A Guide to Tampa’s Theme Parks: Busch Gardens, Adventure Island, and More

Tampa isn’t just all about the fine-sand beaches and casual coastal dining. On your next trip to the Sunshine State, get your heart racing at one of the many Tampa Bay theme parks.

Whether you’re traveling with kids or simply crave an adrenaline rush, there’s no shortage of thrilling rides, water parks, and animal encounters to enjoy.

Let’s look at some of the most popular Florida theme parks and family-friendly attractions to visit on your next Tampa vacation, including Busch Gardens, Adventure Island, and more. 

Visitors riding the red Tigris roller coaster at Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay, Florida

Busch Gardens Tampa: Fun For All the Family 

From exhilarating rides, exotic animals, and live shows, there’s plenty to keep the whole crew entertained at the world-famous Busch Gardens theme park – perfect for your next Tampa Bay family vacation.

Spanning 335 acres, the amusement park is home to more than 200 species of animals, including tigers, elephants, giraffes, and gorillas? Why not embark on a safari tour to say hello to the animals up close? The little ones can even feed the giraffes!

And if you’re into roller coasters, you’re in for a treat. This theme park offers some of the planet’s most nail-biting rides, including SheiKra, a 200-foot-tall roller coaster that dramatically drops riders at a 90-degree angle. Then there’s the Cheetah Hunt, a triple-launch roller coaster speeding up to 60 miles per hour.

Prefer something a little tamer? Hop on family-friendly Busch Gardens rides, like the Congo River Rapids or the Stanley Falls Flume.

Aside from the rides and animal encounters, there are also plenty of shows, including award-winning ice skating performances and live music concerts from big-name superstars like Flo Rida.

Entry: A range of Busch Gardens tickets are available online, starting from $99.99 per person.

Parking: General parking at Busch Gardens costs $30 per vehicle.

Opening hours: Schedules are updated seasonally. Check online to see the latest opening hours and showtimes.

Adventure Island Tampa: A Waterpark Wonderland

Located right across the street from Busch Gardens is Adventure Island, a family-friendly water park ideal for cooling down from the summer heat.

Adventure Island is home to over 30 acres of water attractions, including water slides to zip down on, a lazy river for a bit of chill time, and a giant wave pool to splash around in. 

When you’re not soaring down a water slide, retreat to a nearby cabana or lounge chair with a cold soda or signature cocktail from one of the park’s bars, like the Hang Ten Tiki Bar.

One of the most popular rides at the Adventure Island water park is the Colossal Curl, a high-speed slide that drops riders into a giant funnel. 

Many visitors also love the Aruba Tuba, a twisting and turning water slide, and the Calypso Coaster, a raft ride that takes you on a journey through a leafy, jungle landscape. 

Want to dry off? Play a round of mini golf or make some new friends and start a pickup game of beach volleyball. And don’t forget the sunscreen!

Entry: Buy Adventure Island tickets online, starting from $48.99 a day per person.

Parking: General parking costs $25 a day per vehicle. Alternatively, VIP parking is $35 and snags you one of the closest spots to the park.

Opening hours: Adventure Island is a seasonal water park. Always check the online calendar for the most up-to-date park hours.

Guests enjoying the swimming pool at Adventure Island waterpark, Tampa Bay, Florida

The Florida Aquarium: A World of Underwater Wildlife

The Florida Aquarium is a non-profit organization home to over 7,000 aquatic plants and animals. Gawk at the likes of toothy sharks, scaly alligators, furry-faced otters, and much more. 

If you’re seeking a more interactive experience, you can jump in and swim among the brightly colored fish in the aquarium’s dive tank. 

Entry: Ticket prices fluctuate based on weather, the day of the week, holidays, local events, and attendance patterns. However, you can expect to pay around $30 to $40 per ticket.

Parking: Valet parking is available at the main entrance of the Aquarium. Regular valet rates are $20 for 3 hours and $40 for over 3 hours. Members of The Florida Aquarium receive free parking.

Opening hours: 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM, 7 days a week

Visitors looking into the shark and fish tank at The Florida Aquarium, Tampa Bay, Florida

ZooTampa at Lowry Park: Exotic Animals Galore

ZooTampa at Lowry Park (formerly Lowry Park Zoo) is a zoo and conservation center housing over 1,300 animals from all over the world. 

Get up close and personal with the likes of tigers, elephants, giraffes, and many other creatures. For a more hands-on experience (literally), head to the petting zoo and the ‘Lorikeet Landing’ feeding station and make friends with a few bright, beautiful parrots that are native to Australasia.

Entry: Ages 12+ cost $45.95 for the day, while tickets for children aged 3–11 are $35.95.

Parking: Parking at ZooTampa is free for all guests.

Opening hours: 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM, 7 days a week. Make sure to check the opening hours online, though, during any holidays.

A giraffe looking away into green trees at ZooTampa at Lowry Park, Tampa Bay, Florida

MOSI: For the Science Fans

MOSI, short for the Museum of Science and Industry, is a science museum with over 100 hands-on exhibits. Immerse yourself into topics such as space, technology, and engineering – you brainbox, you.

The science museum also offers a variety of educational programs and workshops, including summer camps, homeschool classes, and scout programs. These programs are designed to inspire curiosity and promote learning through hands-on activities and interactive experiences. 

Entry: Adults 18* cost $14. Children and teenagers aged 3-17 are $10. Children 2 and under go free.

Parking: Parking at MOSI is free.

Opening hours: 10am – 5pm 7 days a week, closed Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Tampa Bay, Florida

Dinosaur World: Step Back in Time With Life-Size Sculptures

Don’t worry – you won’t come to the same sticky end as some of the characters from Jurassic Park did. At Dinosaur World, the main attractions are strictly life-sized dinosaur sculptures.

Amble through the park, taking in the enormity of the prehistoric creatures, learning about the different species that once thrived on earth. If that’s not enough, there’s also a Fossil Dig where visitors can search for fossils.

Entry: Adults +12 cost $19.95 plus tax. Seniors 60+ are $17.95 plus tax. Kids aged 3-12 are $14.95 per person. Children 2 and under are free.

Parking: Parking is free for guests.

Opening hours: 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM, 7 days a week, closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

A life-size dinosaur sculpture at Dinosaur World, Florida

Where to Stay in Tampa

Savvy VRM provides short-term rental properties in Tampa that serve as the perfect base for your next theme park adventure, whether you’re traveling with the whole family, with friends, or planning a fun date with a loved one.

Have a look at our selection of Florida vacation rentals so you can check out the best theme parks in Tampa Bay with ease.

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