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Tampa Bay: 50 Things to Do with Your Kids Before They Grow Up

Jul16

by

By Izzy Dean of Izzy Mom and Green Mom Finds

I’ve lived in Tampa Bay for over 20 years and I have to admit, I do take a lot of what’s good about my city for granted and had honestly forgotten just how much there is to do here, especially when you have kids. Sooo, to prevent other parents from forgetting or overlooking the awesomeness that can be found right here under our proverbial noses, I did some research and compiled this tidy list of “50 Things to do in Tampa Bay with Your Kids Before They Grow Up.”

1. Beat the heat at Adventure Island, Tampa’s premier 30 acre water park.

2. Take a pirate-themed day cruise or sunset cruise on Captain Memo’s Original Pirate Cruise.

3. Travel back in time with jugglers, jesters and jousters at the Bay Area Renaissance Festival.

4. Better than a zoo, take the kids to Big Cat Rescue, the largest big cat sanctuary in the world.

Things to Do With Kids in Tampa Bay

5. Kids love riding the miniature trains at the Largo Central Railroad. The first weekend of the month they are open and offer free public run days.

6. Take a hot-air balloon ride in the Big Red Balloon

Things to Do With Kids in Tampa Bay

7. The Bits-n-Pieces Puppet Theatre puts on fantastic puppet shows with professional puppeteers

8. See all of Tampa from CK’s at the Marriott, a revolving rooftop restaurant with extraordinary views, particularly at sunset.

9. The David L. Mason Children’s Museum is a great museum where touching, manipulating and handling the kid-centric exhibits is permitted and encouraged!

10. Life-sized dinosaurs (and lots of fossils!) still exist at the campy Dinosaur World attraction off I-4.

11. Take a 90 minute cruise on the Dolphin Queen and see friendly dolphin swim alongside the boat and possible spray you with water! Dolphin sightings are guaranteed or you’ll receive a voucher for another cruise at no cost.

12. Visit The Florida Aquarium, regarded as one of the best in the nation.

13. Go hunting for prehistoric fossils with Paleo Discoveries Fossil Hunting

14. Celebrate Tampa’s heritage with beads, coins and lots of pirates at The Gasparilla Extravanganza and Children’s Parade, followed by a fireworks and music display.

15. Guavaween is a Tampa’s very own unique, wild and crazy Halloween celebration but it’s not really kid-friendly. There is, however, the Guavaween Family Funfest, which happens on the Saturday afternoon right before Halloween every year and it’s 100% kid and family-oriented.

16. Help your kids appreciate all of our modern conveniences at Heritage Village, a fascinating and historically accurate village from the 1800’s.

17. Spend the day in Africa at Busch Gardens theme park.

18. Children can pretend to be firefighters at the fire station or run the local post office, library, supermarket and more at Kid City. Inside each of the kid-sized 16 buildings are interactive exhibits that let their imaginations run wild while they run the show. NOW PERMANENTLY CLOSED.

19. Kids will love all the different things they can do at Lowry Park Zoo, a family friendly zoo that has been named the number one zoo in the America.

20. MOSI, the Museum of Science and Industry, is endlessly fascinating, with numerous permanent exhibits just for kids, as well as an Imax theater and an enclosed butterfly garden outside.

21. Check out a New York Yankees Spring Training game! They have their own state-of-the-art stadium where kids can see the players in action while they train for baseball season.

22. Spend an afternoon at the Salvador Dali Museum, which boasts the world’s most comprehensive collection of surrealist painter Dali’s work. Also, Every Saturday is Dali Family Fun Day and they feature a craft relating to some part of his work.

Things to Do With Kids in Tampa Bay

23. Let your kids be junior marine biologists for a day aboard the Sea Safari.

24. Ride glass bottom boats and see tons of underwater wildlife at Silver Springs, a park built around crystal clear natural springs.

25. Got a budding car enthusiast on your hands? Then you have to visit the Tampa Bay Automobile Museum.

26. Go to a Tampa Bay Buccaneers football game.

27. Go to a Tampa Bay Lightning hockey game.

28. Go to a Tampa Bay Devil Rays baseball game.

29. Ride one of the TECO Streetcar trolleys from Hyde Park to the Florida Aquarium at Channelside or Historic Ybor City.

30. Kids love eating at The Melting Pot, a fondue-themed where everything is eaten off a stick!

31. Safely climb ancient oak trees with the kids at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve with Pathfinder Outdoor Education’s harness and rope system.

32. Take the kids to the Big Bend Power Station Manatee Viewing Center where they can see the gentle manatees playing and feeding in the warm water discharged by the power plant.

33. See the real Florida of days gone by on a Wild Bill Airboat Tour. Don’t be surprised to see giant wild alligators, wild boar, otters, eagles, osprey, deer and other exotic wildlife!

Things to Do With Kids in Tampa Bay

34. See over 600 wild birds of all varieties at the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary, the largest wild bird hospital and rehabilitation center in the United States.

Things to Do With Kids in Tampa Bay

35. Take a canoe trip down the Hillsborough River.

36. Join your kids in learning through play at Great Explorations: the Hands-On Museum.

37. Visit the numerous Gulf Coast beaches.

38. Let Tampa Bay Ghost Tours take you and the kids on an early evening tour of the area’s ghostliest legends and haunted locales.

39. Go-karts, arcades, bungee-jumping, batting cages and mini-golf are all kid-faves and can all be found at the newly-renovated Grand Prix Tampa amusement park.

40. Every day is Christmas at the five Victorian houses of Roger’s Christmas House. Be sure to check out the upside down Christmas tree and the Story Book House!

41. Go rock climbing at Vertical Ventures

42. Take a self-guided tour of the American Victory Ship, a sixty-year old, 455 ft marine vessel used in the Vietnam and Korean wars.

43. Take the kids to see a classic film at or go on a tour of Tampa Theatre, one of America’s best-preserved examples of grand movie palace architecture and a community treasure since 1926.

44. Treasure hunts, water gun battles, face-painting and a swashbuckling dance party await your family on the Pirate Ship at John’s Pass day cruise!

45. For three days in the spring, The Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg renders downtown St. Pete a 1.8 mile professional raceway that will thrill the kids as the cars zoom by and take hairpin turns at top speed.

46. Check out the underwater mermaid Show at Weeki Wachi, a place reminiscent the days when campy road side attractions prevailed, and then take the kids on a boat ride down the river or to the Buccaneer Bay water park.

47. Boys (and maybe girls, too) will get kick out of the Army-Navy Surplus Center. It’s crammed floor to ceiling with all manner of military, camping, hunting and survivalist gear, both modern and vintage.

48. Spend an afternoon at Cypress Gardens. A park that used to be best known for it’s waterskiing shows and botanical gardens, Cypress gardens was recently listed as one of the Top 50 theme parks in North America.

Things to Do With Kids in Tampa Bay

49. Skilled chefs cook right at your table while putting on a show that will amaze the kids at Arigato Japanese Steak House.

50. Legend and locals say your car will roll uphill by istelf at Spook Hill. Pile the kids in the car and find out for yourself!

(This series was inspired by Mommy Poppins’ 100 Things to Do with Your Kids in NY Before They Grow Up.)

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16 Responses to “Tampa Bay: 50 Things to Do with Your Kids Before They Grow Up”

  1. Kia Jul 24 at 7:54 pm Reply Reply

    Hey, I’m a Canadian and I can say that my family and I have done 6 of those things in the last 3 months! Dino world is completely tacky and outdated, but at the same time, wonderful for the dino-obsessed like my son! The Lowry Park Zoo is better than our Toronto Zoo for kids, as everything is relatively close and within walking distance for kids, as opposed to being spread over innumerable acres. I could go on!
    This is a great list! I’m bookmarking it and will be sure to pull it up next year for our family vacay in the TB area.

  2. Mike Acheson Jul 07 at 9:41 am Reply Reply

    Kid City is now permanently closed. Hope you read this before you try to go.
    __________
    Thank, Mike. We’ll adjust the post.

  3. Melanie Alvarez May 04 at 10:09 am Reply Reply

    Cypress Gardens is closed… Legoland is now at that address.

    • Bob May 10 at 2:42 pm Reply Reply

      Legoland preserved parts of Cypress Gardens, including daily water skiing shows. You have to buy Legoland tickets to see it. Great for kids under 12.

  4. Donna Rose Jun 03 at 10:05 am Reply Reply

    Now that you have the expensive list of things to do for kids, how about off the beaten path ideas where things are free or cheap like roller skating, hiking at Hillsborough River, or swimming, free water parks like Zephyrhills Park, camping, Canoeing,fishing, going to the beach,Grand Prix in Tampa,Miniture Golfing,Go Cart driving. free stories at the library,movies.or if you want to spend money, but not like Disney,, Sarasota jungle gardens, Gatorland, Hommassasa springs and zoo,silver springs,Tampa Ray Games, Car Shows, Drifting Events,Flea Markets.,Childrens Museums,Tampa,lettuce Lake with a boardwalk,TampaBay Lightening (Ice  Hockey )Rainbow River ( float down a 2 or 4 hour Raft or Tubing  down the River .same for Withlacoochee River Rafting down the River.

  5. tanya Dec 15 at 10:33 pm Reply Reply

    you spelled weeki wachee wrong!

  6. humberto Dec 18 at 6:42 am Reply Reply

    Take off the grand prix fun center from this list. It is TOTAL CRAP. The biggest dissapointment of my trip to Florida. Thanks for making me lose my time.

  7. Joanna Dec 27 at 2:44 pm Reply Reply

    I disagree with all the negative comments everyone is leaving on this blog. I actually think these are great ideas and pretty inexpensive places to take your children while in Florida. I have been to half of all these places and absolutley enjoyed my time there. I guess it all comes down to the persons likes/dislikes but remember this is all about the kids….. kids don’t see the world like we do…. to us a place may be run down and ugly but to them they see it as an adventure :)

    **Too bad Kid City is now closed, I would have loved to take the kids. I had the best time there when I went as a child.

  8. Mary Jan 26 at 12:22 pm Reply Reply

    “..and maybe girls too”? Really? Was that really necessary? Way to make a little girl feel like a freak for admiring those who served this country….including women.

  9. Meghan Palmer Feb 19 at 3:12 pm Reply Reply

    We love the list, but you ARE missing one key attraction in Tampa… US! indoor trampolines= best way to beat the heat. Awesome blog!

  10. Jeff Jun 07 at 12:57 pm Reply Reply

    The Melting Pot, really? That’s where I take my wife for quiet romantic nights away from the kid. Anyone who brings a screeching toddler in there while I’m enjoying a $15 martini is getting a fondue fork through the temple.

    Want a kid to experience fondu, melt some cheddar in the microwave and give them bread. They’ll love it & you’ll dig the 3 hours of cleanup afterwards. Wreak havoc on my night out, there will be hell to pay.

    • Julie Nov 20 at 3:58 pm Reply Reply

      My child for her 5th birthday request The Melting Pot.  She loves that place as does my 4 year old.  Not all kids screech in public.   Some have good taste in food too.

  11. Pavan Jun 14 at 4:30 pm Reply Reply

    Awesome! Thanks

  12. E Jun 28 at 11:00 am Reply Reply

    Great list overall- would be much more please if you canned the sexism in #47. How about just “kids will enjoy…” ??

    I mean really…

  13. sara Jul 18 at 6:54 pm Reply Reply

    Great list, thanks for taking the time to compile all of these ideas. I don’t find the comment about military sexist or something to make a girl feel like a freak. Mabey this is just the authors perception of what her kids thought. Each to their own but it’s a little over the top to lose it over something as simple as a persons opinion. I would rather have that than some neutral comment and then show up and my daughter hates it. 

  14. Gina Jul 19 at 6:28 pm Reply Reply

    I like this list and although some of the above comments are negative, I like the diversity.
    Negative people find things to complain about in most everything. Thanks for the time to share magical and adventerous things for our children to discover in Tampa !!!

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