Tampa Bay: 50 Things to Do with Your Kids Before They Grow Up
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 itself 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.)