5 Things to do in Tampa During a Layover

Tampa may not have the same tourist fame as other cities in Florida such as Miami or Orlando, but it still has much to offer as any big city does. In this article, we’re going to go over the 5 best things to do in Tampa during a layover.

Before we get started, let’s talk about why taking a long layover can be beneficial. We all know long travel days can be rough especially when traveling with the whole family. We have found that it’s extremely helpful to break up the long days and give yourself a day or two in between flights.

For the purpose of this article, we’re using Tampa, Florida as an example, but this same strategy could be used for any layover you may have around the world. It’s a wonderful way for everyone to catch up on some sleep and stretch their legs while exploring a new city. It may require a little more searching when buying flights and you may not have enough time to see everything, but it can still be a worth to see more than just another airport.

Here is our list of 5 Things to do With Kids in Tampa During a Layover

1. Tampa Riverwalk

The Tampa Riverwalk is a 2.6 mile-long trail which runs along the Hillsborough River. Visitors can walk, bike, enjoy public art and access any number of restaurants, stores, parks and playgrounds, bike rental shops and attractions, such as the Florida Aquarium and the Glazer Children's Museum, along the route.

Walking along the river is a great way to stretch your legs and let the kids run wild at one of the many well taken care of parks along the walk. And the best part is that it is completely free aside from any restaurant or shopping stops.

2. Busch Gardens
Spanning 297 acres and boasting more than 12,000 animals, restaurants, live shows, roller coasters, shops and games, Busch Gardens has been a popular theme park since the 1950s. It may not be as well known, but believe it or not, Busch gardens is actually older than Disney World and includes themed lands, such as the Edge of Africa and animal exhibits based on the Serengeti Plain and the Myombe Reserve. If you're looking for a theme park/zoo experience in Tampa, this is the place to start.

Tickets start at $84.99 if bought online three days in advance. Tickets bought on-site cost $94.99. And prepare to fork over some more cash for parking as well, which costs $25 per car.

You'll find Busch Gardens about 10 miles northeast of downtown Tampa. You may want to look into picking up a car rental in Tampa for activities like this that are a little out of the way. Having your own car also makes exploring the rest of the city a whole lot easier.

3. Florida Aquarium, Tampa
Aquariums have been a source of wonder and amazement that all ages have enjoyed for generations. The Florida Aquarium in Tampa is no different. The Aquarium houses a massive collection of marine life (over 14,000 animals)! Visitors can spend hours on end making their way through the maze of different habitats and the animals who reside within. Spending time at the aquarium is certainly a great way to keep everyone entertained during a long layover.

The aquarium is open every day from 9:30 am to 5 pm and tickets vary in price depending on a number of factors, such as day of the week, weather and holidays. For the most part, you can expect to pay around $27 to $32 for adults.

4. Glazer Children's Museum
If you’re traveling with younger kids you may want to stop by the Glazer Children’s Museum. The 53,000 square-foot space is filled with interactive exhibits that aim to teach kids about the human body, math, science, and art. It also makes for a good indoor activity to have in mind if the weather turns on you.

The museum is located near The Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in downtown Tampa and is open every day of the week. Tickets range from $15 for adults and $10 for those 12 and under.

5. Tampa Electric's Manatee Viewing Center
Tampa is a great place for animal lovers willing to pay for the experience. However, finding science centers, zoos and aquariums that don't charge at least a little something for you to enter can be a challenge. Which is why Tampa Electric's Manatee Viewing Center is so special. At no cost at all, visitors can stop by and see Manatees swimming through the Tampa Electric water plant.

At the Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach, manatees seek refuge in the power station's discharge panel, where clean, warm Tampa Bay saltwater flows. When the bay gets too cold for the manatees, they retreat to this space for warmth.

Aside from being able to see these unique animals the Tampa Electric's Manatee Viewing Center also offers other attractions including a mangrove exhibit, butterfly garden, and a gift shop. It’s a bit of a drive at about 25 miles from downtown, but the Manatee Viewing Center is a wonderful experience to have during your layover in Tampa.

Before we wrap it up, here are a few tips for those passing through Tampa

Look into a city pass
If you're trying to get the best out of your time in Tampa, consider buying the CityPASS. The $109 ($99 for kids) pass gives you access to Busch Gardens, Florida Aquarium, and ZooTampa all in one. It's a much more affordable way to see some of the awesome parks Tampa has to offer.

Pick up a car rental
Renting a car in Tampa may also be a good idea if you plan on visiting a lot of places in a short amount of time. It's also more comfortable for the whole family.

Prepare for the heat!
For those who may not know, Florida gets hot! It's good to be prepared for this. Make sure you have lots of water and sunscreen for outdoor activities. And plan on a beach trip to cool off if you have the time.

Layovers don't have to be a dreaded thing. If you give yourself a little extra time in between stops you can catch up on sleep and have some time to check out a new place. Next time you are looking for flights, consider giving yourself a little extra time for your layover.

We hope you enjoyed our article on things to in Tampa during a layover and why taking a long layover can actually be better. Let us know how you spend your layovers in the comments!

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