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November 22, 2020

Thanksgiving Family Fun in Tampa Bay | Things to Do, Camps and More!

By Laura Byrne

Thanksgiving week is upon us and we can hardly believe it!

Many of us are staying home for the first time due to self imposed travel restrictions, but don’t worry about getting struck with a severe case of boredom…

Lucky us for calling Tampa Bay home because there are plenty of things to do with the whole family. Be sure you keep those face masks and bottles of hand sanitizer handy as you head out and about. Also-be sure you don’t need a reservation first. It is 2020, after all!

Related: Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals at Tampa Bay and Orlando Theme Parks and Attractions

Whether you are looking for a way to beat cabin fever or need a place to send the kids for the day while you head into the office or run last minute errands…our guide is here for you. Have fun and stay safe!

Important Note: There is a critical need for Thanksgiving food donations at the Metropolitan Ministries Holiday Tent. They have seen an unprecedented demand for assistance this holiday season due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have time, take the kids to the grocery store and pick up needed items like: canned yams, instant potatoes, canned fruit, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and turkeys. Learn more about where to bring the donations here.

Thanksgiving Week Camps for Kids in Tampa Bay:

If you need a day to prepare or still need to head into the office, it’s not too late to register your child or children for a fun day camp at some of our favorite places like:


Glazer Children’s Museum

The Florida Aquarium

YMCA of Tampa Bay

Humane Society of Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay Lightning Thanksgiving Camp

City of Tampa Parks and Recreation Camps

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Bricks 4 Kidz Lego Camps

Advent Health Center Ice Camps

Largo Recreation Camp

City of Clearwater Thanksgiving Camps

Get into the holiday spirit in Tampa Bay:

Busch Gardens Christmas Town

Snap a socially distant photo with Santa Claus! 

We’re sharing some of our favorite spots to snap photos with Santa including local shopping centers like International Plaza, Bass Pro Shops, and special events like Christmas Town at Busch Gardens and Christmas in the Wild at ZooTampa. See our complete list of spots and events here.

Admire the twinkling holiday lights at displays throughout Tampa Bay

There are several beautiful holiday light displays in Tampa Bay with some spots offering drive-thru opportunities so you don’t have to get out of your car like the Chick-fil-A on Waters Avenue in Tampaand the Wonderland of Christmas Lights at the Hillsborough County Fairgrounds in Dover. We have 18+ holiday light events to discover in Tampa Bay here.

Explore Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Walk among the millions of twinkling lights while making contact-free visits with holiday characters like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa! The ice-skating show will be performed outdoors and there’s even a new fireworks display. Don’t forget to hop aboard the holiday train to sing along to your favorite Christmas tunes! Christmas Town runs daily from November 20, 2020-January 3. 2021. Be sure to book your online reservation before you go to secure your spot.  Learn more here.

‘Tis the Season at Christmas in the Wild at ZooTampa

ZooTampa lights up with holiday magic during this year’s modified event! Make an online reservation to attend on select nights beginning November 27, 2020. There are new holiday additions this year like the Forest of Fantasy at Manatee Circle with the queen of ice and snow and her royal icing guards, the Christmas Market presented by Melitta, unique safe photo with Santa on the Safari truck, and more! Read more details here about what to expect.

Go Ice-Skating at Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park in Tampa

Winter Village is returning to Downtown Tampa on November 20, 2020 with some changes to help keep your family safe. This year, you will need to book your ice-skating time in advance online to ensure the event is kept at half capacity. You will have to wear a face mask while ice-skating and keep your distance from others. There’s a NEW trackless train for train rides around the park and the outdoor market is also back featuring local small businesses and artisans. Learn more here.

You can also check out our INSIDE LOOK here so you can see what you can expect when you go.

Visit Gingerbread Village at the Glazer Children’s Museum

Head up to the second floor of the museum to step foot into a gingerbread-inspired wonderland from November 21 through January 3. Your kiddos can build their very own gingerbread house out of recycled materials like cardboard, pipe cleaners, and more and then add their creation to the village. For some family fitness fun for a good cause, take part in the Gingerbread Crumb Run beginning November 28 through December 5, 2020.glazermuseum.org

Go to the Drive-In Movie at Armature Works in Tampa

If you haven’t experience the Rooftop Cinema Club at Armature Works, this is a great week to do it! They have some great movies on the schedule like Elf, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Home Alone, and more. We love this experience because it’s a great way to social distance with the family and enjoy a night out. You can even pre-order dinner from the restaurants in Armature Works and pick it up when you arrive. rooftopcinemaclub.com

Set Sail on a Christmas Themed Pirate Ship

Land lubbers will get the chance to send Santa a letter on Tampa’s only floating mailbox aboard the Lost Pearl Pirate Ship. A Pirate’s Christmas Cruise sailings begin on November 27, the day after Thanksgiving. The 45 minute long cruise allows for plenty of space to social distance on multiple levels as you and the kids sing along with the pirates and maybe even don a new temporary tattoo. The ship sets sail from Sparkman Wharf. tampapirateship.com

Head to Clearwater Marine Aquarium for Holiday Cheer

Clearwater Marine Aquarium has decked their halls/tanks for the season! One cool event is a Sunset Boat Cruise with Santa on November 21-22 and November 27-28. You can also walk through decorated trees during the Festival of Trees, stroll through the Holly Jolly Market for a unique gift, and even say hi and take a selfie with a scuba diving Santa (weekends November 27-December 20). While your’e at it, plan ahead and book Breakfast with Santa on December 5! Visit cmaquarium.org for more details.

Explore the NEW St. Pete Pier

If you haven’t had a chance to walk around the new St. Pete Pier, this is the week to do it! We love going in the morning and bringing our bikes for a family bike ride and pit stop for lunch and ice-cream. There are several restaurants at the Pier, and many more along Beach Drive. The Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center is a cool place to walk around with the kids and learn about protecting our waters. The Glazer Family Foundation Park is also a favorite of the kids. They have a big kid play area and a toddler play area. If it’s hot, there’s even a splash pad for the kiddos to run through. stpetepier.org

Cut down your own Florida Christmas Tree

Yes, you can absolutely cut down your own Christmas Tree and it’s an easy drive away from Tampa at Ergle Tree Farm in Dade City. If you still love the look of the trees from up north, they have a tree lot too! This is something you have to do at least once in Florida because…why not?? Learn more here.

Experience Van Gogh Alive at the Dali in St. Pete

This is a truly unique experience for the entire family! It’s a chance to step into Vincent van Gogh’s works in an immersive art installation. The exhibition will feature enormous projections of more than 3,000 of Van Gogh’s works of art including“Starry Night” and “Sunflowers.” The Dalí will be open daily 10 a.m.-6 p.m., with extended hours Thursdays and Fridays until 8 p.m. Keep in mind that timed entry tickets are required. Learn more here. (Update: Tickets sold out opening week, but there are plenty available after, so book now to secure your spot!)

Van Gogh Alive Dali Copyright: © 2020 Grande Experiences

Explore Tampa Bay with your friends and family:

Here are some of our favorite features about local things to do around Tampa Bay that aren’t holiday related!

Volunteer your time or give back to help other families:


Feeding Tampa Bay

Did you know kids as young as 5 can volunteer with their parents at Feeding Tampa Bay? If you are not able to attend a volunteer event in person, your donations are needed now more than ever. Take the kids along on a shopping trip to help fulfill the needs at Feeding Tampa Bay. Learn more about how your family can help.

Metropolitan Ministries Holiday Tent

Like, Feeding Tampa Bay, Metropolitan Ministries is seeing more need in our community due to the ongoing pandemic. You can help local families by making a food donation and even toy donations for the holidays. Kids as young as 8 may volunteer in the Holiday Tents with their families. There is a great need for volunteers to give their time this year. Learn more here.

More Ways Your Family Can Support Those In Need:

A Season of Giving: 10 Ways Your Family Can Give Back in Tampa Bay

Paws for Literacy and other cool volunteer programs for kids at the Humane Society

12+ Places to Donate New Toys in Tampa Bay

More Thanksgiving Break Related Stories You May Love:

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