This post contains affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no cost to you. Please see our disclosure policy for more information. All opinions are my own.
Since my brother lives in Tampa we take road trips from Miami to Tampa all the time. When looking up things to do in Tampa with kids I was surprised at home many unique things I found in the area. When traveling with kids, saving money is always important so this article includes things to do in Tampa with kids that are included in the Tampa Bay CityPASS as well as other activities.
Why Buy the Tampa Bay CityPASS When Exploring Tampa with Kids?
For just $107 for adults and $97 for kids you will gain admission to five attractions in Tampa, saving a lot of money on your trip! You can buy the Tampa Bay CityPASS on Viator which is perfect if you’re able to use one of their 10% off coupons or directly on the CityPASS website.
What Does the Tampa Bay CityPASS Include?
The Tampa Bay CityPASS includes admission to Busch Gardens, The Florida Aquarium, ZooTampa at Lowry Park, Clearwater Marine Aquarium, and the Museum of Science & Industry or Chihuly Collection. With these attractions covered it’s a no brainer to get it when visiting Tampa with kids. A one day pass to Busch Gardens is $104.99 alone as long as you plan on visiting Busch Gardens you will get your monies worth.
Busch Gardens: The Perfect Day in Tampa with Kids
We weren’t sure how much we would be able to do with the kids at Busch Gardens. However we discovered they have an entire kids section called Sesame Street Safari of Fun! There are tons of kid friendly rides, a splash park, shows, and plenty of opportunities to meet your child’s favorite Sesame Street characters. These tickets give you full-day entrance ticket to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.
Out of the 11 attractions in this area, 5 are for all ages. For the younger kids there is a carousel, mini boat ride, a jungle gym and more. For older kids who enjoy some thrills there is a roller coaster and race car track.
The Florida Aquarium
If you’re looking for things to do in Tampa with kids when it rains, The Florida Aquarium is the perfect activity. With multiple indoor exhibits your kids will enjoy seeing the otters, lemurs, playing in the stingray touch tank, and seeing the sharks. Our girls even enjoyed seeing if they could manage hurricane force winds in the Hurricane Simulator. These full-day tickets allow you to skip the line.
If you’re visiting The Florida Aquarium on a sunny day don’t forget the kids swimsuits. There is an outdoor splash park as well as a regular playground. It’s a great way for the kids to burn off some energy before nap time!
ZooTampa at Lowry Park
We were very impressed with ZooTampa. It is much more than your average zoo. They do have typical animal exhibits showcasing animals from Florida, Asia, Africa and more. However they also have two roller coasters including a water ride and additional rides for the kids. These as well as the petting zoo are all included in your entry fee.
The only thing you do have to pay extra for are for the animal encounters to meet the penguins, rhinos, etc. or to feed the giraffes. The giraffe feeding was $5 per person and I suggest arriving at least ten minutes before the scheduled time as to bypass the line. They only allow one family in at a time which I really liked so you’re not competing with others.
You May Be Interested in Reading: Tips for Taking Family Vacation Photos
While we didn’t visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium or the Museum of Science & Industry we still saved $65 per person by purchasing the Tampa Bay CityPASS versus individual entry to Busch Gardens, The Florida Aquarium and ZooTampa at Lowry Park.
Additional Perks of the Tampa Bay CityPASS
In addition to saving up to 51% on attractions with the Tampa Bay CityPASS you’ll also earn benefits like skipping the line. With the CityPASS you will completely bypass those waiting on line to purchase tickets and walk straight to the ticket collector for them to scan your pass. Just remember once you scan your first ticket your pass is only valid for the next nine days.
Things to Do in Tampa with Kids Outside of What’s Covered on the Tampa Bay CityPASS
Mermaid Experience at Clearwater Beach
When looking for things to do in Tampa with kids Clearwater Beach is a great option. It has white powdery sand beach and is only being 30 minutes from Downtown Tampa. The water is very shallow making it ideal for families. There is also a boardwalk with shops and restaurants. Besides it being named America’s Best Beach in 2018, if you’re traveling with mermaid loving kids like we were you’ll want to book the Mermaid for a Day Photoshoot we found on Airbnb Experiences.
You can make it a whole day and hang out on the beach before or after your shoot. The owner also has tails for adults so if you’d like to join your kids you can! If your children are 6 and older she also offers a mermaid swim class where they learn to swim with the tails on in a pool.
Spend the Day at Weeki Wachee Springs
If you’re really into mermaids make one of your days in Tampa with kids an entire mermaid day by also visiting Weeki Wachee Springs. An hour North of Tampa in Weeki Wachee, FL this spring is known for its mermaid show. You’ll sit in an underwater theater to watch the 40 minute show and it’s absolutely spectacular. Honestly we came to take the kids but my husband and I were both enthralled ourselves!
After the show we stuck around to enjoy the waterpark, Buccaneer Bay. The waterpark has two waterslides, a kiddie pool, wading area in the springs and tube rentals. In front of the wading area are lounge chairs on a first come basis and it’s in sand like the beach so bring sand toys for the kids. If you want to explore more of the spring you can rent a kayak or SUP to go down the river area.
Be a Beekeeper for a Day
By far one of the most unique things we’ve done in Tampa with kids is this Tampa Bees experience we found on Airbnb by Tampa Bees. My seven year old and I did this and Stephanie, the owner was phenomenal. She is so patient and taught us so much about the bees during our time together. You get to do absolutely everything including smoking the bees out, taking out the frames, searching for the Queen bee, and of course tasting fresh honey. The experience lasts 90 minutes and everything you need is provided. All you have to do is show up!
Build a Professional Sandcastle at Siesta Key Beach
When looking for things to do in Tampa with kids I came across a sand building class on Airbnb Experiences. My eldest daughter and I did one on our trip to Panama City Beach so I knew how much fun they were. I had to book it so my husband and youngest daughter could get in on the action. This two and a half hour class hosted by Mitch, a professional sand castle builder who competes all around the world was phenomenal. Just look at what we created and the kids did most of the work!
Sparkman’s Wharf is an outdoor area with water views. There are permanent food truck style restaurants, an outdoor bar, and bowling alley. Sparkman’s Wharf has a huge fake grass area where you can lay your blanket down, have a picnic and watch the big screen TV while your kids run around and play. There are bench swings, corn hole, and a life size chess board.
Best Restaurants in Tampa with Kids
The thing I loved most about Tampa is the lack of chain restaurants. Instead there are a ton of mom and pop, one location shops. For breakfast our favorite restaurants were Goody Goody Burger and Daily Eats. Other local favorites are Datz and Grillsmith. For dinner try Green Lemon, Miguelitos Taqueria or for casual take out New York New York Pizza.
Where to Stay in Tampa with Kids
If you’re like us, when traveling with kids you want to have lots of space so we often choose vacation homes. We love this home available on Vrbo. It has an amazing pool which my girls love plus plenty of space in the home to play like the huge upstairs bonus den. We love that everyone get their own room which is especially nice for the evenings when the kids have gone to bed and my husband and I want to hang out.
For shorter trips of when it’s just my husband and I traveling we’ve also stayed at a hotel in Tampa. When we’ve chosen to stay Downtown Tampa at the Hilton due to it’s location. The rooms are your typical Hilton rooms but the bathroom was quite small. The hotel was walking distance to many restaurants making it very convenient to get breakfast in the morning.
How to Get Around Tampa with Kids
If you are visiting Tampa renting a car is necessary. It’s a typical Florida city and public transportation is not in abundance. However, if you’re staying in Downtown Tampa like we were there is a free trolly that goes from Downtown to Ybor City with stops in between. The trolly was just a 5 minute walk from our hotel and we were able to take it to straight to The Florida Aquarium and Sparkman’s Wharf. This allowed us to save the $6 parking fee at the aquarium and the $2/per hour parking fee at Sparkman’s Wharf.
We had a great time in Tampa and using the Tampa Bay CityPASS saved us a lot of money. Visiting Tampa with kids and found this post helpful? Please share it!