After you’ve done the pool and the beach and the pool and the beach…and the pool…and the beach… you might be looking to add a little zest in your summer plans!
Being so close to Orlando, we are lucky to have quick access to the world’s best theme parks, but those may not be in the budget. Here’s a list of some fantastic trips you can do with your family, in one day, on one tank of gas, that won’t break the bank!
Clearwater Marine Aquarium: You really can go visit Winter from the movie Dolphin Tale.
Florida Aquarium: Tampa’s huge, 250,000-square-foot, aquarium constantly updates their displays. In addition to a wide variety of marine life, it also has a splash-zone and sand play area! Bring your suits and stay all day.
Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium: Located a county over, Mote, in Sarasota, offers more unique opportunities to experience sea creatures. If you want to explore even more, why not go on one of Mote’s Eco-Boat tours or kayaking excursions. Hang around the area after your day and explore the downtown area or St. Armands Circle.
Lowry Park Zoo : Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is a 56-acre nonprofit zoo located in Tampa, Florida. In 2004, Lowry Park Zoo was voted the #1 Family Friendly Zoo in the US by Child Magazine. Not only does it have amazing animals, it has rides too!
Busch Gardens Tampa : Though on the higher end of the budget, Busch Gardens offers a fun-pass, where you buy the ticket and can re-visit the park for the rest of the year! People forget about all the amazing animal exhibits at Busch Gardens because they also have exciting roller coasters and shows. Kids love this place because they have a Sesame Street fun area, complete with sand and water park! You really can re-visit this place all summer long. During the summer months, they have evening concerts and fireworks!
Big Cat Rescue: Home to 100 big cats, like tigers and lions, who have been rescued. Located in Tampa.
Suncoast Primate Sanctuary: Home to over 70 animals including Chimpanzees, Orangutans, Monkeys, Reptiles, Tropical Birds, and more. The SPS, in Palm Harbor, has an ever changing calendar of events and offers a summer swim series.
MOSI – The Museum of Science and Industry: is a great science museum, located in Tampa, with an outdoor rope adventure and Florida’s only IMAX dome movie theater.
Glazer Children’s Museum: Located in Tampa, the Glazer has a variety of interactive exhibits from water to flight. Bring your bathing suits and enjoy Curtis Hixon waterfront park and splash fountain afterwards.
Great Explorations Children’s Museum: This museum, in St. Pete has a wonderful hand’s on experiences for children of all ages. My favorite was the Touch Tunnel, where kids can experience using other senses (than site) to maneuver around!
Plants and Nature
Nature’s Classroom: Nature’s Classroom is a 365-acre environmental studies program and learning laboratory set in the real Florida environment. The whole family can learn about Florida’s wildlife, eco-systems, and participate in activities. Located in Thonotosassa. My daughter’s could not stop talking about this place! They loved it.
Sunken Gardens: The Sunken Gardens has 4 acres of botanical gardens located in the center of St. Petersburg, and is 100 years old! The Gardens currently contain over 500 species of tropical and subtropical plants surrounding pools and cascading waterfalls, lushly planted in a collection of more than 50,000 tropical plants and flowers.
Weeki Wachee Springs and Buccaneer Bay: The mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs have delighted visitors since 1947. You will not want to miss their show! Buccaneer Bay has a white sandy beach, thrilling flume rides, beach volleyball, lazy river ride, Lil’ Mates Cove and much more!!
Tarpon Springs: Step into Greece! This charming city has the most delicious Greek food in town. Take your family out on a boat trip to see an experienced diver get sponges. Visit their intimate aquarium and watch them feed the sharks.
Have any great ideas? Share them with us!!