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Cooler weather & fun activities fill Tampa's fall calendar



As the hot and humid Tampa summer makes way for the cooler and dryer weather of fall, everyone heads outdoors. The cooler temperatures and smaller crowds make it much more comfortable to visit many outdoor attractions. In addition, there are plenty of traditional fall activities to enjoy including corn mazes and horror parks. To help you find the best activities of the fall season, 10 Best has put together a list of the top 10 options to choose from.

Without the crowds and daily downpours, it is more fun to visit Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. Enjoy a warm, sunny fall day riding the rides and exploring the animal park. If you visit on select dates between late September and early November, you can also pay an extra fee to experience their popular Halloween attraction, Howl-O-Scream.

There is plenty to do with the wee ones as well. One great option is the Fox Squirrel Corn Maze, recently voted 6th best corn maze in the country by a USA Today 10 Best reader's poll. The kids will love the hayrides, sweet treats, and exploring the best corn maze around. With stalks reaching 10 feet high, the adults might have to be careful not to get lost!


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Hillsborough River State Park
Photo courtesy of Skye Rodgers


To see the natural beauty of Florida without having to drive very far out of town, Hillsborough River State Park is your best bet. Located upriver from downtown Tampa, in northeastern Hillsborough County, this is one of Florida's oldest and most popular state parks. The list of things to do here is expansive, starting with both full-facility and primitive camping. Canoes and kayaks can be rented to go down the river. In contrast to most segments of the Hillsborough River which are very slow-moving, the river here has a rare section of fast-moving water with Class II rapids. There are also numerous picnic areas, a public pool, and numerous hiking trails where, if you're lucky, you will be able to spot some native Florida wildlife.

Recommended for Things to Do in Fall because: Fall's arrival means its time to get outside and enjoy cooler temps and dry trails at Hillsborough River State Park, just minutes from downtown.

Skye's expert tip: For fun, take a spin on a rented tandem bike. There is a rental/gift/coffee shop deep in the park beside the large pool.

Read more about Hillsborough River State Park →


Spooky Empire
Photo courtesy of Spooky Empire


One of Tampa's newest fall attractions is Spooky Empire, Florida's premier horror mega-convention running October 31 - November 3, 2019. This event is perfect for all lovers of horror, cos-play, and rock music. Featuring hundreds of collectibles vendors, a film festival, a tattoo festival, and celebrity appearances by a number of well-known names in the horror business. Top billing is shared by Alice Cooper and Cassandra Peterson as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Other celebrities include a number of infamous Directors in the genre including Clive Barker and brothers in horror, Sam and Ted Raimi. Get up close and personal for photo-ops, meet and greets, and signings with these and other celebrities. You can also take part in one of the largest Zombie Walks in the country. Admission prices vary depending on the day.

Recommended for Things to Do in Fall because: Spooky Empire, Florida's top-rated horror convention, offers cos-play, collectibles, and celebrity meet and greets from October 31 to November 3, 2019.

Skye's expert tip: Visit on Halloween for a discounted price of $20 for adults and free for kids 12 and under with tons of special tricks and treats.

Read more about Spooky Empire →


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North Tampa
TPC of Tampa Bay
Photo courtesy of Skye Rodgers


If you took a poll of golfers in Tampa, chances are they will name TPC of Tampa Bay as the toughest public access golf course in the region. This award-winning course is part of the PGA Tour's Tournament Players Club network and was designed by Bobby Weed with PGA professional, Chi Chi Rodriguez. The 6,800 yards from the TPC tees doesn't quite tell the tale of a course that weaves in and out of wetlands, woodlands, and lakes. Although a relatively flat course, many of the greens have considerable drop-offs so a missed shot will have you chipping back on. Bring your "A" game if you want to tee it up like the pros.

Recommended for Things to Do in Fall because: Everyone hits the links as the temperatures cool and the best public course in town is the TPC of Tampa Bay.

Skye's expert tip: This course can always be counted on to be in great shape throughout the year.

Read more about TPC of Tampa Bay →


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Tampa's Pirate Water Taxi travels the city's downtown waterways and offers visitors and residents an easy and convenient way to visit downtown parks, museums, restaurants, and other attractions. The large, comfortable vessels offer seating for up to 46 and have restroom facilities. There is also a limited beverage menu available on board including beer and wine. There are currently 17 stops and guests are able to hop on and hop off all day for one low price. Time to navigate between the farthest stops beginning at Rick's on the River and ending at the Columbia Cafe on Garrison Channel is approximately 45 minutes to an hour. Check their website for maps of the stops and a handy guide to the nearby attractions. Tickets can be bought at any stop, just look for their distinctive yellow and black sign on the docks along the route.

Recommended for Things to Do in Fall because: Enjoy Tampa's beautiful fall weather during the day, or enjoy a haunted river tour weekend nights in October with tales of local ghosts and hauntings.

Skye's expert tip: Download their app to your smartphone for live updates of taxi locations and arrival times.

Read more about Pirate Water Taxi →


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Outside the city


Clearwater Beach is a very popular and busy beach with a long list of "Best Beach" honors. In addition to meticulously groomed beaches and tons of beach amenities, Clearwater Beach offers many additional attractions. Fishing, dolphin-watching and leisure charters are available close-by. You can also visit the famous dolphin Winter who lives at the nearby Clearwater Aquarium. Some of the best seafood restaurants in the Tampa Bay area are found here including perennial favorite, Frenchy's. There are also a wide variety of clubs and nightlife including two-story dance club, The Wave, at Shepherd's Beach Resort. There are always events going on and every evening people gather at The Pier to take part in the sunset celebration that includes entertainment and a craft market.

Recommended for Things to Do in Fall because: The weather is fine for laying-out in Tampa Bay until late October, so get yourself to Clearwater Beach to catch some rays.

Skye's expert tip: Parking onsite can get tight - it's a good idea to get there early. Check their website for a list of nearby options.

Read more about Clearwater Beach →


The Official Ybor City Ghost Tour
Photo courtesy of Jana Jones


The Official Ybor City Ghost Tour offers visitors an opportunity to explore the haunted history of Tampa's famous historic district. By day, Ybor City is a charming neighborhood to visit, by night, as revelers play unawares in local bars and clubs, the ghosts come out to replay their tragic histories in buildings throughout the neighborhood. By joining a Ybor City Ghost Tour you are given the opportunity to explore these chilling spaces and see for yourself if there are spirits about. Accompanied by a knowledgeable local guide, this entertaining two-hour walking tour takes you past Ybor City's haunted spaces and into two buildings most notorious for their nocturnal activities.

Recommended for Things to Do in Fall because: Celebrate the fall season with a Ybor City Ghost Tour - Tampa's historic district is full of chilling spaces and tragic tales.

Skye's expert tip: Skeptics beware - you may be forced to change your mind!

Read more about The Official Ybor City Ghost Tour →


Scream-A-Geddon Horror Park
Photo courtesy of Skye Rodgers


Scream-A-Geddon is a nationally recognized haunted house attraction in a remote area just north of Tampa. But this isn't your garden variety spooky house, this is full-fledged theme park of horror. With five elaborate scenarios to experience, including two that are interactive (if you choose), there will definitely be something here to scare the pants off you and your friends. There is also zombie paintball if you want to get in on the action yourself, however, there is an extra charge for this attraction. In between scares, take a load off on the Monster Midway and enjoy a snack and a beer while you catch your breath. Stop by the concession and pick up some marshmallows to roast over one of the several fire pits. This attraction is open select weekends in September, and every day from October 3 through November 2, 2019. Regular admission prices vary between $25 and $35 depending on the day you go - buy through their website to save $5 off each ticket.

Recommended for Things to Do in Fall because: One of the country's top-rated scares, Scream-A-Geddon is located just outside of Tampa and is guaranteed to have you running home to mommy.

Skye's expert tip: Wear shoes you don't mind getting dirty and take along some bug spray. This is an outdoor attraction in a rural area.

Read more about Scream-A-Geddon Horror Park →


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Tampa Bay Eastern Outskirts
Fox Squirrel Corn Maze
Photo courtesy of Fox Squirrel Corn Maze


Even in Florida, there are opportunities to get out and enjoy all the traditional fall activities including pumpkin patches and corn mazes. One of Tampa's favorites is the Fox Squirrel Corn Maze located just out of town in nearby Plant City. Recently named 6th best corn maze in the country by a USA Today 10 Best Reader's Poll, this fun event offers families a wide range of activities to celebrate the season. Games include duck races, corn hole, and dummy steer roping. In addition, there are horse and pony rides, hayrides, and of course, the main attractions - the corn maze and a hugely popular pumpkin patch. There are also vendors on site providing a wide variety of snacks, treats, and arts and crafts for purchase.

Recommended for Things to Do in Fall because: The Fox Squirrel Corn Maze offers visitors the opportunity to escape from the city and celebrate the season with traditional fall activities.

Skye's expert tip: Make sure to bring cash because while credit cards can be used for entry, many vendors accept only cash and there is no on-site ATM.

Read more about Fox Squirrel Corn Maze →




Beloved by locals and visitors alike, ZooTampa at Lowry Park has been voted the #1 Family Friendly Zoo in the country by Parents Magazine and is a five-time winner of the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence. The 56-acre nonprofit zoo is home to 1,300 animals and emphasizes regionally endangered species and those in similar climates. All of your favorites are here, including African species like giraffes, rhinos, and hippos, Asian animals like lions and tigers, as well as animals native to Florida, such as various species of alligator and crocodile. Once they've made their way around to all of the animals, the kids can play in the Australian-themed children's area that includes rides and other games. Going in the morning is a good idea, especially in the summer. Not only do you avoid the heat, but the animals also tend to be more lively.

Recommended for Things to Do in Fall because: Fall brings cooler temps for visitors to ZooTampa, and kids will love being scared by Creatures of the Night, Friday and Saturday evenings in October.

Skye's expert tip: Get $3 dollars off one-day admission tickets by purchasing in advance and online via their website.

Read more about ZooTampa at Lowry Park →


Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Photo courtesy of Skye Rodgers


Wild animals and wilder rides await visitors to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. The 335-acre Africa-inspired theme park's six infamous roller coasters, 2,000-plus animals and entertaining live shows provide truly unforgettable thrills. There is something for kids of all age at this world-class park. Adventure lovers can brave SheiKra, a floorless dive coaster with a 200-foot, 90-degree plunge while animal enthusiasts might enjoy hand-feeding kangaroos at Walkabout Way or enjoying majestic views of free-roaming giraffes, zebras and white rhinos on the Serengeti Railway. Be prepared to walk in order to explore all areas of the park. There are several restaurants and numerous vendors throughout the park to keep you fueled on your journey.

Recommended for Things to Do in Fall because: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay in fall means cooler temps during the day and terror at night with Howl-O-Scream on select dates September to November.

Skye's expert tip: Admission prices vary - to get the best deals, make sure to buy your tickets in advance and online.

Read more about Busch Gardens Tampa Bay →


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Meet Skye Rodgers

Skye is a freelance writer that adopted Tampa as her hometown over a decade ago and never looked back. As a native of Canada, Skye has happily embraced the no snow climate, and in her spare time...  More About Skye

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