Theme Parks to the Beach: Outdoor Adventures in Tampa, Florida

Guests on the Cheetah Run at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay



Known for its subtropical climate, lush vegetation, and breathtaking waterfronts, Tampa, Florida,  attracts outdoor enthusiasts from around the world by providing activities for travelers of all ages. Feel the thrill of soaring down a water slide at Adventure Island. Get up close and personal with lions on a safari at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay or dip your toes in the surf and soak up the sun on one of many beaches. Whether you’re seeking a rush of adrenaline or the perfect way to unwind, the adventure begins in Tampa Bay.

Twist, Turn, and Make a Splash at Tampa’s Theme Parks

Entrance to Tampa Florida’s ZooTampa at Lowry Park. Photo courtesy of ucumari photography.

Florida is considered a theme park haven and Tampa’s attractions are no exception. From rollercoasters and water rides to animal encounters, prepare to make lasting memories at two of Florida’s top-tier parks. At Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, visitors will find thrill-seeking rides along with a passion for animal conservation and education that’s usually reserved for the nation’s largest zoos. Guests can ride more than a dozen rollercoasters in the park, including the latest heart-pounding attraction, the Iron Gwazi. Towering at 206 feet, the Iron Gwazi is the steepest and fastest hybrid rollercoaster in the world, hitting speeds up to 76 miles per hour.

Animal lovers will rejoice in Bush Gardens’ more laid-back attractions. The park cares for more than 200 species of exotic animals, from cheetahs and giraffes to orangutans and slow-moving sloths. Be sure to trek across the 65-acre Serengeti Plain, one of the park’s most popular tours where an expert guide will bring you face-to-face with zebras, rhinos, and even some curious ostriches.

Looking to escape the Florida heat? Cool off at Tampa’s Adventure Island. This water park is home to multiple waterslides, a 17,000-square-foot wave pool, and a half-mile lazy river for you to relax and recharge. Even better, the park is only minutes from Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, so visitors can tackle both parks on the same day for a double dose of fun.

Soak up the Sun at Tampa’s Beaches

Sunset at Fred Howard Park in Tarpon Springs, Florida. Photo Courtesy of Nick Ledford.

There’s no better way to indulge in the Florida sun than by laying out on the powdery sand at one of Tampa’s beaches. Did you know that Florida has the most continuous coastline of any state in the USA? Hit the sand at Ben T. Davis Beach near Downtown Tampa.  With access to the four-mile Courtney Campbell bike trail, beachgoers can hop on a bike and explore the area, or in reverse: ride to the beach to see one of Tampa’s much-lauded sunsets. Fred Howard Park is situated on the eastern side of Tampa Bay at neighboring Tarpon Springs. The expansive park features on-site restrooms, a picnic area, and a playground. Not only can visitors enjoy the white-sand beach, but the mangroves are a treasure trove of wild birds, fish, and even manatees. Beach lovers would be remiss to skip Davis Island Beach, a popular spot for boaters weighing anchors. Feel the sea breeze during sunrise or watch boats cruise along the bay. The beach is also dog-friendly, so feel free to bring your furry friends along.

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

Entrance to Tampa Florida’s ZooTampa at Lowry Park. Photo courtesy of ucumari photography.

Visitors seeking views of local wildlife and plant life will find a variety of adventures at the zoo and Tampa’s parks. The subject of NatGeo’s “Secrets of the Zoo,” ZooTampa at Lowry Park is a can’t-miss experience for anyone who enjoys animals paired with Florida sunshine. This top-rated zoo has several unique experiences that wildlife enthusiasts should plan for. Breakfast with Animals involves a light breakfast and a question-and-answer session with expert trainers who work with African elephants, wolves, and panthers. For animal encounters, visitors can view three generations of orangutans, pygmy hippos, and even an endangered Florida panther.

Seeking a relaxing day casting a line? Ballast Point Park is home to a 600-foot pier that’s perfect for a day of fishing without having to charter a professional boat. Situated on the shores of Hillsborough Bay in South Tampa, you can rent bait and gear, grab a snack at the concession shop or even have a sunset picnic. A playground and splash pad are a hit with the kids while walking trails are open daily for a sightseeing stroll.

Don’t bypass a trip to Al Lopez Park, a 132-acre green community space in the heart of Tampa. Located near Tampa International Airport, the park offers a place to recharge away from the hustle and bustle of the city’s theme parks and beaches. Find serenity while strolling the park’s boardwalks where you might catch a glimpse of ospreys, eagles, or a flock of songbirds taking flight.

Whether you’re seeking a new thrill at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay or searching for manatees at Fred Howard Park, Tampa, Florida, is a destination for those who love fun in the sun. Where will your next adventure take you?

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