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19 Amazing Things to do in Tampa with kids! #4 You have to See!

We recently traveled to Tampa Florida as part of a campaign with Visit Florida. Let me tell you right off the bat, we were absolutely wowed by this city and I don’t say that very often. It is the cleanest city we have ever been to and it also has such a great energy.

Tampa features amazing marine life viewing, a word class theme park Busch Gardens, is close to beautiful white sand beaches like one of our other favorite Florida stops 30A and of course top sports teams!

Tampa is only about an hour from from Disney World, so a day trip to the parks is always a win! Whether you’re traveling for business and taking the family or for a vacation there are plenty of things to experience! Check out our list below of some amazing things to do in Tampa with kids on your next visit!

#1) ZooTampa at Lowry Park

Everyone loves a good zoo and this is one of the best we’ve been too. ZooTampa has over 2,000 animals from Asia, Africa, Australia and The Americas. We loved seeing the orangutans, koalas, giraffes and so much more.

The zoo is broken up into sections so you can see all types of animals. If you want to give your family an unforgettable experience upgrade to backstage encounters!

The Zoo also has some amazing up close experiences like a close up encounter with Koalas, feeding the giraffes and more. These experiences book up early so check online to see if they are available.

Why You Should Go:

The zoo was recognized as the number one family friendly zoo by Parents Magazine. The zoo was also voted the best kids attraction in Tampa. 2,000 different types of animals reside at this zoo, many of them being endangered species!

#2) Tampa Riverwalk

The Tampa Riverwalk is a 2.6-mile pedestrian trail. It is a must do when visiting the city. A great way to see the city and get a little bit of some exercise in! There are so many places to stop along the way from the Childrens Museum, the Straz theater, Sparkman Square and so many more. The walk is beautifully lit at night and you will find people out and about on this beautiful walk

Why You Should Go:

There are many tours around Tampa located near the Riverwalk. Scooters, boat tours and more! There are nearly 85 restaurants located within .03 miles of the Riverwalk, but you can also bring your own supplies to have a nice family picnic near the park area.

#3) Sparkman Wharf

IMG 6547

Sparkman Square is amazing. It is the perfect place to gather with friends or family. There are several local eateries and delicious dessert places to choose from. You can place a quick order and then enjoy your meal on a beautiful lawn area overlooking the river.

One of the things I loved about Sparkman Square is the little things. Yes, there is live music in the evening but there is also hula hoops lid out on the ground for children to enjoy. Your kids will have endless fun playing on the lawn area while you relax and enjoy your meal.

#4) Enjoy the World’s Largest Soft Serve Cone at Hampton Chocolate Factory

In Sparkman Square is the Hampton Chocolate Factory. The chocolate factory has some of the best chocolate you will ever find. Stop in just for a free sample. However, we didn’t have just a free sample in mind.

Hampton’s is known for the world’s largest soft serve cone (it’s not on the menu though). For $30 you can get the largest soft serve cone you’ll ever find )it weights over 5 lbs. and if you want to take the challenge, if you finish it in 10 minutes, it’s completely Free!

#5) Glazer Children’s Museum

The Glazer Children’s Museum is a must stop at attraction when traveling with kids! Located right in the heart of Downtown Tampa along the Tampa Riverwalk. The Glazer Children’s Museum has over 15 exhibits that are educational and enjoyable! The little ones loved playing grocer and pizza maker. There are so many fun interactive exhibits.

Why You Should Go:

The museum is fun and educational for children. Parent’s will enjoy watching their kids learn about everything from finance, banking to engineering. The museum is also located right next to several other art attractions.


If you are looking for a delicious place to eat that the kids will enjoy ulele is the spot to check out. The kids will love the whimsical figurines and large grass area, and the frown ups will enjoy their incredible dishes.

Pro Tip: Save room for the Maple Bacon Candied Ice Cream, we made the mistake of being too full and still regret it.

#7: Take the Pirate Water Taxi Along the Riverwalk

If you are too tired to walk along the Riverwalk you can also enjoy the Pirate Water Taxi. You can get a day pass which will take you to multiple stops along the riverwalk all day long. The taxi has a tour guide which gives you a history of Tampa Bay as you sit back and enjoy the sights.

#8) Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay

Things to do in Tampa with kids

A top theme park in Florida that is not Disney or Universal! Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay has so much to offer people of all ages. This 335-acre theme park has a ton of animals that you can get up close to.

The park also has some amazing roller coasters. The park also has top notch amusement food park and a ton of extras like shows and special events like the food and wine festival.

Why You Should Go:

Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay is a family-oriented theme park open year-round. Children under the age of three get free admission. Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay is great for small kids but doesn’t leave out the adults either with the wide variety of thrill coasters and festivals.

You could make a day out of the park or even drive to another Sea World Parks and Entertainment owned brand park the with the nearest being in Orlando.

#9) Take the Streetcar (Free)

Tampa Bay Street Car

A great way to get around the city that’s fun and FREE! TECO Streetcar has a hop on hop off service that goes for about 3 miles! The TECO Streetcar service goes from downtown to Ybor City.

Where to Stay in Tampa Bay! – Tampa Marriott Water Street

Located right on the riverwalk and just a couple minute walk from Sparkman’s Square is the Tampa Marriott Water Street. This is the perfect place to stay as it is perfectly located, has amazing views and great rooms and a beautiful pool overlooking the water to enjoy your stay.

In addition to the great rooms and views, we had probably one of our best meals of our entire Florida trip right here at the resort and on the water at Anchor & Brine. Pretty Much everything we had on the menu was delicious. This place is definitely worth a visit even if you are not staying at the Marriott.

Additional Places to Visit While in Tampa

Sunshine Skyway Bridge

things to do in Tampa with kids

Bob Graham Sunshine Skyway Bridge is a toll cable bridge that connects Tampa to Saint Petersburg. The bridge in use now is the second and was completed back in 1987. The cable stayed bridge is 430 feet high and the longest span is 1,200 feet.

Why You Should Go:

If you are going south from Tampa chances are you are going to drive on the Skyway Bridge. The Skyway Bridge is one of the world’s longest cable bridges. The original bridge was turned into a popular state park but was demolished in 1993. Many people chose to visit the bridge due to it being a great photo stop in the background. Stopping on the bridge is strictly prohibited.

Florida Aquarium

Things to do in Tampa with kids

The Florida Aquarium is over 250,000 square feet and features the biggest sea life collection in the Tampa area. You can get up close and personal with the animals here. The Florida Aquarium also has upgrades for personal tours and other unique experiences.

Why You Should Go:

The Florida Aquarium is a huge aquarium where you can get up close to the animals right in Tampa. Open daily from 9:30 am to 5 pm. There are upcharge excursions that are especially unique such as a wild dolphin cruise on a catamaran and a penguin backstage pass. The activities to see over 20,000 different kinds of life are not only entertaining but educational as well!

Big Cat Rescue

things to do in Tampa with kids

You might have heard of Big Cat Rescue from the iconic Netflix show Tiger King. Carole Baskin is the owner of BCR. BCR is a wildlife sanctuary for abandoned and abused big cats like lions, tigers, leopards, bobcats, ligers, etc. This is not a zoo; the tours are guided. Due to BCR’s increasing popularity from the show make reservations. Children under 10 are only permitted on the children’s tour.

Why You Should Go:

A unique experience to see how BCR rehabilitates these big cats. BCR offers tours so that the entire family can help better understand how to  preserve these animals life since many of them are endangered species. Visiting BCR has something for everyone of all ages. The ultimate goal of the sanctuary is to stop the big cat trade.

Ybor City

Why You Should Go:

There were so many things mentioned on this list that are around the Tampa city area. Why waste time walking it when you can go on an outdoor streetcar for FREE!  

Things to do in Tampa with kids

Whether you’re into history or not you will find something to enjoy in Ybor City. Ybor City was originally settled by Cubans and is full of vintage shops and boutiques. Ybor City was founded back in 1885. Ybor City still has a huge immigrant population so visiting some local cigar spots (without the family) or some cute shops has fun for everyone!

Why You Should Go:

Ybor City is full of history and culture. Ybor City was rated one of the greatest streets in America. Ybor City has something for everyone from The Ybor City Museum to many restaurants including a brewery and family fun including a streetcar and a weekend market.

Beaches Near Tampa Bay

Things to do in Tampa with kids

Tampa and the west coast of Florida have some of the nation’s top-rated beaches. Clearwater, St. Pete Beach, Sarasota, Siesta Key and Sanibel are just to name a few! The beaches have sugar like white sand and calm waters (for the most part)!

Why You Should Go:

Pack the family up for a fun in the sun beach day! All of the beaches mentioned above are family friendly! All of the surrounding areas to these beaches feature historic buildings, many restaurants, mini golf and other activities.

Even if you’re not spending the night these beaches are only about 1-2 hours’ drive away from Tampa and make for a great day trip to get away from the city!

Tampa Bay History Center

things to do in Tampa with kids

The Tampa Bay History Center is located right in downtown! The history center rickets begin at 10 dollars and range from 10-15 dollars. The history center is a Smithsonian affiliate that is 3 stories high. The museum features over 12,000 years of history. The center is right on the Riverwalk.

Why You Should Go:

The Tampa Bay History Center has fun and educational exhibits for people of all ages. The center has a low entry fee and many exhibits for you to enjoy for several hours! Depending on the day the center has live entertainment and dancing. There are two lounge/restaurants located inside one being waterfront dining. Some galleries in the museum are permanent and some aren’t so be sure to check the schedule before vising to see what’s available!

Gasparilla Pirate Fest

things to do in Tampa with kids

Gasparilla is an annual pirate festival celebrated in Tampa! The festival started back in 1904 and has went on since then! Gasparilla also features other community events. The festival is usually held sometime in January. Gasparilla has several parades leading up to the main one which alcohol is allowed. The week before the main parade there is a Children’s Gasparilla Extravaganza. This parade runs the Saturday before. Children are welcome at the main parade as well.

Why You Should Go:

Gasparilla is a huge activities that locals love. Really brings the community together for over 100 years. Gasparilla features 70 different “krewes” like Mardi Gras (people who organize/work on the floats). Gasparilla is unique since no two ships are the same and there is food, fun and local activities during the entire weekend!

The Tampa Theatre

things to do in Tampa with kids

The theatre was built back in 1926 and is a beautiful  palace. Visitors will enjoy world class live entertainment under realistic sky and a Mediterranean courtyard. This historic landmark features a variety of live entertainment.

Why You Should Go

There are several plays and shows that come to the Tampa Theatre. Check scheduling to see if it is anything your family will be interested in! The unique environment and plays are sure to delight.

Map of Things to Do in Tampa with kids

Frequently Asked Questions about Things to do in Tampa with Kids

What is there to do in Tampa at night for kids?

The Airosphere
Laser Ops Extreme Gaming Arcade – 
PK’s PlayZone & Grille.
Sunsets at Pier 60.
Cirque Du Soleil Volta.
Empower Adventures Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay Grand Prix.

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