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

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

If you’ve decided to stay home for the Thanksgiving week, don’t fret about finding something fun to do for the family and your guests!

Lucky us for calling Tampa Bay home because there are plenty of things to do with the whole family.

Related: Our TOP PICKS of Black Friday Deals at Florida 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!

Go to Camp! Thanksgiving Week Camps for Kids in Tampa Bay are ready to entertain!

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, MOSI and more! We’ve got a full list of Thanksgiving break camps in Tampa Bay here.

Get into the holiday spirit in Tampa Bay:

santa claus in Tampa Bay
Santa at Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Snap a 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.

Related: The Best Christmas Events for Families in Tampa Bay

‘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 26, 2021. There are NEW holiday additions this year like the Wallaroo Wrap Party where you can dance with Santa’s elves and see how Roaring Springs has been transformed into a Ticky Tacky Christmas. There’s plenty more new things to see too along with returning favorites like decorating cookies with Mrs Claus and visits with Santa! Read more details here about what to expect.

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 through January 3. 2021. Be sure to book your online reservation before you go to secure your spot.  Learn more here.

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

Winter Village is returning to Downtown Tampa on November 19, 2021! The outdoor ice-skating rink is back and like last year, you’ll want to book your reservation ahead of time to guarantee a spot on the ice. The park will be illuminated with beautiful lights and you can even shop local at the outdoor market featuring local small businesses and artisans. Learn more here.

Check out our INSIDE LOOK from 2020 here

Explore the St. Pete Pier and NEW Winter Beach

If you haven’t had a chance to walk around the new St. Pete Pier, this is the week to do it and check out the debut of Winter Beach which opens Saturday, November 20, 2021! There will be an outdoor ice skating rink with real ice, Santa visits, food and entertainment, holiday lights, ‘snow’ days and more!

Other fun things to do year-round–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.

Check out Enchant Christmas at Tropicana Field in St Pete

The beautiful lights of Enchant Christmas is back in person this year from November 26, 2021-January 2, 2022 and we can’t be more excited! This year’s theme is the Mischievous Elf. In addition to the millions of beautiful lights and light maze, you can shop the local businesses inside the marketplace, go ice-skating, and even meet Santa! Keep your eyes to the top of the Trop for a beautiful light display too! 

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 20 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.

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 26, 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.

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.

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:

Photo Credit: Feeding Tampa Bay

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:

Check out more cool things to do in Tampa Bay:

Dino Don's DinoVenture at The BishopDino Don’s DinoVenture at The Bishop in Bradenton | Opens this Saturday

The dinosaurs are coming alive in The Bishop’s newest experience: Dino Don’s DinoVenture, where you can discover the roaring, breathing giants that once ruled the Earth! Step back in time to encounter life-size, animatronic T. Rexes with jaws designed for bone-crushing action, dinosaur mothers protecting their young, sky-high battles between species, and the tallest, most accurate dinosaur ever built! This outdoor family-friendly experience, built to excite and inspire, is the closest your family will ever come to living, roaring dinosaurs. Now open at The Bishop for a limited time. Exhibit dates: October 23 – March 18, Tue – Sat 10am – 5pm; Sun Noon – 5pm; Closed on Monday.

READ: Check out your INSIDE LOOK of the DinoVenture exhibit and read our conversation with the exhibit creator, Don Lessem!

TECO Manatee Viewing CenterTECO Manatee Viewing Center | NOW OPEN for the season

This is a wonderful outdoor adventure for the entire family! You can walk the stroller friendly boardwalks to view the manatees as they seek the warmth of the clean water coming from the Big Bend Power Station. There is also an observation tower along the trail and plenty of spaces to enjoy an outdoor picnic and it’s FREE. We’re sharing more details here about what to expect when you go.

fairgrounds st Pete things to do in Tampa BayFairgrounds St. Pete | Open Thursday-Sunday

A new immersive art experience has made its mark in Tampa Bay! Fairgrounds St. Pete recently opened its doors with a exhibit like you’ve never seen, heard or even smelled before! More than 60 artists were commissioned during the pandemic to bring it together. You can go and simply enjoy the whimsical art that celebrates weird, wacky, wonderful Florida or choose a different adventure and try to crack the codes and mysteries you’ll find throughout. Learn more about what it’s like here!

MOSI MoonbaseMOSI: Fly a Drone in the IDEA ZONE and more!

Join the Flight Club at MOSI and learn how to fly a drone in the IDEA ZONE! There is even an obstacle course you can try to navigate with the drone in The Cage. While you’re at MOSI, explore the exhibits like Mission: Moonbase, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s ‘slippery science’exhibit or even give the Ropes Course outside a try!

Tampa Bay History CenterTusks to Tails: A Fossil History of Florida at the Tampa Bay History Center | NOW OPEN

Step back into time when furry mammoths roamed Florida and gigantic sharks swam our seas. This new exhibit at the Tampa Bay History Center is a must-see for anyone who is really into fossils! While you’re there, check out the Treasure Seekers exhibit to learn more about real life pirates and conquistadors and more about Florida and Tampa Bay’s fascinating history.

Celebrate the Holidays on the Farm

A few local farms will be opening for the holiday season during Thanksgiving Break! HarvestMoon Fun Farm in Masaryktown and Raprager Family Farm in Odessa both have scheduled openings after Thanksgiving Day. We’re dishing on the details here.

More Thanksgiving Break Related Stories You May Love:

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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