It’s easy to find plenty of exciting things to do in Tampa-St. Pete. Why not take spend some time having some smart fun? Take an educational trip with the family — you don’t have to spend a bundle!
Forego the malls and stop sitting in front of video games all day. Take in one of Tampa’s great diversions, learn a little something along the way, and stay cool.
Sunken Gardens, St. Petersburg
It’s smack in the middle of St. Pete, but it boasts one of the oldest living museums in the state: the Sunken Gardens is a great way to cool off and experience some of the prettiest tropical flora with your kids. The waterfall is always a hit. The sound alone is enough to make you wish you had a hammock nearby — or at least a good book! The gardens are open from Monday to Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The cost of admission will leave you smiling, too — only $8 for adults and $4 for children ages 2-11. All areas are wheelchair-accessible and the park offers complimentary chairs on a first-come, first-served basis. Check their website for special programs; most are free with paid admission (pre-registration is required). Young kids love to feed the koi fish (here’s a quick tip: you can purchase a whole bag of fish food at the front desk for a dollar) — be sure to bring a camera!
For more information, call (727) 551-3102. Sunken Gardens is located at 1825 4 Street N. in St. Petersburg. Take Exit 24 North from Interstate 275 and head east to 4th Street.
Great Explorations Children’s Museum, St. Petersburg
Right next to the Sunken Gardens, in fact, is another super find: Great Explorations Children’s Museum. If you’re a homeschooler, take note: create lesson plans galore from the exhibits here. Hands-on fun gives your kids plenty to do out of the sun and away from the television! Hours are from 10:00 a.m.- 4:30 p.m., Monday-Saturday; the museum opens at noon on Sundays. Children under 2 are admitted free — for everyone else, admission is $10. There’s a different theme each month, so call ahead at (727) 821-8992 to find out what the daily adventure will be!
Pioneer Florida Museum and Village, Dade City
Have you ever wondered how Florida schools made it without computers, air conditioning and other must-haves? I bet your kids have. See how it was done at the Pioneer Florida Museum and Village. This field trip is a trip back in time. See how early Florida settlers made-do, find out how they lived, and get a feel for the can-do Florida pioneer spirit! The doll collection is amazing — one of my children was particularly interested in a water pump that was used instead of the indoor plumbing we take for granted these days. Be sure to bring your camera for some great photo ops with your family — everyone loves the steam engine!
The Pioneer Museum is open from Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Adult admission is $6, and only $2 for students ages 6-18. Kids five and under are admitted free! The museum is located one mile north of Dade City off of Highway 301 at 15602 Pioneer Museum Road, Dade City, in northern Pasco County. Call them at (352) 567-0262 for information about their special events, such as the Train Show and Pioneer Days Festival.
There’s not enough time to name the many varied reasons you should include Fort DeSoto on your next family day trip. Fort DeSoto houses not only one of the most beautiful beaches in the state, but it’s one of the great treasures of our nation. Native Americans held the site dear to them. Spanish explorers visited the area, one of the first in the country to be scouted out. Construction of the fort itself began during the Spanish-American war.
It’s a little out of the way, but worth every minute of your time. Located at the entrance to Tampa Bay near Mullet Key, the park is located at 3500 Pinellas Bayway South, Tierra Verde, in Pinellas County. Call (727) 552-1862 for more information about park amenities, or visit their website to print out a map.
It’s easy to find educational activities that keep your family entertained, especially if you live in the Tampa Bay area. You’ll be having fun without realizing it, and you won’t have to spend a lot of money to do it!