There are plenty of events coming up in Tampa, but you might have some time to kill with the kids before attending the more adult-oriented affairs. Whether it's the upcoming Republican National Convention or a college football bowl game, there is also an abundance of kid-friendly activities in Tampa. The following itinerary is good year-round, yet still tries to avoid the heat because some people might find our afternoons uncomfortable, even in October.
If you're staying around downtown, pop into First Watch on your way north to the zoo, which focuses on slightly healthier options for breakfast. If you choose not to dine there, your best bet might be at the park itself (it's located in a residential neighborhood, so there aren't many food options nearby).
Rhinos are just one of the species you will encounter at Lowry Park Zoo — Photo courtesy of Lowry Park Zoo
Head to the Lowry Park Zoo, consistently voted the best zoo in the country by Parents Magazine. The earlier you can get there, the better. Not only are the temperatures more manageable, but the animals are a little more lively in the mornings. Walk around the various habitat-themed areas of the park, where you will see everything from the lions and tigers of Asia to the alligators and panthers native to Florida.
Once the animals (and kids) start getting sluggish, head back to the center of the park to the Australian-themed play place. Some of the attractions here deal in water, so if you're starting to hear the whines of "I'm hot," this is your fix.
You might want to let the kids take a quick nap, because they're going to need their energy for the next stop. The Glazer Children's Museum is a brand-new building on downtown's River Walk where children are bombarded with adult activities built for kids. The kids will be able to do everything from film a newscast to fly a plane to shop for groceries, all in a kid-friendly setting. The best idea here is to let the kids guide you around – unless, of course, something looks so cool that you have to try it yourself.
This climber at the Glazer Children's Museum traces the water cycle — Photo courtesy of Glazer Children's Museum
You might be staying all the way to the 6:00 pm closing time, in which case one of your best bets for dinner has to be Evos, a local fast food chain that tries to make its burgers, fries, and shakes as healthy as possible. Everything is either organic or vegan and the fries are baked. The fun for the parents here is to order the kids their usual fast food favorites and see if they notice a difference. They won't.