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All dressed up and no where to go...
July 27, 2010 10:06 AM   Subscribe

Fun things to do in Tampa?

I have guests visiting for a few weeks and it's Day 4 and we are bored out of our minds. I've lived in Tampa for a couple of years, but nothing around here has really appealed to me. It seems like the only things to do around here are eat, shop, and club. And I don't club. I know there are a couple of museums and the zoo. But what else?

Things to consider: We are kind of a large group, 7 people, and 2 of those people are little elementary school-aged kids. So we're looking for activities that won't break the bank (for instance, paying $$$ x 7 to get into Busch Gardens is probably not best idea) and are generally kid-friendly. (The kids are pretty well-behaved, tho.)

BUT if you know of something around here that we MUST SEE, please suggest it, even if its not necessarily budget-friendly.

Also, if you know of any places to get great french desserts in Tampa, please let me know!

Thank you!
posted by joyeuxamelie to Society & Culture (23 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Since you've got kids in your group, I'd definitely recommend MOSI, the Museum of Science and Industry. I grew up in the Tampa Bay Area, and even as an adult, I loved going there to play with the exhibits.
posted by lriG rorriM at 10:14 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


How about minor league baseball. Fan friendly. On Sat Aug 7th, it is fireworks night and family and friends night where they have a one price for admission, soda, hot dog, etc. Kids get to run the bases!! Lots of other promotions and nights too.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:15 AM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


MOSI is fun, and nothing beats Dinosaur World for some campy as hell dino-themed fun.
posted by Medieval Maven at 10:20 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's pretty small but there's an aquarium in Tarpon Springs and it has one of those "touch the slimy ocean things!" tanks. There are lots of touristy gift shops around it and it's cool to see the natural sponges in them. Plus at least one good Greek restaurant IIRC.
posted by XMLicious at 10:21 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Go swim in some springs! Crystal River is only about an hour north of Tampa, and all of the great springs in the Ocala area (Alexander, Juniper, Salt, etc.) are only about a 2 hour drive.
posted by saladin at 10:22 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


International Plaza is a very nice mall- lots of places to sit and rest.

The water park Adventure Island is a lot more budget-friendly than Busch Gardens.

There's always Clearwater Beach.

This is a drive for you, but I always love doing karaoke at Mugs N' Jugs.

If you were willing to go to St. Pete, you could visit The Pier.

The TBPAC has some shows this week- Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:23 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


How about spending some time outdoors? There are a lot of beautiful parks along the Hillsborough; Lettuce Lake has a pretty boardwalk and a few quite manageable trails. Or maybe you could all go kayaking, I would think that's a kid-friendly activity if you're in a calm area - I like Sail Honeymoon out by Caladisi Island but there are certainly plenty of others around.
posted by DingoMutt at 10:28 AM on July 27, 2010


Philippe Park is another nice place to go if you're up for outdoors activities - bring a picnic dinner!
posted by DingoMutt at 10:30 AM on July 27, 2010


canoeing: The Hillsborough River runs all the way through Tampa, and up northeast of the city through beautiful terrain. It's generally a slow, wide, easy to navigate river and there are plenty of canoe liveries to rent from - they'll carry you to and from the put-in and takeout, too.

Check out Hillsborough River State Park.

Ft. DeSoto beach, at the bottom of St. Petersburg, has been named Best Beach in America a couple of times by Dr. Beach. I think you can see the Sunshine Skyway bridge from the beach, and there's a long shallow shelf, good for kid swimming.
posted by toodleydoodley at 10:32 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dali Museum! Florida Aquarium! Lowry Park Zoo! Dale Chihuly exhibit! Columbia Restaurant!

and 2nd both MOSI and Dinosaur World
posted by Flamingo at 10:34 AM on July 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


lowry park
posted by patnok at 10:41 AM on July 27, 2010


Also, for adults, I'm not an art person but I absolutely loved the Salvador Dali museum. Possibly because we had a great tour guide, though. I expect it would be intensely boring for any but the most nerdy or artistic elementary school kids.
posted by XMLicious at 10:52 AM on July 27, 2010


Here's a great place for a meal and not far from the airport! I'd highly recommend, and dammit, I'm jealous you get to go!
Lowry Park Zoo tends to be a favorite will kids and adults. Call ahead to see if they are nursing any manatees back to health. Sometimes in summer, admission is a head or lettuce. Again, call in advance.
posted by 6:1 at 11:00 AM on July 27, 2010


make that "Head of Lettuce".
posted by 6:1 at 11:26 AM on July 27, 2010


I *heart* the Dali Museum. I always end up feeling like my brain is full when I leave there.
posted by rmd1023 at 11:38 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


St. Pete Shuffleboard is a lot of fun, and free. Unfortunately, it's only open on Friday nights, but I guarantee you and your kids will enjoy it.
posted by unclejeffy at 11:44 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


St. Petersburg also has Haslam's Books.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:12 PM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


nthing Lowry Park Zoo. It's not just for kids!
posted by Ochre,Hugh at 12:54 PM on July 27, 2010


If you have guests, maybe you should ask them what they want to do? it may not have appeal to you. God knows how many times I had to force myself to go to a crowded beach for my friends/family visiting from out of town.

For French deserts/food:

Pane Rustica
on Indian Rocks
la creperia cafe in Ybor if you like sweet crepes.
There was a place in downtown sarasota that I think may have opened a location in Tampa called C'est La Vie. it was one of my favorite restaurants/cafes.

I lived in Tampa Bay for 11 years and some of the things I enjoyed were:

-Staying inside when it was too hot out
-LOVE the Florida Aquarium. Best I've ever been to.
-MOSI
-Big Cat Rescue
-Museum of Fine Arts
-Clearwater Marine Aquarium (near Clearwater Beach)
-Dali Museum (St. Pete)
Fort DeSoto (cool history and beautiful beach)
-Lowry Park Zoo (which you mentioned)
-The Pier in St. Petersburg (includes a little aquarium and an "exploration center" for kids.
Celebration Station
-Tampa Bay History Center
-Channelside
-The Tampa Museum of Art
-John's Pass ( Madeira Beach)
SunCoast Seabird Sanctuary (Indian -Shores, near John's Pass. Plus behind the sanctuary is a beautiful beach you can go to)
-Sarasota - Main Street, Marina [lots of dolphins usually swimming around), Longboat Key, Mote Marine Aquarium, Ringling Museum of Art
-Eating at Arigatos


Going to bars/clubs
Going to shows
Going to the Casino
but since you don't like clubs and there's kids, I guess those are useless.
posted by KogeLiz at 1:17 PM on July 27, 2010


Seconding Ft. De Soto, in particular the north end of the island for beautiful clear water and sandbars. Excellent place for a picnic, swimming, etc. Not sure what part of Tampa you're in, but there's another nice park called Upper Tampa Bay Park on West Hillsborough, out towards Oldsmar, that has some nice trails and boardwalks along the bay. Long enough to keep everyone busy for a while, but short enough not to exhaust the kids too much. There's an interesting nature center with some good exhibits.

If it's too hot for the outdoors (I recommend the park in the morning hours), the Tampa Museum of Art has just reopened in an impressive new building. Also, the Tampa Theatre is a real gem and it's such a treat to see a movie in this historic theatre. They show a combination of art house and classic films. If you've never been, you really owe it to yourself to check it out.
posted by amusebuche at 1:46 PM on July 27, 2010


Tampa Theatre! It's a gorgeous old movie palace, complete with a Wurlitzer organ and a stunning, majestic interior. It's beautiful, historic, and also a functional artsy movie theater--plus, they screen family-friendly classics during weekends in the summer. If your guests are around the weekend of August 7-8, there's a Mary Poppins sing-along...
posted by 2or3things at 2:11 PM on July 27, 2010


I like the Florida Aquarium! (and let me say: Best Prom Venue Ever)
posted by that girl at 4:56 PM on July 27, 2010


Seconding Flamingo (and rmd1023) on the Dali Museum.
posted by Prairie at 3:47 PM on July 28, 2010


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