With a lively downtown area, gorgeous waterways, and plenty of exciting attractions nearby, Tampa offers a well-rounded Floridian vacation experience for families. Just a 30-minute drive from most Tampa vacation rentals takes you to the nearest beach, while a variety of other entertainment options are situated closer. Award-winning restaurants and upscale shopping venues line the city streets, and nearby parks provide a relaxing place for a stroll. Discover the top 15 things to do during your Tampa vacation.

1. Visit Busch Gardens

Spend a day or two at Busch Gardens, one of Tampa’s most popular attractions. Fun for the whole family, this amusement park offers thrill rides, roller coasters, and plenty of kiddie rides for the little ones. The park’s zoo contains more than 12,000 animals, making it the largest in North America.

2. Experience the Riverwalk

After you settle into your vacation rental, head to the Tampa Riverwalk for your first introduction to the city. Stop off at one of the parks along the way to let the kids play, or select from one of the several dog parks that cater to your four-legged friends. Come at night to snap some photos of the gorgeous lighted fountains.

3. Check out the Aquarium

When the weather heats up outdoors, spend an afternoon at The Florida Aquarium. Information boards let you take a self-guided tour and learn everything there is to know about the fish, aquatic birds, lemurs, and more. A small splash park outside delights the younger kids while giving you some time to relax in the sun.

4. Catch a Game

Thrill the sports enthusiasts in your family with tickets to a game. For fans of NFL, watch the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play at Raymond James Stadium. Baseball lovers can catch the Tampa Yankees, from the Class A Advanced Florida State League, in a home game at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

5. Get out on the Water

Prepare to snap some incredible photos when you take a dolphin or whale-watching tour. Book a few hours with Tampa Bay Fun Boat LLC. The knowledgeable crew keeps your family entertained with stories about the area and fun music.

Find the perfect Tampa vacation rental on Tripping.com. Tripping.com is the world's #1 vacation rental search engine with over 10 million properties!

6. Stop by a Museum

There are plenty of exhibits to keep the kids entertained at Glazer Children’s Museum. The interactive museum offers everything from indoor water play to art exploration. Little ones love the pretend-play restaurant and supermarket, complete with realistic shopping carts, and the fire station, which features costumes, a firetruck, and the sliding pool, which is a favorite.

7. Take a Brewery Tour

Learn how your favorite beer is made with a tour of the Yuengling Brewery. Take an informative trip through the brewing process, and find out everything you need to know about the company’s history. The tour is free, and visitors love the samples at the end. Visit the gift shop before you leave to take a memento back to your vacation rental.

8. Hit the Water Park

When the temperature rises, cool down with a trip to Adventure Island. Attractions include water slides, swimming pools, splash playgrounds, and the Spike Zone, a six-court volleyball complex. Rent a cabana for the day and relax with a book while the kids spend their day running from slide to slide. Challenge the kids to cross the floating lily pads at Paradise Lagoon, or take a ride with them on Calypso Coaster, an open flume.

9. Bet on the Ponies

Take in some horseracing with a trip to Tampa Bay Downs. Even if you don’t gamble, the track offers horse and dog racing, both of which are exciting for the kids. Watch from the covered bandstand outside, or find a seat indoors. Reasonably priced food and drink options abound, while a poker area upstairs provides an additional opportunity to win big.

10. Watch a Movie

Visit the breathtaking Tampa Theatre. Take a tour of this incredible theatre that’s been renovated and restored to its original glory. Call ahead to schedule a tour to hear all about the history of the theatre to hear the Wurlitzer organ play. The theatre also shows limited-release movies. Visitors of all ages appreciate the beauty of this historic building.

11. See the Animals

If you have animal lovers in the family, plan an afternoon at Big Cat Rescue. Take a walking tour of the animal sanctuary to see all the big cats that have been rescued, and learn about the history of each cat there. The staff here is knowledgeable and passionate about what they do.

12. Go for a Drive

During your stay in Tampa, be sure to take a drive over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. At nearly 22,000 feet in length, this bridge offers stunning views of the Tampa area. Take advantage of pull-off spots along the bridge to stop and take photos, watch the fishermen on the old bridge, and see cargo ships crossing beneath you.

13. Make Your Escape

There are a variety of room escape games available in the Tampa area, providing the perfect opportunity to spend a fun evening with the family. Visit Can You Escape? Tampa to find your way out of the zombie room. Rabbit Hole Escape Games is a Tampa favorite thanks to the retro theme and challenging puzzles.

14. Explore Nature

Go for a relaxing walk through Lettuce Lake Regional Park. Pack a picnic lunch at your vacation rental to enjoy at the park. Plan an afternoon of kayaking here, bring your bikes for some trail riding, or visit for a morning run. The natural beauty here is unrivaled, so be sure to bring your camera.

15. View Some Art

Spend a day appreciating the art at the Tampa Museum of Art. World-class exhibits keep everyone in the family interested. Be sure to check out the interesting collection of ancient artifacts from Egypt, Rome, and Greece. The restaurant here offers tasty options, and the gift shop is worth browsing before you leave.

Ready to go? Check out these amazing Tampa vacation rentals on Tripping.com.