When people ask me where to visit in Florida, I always say Tampa Bay, which includes Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater. Personally, I love Tampa. You have the best of coastal living right at your fingertips and a fun vibrant city environment that has so much to offer all ages and stages in life.
Disclaimer: I was born in Tampa, making it undoubtedly cooler, but recently my parents moved back to my favorite city and I couldn’t be more excited. One of my favorite things to do in Tampa as a little girl was visit the zoo. This summer, the girls and I visited my parents in their new home and were looking for fun things to do. It had been years — literally almost 30 of them — since I last visited the Tampa Lowry Park Zoo, now “Zoo Tampa.” So, we figured it would be a fun thing to do with the girls.
Upon our arrival, we found out that they were running a deal. If you bought a full priced day ticket (no discounts) you would get an annual pass for the remainder of the year. Such a great deal when daily tickets are only $34.95 for adults and $25.95 for children to begin with and annual passes cost about twice as much for an individual. Just like with other theme park annual passes, this takes the stress of having to fit everything in during one trip off your back. For more on this and all tickets/memberships check out the website ticket options for details. There are additional benefits for annual pass memberships and multiple options.
Parts of the zoo were under construction when we visited last, but there was still plenty to see and do. We walked around and visited all the animals of course and it was wonderful. At Zoo Tampa you can even feed a giraffe! After visiting the animals, we went to the children’s section, Wallaroo Station. This is where Zoo Tampa knocks it out of the Park for kids.
In Wallaroo Station, there is so much cool stuff for kids of all ages. At the entrance, they have a carousel — always a crowd favorite in our family. They also have carnival games for the older kids in the bunch. When you walk into the kids’ section there is a petting zoo to your left and a cute Australia exhibit with koalas and kangaroos! Past that and at the center of the kids’ area is a splash park, bigger and more fun than the interactive fountain at the entrance of the zoo. Can I get an AMEN, y’all? Florida is HOT all year long. So, having this splash park can be a savior when your kids need to cool off, or if you need an excuse to cool off too.
They also have three toddler rides. One is a little train that goes in a circle for the very little tikes. Another train of cute vehicles goes up and down a hill in a loop for slightly bigger kids. In the back corner, they have a flying banana ride that is like the Dumbo ride at Disney. All the rides were loads of fun for my four-year-old and she looks forward to them every time we visit.
Not only do they have an amazing children’s section, the entire zoo is built around educational interactions for all ages. Our favorite thing to do is take the “safari” in the Africa section. It gives you a closer look at the animals in the exhibits and some behind the scenes access to the zoo. We go on this ride several times a visit. In the marine life section, you can actually pet a stingray! You can also sign up and pay for other behind the scenes encounters, but there are age limits on some.
Overall, Zoo Tampa is a Florida gem and the perfect venue for families with children of all ages. It is a reasonable size where you can leave if your restless toddler needs a nap, or stay all day. The food is limited but reasonable and there are several locations to buy drinks and snacks throughout the park.
Our family is excited to visit again later in September and test out their new water ride, Roaring Springs!