Tampa has several indoor options to help children discover more about the world we live in. The Glazer Children's Museum (glazermuseum.org) has 15 hands-on exhibits for kids of all ages and as camp programs for elementary school children. Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry, known as MOSI (mosi.org), has a special science center just for kids 12 years old and younger. It has places to create, investigate and bounce. Another indoor discovery option is the Florida Aquarium (flaquarium.org). Though an outdoor water play area is available, kids will have plenty to do visiting all of the indoor exhibits such as the Coral Reef Gallery and the penguin shows.
Another Tampa museum option is the Salvador Dali Museum (thedali.org). While Dali is not necessarily the first artist one associates with kids, the museum has a classroom just for kids with puzzles and activities. They also have Family Fun Saturdays, with arts and crafts and museum tours. Younger kids might enjoy the Bits 'N Pieces Puppet Theater (puppetworld.com), where classical stories are turned into traditional puppet shows.
If you're looking for something more regular, Tampa is filled with active classes for kids. The YMCA (tampaymca.org) has branches throughout the city that have indoor classes for kids in swimming, dance, gymnastics, martial arts and sports. Vertical Ventures (verticalventures.com) is an indoor activity that kids and adults can do. The huge indoor climbing gym has classes and many kinds of climbing areas.
The Hillsborough County Library (hcplc.org) system has lots of indoor activities for kids throughout the Tampa area. Story times cater to all ages, but especially for babies and toddlers. The libraries also have several other events for kids, including art lessons, video game sessions, Lego building sessions, puppet shows, Kindermusik classes, science labs, movie matinees, Florida history, storytelling and a Pokemon league.
With almost a full year of sunny days, don't let the kids miss out on a beach trip during your stay in Tampa. Tampa has dozens of pristine beaches that provide hours of activity for your child. The Davis Islands Seaplane Basin (864 Severn Ave., Tampa, 33606) has a beach, picnic area, and launches for canoes and boats. The Picnic Island Park (7409 Picnic Island Blvd., Tampa, 33616) has more than 7 acres of beach to play on along with a pier for fishing.
Kids can have fun while getting some culture or learning a lesson or two at one of Tampa's museums. The Tampa Museum of Art (tampamuseum.org) has a world-class collection for children to visit along with drop-in "Art Spot" art-making opportunities every Saturday. The Museum of Science and Industry (mosi.org) features more than 450 hands-on activities and exhibits such as the NASA-themed Mission: Moonbase, the Bio Works Butterfly Garden and a 10,000 square foot weather exhibition.
Amuse your child with a day trip to one of Tampa's amusement parks. Busch Gardens Tampa (seaworldparks.com/en/buschgardens-Tampa) has everything from animal attractions to rides and even a top-notch ice show to watch. If you have a vet-in-training on your hands, take your child to the park's Animal Care Center to see what the pros do. If you would rather beat the heat at a water-loving outing, Adventure Island (adventureisland.com) features aqua rides such as the Calypso Coaster and 25 mph moving Gulf Scream along with attractions such as the Endless Surf's 17,000-square-foot wave pool or the Rambling Bayou's lazy river.
Give your child the gift of culture and take him to a performance the whole family can enjoy. Stages Productions (stagesproductions.com/) is a professional children's theater company that has been serving the Tampa area since 1988. Kids can enjoy pint-sized performances from professional actors. Tampa's Bits 'N Pieces Puppetworld (puppetworld.com) has a season packed with literature-based puppet shows at the company's playhouse. Performances vary yearly, but past seasons have included "Little Red Riding Hood" and "Three Billy Goats Gruff."
Take your child on a tour of the historical importance of Ybor City. Ybor was once a thriving cigar town -- at one time surpassing Cuba as the Cigar Capitol of the World -- founded in 1886 by immigrants looking to escape the unrest in Cuba. Many of the old cigar factories and original homes are still standing today. You can take a tour of the rich history at the Ybor City Museum. The museum features a garden and recreated cigar home as well as artifacts from the original settlers.
Ybor City knows how to throw a party. There are frequent festivals throughout the year, including Guavaween, Festa Italiana, Flan Fest and Fiesta Day. During the day, these festivals offer kid-friendly activities, parades, live music and more food than your children can stomach.
Fun and Games
Inside Ybor City’s shopping district, you can take in a movie at the 20-screen Centro Ybor Muvico Theater or play some games at Game Time. Game Time offers arcade games and food. Challenge your child to a competitive game of skee-ball or play a game of pool while your child beats the latest racing game.
A Short Drive
While Ybor City has plenty to offer both adults and kids, there are some other activities just a short drive away in the Channelside and Downtown Tampa districts. Channelside offers the Florida Aquarium, where you can pet sharks, take in a show, view the aquatic life native to Florida or cool off in the Explore a Shore water fun zone. Downtown Tampa offers the Glazer Children’s Museum, where your child can be a firefighter, a bank teller or doctor while exploring the interactive activity centers.