Museums, Marine Life and Maritime Adventures

Tampa Bay is known as the destination where the Gulf of Mexico and Bay waters meet award-winning beaches. This summer, set your family vacation course to explore a new path and discover Tampa’s waterfront district.

Just follow the downtown Tampa waterway to experience close encounters of the aquatic kind at The Florida Aquarium, tour the American Victory Ship and “feel the steel” in a 1940s era steamship, explore museums, a history center, playgrounds, parks and more… it’s all along Tampa’s Riverwalk.

Water Wonders and Penguin Promenades

Step into an aquatic world, swim with the fishes in an in-water reef adventure and experience the diverse eco-systems of the area's shores and marine life – all at The Florida Aquarium.

Ranked as one of the top 10 aquariums in the country by TripAdvisor, and among the top five “Kid-Friendly Aquariums” by Parents magazine, The Florida Aquarium creates a learning environment for children and adults, and the chance to get up close to their resident African Black-footed penguins. Join the daily “meet and greet” for the Penguin Promenade in this “no borders, no barriers” experience.

Beyond the exhibits, kids can get into the act in Explore A Shore, a two-acre outdoor water adventure zone, where they can cool off and splash down while parents take a refreshment break and watch the antics from the Caribbean Cantina.

Kid’s Ahoy on the Victory Ship

Just steps from The Florida Aquarium, the SS American Victory Mariners Museum
is one of only four fully operational World War II steamships in the country. For young seafarers, the Kid’s Ahoy program, held on Saturdays, includes a scavenger hunt and other fun activities exploring the inner workings of this historic ship.

Backpack Adventures through History

From the Tocobaga Indians to cigar-makers, Tampa has a long and colorful history that comes alive at the Tampa Bay History Center. Let the kids lead the way on a Family Backpack Adventure. Backpacks are filled with games, puzzles and crafts, related to themes about the people and times on display at the center. Designed for children six to 12 years old, the backpack adventure encourages independent exploration in the galleries.

Creative Play, Art and Entertainment

The outdoor playground at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park along Tampa’s Riverwalk is an extension of the fun at the Glazer Children’s Museum. Designed around “interactivities” in 12 themed areas, it’s a place where kids can play and participate in challenging and creative learning experiences.

At the Tampa Museum of Art, artistic stimulation takes form for all ages. Encourage a junior Picasso in The Art Spot, a self-guided art program held every Saturday, where kids get to create an art project on a gallery-related theme.

Family entertainment expands even further in the River Arts District – at the David A Stratz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. From Broadway to Disney and everything in between, this performing arts complex offers a wide variety of world-class events. Coming in July, Seussical the Musical brings the characters of Dr. Seuss books to life on the stage. 

Family Discoveries and Diversions

With easy access to nearby shops and restaurants and an inviting waterway path linking creative play, history and fun activities to an upbeat arts and culture scene, there are discoveries for the whole family along Tampa’s vibrant waterfront.

Visit for information on the area’s arts and culture-related events and venues in Hillsborough and Pinellas County.

This article was brought to you by Tampa Bay and Company. To plan your trip to Tampa Bay, visit

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