The Gulf Coast of Florida is home to some of the most beautiful white sand beaches in the world. And of all the things to do in Tampa, Florida, hitting the beach is certainly high on most people’s list. But spend some time here on the western shore of the Sunshine State, and you’ll soon find that beaches are only the beginning.
With mild winters, plenty of outdoor activities, professional sports and world-class attractions like Busch Gardens®, you’ll find every definition of family fun. If you’re planning a Florida family vacation, here are a few of the most popular things to do in Tampa for families.
Busch Gardens, where fun comes naturally
Busch Gardens is one of those rare places where thrills and nature seem to effortlessly intertwine. From live entertainment to up-close animal interactions, world-class coasters and thrill rides to open-air safaris across the Serengeti Plain, you’ll discover a place with something fun for everyone.
There are also plenty of things to do in Busch Gardens Tampa Bay for junior explorers. They’ll love the net-climbing fun and close-up animal views of Jungala. And there’s nothing like sharing rides, water play and adventures with your favorite Sesame Street characters at Sesame Street Safari of Fun.
Adventure Island Water Park
Right next door to Busch Gardens is one of Tampa Bay’s best water parks – Adventure Island. Inspired by the Florida Keys, Adventure Island is like hitting the beach right in the heart of Tampa…a beach with water rides that offer wave after wave of water park fun and thrills.
Best beaches in Tampa Bay for families
Finding a beautiful, family-friendly beach in Tampa Bay can be about as difficult as finding Florida on a map. If hitting the beach tops your list of things to do in Tampa, here are a few of our favorites for family fun.
Clearwater Beach:This soft and sunny playground by day offers family-friendly nightlife as well. Don’t miss the nightly Sunsets at the Pier 60 festival. Featuring fabulous street performers and craftspeople, the festival happens every night, 365 days a year (weather permitting).
Fort De Soto Park: The term “county park” doesn’t usually inspire images of an incredible nature adventure, but that’s exactly what you’ll find at Fort De Soto. In addition to a wide, wonderful beach, these five interconnected islands offer 1,136 acres of natural wonders to explore.
Honeymoon Island State Park: Here your family will find both sandy shores and rocky coastline to explore. You can also enjoy biking, kayaking and fascinating nature trails where the animal residents of Honeymoon Island like to spend their time.
Caladesi Island State Park: Hop on a ferry from Honeymoon Island and visit the award-winning white sand beaches of Caladesi Island State Park, where swimmers, sunbathers, beachcombers, fishermen, and nature-lovers can find even more of the their favorite things about the Florida coast.
If outdoor and adventure are one and the same in your book, you’ll find plenty of options for boating, parasailing, and scuba diving to help you explore the warm waters of the Gulf coast. Inland you’ll also find more water adventures, like the popular cycling trails and Class II rapids at Hillsborough River.
Anglers coming to Tampa to cast a line and unwind can spend an entire vacation trying to exhaust the saltwater and freshwater fishing possibilities for reeling in that big one. Or if birds and wildlife are your passion, head to Lettuce Lake Park, a popular spot for bird-watchers.
If you live for live sports action, Tampa may have a surprise or two waiting for you. Depending on when you visit, you can catch a football game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, some baseball with the Tampa Bay Rays, hockey with the Tampa Bay Lightning, or soccer with the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
If you’re a New York Yankees fan, George M. Steinbrenner Field – home to the Yankees spring training and the minor league Tampa Bay Yankees – makes Tampa the next best thing to the Bronx. In fact, several Major League Baseball teams hold their pre-season Grapefruit League games in the Tampa, FL area. Be sure to check the Grapefruit League calendar if you’re visiting in the spring.