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December 3, 2019

The Gift of Experience in Tampa Bay: A Holiday Gift List Must

By Laura Byrne, editor of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine

Rather than overloading our kids with more toys and clutter, why not give the gift of experience in Tampa Bay? An annual pass or membership to a local attraction is not only cost effective, it’s a gift that keeps on giving yearround to the entire family. Added bonus- many of the attractions that offer summer camps and school break camps extend special pricing for members and local reciprocal discounts too.

We hesitate to list how much each one costs because there can be flash deals around the holidays and throughout the year, so the numbers here are general and subject to change. Be sure to visit each attraction’s website for the latest pricing information.   

Related: Think Outside the Gift Box: Ideas for Everyone on Your List

Busch Gardens + Adventure Island 

2020 will be a big year for Busch Gardens with the addition of Iron Gwazi this spring. Adventure Island will also add a new waterslide, Solar Vortex. Even if your kiddos aren’t quite thrill seekers yet, there is plenty to do at both parks for little ones like Sesame Street Safari of Fun. To snag the best deals, we recommend you join the Busch Gardens Tampa Bay email list for alerts on flash deals and special sales! *This is one you definitely want to join the email list to get updates!  

Florida Aquarium   

At the Florida Aquarium, your family can experience exhibits from wetlands to beaches to coral reefs and more. Your kids will love the Splash Pad and 4D Theater. The annual pass also includes discounts on tours and guest swim experiences. For one year: $155 for party of 4; cost increases for each extra member

Glazer Children’s Museum  

With 19 themed areas and over 170 games, challenges and activities, the Glazer Children’s Museum is set to keep your family entertained all day, no matter how many times you go. Your kids can enjoy exhibits on arts, engineering, forts, banks and more. There’s even a new exhibit featuring Paw Patrol coming this spring!  For one year: $125 for up to 5 guests 

Great Explorations Children’s Museum

Located right next door to the beautiful Sunken Gardens in St. Pete, Great Explorations is one of our favorite ways to play. There’s a new animal care exhibit sponsored by the SPCA for your kids to explore and the climbing structure is always a hit! Family memberships start at $100. 


MOSI is perfect for kiddos in elementary age and older! Your kids can learn AND play at the same time, and we love that memberships also include Party of 5 memberships for $99. This allows five people to experience MOSI with only one named Member and includes discounts to 250+ science centers across the country! 

ZooTampa at Lowry Park  

With over 120 animal species, the Lowry Park Zoo has much to offer your family. You and your family can explore the many different exhibits or go on some of the fun rides. Your membership will also allow you to experience the zoo’s seasonal events.  For one year: $189 for 2 adults, kids and one guest 

Tampa Bay History Center 

The Tampa Bay History Center has many exhibits that are littlekidfriendly like the Treasure Seekers exhibit featuring conquistadors, pirates and shipwrecks. There is a train table for little ones to get hands on the second floor too. Family memberships are $85. 


A YMCA membership is perfect for active families who can take advantage of the many group exercises, outdoor swimming pools, childcare and discounted rates on programs and classes. Per month: $66 for one location for two adults and one child (join fee may apply)  

Related: Gift of Fitness with the YMCA

Clearwater Marine Aquarium 

Movie stars Winter and Hope call Clearwater Marine Aquarium home and it’s about to unveil a brand new, expanded facility that your family will love to explore. Family memberships start at $99. 

CITYPass: Tampa Bay 

If you aren’t quite ready to take the plunge with one attraction, a CityPASS may be exactly what you need. The CityPass allows for one visit to Busch Gardens, the Florida Aquarium, ZooTampa, Clearwater Marine Aquarium and your choice between MOSI or Chihuly Collection.  An adult CityPASS is $109 and a child pass is $99, a 54% savings. The pass is valid for nine days after first day of use.  


Lots of new things are happening at LEGOLAND Florida including the addition of a new pirate themed hotel opening in 2020. Annual pass holders get special pricing at the LEGOLAND hotels and shopping discounts. Annual pass plans start at $119.99.  

Walt Disney World 

2020 is going to be a big year for Walt Disney World with the unveiling of several new areas and attractions! Florida residents can take advantage of with annual passes with block out dates. Disney also often announces special deals for residents, so be sure to watch the website for announcements. Annual passes start at $349 for a Weekday Select Pass. There are even 4-day park tickets for Florida residents at a savings of 40%. 

Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure 

If your kids are thrill seekers or big Harry Potter fans, you’ll want to consider an annual pass to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure! Annual passes start at $249.99 for a Seasonal Pass. A Preferred Annual Pass which includes free parking is $359.99. 

Root, root, root for the home teams! 

lightning game

Game day tickets and even season passes are always a gift giving WIN! Choose between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tampa Bay Lighting, and the new XFL team, the Tampa Bay Vipers! We also love memberships to Thunderbug’s Kids Club and the Jr Bucs Fan Club as gift ideas!

gift of experience

Is your family already an annual pass holder at one of the local attractions? Consider elevating your next visit by gifting a one on one animal encounter your child will never forget! We’ve listed some of our favorite experiences here to help you choose like this Aldabra Tortoise experience at Busch Gardens

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