Family

1. The Florida Aquarium: A Magical Underwater Journey

The Florida Aquarium

When in Tampa with the kiddos, plunging into the wonders of The Florida Aquarium is a must-do! It’s a fascinating aquatic world where little explorers learn about Florida’s unique wetland habitats, coming face-to-face with snapping alligators and curious otters.

But there’s more—their eyes will widen at the sight of powerful Burmese pythons and the vibrant 60-foot-long coral garden teeming with tropical fishes and plant life.

Best List Highlight:

  • Interactive Experiences: Engage with sea life through ‘Swim with the Fishes’ excursions and riveting shark dives.
  • Educational Fun: The 4D theater brings the deep sea to life, captivating minds with the awe of nature.

Top 5 Features:

  • The rich diversity of marine life with exhibits featuring local and exotic species.
  • The 60-foot coral garden showcases a kaleidoscope of sea life.
  • ‘Swim with the Fishes’ and shark dive programs for immersive experiences.
  • 4D theater with educational films that stimulate senses beyond sight.
  • Outdoor water adventure zone for family fun and relaxation.

Five Benefits:

  • Expands knowledge of marine ecosystems in an entertaining way.
  • Encourages interest in marine biology and conservation among youngsters.
  • Offers interactive and hands-on learning opportunities.
  • Provides a respite from the heat with both indoor and outdoor water activities.
  • The wild dolphin cruise offers a unique opportunity to observe marine wildlife in their natural habitat.

Two Cons:

  • Some experiences may be pricey, impacting the family budget.
  • Large crowds during peak seasons can affect the visit’s enjoyment.

Best For: Families who love learning about marine life and those looking for an interactive and educational attraction that sparks curiosity in children of all ages.

If you’re hunting for attractions that make a splash in Tampa, you’ll find that the Florida Aquarium is undoubtedly a treasure trove of marine marvels just waiting to be discovered.

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2. ZooTampa at Lowry Park: A World of Wildlife Wonders

ZooTampa at Lowry Park is a wildlife sanctuary that captures the imagination of children and adults alike. Embark on a journey through a diverse array of habitats, from the lush flora of native Florida to the arid savannas of Africa.

It’s a place where you can mingle with giraffes, revel in the splash of a stingray, or enjoy the grace of the Bornean Orangutan.

Best List Highlight:

  • Interactive Fun: Feeding giraffes and petting stingrays is just the start. Each encounter is designed to inspire and educate.
  • Inclusive Experience: With kids’ rides like a merry-go-round and family-friendly coasters, there are joyrides for every little adventurer.

Top 5 Features:

  • Home to over 2,000 animals including endangered species and beloved natives.
  • Unique experiences like feeding giraffes directly from a feeding plateau.
  • Engaging children’s rides that complement the zoological attractions.
  • Manatee Care Center is where one can learn about conservation efforts.
  • “Backstage” encounters that allow up-close interactions with penguins and tortoises.

Five Benefits:

  • Offers a dynamic educational experience outside the classroom.
  • Helps foster a love and appreciation for biodiversity and conservation.
  • Provides a variety of attractions that cater to a wide age range.
  • Special hands-on experiences promote memorable learning.
  • Encourages physical activity through exploration of expansive habitats.

Two Cons:

  • Some areas may get crowded, especially during weekends or special events.
  • Outdoor settings mean weather can influence the day’s plan.

Best For: Animal enthusiasts and families seeking a blend of educational content with interactive fun. It’s perfect for those who want to connect with nature and learn about wildlife conservation in an engaging setting.

Take a walk on the wild side and unlock the joys of nature with your family at ZooTampa at Lowry Park, where the animal kingdom comes alive!

Looking for insider knowledge? Check out our Tampa Travel Tips for the best local recommendations!

Educational Escapades in Tampa

3. Glazer Children’s Museum: Hands-On Discovery and Fun

Foster a lifelong love for learning with a visit to the Glazer Children’s Museum. This playground of possibility ignites the curiosity of young minds with its hands-on exhibits that morph them into doctors, engineers, and explorers.

They learn about finance at the pint-sized bank, turn into heroes at the fire station, and delve into the building at the carpentry workshop.

Best List Highlight:

  • Role-Playing Adventures: Kids step into various adult roles, offering a taste of different careers.
  • Engaging Education: Interactive exhibits cross the fun threshold while embedding valuable lessons in science, culture, and the arts.

Top 5 Features:

  • Kid-sized interactive exhibits designed to educate through role-play.
  • A vast range of topics from robotics and engineering to world cultures and oceanography.
  • Opportunities for children to design, build, and solve problems creatively.
  • Two stories filled with sensory and active play areas, including a water activity zone.
  • The museum encourages cognitive development and social skills through interactive play.

Five Benefits:

  • Stimulates imagination and inspires educational exploration in a playful atmosphere.
  • Hands-on exhibits encourage the development of fine motor and problem-solving skills.
  • Enhances understanding of various professions and daily life skills.
  • Activities suitable for a wide age range—toddlers to pre-teens.
  • The indoor setting offers a weather-proof day out with the kids.

Two Cons:

  • Some younger children might find the learning concepts more challenging.
  • It can become quite busy on weekends and during school holidays.

Best For: Young families who value education through play, with a wide array of interactive opportunities for children to enjoy while learning important life skills.

Prepare to witness the wonder in your child’s eyes as they discover new passions at the Glazer Children’s Museum, where play and learning blend seamlessly to create an unforgettable experience.

Explore the rich history of Tampa with a visit to its captivating historical places.

4. Tampa Bay History Center: A Portal to Florida’s Past

Embark on a voyage through time at the Tampa Bay History Center, a gem for budding historians and curious children. As you wander, you’ll uncover the rich tapestry of Tampa’s history, from the early Native American communities to the influences of Spanish conquistadors and the hubbub of the cigar industry.

It’s an immersive tale told across three floors brimming with years of local stories and artifacts.

Best List Highlight:

  • Diverse Exhibits: Exhibitions showcase everything from Seminole culture to pioneer life.
  • Hands-On Learning: Interactive elements throughout the center keep learning active and engaging.

Top 5 Features:

  • Extensive exhibitions covering 12,000 years of Florida’s history.
  • Interactive displays, such as a re-created 1920s cigar store engage children with tactile experiences.
  • The center features a specific gallery for changing exhibits, keeping the content fresh.
  • The Witt Research Center offers a treasure trove of archival materials for deeper exploration.
  • The Columbia Café provides a taste of Florida’s culinary heritage with waterfront dining.

Five Benefits:

  • Encourages a deeper understanding of regional history among all age groups.
  • Promotes critical thinking through tangible links between past and present.
  • Offers curriculum support for students through educational programs.
  • Accessibility features for varied learning styles and physical abilities.
  • A family-friendly café lets you discuss your discoveries over a meal with a view.

Two Cons:

  • History buffs may desire more in-depth information than what’s on display.
  • Younger children may lose interest if not engaged with interactive elements.

Best For: Families with a thirst for history and culture. Ideal for those who enjoy learning about the past through artifacts, storytelling, and interactive learning. Great for parents looking to provide a historical context to the Tampa Bay area in an enjoyable and educational format.

Step back in time at the Tampa Bay History Center, where every exhibit is a page in the storied book of the Bay area’s vibrant past, awaiting families to read and experience.

Explore Tampa’s vibrant dog-friendly community with our recommended list of Dog Parks in Tampa.

Outdoor Delights for Energetic Explorers

5. Adventure Island: Tampa's Tropical Water Park Oasis

Tampa Adventure Island

Dive into fun at Adventure Island, Tampa’s premier water park that promises a tidal wave of excitement for the whole family. Amidst the hot Florida weather, the park’s lush tropical landscape offers a refreshing escape where thrills and relaxation flow in equal measure.

From the adrenaline-pumping waterslides to the lazy rivers and wave pools, there’s an aquatic adventure to suit everyone.

Best List Highlight:

  • Waterslides Galore: Eight major waterslides, including the daring Colossal Curl, offer a wide range of splashy excitement.
  • Family-Friendly Design: With areas catered to younger kids and relaxing beach spots, everyone finds their happy place.

Top 5 Features:

  • A variety of waterslides with options for thrill-seekers and those favoring a gentler ride.
  • The colossal wave pool, simulating ocean waves, provides massive fun for floaters.
  • Kid-friendly zones with smaller slides and water features ensure safe play for tiny tots.
  • Lazy rivers and heated pools offer a gentle reprieve from the excitement.
  • Conveniently located across from Busch Gardens, it is perfect for a dual-park adventure.

Five Benefits:

  • Offers a cool respite from the Florida heat in a fun and interactive way.
  • Encourages physical activity and adventure for all age groups.
  • Different thrill levels cater to both the fearless and the more cautious.
  • Provides a safe and controlled environment for water-based play.
  • Opportunities for family bonding through shared experiences and fun.

Two Cons:

  • Peak times may result in longer waits for popular attractions.
  • Sun exposure; though fun is limitless, don’t forget to apply sunscreen regularly!

Best For: Water-loving families and thrill-seekers looking for a day of splashing fun. Ideal for children who adore water play and adults who want to unwind in a lush, tropical setting.

Let Adventure Island be your family’s next splash hit, where the water’s cool, the slides are epic, and the memories are just waiting to be made!

Looking for thrills? Check out the amusement parks in Tampa!

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6. Tampa Electric's Manatee Viewing Center: Encounter Nature’s Sea Cows

The Tampa Electric Manatee Viewing Center presents a unique wildlife experience that’s distinctly Floridian. Here, the warmth of the discharge waters from the nearby power station creates a haven for the majestic manatees, especially during the cooler months.

The gentle giants, often dubbed sea cows, find sanctuary in these waters, and you get the privilege to observe these peaceful creatures up-close.

Best List Highlight:

  • Critical Sanctuary: The center serves as a vital warm-water refuge for manatees seeking respite from the chilly gulf waters.
  • Educational Opportunity: Visitors who walk away are more informed about manatee habits and conservation efforts.

Top 5 Features:

  • A designated manatee sanctuary provides protection and observation opportunities.
  • Vibrant displays and educational exhibits on manatee biology and the ecosystem.
  • Hurricane simulator and information on storm preparation for an immersive learning experience.
  • The award-winning butterfly gardens and native flora along the tidal walk offer a feast for the eyes.
  • An observation platform to witness manatee behavior in a natural setting.

Five Benefits:

  • Free and accessible educational experience tailored to all ages.
  • Incentivizes ecological awareness and conservation within a natural habitat.
  • Offers a peaceful, scenic environment for nature observation and relaxation.
  • Enriches knowledge about local wildlife and the interdependence of ecosystems.
  • Spacious outdoor areas, including walking paths, are where you can enjoy Florida’s coastal beauty.

Two Cons:

  • Manatee sightings are seasonal, with little to no activity during warm months.
  • Inclement weather can impact visibility and access to outdoor viewing areas.

Best For: Nature enthusiasts and families with an interest in wildlife conservation. Perfect for those seeking an educational yet laid-back outdoor excursion with the chance to see these endearing marine mammals in their natural environment.

At Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center, connect with nature, learn about local wildlife, and perhaps leave with a greater sense of stewardship for our oceanic friends.

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Engaging Entertainment Options

7. Tampa Bay Lightning Hockey: Electrifying Entertainment on Ice

Tampa Bay Lightning Hockey

Contrary to expectations, the Sunshine State offers a cool twist for sports enthusiasts—hockey! Tampa Bay Lightning games inject an exhilarating dose of energy into family outings.

For those unacquainted with the sport, watching a live game is a thrilling introduction, and for fans, it’s an opportunity to bond over shared excitement and team spirit.

Best List Highlight:

  • High-Energy Sport: The fast pace and live crowd cheering amplify the game’s thrill factor.
  • Community Vibe: Experience the passion and pride of local fans in a vibrant, family-friendly arena.

Top 5 Features:

  • Watching top-tier athletes demonstrate skill and speed on the ice.
  • The engaging atmosphere within the state-of-the-art Amalie Arena.
  • Kid-friendly entertainment between periods keeps the young ones engaged.
  • Access to a variety of food concessions, offering treats that appeal to all family members.
  • Located in Downtown Tampa, surrounded by pre- and post-game entertainment options.

Five Benefits:

  • Provides a unique sports experience in an otherwise warm climate.
  • Opportunity to create lasting memories with family through a communal event.
  • Instills team spirit and a sense of belonging among fans, young and old.
  • Accessibility to the game’s nuances is fun for both hockey aficionados and first-timers.
  • Conveniently located for exploring downtown Tampa before or after the game.

Two Cons:

  • Hockey arenas can be chilly, and additional layers might be necessary for comfort.
  • Popular games may come with higher ticket prices and crowded venues.

Best For: Families looking for a high-energy and engaging sporting event. Ideal for stirring up enthusiasm for a sport that’s as strategic as it is exhilarating, suitable for children who enjoy an active and dynamic environment.

Join the ranks of cheering fans and let the Lightning’s spirit spark excitement in your family’s heart—experience the lively atmosphere of an NHL game right in the heart of Tampa!

Ready to make a splash? Explore the top-rated water parks in Tampa for an unforgettable aquatic adventure!

8. Discover the Wonders of MOSI – the Museum of Science & Industry

Museum of Science & Industry tampa

The Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI) in Tampa stands as a bastion of inspiration, a place where science is not just learned but vividly lived. With over 450 hands-on exhibits, MOSI is a treasure trove for inquisitive minds, regardless of age.

From lying on a bed of nails to journeying through the stars in the Saunders Planetarium, this is where fearlessness meets curiosity.

Best List Highlight:

  • A Spectrum of Exhibits: Catering to a variety of scientific interests and daredevil spirits.
  • Children’s Science Center: ‘Kids in Charge!’ offers a dedicated and safe space for young innovators to learn through play.

Top 5 Features:

  • The Saunders Planetarium is for a celestial experience that’s out of this world.
  • Interactive exhibits like the High Wire Bike add a thrill to the principles of physics.
  • The Bioworks Butterfly Garden fosters environmental awareness among visitors.
  • Florida’s only IMAX Dome Theater, providing a fully immersive movie-going experience.
  • The largest children’s science center in the U.S., ‘Kids in Charge!’, designed to stimulate and challenge young minds.

Five Benefits:

  • Stimulates STEM learning through fun and interactive means.
  • Encourages creative thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration.
  • Offers excitement and education for a full-day experience.
  • Engages all the senses, ensuring a memorable visit.
  • Showcases the wonders of nature and technology side by side.

Two Cons:

  • The abundance of exhibits may be overwhelming for some visitors to take in one visit.
  • High popularity may lead to crowded experiences, especially on weekends and holidays.

Best For: Families who delight in exploration and active learning. MOSI is a must-visit for those who want to inspire children with the marvels of science and technology.

At MOSI – the Museum of Science & Industry, unlock the door to wonders for the entire family, where exploration meets education and every visit sparks a new adventure in learning.

Planning your next getaway? Take a moment to ask yourself, ‘Is it safe to travel to Tampa?’ Dive into our list of top destinations for peace of mind during your visit.

Unique Experiences for Curious Kids

9. Take a Wildlife Safari at Big Cat Rescue

Big Cat Rescue tampa

For an experience that combines awe with education, head to Big Cat Rescue, a sanctuary where grace and power reign supreme.

This non-profit haven, home to over 60 bewitching big cats situated in a leafy enclave of Tampa, teaches visitors about its noble residents – from tigers and lions to leopards and lynxes – all rescued from dire circumstances.

Best List Highlight:

  • Conservation Focus: Dedicated to stopping the trade of these animals and educating the public on conservation.
  • Guided Tours: Offers a more personal and educational experience than typical zoo visits.

Top 5 Features:

  • It is home to a diverse group of species, including some of the most majestic cats in the world.
  • Guided tours allow for educational insights into the lives and care of the sanctuary’s inhabitants.
  • The “Kids Tour” caters to younger guests, ensuring a family-friendly experience.
  • A chance to learn about the sanctuary’s mission of stopping the big cat trade.
  • Opportunities to observe the big cats in a natural setting, fostering respect for these creatures.

Five Benefits:

  • Offers a unique educational perspective on animal welfare and conservation.
  • Provides an intimate viewing experience, unlike traditional zoos.
  • Encourages children to develop empathy for animals and an understanding of environmental issues.
  • Supports a non-profit that contributes to the well-being of rescued big cats.
  • Visiting the sanctuary directly contributes to the care and rehabilitation of these majestic animals.

Two Cons:

  • Reservations are needed, and popular tours may be booked quickly.
  • Age restrictions for certain tours might limit options for very young visitors.

Best For: Animal lovers and families desiring an ethical wildlife encounter. The intimate tours and the sanctuary’s dedication to education and conservation make it an enlightening trip for those wanting to support a worthy cause while learning about these magnificent creatures.

In the leafy sanctuary of Big Cat Rescue, families can embark on an unforgettable wildlife safari, coming face to whisker with some of the planet’s most awe-inspiring animals.

10. Climb Aboard the Pirate Water Taxi

Pirate Water Taxi tampa

All aboard for adventure and sights with the Pirate Water Taxi! This isn’t just another boat ride; it’s a pirate-themed voyage that lets you hop on and off at your convenience while exploring the scenic Tampa Riverwalk.

With the captains donning their pirate hats, and even inviting children to help steer, it introduces a playful narrative to a day of city exploration.

Best List Highlight:

  • Unique Experience: Offers a chance to view the city from a distinct vantage point on the picturesque Hillsborough River.
  • Family-Friendly Adventure: The whimsical pirate theme and engaging captains ensure a memorable experience for all.

Top 5 Features:

  • Unlimited hop-on-hop-off privileges at numerous stops along the Riverwalk, connecting you to attractions and eateries.
  • The ability for children to participate, momentarily becoming “captains” themselves.
  • Historical commentary from the crew enriches the sightseeing experience.
  • A fleet of modern vessels ensures a safe and comfortable journey.
  • Themed voyages for special events add an extra layer of fun to festivities.

Five Benefits:

  • Offers a relaxing break from walking, perfect for little legs that tire easily.
  • Provides a unique perspective on Tampa’s skyline and landmarks.
  • An interactive, kid-friendly experience fosters a sense of adventure.
  • Enables easy exploration of downtown Tampa and its attractions without the need for parking.
  • A special, family-oriented activity that is educational and extremely enjoyable.

Two Cons:

  • Weather-dependent; adverse conditions can affect service and comfort.
  • During peak times, there might be waits at stops, or onboard can get crowded.

Best For: Families seeking an entertaining and practical way to explore Tampa’s hot spots. The Pirate Water Taxi is especially fun for children who enjoy boats and adventure, promising an engaging blend of transportation and entertainment.

Gather your crew and set sail with the Pirate Water Taxi for a buccaneer-flavored ride imbued with Tampa charm, guaranteed to be a hit with your little adventurers.

Looking for a slice of paradise? Explore Tampa’s hidden gems with our curated selection of the Best Beaches in Tampa for a blissful escape!

Cultivate a Love for Nature

11. Paddle the Hillsborough River: Exploring Tampa’s Natural Beauty by Canoe or Kayak

Paddle the Hillsborough River Tampa

Immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature on the Hillsborough River. Leave the hustle of the city behind and glide along serene waters where wildlife, such as white ibis, turtles, and the occasional alligator, reveal a different side of Tampa.

Whether by canoe or kayak, you’re navigating through a vibrant eco-tourism adventure that’s educational and invigorating.

Best List Highlight:

  • Wildlife Encounters: Close-up views of Florida’s diverse fauna in a peaceful river habitat.
  • Flexible Adventures: With options from full-day to half-day tours, you control your journey’s pace.

Top 5 Features:

  • Rich biodiversity, offering a chance to paddle amidst an array of birds, reptiles, and lush plant life.
  • Options for guided tours or solo rentals, catering to different preferences for exploration.
  • Well-maintained watercraft and safety gear for a worry-free adventure.
  • A range of difficulties from leisurely paddles to more challenging treks, suitable for a variety of skill levels.
  • The chance to experience part of the 59-mile designated paddling trail at your leisure.

Five Benefits:

  • Promotes physical activity and outdoor exercise in a beautiful natural setting.
  • Enhances knowledge and appreciation for local ecosystems.
  • Provides a perfect platform for family bonding, away from screens and distractions.
  • It can be a tranquil experience, allowing for meditation and stress relief.
  • Creates an opportunity for children and adults alike to challenge themselves and learn new skills.

Two Cons:

  • Paddling requires a certain level of physical fitness that might not suit everyone.
  • Wildlife, while fascinating, requires respect and caution – not touching or feeding is imperative.

Best For: Nature lovers and families looking for an active day out. Ideal for those who relish the chance to combine wildlife observation with physical activity in a peaceful, scenic environment.

Venture through the natural heart of Tampa by watercraft on the Hillsborough River, an experience that strengthens connections – with nature, with family, and with oneself.

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12. Lettuce Lake Regional Park: A Peaceful Escape in Tampa’s Backyard

Discover the tranquility of Lettuce Lake Regional Park, a luscious expanse just outside Tampa’s urban pulse. Its heart is a diverse ecosystem highlighted by boardwalks winding through cypress swamps, wetlands, and shaded oak forests.

The park’s observation tower rewards you with panoramic views, making it a haven for birdwatchers and nature photographers alike.

Best List Highlight:

  • Nature Education: Delve into the ecosystem of the Hillsborough River watershed through the insights offered at the Audubon Resource Center.
  • Recreational Variety: Whether it’s a picnic, a stroll on the nature trails, or kayaking on the water, there’s an activity for every place.

Top 5 Features:

  • Over 240 acres of natural landscapes are ready to explore.
  • Elevated boardwalks grant close encounters with local flora and fauna without disturbing the habitat.
  • A high observation tower gives a bird’s-eye view of the surrounding wilderness.
  • Opportunities for canoeing and kayaking on the Hillsborough River for on-water perspectives.
  • Educational displays and programs from the Audubon Resource Center enlighten visitors of all ages.

Five Benefits:

  • Immersion in nature promotes mental well-being and relaxation.
  • Educational components foster a deeper understanding of natural Florida ecosystems.
  • Ample open space conducive to various outdoor activities and family gatherings.
  • The waterways encourage wildlife sightings, offering impromptu learning opportunities.
  • Grounds include picnic areas and playgrounds, facilitating a complete family day out.

Two Cons:

  • Popular times may draw crowds, impacting the serenity.
  • Outdoor activities are weather-dependent; Florida’s frequent rains can muddy trails and disrupt plans.

Best For: Families aiming to reconnect with nature and each other. If you cherish quiet interludes outdoors and want to instill in your children a love for the environment, Lettuce Lake Park is your idyllic destination.

Awaken the echoes of untouched Florida with a day trip to Lettuce Lake Regional Park, an enriching retreat that elicits a deeper appreciation for Tampa’s natural landscapes and the creatures that call it home.

Enjoy the respite from city hustle as you and your family enjoy all that Lettuce Lake Regional Park has to offer, from the sway of ancient trees to the gentle currents of meandering rivers. Rediscover the joy of simplicity in this lush, green sanctuary.

Cultural Experiences to Enrich Young Minds

13. Experience Local Heritage at Ybor City Museum State Park

Step back in time at Ybor City Museum State Park, located in the heart of Tampa’s historic district. The museum, housed in the former Ferlita Bakery, showcases the rich cultural heritage of the immigrant groups that settled in Ybor City, forging its identity as the cigar capital of the world.

Wander through the Mediterranean-style garden and the restored ‘casita,’ representing a typical cigar worker’s home, for a taste of 19th-century life.

Best List Highlight:

  • Authentic Reflection: The museum provides a genuine look at the cultural fusion that shaped Tampa.
  • Immersive Environment: Stroll through a Mediterranean garden and explore the ‘casita’ for full historical context.

Top 5 Features:

  • Museum exhibits depicting the evolution of Ybor City and the cigar industry.
  • A ‘casita’ replica, furnished to portray the life of cigar workers in early Ybor City.
  • Beautiful Mediterranean-style garden where visitors can unwind.
  • Guided tours by knowledgeable staff, bringing history to life.
  • Close proximity to the vibrant 7th Avenue, with its array of authentic restaurants and shops.

Five Benefits:

  • Enriches understanding of Tampa’s immigrant and industrial heritage.
  • Offers a peaceful break in the museum’s picturesque gardens.
  • Provides an educational outing that complements school learning.
  • Engages visitors of all ages with photo-worthy settings and interactive displays.
  • Situated in a larger historic district, it is ideal for extending the journey into the past with a walk around the neighborhood.

Two Cons:

  • Its specialized focus might not captivate those with little interest in local history.
  • During peak times or events, the museum and its surroundings can be congested.

Best For: History buffs and those intrigued by the cultural evolution of cities. Families will appreciate the educational aspect as well as the tactile experience of walking through a page of Tampa’s history.

Ignite your family’s curiosity about the past and nurture an appreciation for the city’s ancestral roots at Ybor City Museum State Park, a cornerstone of Tampa’s storied past.

14. Tampa Museum of Art: A Canvas of Creativity for All Ages

Art becomes a playful discovery at the Tampa Museum of Art, where families are invited to appreciate the splashes of antiquity and the strokes of modernism.

Designed as a “jewel box on a glass pedestal,” it’s not just the exterior of the museum that captivates; the inside brims with visually stunning collections ranging from classical sculptures to contemporary masterpieces.

Best List Highlight:

  • Family-Friendly Programming: The museum provides engaging art programs and workshops designed to spark a young artist’s imagination.
  • Visually Diverse Exhibits: Catering to a wide range of tastes, the museum’s collections feature both ancient and modern art.

Top 5 Features:

  • An impressive collection of Greek and Roman antiquities telling the stories of ancient cultures.
  • Rotating contemporary art exhibitions showcasing cutting-edge artistic expressions.
  • Special events like family days, art camps, and teen programs welcome children to learn about and create art.
  • Art classes and workshops that offer hands-on learning and a chance to create a personal masterpiece.
  • Educational tools like guided tours and multimedia aids enrich the art-viewing experience.

Five Benefits:

  • Fosters a love for art in children through interactive and age-specific activities.
  • Cultivates critical thinking and aesthetic appreciation in a fun, accessible manner.
  • Offers a diverse cultural experience, broadening horizons with artworks from different periods and regions.
  • Encourages creative expression and personal growth through art-making workshops.
  • Provides a peaceful retreat within the bustling city where families can bond over the beauty of art.

Two Cons:

  • Some exhibitions may not capture the interest of very young children without interactive components.
  • The breadth of the collection might make it challenging to see everything in a single visit.

Best For: Creative families and young minds eager to explore the world of art. Whether they love painting, sculpture, or experimenting with new mediums, the Tampa Museum of Art provides an enriching educational environment that’s both inspiring and delightful.

At the Tampa Museum of Art, immerse your family in a colorful world where education meets creativity, ensuring that your visit becomes more than just a day out—it transforms into a lasting memory where every member gets to experience the vibrancy of the arts.

Engage, learn, and create together in a space that embraces youthful curiosity and the timeless beauty of human expression.

15. Go shopping in Hyde Park Village

Hyde Park Village Tampa

For a family shopping experience infused with charm, head to Hyde Park Village. This open-air destination blends top shopping with leisure, featuring boutiques and brands that range from local treasures to international favorites. Children will adore the playful shops while adults revel in bespoke fashion and home décor options.

Don’t miss enjoying a family treat at one of the delightful eateries or cafes.

Best List Highlight:

  • Varied Shopping Options: From crowd-pleasing brands to unique local boutiques, there’s a shop for every member of the family.
  • Family-Friendly Ambiance: Besides shopping, the village offers open spaces and events that cater to family enjoyment.

Top 5 Features:

  • A diverse mix of retailers including high-end boutiques and recognized brand stores.
  • Eateries range from casual cafes to sophisticated dining options.
  • Outdoor areas for kids to play and adults to relax, complete with seating and fountains.
  • Regularly scheduled events like outdoor movies, markets, and fitness classes add to the lively atmosphere.
  • Accessibility and a pedestrian-friendly layout, welcoming leisurely strolls and window shopping.

Five Benefits:

  • Offers a pleasant shopping experience away from the confines of a mall.
  • Stimulates local economy by supporting a variety of boutique shops.
  • Dining and snack options are aplenty, catering to all tastes and dietary restrictions.
  • A safe and vibrant community space ideal for family outings and gatherings.
  • Proximity to other attractions in South Tampa, making it a great starting point for a day out.

Two Cons:

  • Premium shopping can mean premium pricing, which might not suit all budgets.
  • The open-air format is less than ideal during inclement weather.

Best For: Families looking for a blend of shopping, dining, and outdoor activities in an upscale yet laid-back environment. If you desire a leisurely day out where you can browse, eat, and relax in style, Hyde Park Village is your go-to destination.

Come to Hyde Park Village not just to shop but to create a day filled with family joy, set against a backdrop of picturesque streets and the welcoming ambiance of a community hub.

It’s a special place where each visit can be different, offering new discoveries and treasured moments with loved ones amidst the buzz of retail and relaxation.

16. Ride the Trolley in Ybor City: A Journey Through History on Rails

Ride the Trolley in Ybor City Tampa

Climb aboard the charming TECO Line Streetcar in Ybor City for a nostalgic jaunt through Tampa’s rich history. Evoking the days of early public transit, the trolley clatters down the tracks, connecting you to Ybor City, Channelside, and parts of downtown with ease.

The restored streetcars are a nod to Tampa’s past, blending heritage with the convenience of modern transportation.

Best List Highlight:

  • Historic Charm: Vintage streetcars offer a picturesque way to explore the city’s historic areas.
  • Convenience: Easy hop-on, hop-off access connects key attractions, making sightseeing a breeze.

Top 5 Features:

  • Air-conditioned streetcars provide a comfortable tour, even in Florida’s heat.
  • Frequent service, with stops near popular landmarks like the Florida Aquarium and Sparkman Wharf.
  • Inexpensive day passes are available for unlimited rides, adding value to your exploration.
  • Stops within walking distance to Ybor City’s famed 7th Avenue, restaurants, and shops.
  • Late-night service on weekends, ensuring a safe and fun way to enjoy Tampa’s nightlife.

Five Benefits:

  • A relaxed, scenic ride that lets you avoid the stress of city driving and parking.
  • An educational glimpse into the history of Tampa’s transportation and urban development.
  • Photogenic moments aboard the vintage trolleys are perfect for capturing your family’s adventures.
  • Great for all ages with the charm and simplicity that appeal to a child’s sense of wonder.
  • Serves as an impromptu history lesson on wheels, enriching your visit with cultural depth.

Two Cons:

  • Streetcar speeds are slower, which might not suit those in a hurry.
  • Service frequency and route options are limited compared to other forms of public transit.

Best For: Families seeking a unique and stress-free mode of transportation with a touch of history. Ideal for those who appreciate the allure of vintage travel coupled with practicality.

Experience Ybor City and beyond from the quaint comfort of the TECO Line Streetcar, where every clang and whistle brings Tampa’s storied past to life.

It’s not merely a ride; it’s a rolling history lesson, charmingly packaged in brass fixtures and wooden benches, guaranteeing smiles as you glide by the city’s landmarks and hidden gems.

17. Experience Thrills at Busch Gardens: Tampa’s Epicenter of Excitement

Busch Gardens Tampa

Feel the adrenaline rush at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, an action-packed wonderland where exhilarating rides, exotic animal encounters, and live entertainment create a symphony of adventure for all ages.

As one of Florida’s leaders in thrill rides, the park’s famous roller coasters, water rides, and family-friendly attractions offer an unforgettable escapade.

Best List Highlight:

  • Thrilling Rides: Home to some of the best roller coasters in the country, sure to satisfy thrill-seekers.
  • Animal Experiences: Offers unique encounters with wildlife, adding an educational twist.

Top 5 Features:

  • World-class roller coasters like SheiKra and Cheetah Hunt provide heart-pounding thrills.
  • Over 12,000 animals from 300 different species, offering enriching wildlife encounters.
  • Live shows, including ice skating and musical performances, entertain between rides.
  • A wide variety of dining options catering to all tastes, from quick snacks to sit-down meals.
  • The Sesame Street Safari of Fun area is dedicated to younger guests with kid-friendly rides and play areas.

Five Benefits:

  • Diverse attractions cater to both extreme thrill-seekers and those preferring milder enjoyment.
  • Educational animal exhibits foster respect and knowledge of different species.
  • Provides local and visiting families with an action-packed day out.
  • Well-rounded entertainment options ensure there’s something captivating for every family member.
  • The park’s layout promotes exercise and exploration in a fun, engaging environment.

Two Cons:

  • It can be expensive, with admission, food, and extras adding up quickly.
  • Crowds during peak season can lead to long waits for attractions.

Best For: Families craving a mix of excitement, education, and entertainment. Busch Gardens is perfect for those who love roller coasters and wildlife or are looking to thrill all the senses in one location.

Make your way to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay for a day that your family will talk about for years to come, where each corner turned brings a new pulse of excitement and unforgettable moments.

Where to Stay in Tampa with Kids​


Finding the perfect lodging is key to enjoying Tampa’s bounty of family attractions. Whether you want to be steps away from the roller coasters, nestled near cultural gems, or immersed in city life, Tampa offers lodging options that pair convenience with comfort for the whole family.

Downtown Delights: For those seeking a central location with easy access to riverfront attractions and dining, consider a stay at:

  • Tampa Marriott Water Street: With its waterfront views, outdoor pool, and proximity to kid-friendly spots like the Florida Aquarium and Glazer Children’s Museum, it’s an urban oasis.
  • Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk: Offering scenic views, a riverside pool, and a free shuttle to nearby attractions, it’s a solid choice for families wanting to explore on foot or float.

Near the Thrills: If Busch Gardens is your main destination, these hotels put you right in the heart of the action:

  • Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel: Just a short drive from Busch Gardens and adjacent to upscale shopping at International Plaza, it blends comfort with convenience.
  • Holiday Inn Express & Suites Tampa-USF-Busch Gardens: Offering free shuttle service to the park and complimentary breakfast, it’s a hit for families looking for practicality and value.

Extend Your Stay: For a versatile choice that mixes sightseeing with relaxation, consider:

  • Epicurean Hotel: With a mix of luxury and culinary-focused experiences, this contemporary hotel is a little removed from downtown’s hustle but close enough to Tampa attractions like the Tampa Museum of Art and Amalie Arena.

Budget-Friendly Options: Don’t forgo comfort for cost. Budget-savvy families can enjoy:

  • La Quinta Inn by Wyndham Tampa Bay Airport: Boasting free airport shuttle, complimentary breakfast, and an outdoor pool, it keeps things simple yet satisfying.
  • Quality Inn & Suites Near Fairgrounds Ybor City: Offers an affordable stay with essential comforts and is a short ride away from Ybor City’s cultural highlights.

Best For: Families looking for a home away from home with easy access to Tampa’s myriad attractions. Whether you prioritize being at the heart of the action Downtown, close to the thrills of Busch Gardens, or in a spot that provides a more laid-back vibe with easy city access, Tampa has accommodations to suit every family’s needs.

Carefully choose your lodging based on proximity to attractions, amenities that matter to your family, and your travel budget, ensuring your Tampa experience is comfortable, enjoyable, and tailored to your family’s preferences.

Make your stay part of the adventure — where every night’s rest prepares you for another day of exploration and fun in the Sunshine City.

FAQs: Tackling the Questions Every Parent Has

Following are some budget-friendly activities for kids in Tampa:

  • Splash Parks and Beaches: Visit Tampa’s local splash parks or bask on the free beaches, which are perfect for sandcastle building.
  • Tampa Riverwalk: A scenic stroll abundant with sights and parks where kids can frolic for hours.
  • Playgrounds and Parks: Lettuce Lake Park offers inexpensive entry and plenty to explore.
  • Manatee Viewing Center: Witness these gentle giants during cooler months for an educational outing at no charge.
  • Free Museum Days: Keep an eye on museums like the Tampa Museum of Art for free admission days.

Tampa offers a multitude of activities that won’t break the bank yet still provide enriching experiences for the entire family.

Tampa is a lively hub for family events. Here are some highlights:

  • Gasparilla Pirate Festival: A family-friendly parade with a pirate theme that takes place in January.
  • Florida Strawberry Festival: Celebrate the strawberry harvest in March with rides and live entertainment.
  • Children’s Gasparilla Extravaganza: Specifically designed for young buccaneers, this event is filled with activities kids will love.
  • Tampa Bay’s Tailgate Taste Fest: Featuring family zones and delicious eats, perfect for sports and food-loving families in the fall.
  • Holiday Events: The city lights up with Christmas tree lighting, Santa parades, and New Year’s activities.

Be sure to check local calendars as there are always new and exciting events popping up in Tampa for families to enjoy!

Locals in Tampa relish the outdoor lifestyle with year-round sunny weather:

  • They often visit local beaches and parks, such as Ben T. Davis Beach or the scenic Bayshore Boulevard, for jogging and biking.
  • Many enjoy fishing, boating, and water sports on Tampa Bay’s waterways.
  • Foodies explore the diverse culinary scene, especially in historic Ybor City.
  • Locals attend festivals, markets, and community events at places like Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.
  • Supporting local sports teams at games, from the Buccaneers to the Lightning, is also a popular pastime.

Navigating Tampa – Areas to be Mindful of:

While Tampa is a welcoming city, like any large urban area, it has neighborhoods that may have higher crime rates or feel less safe, especially at night. Here are some tips to stay informed:

  • Do research ahead of visiting and consult local crime maps or talk to local residents for advice.
  • Being cautious in areas with less foot traffic or poorly lit streets is wise.
  • Always lock your vehicle and be aware of your surroundings, particularly when displaying valuables.
  • Consider staying within well-populated and tourist-friendly areas, especially if unfamiliar with the city’s layout.

Remember that neighborhood reputations can change, so it’s best to seek updated information close to your visit.

Discover Today’s Tampa: Daily Delights & Adventures

Tampa’s daily events and activities are abundant and varied:

  • Check the local calendar for any festivals, live music, or community gatherings happening today.
  • Outdoor enthusiasts can explore Tampa’s numerous parks and trails.
  • Visit family-friendly attractions like the Florida Aquarium or ZooTampa at Lowry Park.
  • Indulge in a food or craft beer tour to savor the flavors of the city.
  • Head to iconic spots like the Tampa Riverwalk for waterfront dining and relaxation.

Every day in Tampa brings a new possibility, so keep an eye on local event listings and attractions’ social media updates for the latest happenings.

Tampa caters to adults with a plethora of activities:

  • Epicurean Experiences: Savor the gastronomic delights at acclaimed restaurants or take a gourmet food tour.
  • Brewery Visits: Embark on a craft beer trail, stopping at local breweries for unique tastings.
  • Nightlife: Explore the lively bars and clubs, particularly in Ybor City and South Howard Avenue (SoHo).
  • Cultural Pursuits: Attend performances at the Straz Center, or roam the art galleries and museums.
  • Leisure on the Gulf: Go for a sunset cruise, deep-sea fishing, or simply relax on the beaches of nearby Clearwater or St. Petersburg.

Whether seeking relaxation or adventure, Tampa’s adult-friendly offerings provide ample choice for an enjoyable day or evening out.

Tampa is a thriving city for singles, offering a dynamic social scene, ample career opportunities, and a variety of activities to meet people:

  • It has a bustling nightlife with diverse bars, clubs, and social spots perfect for mingling and meeting new friends.
  • The city hosts social events and groups catered to singles, such as sports leagues, cooking classes, and networking events.
  • Tampa’s warm climate and outdoor culture provide countless opportunities for active singles to engage in sports, fitness, and outdoor adventures.

For singles, Tampa’s lively and welcoming atmosphere makes it an excellent place to live and socialize.

As a journalist, it is essential to handle discussions about the safety of areas responsibly and without stigmatization. In any city, there can be neighborhoods that statistically have higher crime rates in Tampa:

  • It’s advisable to stay vigilant in certain areas with higher reported incidents, especially after dark.
  • Visitors should research recent data and speak to locals or hotel staff for up-to-date recommendations on areas to avoid.
  • Practice standard safety measures, like not walking alone late at night and keeping valuables secure.

For the most current safety information, consult local resources or the Tampa Police Department upon arrival. Remember that safety conditions can change, so it’s always best to seek the latest advice.

Tampa is known for its special blend of cultural history, natural beauty, and vibrant city life:

  • Ybor City: This historic neighborhood is famed for its roots in the cigar industry and rich Cuban and Spanish heritage.
  • Gasparilla Festival: An annual pirate-themed event that takes over the city with parades, music, and festivities.
  • Culinary Scene: Tampa’s gastronomy reflects its diverse cultures, especially known for Cuban sandwiches and fresh seafood.
  • Sports: Passionate about their teams, Tampa is home to the Buccaneers (NFL), Rays (MLB), and Lightning (NHL).
  • Outdoor Life: Boasting the beautiful Tampa Riverwalk, numerous parks, and proximity to Gulf beaches.

Tampa’s unique offerings create a vibrant tapestry that calls for exploration and enjoyment.

You can enjoy Tampa without spending a dime:

  • Tampa Riverwalk: A picturesque space ideal for walking, biking, and sightseeing, dotted with art installations.
  • Bayshore Boulevard: Claimed to be the longest continuous sidewalk, it is great for a scenic jog or leisurely stroll.
  • Art and Culture: Some art galleries and museums, like the Tampa Museum of Art, offer free admission on certain days.
  • Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park: Hosts free events and is a lovely spot for picnics and play.
  • Manatee Viewing Center: Observe manatees in their natural habitat during the cooler months.

These activities showcase the beauty and culture of Tampa without a ticket.

Couples can deepen their connection with these Tampa experiences:

  • Sunset Sailing: Embark on a romantic sail along Tampa Bay and watch the sky paint a vibrant sunset.
  • Wine Tasting: Visit local wineries or wine bars to indulge in the flavors of fine wines in a cozy setting.
  • Riverwalk Dining: Enjoy a waterfront dinner with delightful views and strolls along the Riverwalk.
  • Spa Day: Unwind together with a couples spa day, replete with massages and relaxation.
  • Hot Air Balloon Ride: For a memorable outing, soar over Tampa’s landscape at dawn.

Tampa offers lovely activities that are perfect for couples seeking both adventure and relaxation.

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Conclusion: Things To Do in Tampa

In summary, Tampa is a dazzling mosaic of attractions and activities that cater to every family member’s preferences, whether you crave educational experiences, adrenaline-filled adventures, or tranquil moments in nature. This bayside city serves up a blend of cultural richness, wildlife wonders, and urban excitement all under the umbrella of warm Florida sunshine.

From the thrills of Busch Gardens to the serenity of the Hillsborough River and from the historic streets of Ybor City to the interactive halls of the Glazer Children’s Museum, Tampa’s offerings are as diverse as they are plentiful.

Each visit to Tampa can be tailored to unique interests and desires, making it an ideal destination for families, singles, couples, and adventurers alike. Whether you’re here for the beaches, the arts, the sports, or the delectable dining, Tampa will welcome you with open arms and endless possibilities.

So pack your bags, gather your loved ones, and set out on a voyage of discovery in Tampa where memories are ready to be made and every moment has the potential to be the highlight of your trip.

Share your experiences and tips in the comments below to help fellow travelers create their unforgettable Tampa adventures!

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