Enjoy sunny weather and city amenities in Tampa, a sprawling metropolitan that’s packed with family-friendly attractions. Whether you’re looking for pure fun on a long weekend or you want to bring a hint of education to summer vacation, it’s a breeze to find activities that meet your needs. Get a rush of adrenaline at a theme park, spend lazy days on the beach, or learn about Florida’s fascinating natural history. As you research vacation rentals in Tampa, look for properties that place you near these fun, kid-approved spots.

1. Ride the Roller Coasters

Start your trip off with a visit to Busch Gardens. This popular theme park features a variety of attractions, from hair-raising roller coasters to toddler-friendly animal parks. Try the water rides when the temperatures rise and head for one of the park’s fun-filled musical shows when you need a break from the action. Be sure to check out the Edge of Africa area, where you can watch animals from a walking safari.

2. Explore a WWII-Era Ship

Help your kids understand the World War II experience with a visit to the American Victory Ship. Walk through the entire vessel, making sure to check out the flying bridge, crew cabins, and the engine room. The cargo holds, which span three levels, are particularly important. Admission includes free reign of the ship, so you can take the self-guided tour at your children’s pace.

3. Cool off at Adventure Island

If you’re visiting Tampa in the summer, bring the kids to the Adventure Island water park. Join your children in a tube on one of the many multi-person water slides, or float down the lazy river in the Rambling Bayou. For little ones, Fabian’s Fun Port and Splash Attack provide a range of water toys and climbing structures.

4. Head to the Children’s Museum

When you need a break from the sun, visit the Glazer Children’s Museum. Learn about the banking system in the Central Bank exhibit, or let your kids experience a construction project in the Design and Build or Tot Construction areas. Other fun, interactive exhibits include the Fort Room, Firehouse, and the Engineer’s Workshop.

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5. See Exotic Sea Life

Experience the majesty of the deep ocean at Tampa’s Florida Aquarium. Check out the snakes, birds, and alligators in the Florida Wetlands Trail Dome, and spot exotic land and sea creatures in the Journey to Madagascar gallery. Finish your visit at the Coral Reef Gallery, a 500,000-gallon tank that recreates the experience of a 60-foot scuba dive through a reef. From the enormous observation window and tunnel, kids can check out more than 2,000 different animals.

6. Learn About Science

Get hands-on with science at the Museum of Science and Industry. Let your kids experience high-altitude fun on the Sky Trail ropes course and zip line, or try different science experiments in the Kids In Charge! Children‘s Science Center. The museum’s IMAX theater shows a regular series of thrilling movies, and the planetarium provides narrated projections of the night sky.

7. Get Outdoors

Explore Florida’s beautiful natural environment at Hillsborough River State Park. Walk through the park’s 7 miles of nature trails, or bring your bikes for a fun family ride. Rent a canoe at the concession stand, and spend an afternoon paddling down the Hillsborough River. At the Fort Foster State Historic Site, tour a reconstructed fort and learn about the history of the Second Seminole War.

8. Visit the Zoo

Delight your little animal lovers with a visit to the Lowry Park Zoo. Spot elephants and giraffes from your bus in the Safari Africa area, or look out for tigers and rhinos in the Asian Gardens. In the Primate World section, you can watch squirrel monkeys swing from the trees, and keep an eye out for orangutans. If you have toddlers or young children, hop on the Overland Express Train at Wallaroo Station for a fun ride.

9. Walk Among the Dinosaurs

Walk with dinosaurs at Dinosaur World Florida, a magical attraction that’s exciting for kids of all ages. Walk through the park to see 200 life-size replicas of actual dinosaurs, and hunt for treasure in the Fossil Dig area. A large playground provides a safe spot for toddlers, and older kids can learn about prehistoric times in a series of exciting, interactive exhibits.

10. Play in the Ocean

Take a dip in the ocean at Fort De Soto Park, one of the best family-friendly beaches near Tampa. Set up camp on the large, clean beach, and spend the day enjoying the ocean and watching the local birds. Clearwater Beach is another great option; kids can play on the sparkling white sand, swim in the gentle water, or join in a game of beach volleyball.

11. Watch Spring Training

Watch the New York Yankees as they complete their spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Visit during a regular practice for your kids’ chance to get close to the players, or come during a spring training game for a fun, exhilarating atmosphere. If you’re heading to Tampa in the summer, catch a Tampa Yankees game at the stadium.

12. See Big Cats

See some of the world’s most powerful animals at the Big Cat Rescue. This large sanctuary takes in abandoned and abused big cats and helps them heal. Book a tour to see more than 80 different animals, including cougars and lions, in a safe and loving environment. Be sure to book early, and pay close attention to the age requirements for each tour.

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