Fun things to do with kids in Tampa

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There are so many fun things to do with kids in Tampa, Florida. Whether planning a weekend escape or a long vacation, Tampa has something for everyone in the family to enjoy.

Night scene in Tampa Florida with palm trees, lights and people in a park.
Photo Credit: Visit Tampa Bay

From Busch Gardens Tampa Bay for thrills to leisurely strolls on the Tampa Riverwalk, there’s loads of family fun in Tampa.

Family things to do in Tampa for preschoolers

When considering Tampa attractions for families with a toddler, consider indoor activities like the Florida Aquarium or other places that don’t take all day to visit. Considering the needs of the youngest family member makes vacation more enjoyable for the whole family.

The Florida Aquarium

Start at the Florida Aquarium, located in the Channelside District at 701 Channelside Drive, Tampa.

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Parent and young child looking at fish at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa.
Photo Credit: Visit Tampa Bay

Toddlers are mesmerized by fish tanks, and here they can both look and touch! Pack their swimsuits, because they’ll want to jump into the The Splashpad, an interactive fountain playground with special space just for little ones.

We recommend that families allow four hours to visit the Florida Aquarium.

Lunch at the Columbia Cafe

After a fun morning at the Florida Aquarium, enjoy lunch nearby at Columbia Café, located mearby at the Tampa Bay History Center.

Columbia Restaurant, dubbed Florida’s Oldest Restaurant, opened its first location in 1905 in historic Ybor City. The restaurant offers Cuban coffee, the best Cuban sandwich I’ve ever had, and the original “1905” salad. The Café menu is a pared down version of the full restaurant menu. They have a great kids menu, too!

Families can dine indoors or out — we prefer the view and relaxed space of the waterfront outside.

Stroll the Tampa Riverwalk

After lunch, take a stroll along the stroller friendly Tampa Riverwalk, which connects the Channelside District to Downtown Tampa.

Along the Riverwalk, enjoy playgrounds, wide open spaces for kids to run, art installations, and great views. The Tampa Riverwalk connects many of Tampa’s family friendly attractions — and you might find one you want to visit.

People on the Tampa Riverwalk as the sun sets.
Photo Credit: Keir Magoulas | Visit Tampa Bay

Other family things to do in Tampa with Toddlers

  • Glazer Children’s Museumat 110 W. Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa, inspires kids and toddlers to explore the world through creative play. Closed Mondays and most holidays. Allow two hours. Tickets to Glazer Children’s Museum are included with the Tampa Bay CityPASS — great savings for families!
  • Ben T. Davis Beach, located along the Courtney Campbell Causeway between Tampa and Clearwater, this public beach is nicely landscaped, with lifeguard stations and lots of soft, white sand.
  • Tampa Bay History Center801 Water Street, Tampa, Tampa Bay shares the history of the region’s first native inhabitants, the age of the Spanish conquistadors, and others who shaped the area’s history. Cigars play a key role in Tampa’s development, and the reproduction 1920s cigar store shares its importance in an engaging way. Allow 2-3 hours.
  • Lowry Park Zoo, 1101 W. Sligh Ave, Tampa, offers a full day of fun for the  whole family. With exhibits featuring kid favorites like manatees and a bird aviary, there’s lots for toddlers to enjoy. Amusement park type rides add to the fun with water rides, carousels and more. Everyone in the family will enjoy learning about animals native to Florida or seeing animals from Africa, Asia, and Australia. Allow a full day. This zoo offers discounted admission to families with reciprocal zoo memberships.

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child playing in splash pad at park in Tampa, Florida.
Photo Credit: Visit Tampa Bay

Family things to do in Tampa for school age kids

There are so many fun things to do with kids in Tampa for the elementary aged set.

Their inquisitive minds make everything seem exciting. So, pick a few of these great Tampa attractions for families and make memories!

Dinosaur World

One of the best Tampa attractions for families with elementary aged kids is Dinosaur World, located at 5145 Harvey Tew Road in Plant City, Florida, just outside of Tampa.

Dubbed “Jurassic Park without the Scare,” Dinosaur World features 150 life-size dinosaur replicas and a Fossil Dig, where kids can dig for fossils just like real paleontologists.

Adults and kids walking on a path at Dinosaur World, looking at the dinosaurs.
Photo Credit: Visit Tampa Bay

The Fossil Dig is designed for kids age 3-12 and included in the price of admission, so each young scientist can take home fossil souvenirs.  Other family members can join the dig at a cost of $2/each.

Other interactive experiences include the Dino Gem Excavation area and the Bone Yard, where kids can help uncover a 27 foot long dinosaur skeleton.

Dinosaur World is handicap accessible. A military discount is available.

MOSI: Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry

Spend the afternoon at MOSI, Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry, at 4801 E. Fowler Avenue, Tampa.

Offering more than 100 hands-on exhibits, MOSI’s purpose is to make a difference in people’s lives by making science exciting for people of all ages and backgrounds.

Some of the exhibits at MOSI include “I Wonder,” an area to explore physics, math, optics and geology, “A Look Inside” to learn about the wonder of the human body, “Mind Mysteries” to discover the fascinating world of illusions and mind tricks, and “Geolab” to learn about hurricanes and other weather phenomena.

The Saunders Planetarium (separate admission fee) and Mission Moonbase round out the indoor activities.

Outdoors, kids can explore on the Science Park playground. The whole family can soar through the trees at the Sky Trail Ropes Course (separate admission fee).

MOSI: Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry is lots of fun with kids in Tampa.
Photo Credit: Keir Magoulas | Visit Tampa Bay

Take a Dolphin Sightseeing Cruise

Take a 90 minute, guided dolphin sight-seeing cruise of Tampa Bay where you’ll learn about marine ecosystems as you look for dolphins, manatees and other marine life!

Tours leave from the docks near the Tampa Bay History Center, 801 Old Water Street Tampa, FL, in Channelside.

dophin in Tampa Bay, seen on a dolphin sight-seeing cruise

Other family things to do in Tampa for elementary aged kids

  • TECO Manatee Viewing Center (winter months) — Open November through February, the Manatee Viewing Center is a great place to see manatees in their natural habitat. Additionally, the MVC’s environmental education building offers a place to learn about the fascinating world of the manatee. Outside, a viewing platform, with several flights of stairs, provides a bird’s eye view of this wildlife habitat area. Admission is free. Allow two hours to visit.
  • Lowry Park Zoo, 1101 W. Sligh Ave, Tampa, provides a full day of family fun in Tampa. Besides the many wildlife exhibits, there are thrill rides and relaxed activities for every member of the family. Allow a full day to visit.
  • Tour of the Tampa Theatre, 711 North Franklin St, Tampa, provides an unusual and memorable experience for everyone. Touted as one of the ten most beautiful theaters in the world, a backstage tour of this historic theater provides a glimpse into what happens behind the scenes. Ghost tours are also available for appropriate ages.
  • Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, 10165 N McKinley Dr Tampa FL, is both a theme park and a zoo which is fun for the whole family!

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Family things to do in Tampa with Teens

One of the best things to do in Tampa with teens is probably a day at Busch Gardens, which offers thrill rides, animal adventures and the Adventure Island water park.

Teens might enjoy spending a day exploring nearby St. Petersburg, which is just across Tampa Bay. The Dali Museum, Egmont Key Natural Wildlife Refuge and Fort DeSoto Park are great places to visit. And, the restaurants in St. Petersburg are great, too.

BUDGET TRAVEL TIP: The Tampa Bay CityPASS includes admission to Busch Gardens!

Other things to do in Tampa with teens

Spend the day at the beach. Tampa’s beaches offer traditional sun and surf fun, but consider waterskiing, jet-skiing or parasailing to take your teen’s beach vacation to the next level.

Kayak the waters of Tampa Bay! See dolphins, manatees and other marine life on a relaxing paddle in the warm waters of the bay.

Photo Credit: Keir Magoulas | Visit Tampa Bay

Play bowling or billiards. Get in some old fashioned fun at Splitsville for bowling and billiards. With an upscale food menu and handcrafted cocktails, the whole family will enjoy it.

With so many fun things to do with kids in Tampa, this is a great destination for your family vacation. Museums and the Riverwalk are great for all ages. Busch Gardens, kayaking and bowling are fun for older kids. You can’t go wrong in this sunny, family friendly city.

FAQ about Family Travel to Tampa

Is Tampa a family friendly vacation destination?

Tampa is a great family vacation destination. With the Riverwalk, Channelside, Busch Gardens, sports teams and beaches for relaxing, the whole family can enjoy a vacation in Tampa.

Is three days in Tampa enough?

For a family weekend getaway, three days is enough to see the highlights in Tampa, Florida. Spend a day exploring attractions along the Riverwalk area. Take a day to see Ybor City or head to Busch Gardens. You won’t run out of things to do in three days in Tampa.

What are some unique things to do in Tampa with kids?

When visiting Tampa with kids, Dinosaur World is very popular. For a truly unique experience, head to TECO Manatee Viewing Center if visiting from November to February. The Riverwalk is also a great place to visit with kids.