Tampa Family Attractions
Busch Gardens Theme Park
DESCRIPTION: A 335-acre adventure park of attractions based on exotic encounters with the African continent and world class thrill rides; the park decomposes nicely into 10 Africa themed areas and its newest ride, Jungala, lets you discover a colorful village nestled among towering trees, flowing waterways, a 35-foot waterfall and elaborate stone structures as you explore a 3-story playland of climbing nets, mazes and tunnels; SheiKra dive coaster sends riders through a 3-minute journey 200 feet up, then 90 degrees straight down with Floorless cars giving riders an unobstructed view of the 70 mph rush; Kumba delivers a blood-curdling initial 135-foot drop, then a 110 feet plunge into a diving loop for 3 seconds of weightlessness while spiraling 360 degrees, and tear through one of the world’s largest vertical loops; Montu, the Southeast’s largest inverted steel roller coaster does a 60-foot vertical loop at 60 miles per hour with plenty of G-force; Gwazi presents two wooden tracks intertwined into the Southeast’s largest and fastest double wooden rollercoaster, each with a distinct ride experience; Scorpion is either terrifying or the perfect tonic for adrenalin junkies with its 60-foot drop and 360-degree loop at incredible speeds; Jungle Flyers lets you choose from 3 flight patterns to soar 50 feet above Jungala’s village; Rhino Rally jeep tour transports you through the wilds of Africa, blending up-close animal encounters with an unpredictable safari competition; Cheetah Chase is the perfect ride for a child’s first coaster experience with curves, drops and corkscrews on a five-story “wild mouse” style coaster with a top speed of only 22 mph; Serengeti Plain 65-acre habitat features hundreds of exotic African animals among African grasses, trees, shrubs and replicated versions of natural rock formations, creek beds and mud banks -all seen from the Serengeti Express Railway, Skyride, Serengeti Safari and various walkways; Myombe Reserve is a lush forest where gorillas and chimpanzees can be viewed in a rainforest habitat amid waterfalls and mists; Edge of Africa habitat offers an intense walking safari where guests can experience hippopotamus, lions, lemurs, meerkats, crocodiles and lappet-faced vultures around an abandoned African fishing village; Lory Landing domed habitat showcases a variety of brilliantly colored birds including parrots, lorikeets, hornbills and pheasants in both free flight and observational environments; headlining several shows at the park, KaTonga: Musical Tales From the Jungle takes you on an African journey in a 35-minute Broadway-caliber musical of animal folklore where performers evoke traditional African stories coupled with masterful puppets, original music and spectacular African-inspired dance for mesmerizing entertainment; there’s enough to see, do and dine for 2 or 3 days.
ADMISSION: website lists matrix of pricing options
DAYS & HOURS: 9a-7:30p March-October, some days are longer in the summer
ADDRESS: 3605 Bougainvillea Avenue, Tampa, FL MAP
PARKING: 5,000+ spaces; on hot days, consider taking Busch Gardens shuttle from a nearby resort hotel
DESCRIPTION: Tampa’s only waterpark on 30 acres of water-drenched fun, blends a tropical Key West atmosphere with slides, corkscrews, waterfalls, a wave pool, lazy river, children’s water playground and other family attractions; Riptide, Florida’s first four-lane mat slide, is the newest high-speed thrill ride; Wahoo Run, an exhilarating river five-person raft ride; Splash Attack, the park’s most drenching attraction; Key West Rapids sends riders down six stories through a 700-foot twisting slide and into a splash pool; Gulf Scream fires riders down into a splash pool at speeds exceeding 25 mph; the Aruba Tuba and Calypso Coaster slides offer lots of twisting spirals and swirling waters; body surf three-foot waves in Endless Surf wave pool; Paradise Lagoon offers 9,000 square-feet of water-soaked jumping platforms and cascading waterfalls to a hand-rope walk along the pool’s perimeter; the 1,700-foot tube trek Rambling Bayou glides riders through beautiful landscapes and weather effects; small children will enjoy Fabian’s Funport offers children a kaleidoscopic wading pool, highlighted by bubbler springs, jumping water jets; more rides, Mango Joe’s Café, picnic areas, gift shops and a championship sand volleyball complex round out the adventure; located across the street from Busch Gardens.
ADMISSION: $40 General, $36 ages 3-9, Free for age 2 and under
DAYS & HOURS: Begining March 21 open daily 10a-5p, with longer summer hours
ADDRESS: 10001 North McKinley Drive, Tampa, FL MAP
PARKING: car or camper $10, motorcycles Free
DESCRIPTION: Florida’s only aquarium offering a dramatic, unique and educational look at the astonishing world of Florida’s diverse water habitats; a massive aquarium with lots of exhibits to match the best of others nationwide; Wetlands follows a “drop” of water from its underground source to the open sea as a river otters would see it; lets you Bays and Beaches discover more than 20,000 aquatic plants and animals both native to Florida and from around the world; Coral Reef lets you engage in interactive programs like Swim With The Fishes’ and ‘Dive With The Sharks’ and more; Ocean Commotion gives you a close encounter with some of the most amazing animals found in our oceans; and last but not least, Dive with the Sharks is a program for certified SCUBA divers get in the tank for a personal introduction to the animals.
ADMISSION: see website for pricing options; Age 2 and under enter FREE
DAYS & HOURS: daily 9:30a-5p
ADDRESS: 701 Channelside Drive, Tampa, FL MAP
PARKING: paid parking next to the aquarium
DESCRIPTION: Built in 1996 to ADA standards with a capacity of 19,600 seats, 80 luxury suites, 22 concession stands and plenty of restrooms; it is home to the NHL Tampa Bay Lightening hockey team, as well as family events and concerts; as with all major venues today, security measures are tight, so avoid bringing large bags and sharp objects to the venue.
BOX OFFICE: Mon-Fri and before weekend events
ADDRESS: 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa, FL MAP
PARKING: paid parking next door
Tampa Museum of Science and Industry
DESCRIPTION: Though the museum first opened in 1982, this 400,000+ square foot science center with Florida’s only IMAX® Dome Theatre, extensive permanent and temporary exhibition galleries, a planetarium, and public library opened in 1995; MOSI is the largest science center in the Southeastern United States where you can see the one-of-a-kind Diplodocus dinosaur exhibit; get blown away in the Gulf Coast Hurricane; cruise the galaxy in The Saunders Planetarium; stroll through BioWorks; Butterfly Gardens; explore the human body in “The Amazing You,” the environment in “Our Florida,” and space, flight, and beyond in “Our Place in the Universe” and more than 450 hands-on activities for all ages; recently added, Amazing You is a permanent, state-of-the-art exhibition on health, wellness and prevention that explores the human developmental milestones and teach visitors what it takes to remain healthy at each stage.
ADMISSION: Pricing begins at Adults $26, Age 60+ $22, Ages 12-2 $20, Age 1 and under enter FREE; includes one Planetarium show and 1 IMAX film
DAYS & HOURS: Mon-Fri 9a-5p, Sat-Sun 9a-6p
ADDRESS: 4801 East Fowler Avenue, Tampa, FL MAP
PARKING: Free on premises
Tampa Zoo at Lowry Park
DESCRIPTION: Tampa’s first zoo was established in the late 1930s; as the collection grew, it moved to Lowry Park in 1957; in 1961 General Sumter L. Lowry, Jr. gave the zoo its most prominent animal, Sheena, an 18-month-old Asian elephant that provided the impetus for expanding the animal collection; capital improvement projects increased the size and quality of its habitats, with major milestones occuring in 1988, 1990, 1991, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2000, and 2002; today this award-winning 56-acre tropical zoo features more than 1,500 animals, many rare and endangered, in fabulous animal habitats that include Penguin Beach, Asian Gardens, Safari Africa & Ituri Forest, Free Flight Aviaries, Primate World, Florida Boardwalk, Birds of Prey, Florida Manatee & Aquatic Center, and Walleroo Station; wee ones will find the petting zoo, Discovery Center and Jungle Carousel quite appealing; popular daily programs include the “Birds of Prey” show and Reptile Encounter; the best example of this zoo’s popularity is that its setting attendence recors each year.
ADMISSION: Adults $19, age 60+ $18, ages 3-11 $14.50, age 2 and under enter FREE; wheelchairs and strollers available for rent
DAYS & HOURS: daily 9:30a-5p
ADDRESS: 1101 West Sligh Avenue, Tampa, FL MAP
Raymond James Stadium
DESCRIPTION: Home of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, University of South Florida Bulls football and the New Year’s Day Outback Bowl, has also hosted Super Bowls, as well as concerts and special events; the stadium is best known for a replica pirate ship permanently harbored in Buccaneer Cove — it comes to life after the Buccaneers score a field goal or touchdown with loud cannons that fire seven times to signal a touchdown and three to announce a field goal; it was also become the first professional team in any sport to show HDTV images to its fans — the scorebaord is 24 feet high by 92 feet wide; football players also love the field surface, which some claim is easier on their legs; 65,700 Seats, 12,332 Club Seats and 195 Luxury Suites; Individual/Walk Up Tours: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays at 2p, no reservations required and cost $10 or less.
BOX OFFFICE: Monday-Friday year round and Saturdays and Sundays during Fall football season
ADDRESS: 4201 North Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, FL MAP
PARKING: $25 per vehicle during Buccaneer games; 10,000 spaces
PHONE: Ticket Office 813-879-2827