7 thrilling Tampa kids activities the whole family will love

7 thrilling Tampa kids activities the whole family will love

Brie Pusateri
Published: September 26, 2023

Entertaining children should be classified as a full-time job. With my own two Tampa kids aged 3 and almost 6, I spend far too much time researching our next outing. Lucky for you, I’ve scoured most of Tampa in search of unique and interesting places to explore that your kids will love and so will you.

Here, we take a look at 7 thrilling Tampa kids activities the whole family will love, starting with outdoor options.

Tampa kids activities for outdoor fun

One of the fun things to see at the St. Pete Pier is the Echelman Sculpture, especially when it’s lit up at night. (photo: courtesy of the City of St. Pete)

St. Pete Pier

The St. Pete Pier in downtown St. Pete is one of our favorite places for Tampa kids activities. There is truly something for everyone, and we find new things to explore each time we go. 

Ages: All | Price: $0 to explore- paid activities available 

What’s in it for the kids:

  • Majeed Fountain and Splash Pad is right on the water and a perfect place for your little ones to cool down.
  • Discovery Center and Wet Classroom is operated by Tampa Bay Watch and provides interactive activities to learn about our local ecosystem.
  • Glazer Family Playground is a gorgeous and extensive area for kids of all ages to climb, slide and run in a safe and enclosed area.
  • Your Tampa kids will also love exploring the beach area and grabbing a treat at Fresco’s Waterfront Bistro.

What’s in it for you:

  • Multiple restaurants including Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grille, and Teak, a tropical rooftop tiki bar with a breathtaking view of the Gulf.   
  • Gorgeous public art installations to “ooh” and “ah” at while you stroll.
  • Yoga and pilates classes available throughout the year.
  • The Marketplace where local vendors offer their goods for you to take home and enjoy.

Get up close and personal with the dinosaurs at Dinosaur World, about 30 minutes east of downtown Tampa. (photo: courtesy of Dinosaur World)

Dinosaur World

 My own Tampa kids have loved Dinosaur World since before they could walk.  Even though it’s about a 30-minute drive east from Tampa, it’s well worth the hike and the perfect place to spend several hours with the family and enjoy all the Tampa kids activities on tapa under beautiful tree cover and watch your children’s imaginations soar.  

Ages: All | Price: $26.82 for adults and $21.45 for ages 3-12.  Annual passes are also available (totally worth it!) as well as some add-ons including gem mining and fossil dig.

What’s in it for the kids:

  • DINOSAURS! Need I say more? Your kids will love walking among the colossal dinosaur renditions on display along their winding, shaded boardwalk.   
  • An indoor museum chock full of fossils and even an animatronic dinosaur display.
  • Multiple dino-themed playgrounds.
  • A fossil dig. ($)
  • Gem mining. ($)

What’s in it for you:

  • Dinosaur World is built on a beautiful boardwalk that passes under centuries-old oak trees. In short- It’s almost completely shaded!
  • You can bring your own food.
  • It’s dog friendly.
  • It’s a great way to get a brisk walk in while your children are mesmerized by the gigantic beasts of the past.  

The TECO Streetcar is a fun and easy way to get around Ybor City and into downtown Tampa. (photo credit: Keir Magoulas | Visit Tampa Bay)

TECO Streetcar

Electric streetcars have been a part of the fabric of Tampa Bay since 1892, but rolled to a stop in 1946.  Fortunately, the Tampa and Ybor City Street Railway Society brought back TECO Streetcars in a big way, and Tampa kids and visitors have enjoyed this historic way of transport since 2002. It’s one of our favorite free Tampa kids activities.

Ages: All | Price: FREE!

What’s in it for the kids?

  • Hearing the streetcar bell.
  • Exploring the city in a new and unique way.

What’s in it for you?

  • It’s FREE and is air conditioned!
  • The streetcar stops every 12 minutes, less wait time than an Uber. 
  • Live music every fourth Friday of the month.  
  • With stops all throughout Ybor and downtown Tampa, this is sure to be a hit with the whole family.

The TECO Manatee Viewing Center is a fun — and free! — place to spot manatees in the cooler months. (Photo courtesy of TECO Manatee Viewing Center)

TECO Manatee Viewing Center

Recently recognized by USA Today as 10 Best Reader’s Choice travel awards for best free attractions, the TECO Manatee Viewing Center is a perfect day trip for the whole family for some fun Tampa kids activities.  

Ages: All | Pricing: FREE!

What’s in it for them:

  • An up-close viewing of manatees in their natural environment.
  • A cownose rays touch tank. 
  • An education building to learn all about manatees and their habitat.  

What’s in it for you:

  • Another fantastic free activity for your Tampa kids! 
  • The opportunity to roam along the scenic coastal habitat trail while viewing some of Florida’s most majestic inhabitants.  
  • They also have volunteer opportunities if you’ve always dreamed of being a wildlife docent.  

Tampa kids activities for indoor fun

Babies and toddlers can have fun at The Sunflower Patch in South Tampa. (Photo credit: Brie Pusateri)

The Sunflower Patch

The Sunflower Patch is a new and welcome addition to South Tampa, providing a nurturing and safe environment for babies to toddlers to enjoy before they grow into our other Tampa kids activities.  

Ages: 6 weeks to 5 years | Pricing: $20 for first time drop in with individual classes; class packs and unlimited memberships available.

What’s in it for them?

  • Classes including yoga, painting, books and bubbles, music and even farm animals!
  • Unstructured play which is a perfect way for them to meander through the historic house filled with room after room of creative play options.  

What’s in it for you?

  • I’ll say it again, A/C for keeping you and those Tampa kids cool on the hottest summer day!  
  • An indoor option for your littlest littles. 
  • Provides you peace of mind that your child is in a safe and engaging environment.  
  • The flexibility of individual classes and fantastic package deals so you can enjoy creative classes whenever the mood strikes.

Mable the Mosaic Owl is one of the fun attractions at Bonnet Springs Park. (photo credit: Bonnet Springs Park)

Bonnet Springs Park and the Florida Children’s Museum

If you’re willing to take a little drive, about 45 minutes from Tampa, Bonnet Springs Park and the Florida Children’s Museum in Lakeland is the perfect way to beat the heat, or explore this gorgeous 168-acre park. Once you’re there, it’s easy to see why it’s one of my favorite Tampa kids activities.

Ages: ALL, but the museum is ideal for the 12 and under crowd | Pricing: $15 per ticket for the museum, under 2 FREE. Memberships available. Bonnet Springs Park is free to visit.  

What’s in it for the kids:

  • 2 floors of interactive galleries.
  • Enclosed Harrell Family Charities Front Yard which features a climbable 100-foot alligator and a dig pit.
  • Bonnet Springs Park includes a large unique outdoor playground, botanical gardens, a butterfly house, a canopy walk, Mable the Mosaic Owl Playground and much more.

What’s in it for you:

  • The museum is safe, clean and air conditioned. 
  • With a huge variety of activities, it can be anywhere from a couple hour excursion to a full-day event.
  • There’s a tram to take you around the park. The Crenshaw Canopy Walk is shaded, and stroller friendly. 
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