Looking for family friendly things to do on your next vacation to Tampa, Florida? If you love amusement parks, Busch Gardens is a Family park you can visit. Choose from many activities to keep your family occupied.
Family Vacation in Florida
We just returned from a family vacation in Florida. It was such a nice little break for us but coming back to home always feels great! I wanted to share some of the activities we did in Florida and give a review of what I think about these places. In order to do that I may have to break up the posts because I have a ton of photos for all. I thought I would start with Busch Garden’s Amusement Park since we did this 2x this year, on this recent vacation and earlier this year. I’ll share photos from both times below.
Busch Garden’s Tampa, Florida
Earlier during the year, my husband took us along on a business trip to Tampa, Florida. We went a few days earlier so we could do some activities as a family. One of the places we visited for the first time was Busch Gardens, Tampa. It’s an amusement park for kids and families. It owns the famous Sea World. At Busch Gardens your family can do things like go on rides such as water boats, roller-coasters (for those who love it), take a train to see animals, watch live shows, etc. I’ll share photos of what we did below but if you’ve never been, you can check out their site to see all they have to do. You can do whole family activities as well as kids only activities. Although I think that most of the kids activities will need a parent to accompany very young children. Or one parent could monitor the kids while the other takes a high ride on a roller-coaster, if they’d like.
From this entrance, you can see some beautiful plants and colourful birds. I just love how the plants are thriving by the water stream – so beautiful to look at.
The hibiscus flower is the national flower on the island where I grew up. It often surprises me to see the flower in another state or country. Maybe it’s because as a kid, I didn’t get the concept that there may be hibiscus in other places. Thought I’d take a photo of it. It’s just so pretty.
Here are some of the activities the kids enjoyed.
- kid-friendly rides
- play house (tree house)
- climbing high ropes from one play house to another
- small roller-coasters
- live show with
Other kid-friendly activities we didn’t do this firs time we went.
- fun spash pad
- bouncy house, etc.
This is what the high rope climbing looks like. Some kids walk it themselves (depending on their age) and others will need help with a family member. It’s fun for both parents and kids alike.
What to Note
The first time we went, we didn’t do a ton of activities since we went a little later in the day and didn’t know what to expect. At first, I thought there wasn’t much to do since all the activities are scattered about. You can’t just stand at an angle and see everything at one big glance sine there are a ton of trees and bushes all around.
- Not all the kids activities are in the same spot
- not all the water activities are in the same spot
- not all the roller-coasters are in the same spot
- not all the games and shows are in the same spot.
You’ll have to walk around to find and do the activities you chose since they are all over the park. It’s huge and walking around alone will take up some of the time. That plus the hot sun will tired you out – haha! Bring a stroller for younger kids!
The kids really seemed to love Busch Gardens, though. One of them even claims it’s one of her favorite places to go. So on our recent vacation in FL, we went back to Busch Gardens. Unfortunately, it rained in the evening so we didn’t do a ton. But the kids did the splash pad this time, something they didn’t do the first time.
Hmm, not sure what was going on here but although the photos is blurry, I thought I’d still share it. I was about to delete it but when I looked closer at it, it’s funny how our daughter and some other random kid were doing similar unplanned motions. Think our daughter was jumping and this other kid walking with her hands out in the same way:)
Live show with these Sesame Street characters – my husband was over there dancing while the rest of use just looked on and laughed at how silly he was being on purpose. Not sure I got a good clear photo of him in it.
Here is a small roller-coaster for kids. Kids could ride by themselves or with a parent or another sibling or friend beside them. Younger children (like our 4 year old) need to sit with a parent. I opted out of this ride the first time we went. On our next trip (more on that in another post) I walked right up to it but boy is a roller-coaster a roller-coaster. That thing has a little drop and a few turns that even though the ride is kid-friendly, I thought it was just too fast for my tastes. The kids enjoyed it though.
And now for the larger roller-coasters for teens and adults. Those things seem to be all over Busch-Gardens. Here is one my husband went on. It’s sort of crazy. It looks so thrilling. Close to the end of the ride the coaster splashes water. Kids love to stand below and get soaked from the water splash. I’ll try to add a video clip for you once I figure out how to do that.
Ill’ try to add the video here.
Lunch break and don’t mind my turkey leg! I saw some people walking around with a huge turkey leg that looked so tasty so I wanted to try it. It was so good and so fun to eat!
We rode a little train to see the animals around at Busch Gardens. Our little animal loving (then 3 year old) fell asleep a few minutes into the ride. He was tired and I was so disappointed he didn’t get to see the animals. He really was looking forward to ii. (This time we went again, we made seeing the animals the top of our list and did that activity first). All these images were taken the first time in the evening while the train was moving so some of the shots are kind of blurry. I did get better photos during the day went we went again, but with my iPhone.
These are rides and roller-coasters that are on the same side of Busch Gardens as the animals. The big roller-coasters are descried as some of the most thrilling ones at Busch Gardens. They are huge, long and tall and go way up in the air. As the train goes you can see people on the zipline and see and hear loud thrilling screams from the riders on the roller-coasters! It looked kinda crazy!!
There are several water rides to do there. We were about to do one of them but since the rides were closed due to the rain, it was a very long wait for when they would open up again. We ended up leaving the park since we were already tired and sort of lost the desire. It was already past 5 p.m anyway. You can also find
- games to play to win prizes snacks (the regular such as popcorn, bread pretzles, chips, etc)
- roasted turkey leg, fries, chicken, etc.
- restaurant food (such as BBQ)
- Coca Cola drink products (coke, sprite, etc)
- face paint (if I remember correctly)
- caricature painting (if I remember correctly)
- And several other things to do there
Busch Gardens on our recent vacation – July
Walking to the entrance and Parking
The first time we went, we parked way out in the park (limited space, so many people) and took the tour bus across to the entrance. This time around, we paid an extra $5 for preferred parking. We thoguht it would be much closer to the entrance of the park. While it may have being a few rows closer, I think it worked against us. The walk felt like 7-10 minutes to the entrance. It would have being easier to park further out and take the tour bus (that passed us on the way)!
Setting Activity Priorities
This time around, we made riding the train to see the animals a priority since last time our little boy fell asleep shortly after we got on the train. He is our animal lover and we really wanted him to catch the animals this time around. He was wide awake since we went in the morning and loved the experience! His face was priceless contrary to what this image shows:) I mean they all look so sleepy here but I think we were just getting on the train and I kind of just took a photo while they were settling into their seats.
We saw much more animals this time than the last. Although we didn’t ride the train all the way around to see everything this time I think it helped that it was earlier and seemed like more animals were out and about. They were so fun to look at. Note: The train stops at two stations (I think) so you can get off half way and go do other activities at the park or ride all the way back around to see all the animals.
Love this right here. I don’t think I remember seeing the leaf in it’s mouth until I was looking at the photos. Giraffes are always so cute in photos.
We saw lots of zebras walking across the trail – the train had to go a little slower so they can cross.
These two tigers were not on the same side as the animals above. As we walked through the park, my husband spotted them in their little corner.
Some little cuties here:)
The kids got to enjoy the splash pad this time. Last time, we didn’t because we didn’t have extra change of clothing and simply felt like they’d were going to enjoy the pool and the ocean anyway. But splash pads area favorite so they ran around and got themselves all wet. The sun dried off most of their clothing.
I only took photos from one angle where hubby and I were sitting. Then the rains came down so they closed of the splash pad and all the rides at the park. It’s a safety feature where there is lighting and thunder in the area.
Roller Coasters – My Husband’s Favorite (and two of the kids)
This one is kid-friendly so said two kids rode it a couple of times. I rode it once and decided I was done with it and so did one of the kids. We think they go a little too fast for our taste.
The larger ones below are not kid-friendly. But my husband enjoys them! As mentioned in the first set of photos, Busch Gardens has so many of these larger rides. They look so thrilling!
My Thoughts and Review
I hope the images gave you a better idea of what to expect at Busch Gardens. As a mom, I think I should also give my thoughts as to how I feel about going to this park with small children. While amusements parks offer a ton of family-friendly activities, I often find myself feeling a little frustrated at some point when we go to one. If you have small children and plan to take a trip with them to a park like this, you may want to consider these factors while you plan:
- can be pricey
- big themed park with activities spread out throughout the park which means:
- long walks throughout the park to get from one activity to the next (depending on far apart they are)
- little kids getting tired quickly especially when they get too big for a stroller but not old enough to walk long distances
- junk food on the go – you can bring your own snacks but if you plan to stay a while you’ll need to eat something other than a snack
- activities that attract and beckon you to stay all day – probably not the best thing to do with little kids
All that to say that you may want to plan better for the sake of the kids (and your sanity).
- Some people find it beneficial to get a two day pass for large amusements parks such as Busch Gardens. I am assuming that the tickets may be more expensive or there might be some discount of some sort. I don’t know if they get two day passes and stay all day both days so they can get as much out of their money as possible or what.
- But I am guessing that if you love such parks and want to take your little kids, it might be best to choose some activities you’d like to do.
- Look at them before hand and discuss it with your family.
- Don’t fill up the day but instead go early and do half the activities in one day (maybe until afternoon) and then the rest of the activities the next (of course, that’s if you’re up to going two days).
I think it will be much more enjoyable if you have some kind of a plan (Proverbs 16:3) especially if you have smaller kids with you.
Have you being to Busch Gardens, Tampa Florida before? Did your family enjoy it? What was one of your favorite things to do there? Would love to know in the comments:)