Tampa, Florida, is home to endless fun in the sun making it a great summer destination, but that's just the beginning. You'll find a wide variety of activities available that allow you to make the most out of your trip year-round. You'll find theme parks that offer thrills and high-speed adventures that you won't be able to find anywhere else. No matter what the kids are interested in, it's easier than ever to diversify your trip and find something that the whole family can enjoy. Take a look at the best family attractions in Tampa.
1. Tampa Museum of Art
The Tampa Museum of Art is one of the most popular destinations in the area winning numerous awards since it opened in 2010. You'll find a wide variety of artworks on display here, from ancient works to contemporary productions, across a variety of mediums from a variety of cultures. While you'll find a permanent selection here, there are rotating exhibits as well. Your kids are sure to find the works interesting, but the art books and jewelry available in the museum store are also sure to appeal.
2. Glazer Children's Museum
When you're traveling with young kids, Glazer Children's Museum is one of the best destinations available. Its playground design inspires creativity and curiosity while offering supplementary information about a variety of different topics. 22 total exhibits are contained within, and they include playground versions of a farm, bank, firehouse, hospital, and more. This museum is open every day, so you’ll have no problem fitting it into your schedule, and kids under 1 year old can get in for free.
3. Museum of Science & Industry
Whether or not your children are interested in science, they'll find plenty of fun here at this scientific playground. You'll find a plethora of hands-on fun at the Museum of Science & Industry like building robots, solving puzzles, and experimenting with emerging future technologies. You'll even find more active experiences like a ropes course and a virtual reality simulator. Kids’ admission is under $10, but the planetarium and the ropes course require an extra cost.
4. Tampa Bay Automobile Museum
If you and your kids are interested in cars, the Tampa Bay Automobile Museum is one of the best destinations in the country to visit. You'll find all sorts of vehicles on display with nearly 70 models from all over the world. This museum even houses a vehicle that was the only one of its kind ever made. You and your family can explore avant-garde car technology from every era since cars have been around. Those interested in history and engineering will certainly be fascinated by the collection, but kids can appreciate the simplicity and style of these cars' retro designs.
5. The Florida Aquarium
Marine life is prominent around the Florida coast, and Tampa's Florida Aquarium offers a variety of creatures on display all in a singular location. You'll find both freshwater and open ocean exhibits showcasing the native marine life along with specimens from around the world. The exhibits include a simulated coral reef, beaches, and a glass atrium with wetlands inside among others. This aquarium even offers an in-water snorkel experience and the chance to swim with marine life including sharks. Kids will especially enjoy the Splash Pad play area.
6. Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park
Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park has been a staple of the area for decades. You'll find a wide variety of offerings within including an array of fascinating animal species that you wouldn't normally find in the area. That's just the beginning, however, as this destination goes beyond the typical animal encounter zoo experience. You and your kids can get up close and personal with fascinating creatures like penguins, rhinos, and elephants all in a safe and controlled environment. Be sure to check the local calendar as well, as this zoo hosts a variety of different events to enjoy.
7. Tampa Electric Manatee Viewing Center
The Tampa Electric Manatee Viewing Center is an interesting local attraction that arose by accident. This body of water was used to cool the local power unit in the city's power station, which caused the water of the bay to warm. Manatees began converging in the warm water, and so many came that the region was designated as a manatee sanctuary. In the viewing center, you and your family can see the manatees up close and afterward take part in the habitat loop trail and butterfly gardens.
8. Big Cat Rescue
Big Cat Rescue is exactly what it sounds like. You and your family can enjoy the opportunity to see big cats like tigers, lions, cougars, and more. You can book a tour that will let you see all the leopards, lynxes, and caracals in action. Plus, your kids will particularly enjoy the designated children’s tours and the feeding tour. Before you go, however, it's important to keep in mind that the tours are restricted to kids who are at least 10 years of age.
9. Giraffe Ranch
Giraffe Ranch is a bit different from a typical zoo. This facility is a working ranch and wildlife preserve that's home to a variety of animals. Giraffes are the primary draw, but you'll also see rhinos, camels, and hippos. You can take a tour of the entire ranch on a camel, a llama, or segway. This family-owned facility also has horses, so you can enjoy a variety of experiences among the animals that call this ranch home with staff that know how to entertain kids and adults alike.
10. Croc Encounters
The Croc Encounters Reptile Park is one of the more unique attractions throughout the Tampa area, and it's safe for the whole family. You can embark on a self-guided tour that lets you see incredible creatures all from a safe distance away. You'll find more than just crocodiles since this park is also home to turtles, tortoises, toads, and frogs. Additionally, this facility has educational programs that offer deep dives into the fascinating creatures here including venomous snakes. Guided tours are also available, but you'll have to make a reservation first.
11. Ybor City Museum State Park
The Ybor City Museum State Park is a fascinating area of Tampa that functions as a historic Barrio Latino. This historic district is dedicated to the immigrants who settled the neighborhood and the park designation ensures that culture is preserved. When you visit, you and your family can learn more about the immigrants who created the neighborhood and built up the area. You can also tour a cigar worker's house, as cigar making was the foundation of this community and made the area economically viable.
12. Lettuce Lake Conservation Park
When you visit Lettuce Lake Conservation Park, you'll find yourself in one of the best places in Tampa to enjoy the great outdoors. You'll find dense trees with walking trails throughout along with a massive lake perfect for fishing and boating. You can embark on a guided nature tour if you like, but some families prefer trekking through the area at their own pace. Fortunately, you don't need to bring much equipment to see the best this park has to offer as kayaks, canoes, and maps of local trails are available for rent on-site. Additionally, you can enjoy picnic shelters, barbecue grills, and a children's playground.
13. Sunken Gardens
The Sunken Gardens offer an array of stimuli with vibrant colors across its variety of flora. You'll find more than 50,000 plants including flowers and tropical flora that are sure to delight. They're periodically complemented by cascading waterfalls and serene wildlife like flamingos. Spotting the flamingo flock is one of the best aspects of this garden as these fascinating creature's pink feathers only add to the colorful vibrancy of the surrounding flora. Guided and self-guided tours are both available, so you can choose what kind of experience you want for your family.
14. Old McMicky's Farm
When you visit Old McMicky's Farm, you and your family can get an idea of what it's like to work on a farm. It wouldn't be the first time if you find one of your kids inspired to get a farm of their own one day. You can take a tour of the farm to learn how it operates with hands-on activities kids can try like milking cows. Of course, fun activities are available as well including the barn maze and hayride. There's no petting zoo here, but kids and adults can interact with the local farm animals to learn more about their purpose on a farm and how to take care of them properly.
15. Dakin Dairy Farms
If you're looking for a dairy farm that's open to visitors in Florida, this is your only option. Florida's Dakin Dairy Farms is a 1,000-acre facility that's family-run and becoming increasingly popular. You can explore the farm to learn more about how dairy farms operate, and your kids can enjoy the hay maze and hayrides. You'll even find a fossil dig activity, sheep and goat feeding, and play equipment suitable for toddlers. Additionally, this farm has a market where you'll find a variety of items. All the dairy products use ingredients that come straight from the dairy itself.
16. Zip Lines
For families who are looking for more thrilling experiences, there's nothing quite like racing across a zip line. You'll find plenty of zip-lining destinations across the region, and they all offer a thrilling experience. Some of the best will include a guided tour that lasts about 2.5 hours with more than 3,000 feet of zip line to traverse. The entertainment will take you and your family soaring through the Tampa Bay and Mobbly Bayou wilderness. This is an activity for families with kids 10 and older to enjoy.
Kids tend to like puppet shows, and Bits-n-Pieces is one of the best puppet theaters in the area. You'll find a variety of performances available here, and they tend to focus on classic morality plays that will keep kids entertained and impart valuable lessons. When you visit Tampa with kids, the PuppetWorld Playhouse offers shows like Rip Van Winkle, Aesop's Dinosaur Fable, and Three Billy Goats Gruff. Check out the Got No Strings Interactive Exhibit where you and your kids can learn how giant puppets work and even see one under construction.
18. The Dunedin Fine Art Center
While the Dunedin Fine Art Center may cater to those with an interest in fine arts, you'll find enough here to keep everyone entertained. Locals, like watercolor artist Jack Ellis, have made their mark on this gallery. Your kids will surely delight in the art classes they can partake in. You'll find a diverse selection of classes available covering topics like drawing, sculpting, and storytelling. Teens can take more advanced classes with topics like anime, manga characters, and complex painting.
19. Busch Gardens
One of the most iconic attractions in all of Tampa is Busch Gardens. This thrilling theme park offers a wide variety of rides and coasters along with other things to do like animal attractions. It's themed around 10 African zones, with each one having something special to offer. In the Egypt zone, for example, you can ride one of the longest and tallest inverted coasters in the world, and see an 80-foot snake on display. Several events are held here throughout the year, so you'll want to check the calendar when planning family fun in Tampa.
20. Adventure Island
Just north of Busch Gardens, you'll find the legendary Adventure Island. This is the place to be if you and your family are looking for a refreshing water park experience. You'll find 10 waterslides here including one that has a freefall plunge portion for visitors looking for thrilling experiences. Not all the waterslides are intense, some are designed specifically for young kids to enjoy. You'll also find a pool and waterfalls along with a 20-foot cliff you can jump from into the waters below. For visitors looking for unrivaled relaxation, you can spend time on the tube trip.
21. Horse Power for Kids and Animal Sanctuary
The Horse Power for Kids and Animal Sanctuary is an impressive facility that's not only packed full of exciting creatures and things to do, but it's also relatively affordable. Kids can enjoy some of the best that farm life has to offer with pony rides, train rides, and interactive experiences with the animals. While it's certainly fun, it also demonstrates how to take care of animals in a way that young kids can understand and helps them develop empathy for these fascinating animals.
22. TECO Line Streetcar System
When your family is traveling around Tampa, consider taking a ride on the TECO Line Streetcar System. You can turn your travel in between Tampa kids’ activities into an activity of its own with a 2.7-mile ride in a classic streetcar. While you're on the ride, you can learn more about the streetcar's history, which is more interesting than you might think. To find it, simply look for the tracks on the road or the bright yellow streetcars.
23. Tampa Riverwalk
Sometimes, when you're on vacation, it's nice for you and your family to relax without having to do anything costly or particularly special. Visit the Tampa Riverwalk, and you can take in scenic views along the Hillsborough River on a well-maintained easily traversable path. Of course, kids may not be satisfied with just a simple walk. That's why you may want to rent bicycles or scooters to make the trip a bit more exciting if necessary. You can even get a boat ride along the water if you want a different perspective on the area.
24. Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park
The Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park is a fun city park designed for adults and kids alike. When you're looking for kids’ activities in Tampa, you'll find plenty here including ample open space to run around and interactive fountains that are great for keeping kids cool in the hot summer sun. This park is pet-friendly, so you don't have to leave any of your family behind when you visit this iconic destination. Plus, you can take in a scenic view of the water during your visit to this park, as it's right next to the river.
25. AirHeads Trampoline Arena
For more active fun, you may want to take your family to AirHeads Trampoline Arena. This destination is full of trampolines that your kids can enjoy, but that's just the beginning. This facility has also organized several different games that can be played among the trampolines as well creating virtually endless fun. In addition to the trampolines, this facility also has an array of arcade games to enjoy.
26. George M. Steinbrenner Field
Taking your kids to a baseball game is an American pastime. When you're in Tampa, there's no better place to than George M. Steinbrenner Field, especially if you're a fan of the New York Yankees. This field is known as the spring home of the New York team, but it's also known as the home of the Tampa Tarpons. They have a season of 70 home games every year between April and September, so consider catching a game in person if you're visiting during the on-season.
27. iFLY Indoor Skydiving
You don't have to jump out of a plane to get the sensation of soaring through the air. At iFLY Indoor Skydiving, you and your little ones can simulate the experience in a controlled environment where the worst-case scenario has you landing on a bunch of soft pads. With the danger gone, you can enjoy the simulated weightlessness, and your kids can too. An instructor will provide you instructions, and if you follow them, you'll find yourself gliding through the air all while in an indoor tube.