Every once in a while, we just need a little trip. Something that will give us a little escape from the everyday hustle and bustle of life. Whether you need a serene escape or something to break up the monotony of everyday life, this list has your fun things to do covered.
The best part about Tampa is that it's centrally located and close to so many exciting places to visit, including some gorgeous wonders of nature. From encounters with animals and aerial adventures to stunning spring & river runs and nature preserves, you'll want to go to every place on this list of 8 day-trips near Tampa this summer.
Busch Gardens Tampa Animal Encounter
Price: Base ticket price of $109 + the $59.99 animal encounter cost - Busch Gardens is known to offer really good deals on their fun cards and annual passes for Florida residents, so always be on the lookout!
Address: 10165 McKinley Dr, Tampa, FL 33612
Hours: 10am-10pm Monday-Friday
Why you need to go: They recently opened 2 new animal encounters; feed and snuggle sloths or pet rhinos getting up and close and personal with these gentle creatures. A fun way to experience nature.
Price: as low as $26, upwards to $200 depending on which course you decide to do, or if you decide to purchase an annual pass to go as often as you'd like.
Address: 21805 E. State Road 70, Bradenton, FL 34202
Hours: From June 1st to August 31st, 2019, the schedule is Thursday-Monday 7:30am-11am; They're closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Hours change with seasons, which they update on their website.
Why you need to go: A variety of difficulties available to climb, shimmy, scoot, and zip line your way through obstacle courses between 15 and 60 ft. in the air among the trees. Challenge yourself or take it easy as you maneuver through the treetops like a monkey.
Weedon Island Preserve
Price: FREE - donations keep this place beautiful
Address: 1800 Weedon Drive NE St. Petersburg, FL 33702
Hours: The educational center is open Thursday-Saturday from 9am-4pm or 11am-4pm on Sundays. The center is closed Monday-Wednesday and all county holidays. The preserve is open daily from 7am to approximately 15 minutes to sunset daily - with the official closing time posted at the entrance of the preserve changing throughout the seasons.
Why you need to go: A stunning place to walk nearly 2 miles of boardwalk and hiking trails, you can get a birds-eye view of it all by climbing the steps of the 45-foot observation tower, or enjoy kayaking at this beautiful preserve. Can't beat FREE either.
Sarasota Jungle Gardens
Price: $17.99/adult; They also offer annual adult passes for $49.99 or family passes for $64.99 (2 adults & 2 children).
Address: 3701 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota, FL 34234
Hours: 10am-5pm, 7 days a week.
Why you need to go: You'll feel like you're in the jungle as you wander through these gardens. Walk the trails, get up close with flamingos and parrots, and enjoy the beauty of nature.
Coastal Kayak Tours
Address: 1901 Pass a Grille Way, St Pete Beach, FL 33706; your launch point is provided after booking your tour.
Hours: 7am to 7pm, 7 days a week. To book tours, you must call one of the phone number listed on their website.
Why you need to go: Their tours take you through the more unique views of St. Pete's lesser touched coast, such as the stunning red mangrove tunnels. Do a daytime tour and head out to Shell Key Preserve (also on this list) or take a Bioluminescent tour at night and see the water glow as you paddle away.
Price: $3 per vehicle seating 1-2 people; for a vehicle seating 3-8 people, $5; if your group's larger than 8, it's $1 per additional person.
Address: 400 E Kelly Park Rd. Apopka, FL 32712
Hours: 8am-8pm, 7 days a week in the summer; 8am-6pm in the "winter" months.
Why you need to go: This one's a bit further out, but you'll want to add this natural lazy river to your summer bucket list. A crystal clear floater's paradise that winds you through springs! If you want to stay dry, check out the hiking trails at this 245-acre park. They're known to get a little full during the hottest months, be sure to call and make sure they're not at capacity before heading out.
Price: FREE unless you're paying for the ferry to get you there or some food while you're there.
Address: Keewaydin Island, Florida; It's off the west coast of Naples - if you're navigating with your own boat, the coordinates are 26.0704° N, 81.7869° W.
Hours: 7 am to Sunset Daily; however you can camp overnight in the designated areas or rent a beach house on the island with your friends to make it a weekend escape!
Why you need to go: Can only be reached by boat or ferry ($20 ride). Enjoy ice cream from a boat (burgers too) on the beach while popping open a cold one, or wander to the quiet side of the island for shelling, sunbathing, swimming, and snorkeling in the super clue and clear waters - you'll never want to leave. Can you find the hidden lazy river on the island?
Shell Key Preserve
Price: The island is FREE, but you'll have to take your own boat, kayak in, or ride the ferry here - the ferry is $25/adult.
Address: 2187 Oceanview Dr, Tierra Verde, FL 33715
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset daily unless camping the island. Wilderness camping requires a permit from the county, then you're good to go.
Why you need to go: One of the most beautiful places to hunt for seashells and sand dollars; Crystal clear water that's the most gorgeous shade of blue - perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and photos. One of the Coastal Kayak Tours earlier on this list will kayak you around this preserve!
What are you waiting for? Get out there and enjoy the best of Florida near Tampa this summer. We hope to continue adding to your list of Florida experiences!
If you need more inspiration for your Florida adventures, check out these 8 incredible places that feel like other countries in Florida, 7 indoor hideaways to keep you dry during Florida's rainy season, 8 day trips near Orlando, or 8 free things to do near Orlando.
We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit a potentially hazardous location, you check for the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. If you do plan to visit a location, respect the environment.