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Dates WITH the Family: Fun Things to Do with Kids in Tampa Bay

There are so many FUN things to do with kids in Tampa Bay!

Until a recent conversation with a friend, I hadn’t conceptualized experiences with my kids as dates.

Significant others understand the importance of dating each other, no matter how many years into the relationship. As children grow, it’s key we make time for special experiences with them. If experiences can be one parent to one child, all the better.

Related: 10 Things We About Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park in Tampa

Special doesn’t mean expensive. Experience isn’t synonymous with theme park. Following are date night and date day ideas to try with kids of all ages.  

Day out with the kids in Tampa Bay murals

Go Muraling (yes, I verbed mural)  

A free activity, head to the 600 block of St. Pete’s Central Avenue. You won’t miss the colorful building facades.

Murals can fuel conversations about artistic expression, photography, interpretations of artists’ chosen words, and more. Taking pictures is a must. Be silly, be serious, be posed, be candid. Don’t be in photos at all.

If you visit on the second Saturday of the month, you can pop into art galleries for the Second Saturday ArtWalk. The first Saturday of each month affords an opportunity to visit the Brocante Market—conveniently located across from Three Daughters Brewing, which has great music and outdoor games.   

Day out with the kids in Tampa Bay Columbia

Local, Meaningful Restaurants 

Having grown up in Tampa, many restaurants here hold special memories. Sharing meals with my kids at those special places is a treat.

Recently, my daughter and I took our dinner date to Ybor City’s Columbia Restaurant (where her baby shower was held). Along with our Spanish meal, we enjoyed the flamenco show. She was wide-eyed, as sounds of castanets joined the aroma of paella filling the air. We had a 6 P.M. dinner reservation for the 7 P.M. show.

Consider restaurants that are special for you. Can you re-create photos when you take your child? What stories can you share about your memories there? Can you put the phone away while making new memories? A simple game of hangman, while waiting for food, might be more meaningful for your child than you realize.   

Talk on the Riverwalk  

First, accept you’ll sweat. Then, apply sunscreen and go. Tampa’s Riverwalk has blossomed and is an ideal backdrop for connecting with our kids.

Related: Seven Days, Seven Ways to Enjoy Tampa’s Riverwalk

My daughter and I have enjoyed a couple of riverside, day-dates. Pack bikes or scooters. Take a picnic meal or grab smoothies at the Straz Center’s SIP—a 1966 Airstream Safari Land Yacht.

While getting in some physical activity, the Riverwalk opens way for conversations about wildlife (e.g. dolphins), quotes by notable figures (e.g. Mother Theresa) on the bricks, and the area’s dangerous heat. Soaring temperatures swayed us to utilize the Pirate Water Taxi, and the Tampa history the captain shared was a swell surprise.

We hydrated with cold juice, at The Sail, while waiting for our taxi. Check out event calendars, for places like Armature Works and Curtis Hixon Park, as some events may align with your date.  

Related: Four Ways to Daycation in Tampa Bay

More Fun Things to Do with Kids in Tampa Bay

  • Visit the movies. Consider alternative options, like one of the drive-ins still around. Or, stay in, wear p.j’s, and make popcorn the old fashioned way. Just make sure you really watch the movie.   
  • Take on the great outdoors (even if it’s your backyard). Grill your meal together, including a s’mores dessert. Eat al fresco and talk about the surroundings.   
  • Embrace Bayshore Blvd. Bike, walk, or scooter down the picturesque sidewalk. Let the surroundings drive conversation. Utilize the exercise equipment. Take pictures of marine life, birds, and the skyline along the way. Don’t let in-the-moment, social media posting distract you.     

We wouldn’t spend romantic dates staring at our screens. Kids, too, need and deserve our undivided attention. We are, after all, setting a ground floor for them. Go on dates with one child (or as few as possible) at a time. Not for the gram. But, for the precious gifts of shared experiences and connection. How many summer, spring, and winter breaks do you have left with your kids? 

Laura Byrne
Laura Byrne
Laura Byrne is an award-winning former television news journalist who spent 15+ years in newsrooms across the state of Florida including Sarasota, Tallahassee, Fort Myers and right here in Tampa Bay where she still freelances on occasion. She covered the political beat, crime beat and every day breaking news during her time in Florida newsrooms, but is now focused on sharing positive news stories and events with families in Tampa Bay. She is a proud mommy of two little boys who keep her on her toes and laughing every day. Her goal is to inspire families just like yours to get out and play and experience all that Tampa Bay and our great state of Florida have to offer! She encourages you to share your stories and upcoming events so we can spread the good news.

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