Tampa with Kids: 20 Best Things to Do in Tampa, Florida

Zoo Tampa has lush tropical exhibits that will leave visitors in awe. Photo courtesy of the zoo
Zoo Tampa has lush tropical exhibits that will leave visitors in awe. Photo courtesy of the zoo
12/3/23 - By Amy Williams

It's no secret that Florida is a popular tourist destination, and Tampa has become one of the best places for families. From beautiful beaches to thrilling theme parks, there’s no shortage of fun activities for kids in the Tampa Bay area.

While the city of Tampa is smaller than most people think, the Tampa Bay area spans several cities and has everything you need for an incredible family vacation. Just a few minutes from parks, beaches, wildlife preserves, and shopping, there's something for everyone in Tampa. And with major attractions like Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, The Florida Aquarium, and Adventure Island, Tampa, Florida is perfect for families of all ages and interests.


Here are 20 things to do with kids in Tampa, Florida, including the best Tampa hotels for families and the best Tampa restaurants to grab a bite to eat.

Best Things to Do in Tampa, FL with Kids

1. Beach Day

A visit to Tampa means a visit to the beach! Tampa is only 30 minutes away from St. Pete and Clearwater Beach, two of the most beautiful Florida beaches you'll visit. Both Clearwater and St. Pete beaches are kid-friendly and great spots to burn off energy and enjoy the outdoors. If you're visiting during summer or a school break, arrive early to get a close parking spot.

2. Busch Gardens Tampa

Busch Gardens Tampa has been a beloved theme park since 1959. This popular theme park is known for its thrilling coasters—appropriate for older kids. Little ones will have just as much fun at younger attractions, like Sesame Street Safari of Fun featuring kid-friendly rides, a splash zone, and Sesame Street characters.

3. ZooTampa

For wildlife lovers, ZooTampa is the place to be! Just 15 minutes outside of downtown Tampa, ZooTampa was voted one of the top 10 U.S. zoos by USA Today. Kids can see their favorite animals as well as enjoy animal encounters that allow visitors to get up close with birds, stingrays, elephants, and more.

4. Adventure Island

When the weather is warm, cool off at Adventure Island. Across the street from Busch Gardens Tampa, Adventure Island is a seasonal water park open March-October. Enjoy the wave pool, water slides, lazy river, and the interactive splash zone at Shaka-Lake Shores.

Things to do in Tampa Lettuce Lake Park
The trails at Lettuce Lake Park are perfect for little hikers. Photo courtesy of Hillsborough County

5. Go on a Hike

While Florida is notoriously flat, there are still plenty of places to enjoy taking a hike. One of the best places in Tampa to hike is Lettuce Lake Park —this 240-acre conservation park is located right on the Hillsborough River. There’s a 3,500-foot boardwalk, observation tower, and plenty of spots for a picnic. Kids will enjoy seeing the wildlife...just watch out for the gators!

6. Tampa Riverwalk

Head downtown to visit the Tampa Riverwalk to experience lovely walks and bike rides, as well as awesome parks, restaurants, and other activities along the trail. Kids love looking across the water, especially when they spot boats going down the Hillsborough River.

7. Armature Works

Find a variety of shops, restaurants, and outdoor activities at Armature Works. Kids can play on the lawn while adults enjoy a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. This event space offers a variety of seasonal events throughout the year.

Things to do in Tampa Carrollwood Village Park
Carrollwood Village Park features wonderful walking/biking paths, a splash pad, and playground equipment. Photo courtesy of the park

8. Carrollwood Village Park

Carrollwood Village Park is hands down one of the nicest, cleanest parks in the Tampa area. Carrollwood Village Park has a large playground, splash pad, skate park, walking trails, and plenty of room for a picnic. It’s not uncommon to spot ducks, turtles, and even small alligators while walking over the boardwalk!

9. The Florida Aquarium

The Florida Aquarium features over 10 different habitats and exhibits. The combination of indoor exhibits, a splash pad, and outdoor playground makes the aquarium a great resource to cool off during warmer days.

Things to do in Tampa The Glazer Children's Musuem
The Glazer Children's Museum offers a fun learning space for kids of all ages. 

10. Glazer Children’s Museum

The Glazer Children’s Museum in Tampa offers the perfect balance of fun and educational opportunities. Kids love the Glazer Children’s Museum, a place they can safely learn and explore the world around them. There are over 16 different exhibits for kids under 10 years old!

11. Playgrounds of Tampa

If you need a break from the sun, bring kids to Playgrounds of Tampa! This indoor bounce house keeps kids entertained and busy; there’s even a snack bar and coffee shop for parents to enjoy.

12. International Plaza

If you’re itching to shop, spend the day at Tampa’s most beloved luxury mall. International Plaza and Bay Street is home to 16 restaurants and 200 stores. After stopping by the food court for a quick bite, explore the shopping center. Let the kids go nuts at the Busch Gardens-themed play area —it's best for kids 5 and under.

Things to do in Tampa Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI)
Explore the world through interactive learning at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI).

13. Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI)

The Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) is well-loved museum with interactive learning Tampa. Kids can learn about dinosaurs, physics, or NASA, and spend time at the Saunders Planetarium and the Sky Trail Ropes Course.

Things to do in Tampa Hard Rock Cafe Tampa
Dig into a classic burger done to perfection at Hard Rock Cafe Tampa. Photo courtesy of the restaurant

Best Tampa Restaurants for Kids

14. Hard Rock Cafe

One of the top family-friendly restaurants in Tampa is the Hard Rock Cafe. This beloved American restaurant features a rock-and-roll atmosphere that kids will enjoy. This Tampa restaurant offers live music and delicious food. Keep in mind that kids are allowed in the restaurant but many of other areas, such as the casino, are for ages 18 and up only.

15. Ulele

This kid-friendly Tampa restaurant, just a few steps away from Armature Works, features an upscale menu, relaxing atmosphere, and fresh ingredients. Ask for outdoor seating and let the kids play during the meal.

16. Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill

After spending the day at the beach, Frenchy’s is the go-to restaurant in Clearwater. (Actually, there’s six locations across Clearwater and Dunedin, including one takeout spot.) The original Frenchy's, down the street from Clearwater Memorial Causeway, serves delicious items like the famous grouper sandwich and grouper nuggets off the kids menu.

Best Tampa Hotels for Families

17. The Don CeSar

The elegant Don CeSar Hotel has a rich history that goes all the way back to the 1920s. There’s no limit to the hotel amenities available for adults and kids; they offer a full-service spa, heated pools, free bike rentals, great restaurants, and childcare services. The best part of this luxury hotel is the beautiful private beach.

18. Marriott Water Street

This downtown, luxury hotel sits next to the Tampa Convention Center, so guests are just a few minutes away from Tampa Riverwalk, The Florida Aquarium, and Sparkman Wharf. Marriott Water Street features various amenities like the rooftop pool, waterfront views, and tasty restaurants.

19. Embassy Suites

The downtown Embassy Suites, connected to the Tampa Convention Center, makes it easy to visit The Florida Aquarium, Ybor City, and other popular destinations. Hotel guests enjoy a free breakfast and free evening reception.

20. Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel

The Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel is less than 2 miles away from Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as well as adjacent to the International Mall. This hotel features a beautiful outdoor pool, elegant restaurant, and spacious accommodations.