With summer in full-swing, we are all looking for ways to keep the kids busy. I grew up in a small town in Central Florida without much to do so I’m always amazed at how much Tampa Bay has to offer for families. I’ve lived here for more than 15 years now and I’m always learning of new things to do and see. From beaches to museums, Tampa really offers something for everyone. Why not spend the summer exploring Tampa Bay? Let’s start with some great outdoor activities where the kids can play and get moving while learning about Tampa’s history and ecology.
Florida Botanical Gardens – Cost: Free
12520 Ulmerton Rd.
Largo, FL 33774
Pack a picnic lunch and go explore 30 acres of gardens and nature. Be sure to check out the special Children’s Trail that starts at the Butterfly Garden and takes the kids on an adventure through trees, wildlife and fruit. Finally, be sure to head next door to Heritage Village to explore the 21-acre living history museum complete with an old school, railroad depot and general store. The best part, it’s all free!
Canoe or Kayak down the Hillsborough River – Cost: $25 canoe, $15 kayak rental fees
15402 US 301 N.
Thonotosassa, FL 33592
Head to the Hillsborough River State Park, rent a canoe or kayak from the park concession, and take a scenic trip down the river. Stop in the Poolside Cafe for a snack and finish the day exploring the park’s 7 miles of trails. If you’re feeling really adventurous, camping facilities are even available.
Bike the Suncoast Trail – Cost: $2 parking fee
16175 S.R. 54
Odessa, FL 33556
Pack up the bikes and go explore the Suncoast Trail. The trail begins in northern Hillsborough County, and heads north through Pasco and Hernando counties. Along the trail, you’ll find signs detailing the trail’s historical significance and identifying the local ecology. Don’t worry – there are plenty of rest areas along the way, too! Stop for a picnic at Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Preserve and take in some beautiful natural scenery before heading home.
The Tampa Riverwalk – Cost: Free
Take a day to explore everything downtown Tampa to offer by taking a stroll down the new Tampa Riverwalk. Be sure to check out the Historical Monument Trial featuring monumental people and events that helped shape Tampa history. With three splash zones along the walk, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to cool off. Make a day of it by visiting the Children’s Museum, the Aquarium or the History Museum.
Lettuce Lake Regional Park – Cost: $2 parking fee
6920 E. Fletcher Ave,
Tampa, FL 335637
Lake Park offers plenty of options to spend an entire day exploring – trails, picnic areas, fishing, an observation tower, canoeing or kayaking, and playgrounds. Plan ahead and prepare a nature scavenger hunt for your visit.
Did I miss your favorite outdoor “gem”? Share it with us so we can explore Tampa Bay together.