Sun, sand and scrapbook-worthy snapshots; you’ll find all these things in the Tampa Bay region. On and off its legendary beaches, your family will cherish these sun-kissed, memories-for-a-lifetime activities in the Tampa Bay-St. Petersburg area.
Streetcars and Stingrays: Downtown Tampa
Just about anywhere you go in the Tampa Bay area, you’re surrounded by water. Have your kids learn all about the ocean—and rivers and bayous and bays—at The Florida Aquarium. Watch your little ones thrill with excitement as they pet a live stingray or touch a starfish in the No Bones Zone. Bump up the excitement by riding to and from the aquarium on a bright-yellow streetcar. The recently restored, vintage electric streetcar line runs directly through the Channelside neighborhood in the Port of Tampa where the aquarium sits.
Pirates and Pier 60: Clearwater Beach
Take command of the high seas—or Clearwater Bay—aboard Captain Memo’s bright-red pirate ship. The two-hour cruise is filled with dancing, drinking—soda for the kids and beer for grown-ups—and dastardly fun water fights. You might even spot dolphins swimming beside the galleon. Make reservations online, and aim for the early cruise; parking spaces can be difficult to find later in the day. After the cruise, head to the nearby Pier 60 Park playground—it has separate sections for little children and older kids. From here, it’s just a few steps to the broad, sandy beach and a long pier where budding anglers can fish with rented poles.
Art and Airplanes: St. Petersburg
Don’t worry if your kids aren’t art aficionados quite yet—Salvador Dali’s art is just surreal enough to have them laughing, cocking their heads, and trying to figure out what’s going on. Just the stunning Dali Museum building alone with its astonishing windows, funky helix staircase and enigmatic garden will capture their attention. There’s a treat in store when you take them across the street to the Hangar Restaurant & Flight Lounge. Get a seat on the balcony or near the big windows overlooking the runway so they can watch planes land while everyone enjoys American-style food boasting fun names such as “pre-flight” starters, “altitude” entrees and “landings” desserts.
Bikes and Bayous: The Pinellas Trail
The Tampa area isn’t all sandcastles and surf. Inland from the beach, the tree-lined, 40-mile Pinellas Trail winds through the South Florida countryside and its little towns. Rent bikes from Trail Sport Bicycles or Bicycle Outfitters in Seminole—both are just a few yards away from the well-paved track. Head south for a short ride to the Cross Bayou Bridge where you can spot egrets, ducks and other native wildlife in their natural habitat. Tuck into some down-home cooking at Mamas Kitchen after you return the bikes. The kid’s menu features classics such as chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast and spaghetti for dinner.