Weeki Wachee Springs Weeki Wachee Springs is the quintessential Florida roadside attraction: kitschy, tacky, delightfully weird. The main draw here is the mermaid show. Also included is a river boat tour, water park, and the spring in which you can swim.
Sunken Gardens Sunken Gardens is a botanical treasure hidden away in the city of St. Petersburg and sits 10 feet below sea level. Its history stretches back 100 years and it is one of my favorite day trips. Get up to 49% off here.
Safari Wilderness Ranch The ranch is located in Lakeland on a 260 acre swatch of land. Take a safari truck tour throughout the ranch and meet a variety of African herd animals, some being rare and endangered. A great agritourism project.
Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo This zoo has won multiple awards and has achieved excellence. Top-notch habitats, events, and seasonal celebrations. The commendable manatee hospital, which has treated 400+ manatees, is worth the admission alone. Get TRIO Pass or Get CityPASS
Dinosaur World Welcome to the best place in all of Florida to view fake dinosaurs. Located along the I-4 Corridor, Dinosaur World boasts 150+ dino sculptures placed along trails through a jungle-like atmosphere. Some of these dinos are HUGE.
Fort De Soto Composed of five islands, Fort De Soto Park is one of the best outdoor day trips with plenty to explore. Beach camping, miles of shoreline, an old American Fort from the Spanish-American War, and home to North Beach, which held the title of America’s Best Beach.
Lettuce Lake Park Just $2 to get in. It has a small entrance off of Fletcher Ave in Tampa but is huge once inside. It lies along the Hillsborough River. Includes trails, swampy mangroves boardwalks, good chance to see wild alligators. Also, the cheapest place in town to rent canoes–$25 for 4 hours.
Little Manatee River State Park This state park opened up in 1987 and offers 2,433 acres to explore. Not as developed as some other Florida State Parks, but the 6.5-mile hike is spectacular. Camping and canoeing is available here as well.
Glazer Children’s Museum The museum boasts 170 hands-on exhibits for the kids and a fantastic downtown Tampa location within walking distance of several other points of interest such as the Tampa Museum of Art, Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and the University of Tampa.
Hillsborough River State Park Established in 1935, this is one of the eight original Florida State Parks. It is one of the more popular parks due to its close proximity to Tampa and because it is fun. Good car camping. Good hiking. This is my favorite Florida state park.
Honeymoon Island State Park Honeymoon Island is the most visited state park in Florida, clocking in at over a million visitors per year. Not only does the park have an interesting history, it has some of the best beach in Florida, nice hiking trails, and nesting bald eagles.
Tampa Bay Rowdies The Rowdies are Tampa Bay’s professional soccer club. Known for thrilling high-quality soccer and an energetic fan base. They play in the Division II United Soccer League. Home games take place at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg. Good times.
S.S. American Victory Ship & Museum Operational during WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, this ship has been saved from scrapping and has been successfully renovated as a museum. Visitors can explore the vessel on a guided or self-guided tour. Ship is still fully functional (except for its guns). Get up to 47% off admission here
Conner Preserve Nearly 3,000 acres large, I thought I would have had a better time here. But the “hiking’ trails turned out to be long grassy roads under a hot Florida sun. I want to explore this place again, but with a mountain bike. An R/C Flying Field is here. Free primitive camping. Equestrian use allowed. Redeeming feature was stunning vistas.
Rainbow Springs State Park Rainbow Springs is my favorite Florida spring to swim in, so far. Also, it’s just $2 to get in. There are hiking trails, canoe/kayak rentals, ruins of an old zoo, butterfly garden, and a river to explore. Camping is mediocre though.
The Florida Aquarium This 250,000 square-foot water wonderland is located in Tampa’s Channelside District. Full of aquatic plants and animals and excellent exhibits. TripAdviser.com includes this among their Top 10 US Aquariums. Get TRIO Pass or Get Tix Starting From $21.99 or Get CityPASS
TECO Manatee Viewing Center Open November 1 through April 15, manatees gather in the warm, clean water discharge of the Big Bend Power Station when Tampa Bay’s water temperature reaches 68 degrees and under. Entry is free.
Adventure Island Adventure Island, not to be confused with Universal’s Islands of Adventure, is Busch Garden’s water park and is a great time. It has 30 acres of water slides, pools, playhouses, and a lazy river. A great place to splash around in Tampa Bay.
Busch Gardens My #1 recommended day trip for Tampa. It’s all about exotic animals and incredible thrill rides. There are over 12,000 animals and 7 world-class roller coasters. I love BG so much I even spent a few years writing a guidebook about it. Get CityPASS
Museum of Science and Industry Tampa’s scientific playground and a wonderful day trip. Over 450 hand-on exhibits, huge IMAX dome theater, butterfly garden, ropes course, and more. Locals call it MOSI, as in Mow-Zee. Get TRIO Pass | $22.89 admission Groupon | Get CityPASS
The Florida Holocaust Museum Filled with artifacts, images, models, and displays; it was a somber experience. I spent hours wandering its halls. It makes one consider how to confront the issues and events of today.
Tampa Museum of Art The Tampa Museum of Art is located in revitalized downtown Tampa and is part of the Tampa Riverwalk. It includes cutting edge modern art and also an excellent Greek and Roman collection.