Although Tampa is an ocean-side gem with on average of 261 days of at least some sunshine, this city on Florida's west coast is much more than surf and sand. Whether your child is a beach baby or prefers more artistic pursuits, Tampa offers a range of fun-filled and educational activities for kids to try.
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."