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June 21, 2018

60+ Family-Friendly Things to Do in Tampa Bay this Summer

We are in the thick of summer, and what does that mean? It means that like mine, your kids are probably staring at you and waiting for you to produce a magic bunny out of your hat in the hopes that they can do something fun. I find myself googling “things to do with kids in Tampa on summer vacation” every morning in hopes that I won’t hear “Mom, I’m bored.” today.

To make things easier for the hardworking moms and dads of Tampa Bay, here are a few of my rules (and sanity savers) to get through Summer 2018. Bonus:  All my ideas are kid approved.

Summer Tips to Survive

  1. Take a break. This IS summer break after all. Let kids be kids and sleep in late. Have breakfast for dinner. Take advantage of not having to adhere to a strict schedule.
  2. Don’t do summer alone. Find friends to tackle the summer with. Do a “day” swap with a friend. You plan one day’s activities; they can plan the next.
  3. Let kids be. They have creative minds that will grow and develop with unstructured free time and no screens. Have them build a fort with your linen closet. Let them raid the craft closet. Helping guide them to something that interests them might just spark a lifelong love for the unexpected.

  1. Cool off. Take advantage of places like the YMCA Tampa pools (try it out for a day for free), City of Tampa Parks and Recreation pools (free with a REC card) or free splash pads like the ones at Curtis Hixon Park or Anderson Park in South Tampa. You might even have a pool in your back yard.. .Cooling off is essential for the summer.
  2. The Library Read. Learn something new: Find free events or classes all summer at your neighborhood library.
  3. Summer Movies. Not only are there a ton of new movies coming to a theater near you like “Cars 3,” but many theaters offer cheap summer movies too. For example, Regal Cinemas offers $1 summer movies every Tuesday and Wednesday at 10 a.m.
  4. Take your family out to a ball game. Head to a Tampa Bay Rays game on a Tuesday when kids at $2. Every Sunday home game at Tropicana Field is Family Fun Day. Enjoy pregame entertainment and post-game races on the field.
  5. Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park

    Find a NEW park. Did you know that Julian B. Lane Park is the newest and biggest park in the City of Tampa? With so much to do here, you’ll have to come back a few times. A few of our favorites also include Lettuce Lake Park, Ballast Point Park, Curtis Hixon Park and Water Works Park.

  6. Take your camera and head to downtown Tampa to be a photographer for the day. Add to the challenge by going on tampasdowntown.com to make a scavenger hunt before you go. 
  7. Have a lemonade stand. Have your child make a poster and. the lemonade themselves, and invite a friend over to help you build the stand.
  8. Find a new beach. Beaches are free and Florida has about 700 miles of coastline. Hunt for seashells. Bring a net to do dip netting and learn about the ocean biome.
  9. Bake something. Baking helps kids work on fractions, following directions and patience. Bring your goodies to a neighbor when they are done; you’re sure to brighten someone’s day.
  10. Learn a new sport. Swing a club with your kids while you learn to golf through the First Tee of Tampa Bay through the YMCA and head to Top Golf to try out your new skills.
  11. Make a summer journal. Keep a diary of your adventures, and use brochures to make a collage of places you’ve been. Add in pictures you took and write about all the places you’ve been. Printing pictures from your phone has never been easier.
  12. Gardening with the Family

    Plant a garden. Take some time to plant a garden in the beginning of the summer. Herbs, peppers, eggplant and tomatoes are really easy to grow in the summer in Florida. Even the littlest ones can help decorate with painted rocks, gnomes and fun signs. BONUS. Make sure you have a garden party with your veggies when they’ve grown.

  13. Summer clean. This is a great time to get into that teen’s room and move things around. Get rid of the things you don’t use any more, and maybe even paint it a new color. It’s always fun to switch things around, and you can get lots of ideas by visiting Ikea on a Tuesday when kids get a free lunch.
  14. Tour Tampa Bay with the Pirate Water Taxi. What a fun day to explore and see Tampa from a new point of view. BONUS: Hop on and off to take advantage of the museums and parks in Tampa’s Downtown.
  15. Disconnect your phone and reconnect with the family for a staycation in Clearwater Beach. We love the Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach because it is right across the street from Pier 60 that has a nightly Sunset Festival featuring. Artisans, crafters and street performers. Bring your swimsuit, play in the sand and watch the amazing sunset from Pier 60 at Clearwater Beach. BONUS: Free movies nightly at the hotel while swimming in the pool.
  16. Head to downtown Tampa for Fourth Friday and take advantage of live music, deals at local businesses and a free hour of Coast Bikes. It’s a perfect way to enjoy the Riverwalk.
  17. Plan a 1-tank trip. Check out visitflorida.com to get ideas about new cities you can explore as a weekend warrior.
  18. Head to an outdoor concert at Curtis Hixon Park. Rock the Park is a free concert that happens every first Thursday of the month. Bring some blankets, pack a picnic and invite some friends.
  19. ZooTampa Roaring Springs

    Take a walk on the wild side by signing up for a backstage visit with an African elephant or a Southern White rhino at ZooTampa at Lowry Park. Remember that you pay for a day, but you can come back all year.

  20. Bike or roller blade down Bayshore Boulevard, one of the most scenic rides in Tampa with those droolworthy mansions lining one side and the Bay on the other. No bike? No problem—use a Coast Bike Share.
  21. Work up a sweat at the Kate Jackson Park, where they have basketball courts, a playground and a splash pad for the babies. Stroll over to Hyde Park Village for lunch after. We love Bar Taco.
  22. Teach your kids some old school kids with a simple activity: Write a letter and mail it to someone. Make sure to tell them to write back too. CATCH: Go to the post office to drop in the mail box.
  23. Take an art class at one of the many studios around town, such as Ybor City Art Studio. Or try an “Art Spot” class for free at the Tampa Museum of Art every Saturday from 11 a.m.to 2 p.m.
  24. Go to a Farmers Market. Tampa Bay Markets have wonderful outdoor markets located all over Tampa Bay. BONUS: Shop for fruits and vegetables that you can use to cook dinner together. 
  25. Make something to sell at the Tampa Kids Market. Spark entrepreneurship by encouraging your kids to create something and sell it. The Village Square gives kids their own pop-up shop at Westshore Mall once a month.
  26. Enjoy an air conditioned morning of play at the Glazer Children’s Museum. Later, enjoy river breezes while you eat a picnic lunch at Curtis Hixon Park.
  27. Hit the drive-in movies at Funland. Even your jaded teen will agree that an old-school movie night at the drive-in is the coolest way to see a movie.
  28. Visit the Florida Aquarium and be mesmerized by some of the watery neighbors we can only see from the tanks here.
  29. Learn to rock climb at Vertical Ventures. Saturday nights are 2-for-1.
  30. Visit Busch Gardens or Adventure Island—or both!—and remind yourself why people come from all over to Tampa.
  31. Spend a weekend in Orlando. Stay at the Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee and explore the water park and super cool hotel. Visit the Crayola Experience and get creative for the day. Then head to iDrive 360 where you can check out all of Orlando as you hop on the Orlando Eye, a 400-foot tall observation wheel. End the night with a sweet treat from the Sugar Factory. It’s a weekend the kids won’t forget.
  32. Take a backstage tour of Tampa Theatre and learn about one of the oldest theaters in America. Stay for a classic summer movie on a Sunday afternoon.
  33. Visit a National Park and earn a Junior Ranger Badge.
  34. Breathe! Take the little ones to Curtis Hixon Park to try a free yoga class each Sunday.
  35. Canoe the Hillsborough River with Canoe Escape.
  36. Volunteer at Feeding America Tampa Bay with the whole family. Teach your kids about hunger and how they can help. Sign up at FeedingTampaBay.org
  37. LEGOLAND Beach

    Visit LEGOLAND and/or their water park. TIP: LEGOLAND Florida Resort, The Orlando Eye, Madame Tussaud’s and SEA LIFE Aquarium offer Florida teachers one year of free admission with a Teach Pass.

  38. Visit the Tampa Bay History Center and get a lesson on how Tampa Bay became the city it is today. BONUS: Eat lunch at the Columbia Restaurant.
  39. Go fishing. Grab a reel and have some fun the old fashioned way. Find out about the many docks and places to fish in Tampa Bay at TakeMeFishing.org.
  40. See a Tampa Bay Storm game.
  41. Catch some soccer action with a Rowdies game in St.Pete.
  42. Test your tolerance for thrills when you climb 36 feet into the sky on the Sky Trail Ropes Course at the Museum of Science and Industry.
  43. Old School Summer Fun Tip: See if you or your teen finish the daily crossword puzzles in the Tampa Bay Times.
  44. Have arts and crafts day at home. You don’t always have to be on the go. Make a day of painting and crafting at home. BONUS: Use recycled materials to create works of art.
  45. Try a new type of food. Try traditional Spanish or Cuban food like paella at the Columbia Restaurant and watch the flamenco dancers.
  46. Get everything ready for the new school year. Take your time and go shopping when school supplies come out in July.
  47. Start a blog for free at blogspot.com. Your child can practice his writing skills, and maybe even pick up some coding skills. 
  48. iFly Tampa

    Go indoor sky diving. iFLY is the ultimate indoor skydiving experience. They even have STEM field trips where you can learn about the science of flying too.

  49. Turn off all electronics for a full day. Can you really do it? Unplugging for the day is amazing, but even setting limits during the summer will be best for everyone, especially during family dinners.
  50. Grill out. Fire up the grill and invite some friends over for an old-fashioned barbecue. BONUS: Have the kids help decide the menu and help prep the food.
  51. Go scalloping in Crystal River. It’s like an Easter egg hunt while swimming. All you need is a bag, mask, fins and a snorkel. You’ve love this new family tradition once you start.
  52. Go bowling. Sign up at KidsBowlFree.com for two free games of bowling all summer long.
  53. Volunteer at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay.
  54. Visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and see Winter. Have a movie night with “Dolphin Tale” 1 or 2 before visiting. BONUS: Pair this with a dolphin watching excursion for an even more exciting and educational day.
  55. Head over to TradeWinds Island Resorts on St.Pete Beach and purchase a day pass. It’s a fun way to play all day in the hotel pools, unlimited rides on the High Tide Slide, mini-golf, paddleboats, beach cabanas and more.
  56. Hyppo Popsicles

    Eat ice cream and popsicles. We love Hyppo Popsicles in Ybor City or South Tampa, Whatever Pops and Revolution Ice Cream in Seminole Heights, and Astro Ice Cream in Tampa Heights.

  57. Take a train to…somewhere. It is all about the journey. Hop on the Amtrak from Union Station in Tampa and head to Charleston, South Carolina or Savannah, Georgia. It’s more about the journey on this trip for sure.
  58. Test your chess or checkers skills at Armature Works. Snag some awesome Astro Ice Cream (make sure to watch how they make it) and head outside for a larger game of checkers on the lawn. Catch a sunset over the Hillsborough River and dine at one of the many eclectic eateries inside Armature Works.
  59. Take a computer class at the Microsoft Store or Apple Store. They have lots of free fun classes all summer long.
  60. Sail Pavilion Tampagov.net

    Ride bikes along the Riverfront. Stop for lunch at the Sail Pavilion.

  61. Explore the mural art in Tampa and St.Pete. TIP: Make a coffee table book with all the pictures you take of Tampa Bay art.
  62. Explore the mural art in Tampa and St.Pete. TIP: Make a coffee table book with all the pictures you take of Tampa Bay art.

 

Related: Ways your family can volunteer together this summer in Tampa Bay

Related: INSIDE LOOK | PK’s Play Zone & Grill

Related: Libraries Rock! Summer Learning and Fun in Tampa Bay

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