We live where the world comes to play, so you don’t have to go too far to find an epic family adventure in Tampa Bay!
If you’re sticking around town for spring break, or maybe just looking for something new to do around town this spring, we’re sharing some our favorite things to do in Tampa Bay with the kids.
Go see what’s on exhibit if the weather is gloomy:
It’s a great time to check out some really cool exhibits, some of which are only here for a limited time.
‘Big League Fun’ at Glazer Children’s Museum in Tampa: On exhibit through May 15, 2022
Let’s play ball! Big League Fun is an interactive, hands-on exhibit where kids (and kids at heart) can put their baseball skills to the test and learn all about the world of baseball while learning some math and science too! The exhibit got a thumbs up from Kevin Kiermaier of the Tampa Bay Rays and his family— Read more HERE. There is also a new cute Ice-Cream Parlor exhibit in collaboration with South Tampa ice-cream shop, Dairy Joy.
DinoVentures at The Bishop in Bradenton: On exhibit through March 18, 2022
For this perfect day trip, head south to beautiful Bradenton for a chance to come face to snout with 27 lifelike animatronic dinosaurs at this outdoor exhibit at The Bishop. Creator
Don Lessums dedicated himself to creating the most realistic looking and sounding dinosaurs as possible. DinoVenture is The Bishop’s first fully bilingual exhibit, offering displays in both English and Spanish. Buy a ticket to view just the exhibit or a combo to check out the museum as well! While you’re there, enjoy downtown Bradenton or stop by nearby Anna Maria Public Beach. Read more about the exhibit HERE.
The Bishop is also offering Spring Break Science Camp March 14-18. “Dino Discovery” is for kids ages 7-11 and will give curious explorers a week of games, crafts, experiments and access to The Bishop’s exhibitions — all focused on dinosaurs! Visit bishopscience.org/science-camp to register.
Fairgrounds St. Pete: Permanent
This whimsical wonderland is a collection of artistic works by more than 60 artists. An immersive art exhibit like you’ve never seen, heard or even smelled before, Fairgrounds St Pete celebrates all that is weird and wacky about Florida. Choose your own adventure experience: You can simply walk through and enjoy the scenery or try to solve the mystery laid out before you. We’re giving you an INSIDE LOOK here to get a feel of what it’s like!
“Picasso and the Allure of the South” features 79 of Picasso’s works along with many pieces that have been on display in the United States. We recommend downloading The Dali’s app to access guided tours. Advance reservations are required. Once you’ve explored The Dali museum and the gardens, head over to the St. Pete Pier to play or explore the St. Pete Museum of History, Museum of Fine Arts or The James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art.
Explore one of our favorite family-friendly beaches in Tampa Bay:
Some of the world’s top beaches are right here in Tampa Bay. Here are our favorite family-friendly ones where you can soak up the sun—with plenty of sunscreen, of course!
Caladesi Island via Honeymoon Island:
You can only access Caladesi Island via a 10-minute ride on the Caladesi Island Ferry from Honeymoon Island, but it’s worth it! The beaches are pristine, and while Caladesi seems remote, there are beach chairs and umbrellas to rent as well as bathroom and shower facilities and a snack bar.
Fort DeSoto North Beach
If you’re looking for more beach and less touristy stuff, Fort De Soto’s North Beach is your best bet, and has plenty of parking and bathroom facilities. We also love walking the area of the Fort before heading to the beach area of the state park, and we like that we can find plenty of parking and bathroom facilities as well. You can access Egmont Key via ferry ride from the Fishing Pier at Fort De Soto Park and enjoy walking or biking along the seven miles of paved trails.
St Pete Beach
St Pete Beach was rated #1 in the United States by Trip Advisor in 2021, and it’s easy to see why! It’s not only home to the picturesque Pink Palace, The Don Cesar, but also beautiful white sandy beaches like Pass-a-Grille, which is super family-friendly. If you want something even more rustic and less traveled, consider a ferry ride from the Merry Pier on the Shell Key shuttle to Shell Key.
Clearwater Beach is the obvious mention because there are so many things to do while enjoying the beautiful white sand beach! Pier 60 always has something going on and there are plenty of shops and restaurants nearby to explore, like one of our favorites, Frenchy’s Rockaway Grille. Stop by Clearwater Marine Aquarium or explore the area on the Jolley Trolley with multiple stops around Clearwater Beach. It’s free to park and ride to the beach through April 30, 2022! Look for the Park & Ride Marquee on the Jolley Trolley. Check out clearwaterjolleytrolley.com to learn more and see the route maps!
Further south of Tampa Bay is Venice Beach—the Shark Tooth Capital of the World! A perfect day trip from Tampa Bay, you can rent shark tooth hunting gear at shops on the beach, like Sharky’s at the Pier. According to the Fossil Guy, the best spots here to find shark teeth are between Casey Key to the north and Manasota Key to the south.
Want to explore MORE Florida beaches? We’re sharing some top picks HERE.
Visit a park or playground around town. We, of course, have a few favorites to share:
One of our favorite parks in Hillsborough County is Edward Medard Conservation Park in Plant City due to a unique area near the playground where you can walk among otherworldly tree roots exposed by erosion at an old phosphate mine over the last several decades. There are also hills to hike to make you feel as if you’re anywhere other than Tampa Bay!
Another super kid-friendly and even stroller friendly hiking spot is Weedon Island Preserve in St. Pete. The boardwalk winds you through the mangroves to a tower for a bird’s eye view of the natural park. You can also stop by the Cultural and Natural History Center to learn about the history of the park.
When it comes to state parks, our favorite has to be Weeki Wachee Springs State Park to the north because they have ‘real’ mermaids and a super cool natural springs water park with water slides and even tubing. Don’t miss the famous mermaids in the underwater theater! If you want to explore the area a bit more, consider booking a kayak ahead of time.
If you are looking for a playground to get the wiggles out, our favorites are the Glazer Family Playground at the St. Pete Pier and Julian B Lane Riverfront Park in Tampa. Both parks have a splash pad nearby, so don’t forget to pack the swimsuits, towels and sunscreen!
It also happens to be prime u-pick season in Tampa Bay for strawberries and more! Check out some of our favorite farms here!
Visit a local attraction:
Our local attractions include so many new experiences, from new rides to a brand new theme park!
From the newly expanded Florida Wilds area to new animals to love like the the Hamadryas Baboons in the Primate Realm, ZooTampa offers many new adventures when you go this spring break. There are also several ways you can upgrade your day for an even more magical day! Be sure to be on the look out for Flora the panther, the zoo’s newest mascot.
If you’re seeking mega thrills this spring break, head to Busch Gardens to experience the world’s fastest and steepest hybrid coaster, Iron Gwazi! It opens March 11, so you’ll be among the first to ride. We also love the many ways you can upgrade your day with animal insider tours like the Serengeti Safari Tour.
If you’re looking for ways to cool off, then add Adventure Island to your spring break bucket list! It’ll be even more thrilling with two NEW waterslides to experience: Rapids Racer and Wahoo! Remix which open this spring!
LEGOLAND Florida offers more than 50 rides, shows and attractions for kids as well as a trip into Florida’s past by taking a walk through the onsite Cypress Gardens. LEGOLAND also has a cool water park, so consider upgrading your pass. to include the water park.
Peppa Pig Theme Park
Right next door to Legoland is this new park, designed with the littlest ones in mind. Newly opened, it might be the cutest place in the world for kids to experience their first roller coaster. There’s also a huge splash pad, plenty of shade and rides and attractions preschoolers and their families will love! See our INSIDE LOOK here.
There are plenty of ways to SAVE in Tampa Bay this spring break, too!
We all like to save a bit of cash, right? One of the best ways to save at local attractions for locals is to consider annual passes that often give members additional perks like free parking and discounts. Other ways to save include:
Tampa Bay CityPASS
Save as much as 53% at five local attractions with this pass which costs $129 for an adult and $114 for kids ages 3-9. This includes admission to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, The Florida Aquarium, ZooTampa at Lowry Park, Clearwater Marine Aquarium, and MOSI or Tropical Boat Tours Dolphin or Sunset Cruise. The pass is only valid for nine consecutive days from the first day you use it. citypass.com
Tampa Riverwalk Attractions Pass
Pick up a One-Day pass for $55 for adults and $35 for kids ages 3-11 or a Three-Day pass for $79 for adults and $49 for kids ages 3-11. The pass gets you admission to seven attractions: Florida Aquarium, Pirate Water Taxi, Tampa Bay History Center, Tampa Museum of Art, Glazer Children’s Museum, H.B, Plant Museum and Florida Museum of the Photographic Arts. visittampabay.com
Did you know your county library offers a special pass for families to check out for free admission to select local museums and attractions? They are only available on a first come, first served basis, so visit your neighborhood public library to learn more.
- Hillsborough Library Discovery Pass: hcplc.org/services/discoverypass
- Pinellas County Museum Pass: pplc.us/museum-pass/
- Pasco County Discovery Pass: pascolibraries.org/services/discovery-pass/
Extra Credit: A Fun Day Trip Idea from our contributor, Tara Payor:
Staycations don’t mean our feet have to stay planted on the ground. Recently, my daughter and I didn’t fly to our destination, but we did fly through Ocala’s clear skies and above its pristine water at Zip the Canyons.
Located at 8045 NW Gainesville Road in Ocala, Zip the Canyons offers an exciting array of adventures by air, land and water. Kayaking and horseback riding in canyons doesn’t necessitate a flight to Colorado this spring break. Both are available at Zip the Canyons, which has options for staying and playing all day.
We harnessed up, completed a brief practice zip and took the Big Cliff Canyon Tour. With nine zip lines, including an 1,100-foot-long zip across Lost Spring Lake, the tour lasts about three hours. I packed small snacks and tour guides provided water. Cell phones are discouraged but, like a mom, I placed mine in a crossbody pouch. Zip the Canyons takes photos and videos, available for purchase at tour’s end, but guides graciously used my phone. Guides were great with kids—full of energy and age-appropriate-jokes. Participants should be about 10 years old and 70 pounds. Fearless: another requirement. Briefer ziplining tours are offered, though they don’t include zipping above the canyon’s lake. Online reservations are strongly encouraged. Save a few dollars on tours by visiting this amazing adventure park on a weekday. Consult their website, ZipTheCanyons.com, for additional information on tours and participant requirements.
*Originally published in the March 2022 issue of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.