Like most metropolitan areas in Florida, Tampa Bay boasts no shortage of A-list tourist attractions. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, north of downtown, is one of the state’s largest and best known. A quick online search will yield a long roster of others, headlined by the nationally ranked Florida Aquarium and ZooTampa at Lowry Park.
But, those jewels are hardly the only attraction fun to be had here. Experiences of all sizes, shapes and themes are either right under your nose in metro Tampa, or within an hour’s drive of your new opens in a new windowICI Homes neighborhood.
So gear up and go explore these three out-of-the-box Tampa Bay attractions.
You might be tempted to laugh off this one. Don’t!
Instead, you’ll find more than 200 life-size replicas of the reptiles and mammals that roamed the earth millions of years ago. They’re scattered among a lovely park setting dotted with giant oaks.
It’s definitely an eye-opener and made-for-social-media photo opportunity. And we bet you’ll catch yourself staring up at a fearsome-toothed Tyrannosaurus Rex, thinking, “Wow, they really were that big.”
Also on the activity menu: interactive exhibits and shows, a museum that spotlights real artifacts and Florida fossils, and a playground. Picnic lunches in coolers and dogs on leashes are permitted.
Depending where you are in Tampa, Dinosaur World is approximately 20 minutes east in Plant City, off Exit 17 on I-4.
Alligators seem synonymous with Florida, so why not an attraction devoted to them? This one is located at Maderia Beach, one of the Tampa Bay area’s Gulf of Mexico beaches, in the popular John’s Pass Village entertainment and dining complex. Adding to the appeal is that you’re only steps from the Gulf and John’s Pass if beaching or boating also sound good.
At Alligator Attraction, you have the opportunity to “kiss a gator” (hint: they can’t kiss back). You also can learn from and watch the alligator handlers in action, visit with gopher tortoises, lizards and fish, and participate in several other separately-priced experiences.
A major driving force is conservation and habitat. So, listen up when Alligator Attraction handlers discuss how scary it can be, to be a wild gator!
Tree Umph! Adventure Course
Imagine an above-ground playground where you explore everything via treetops. Sounds funky, but you can do just that at Tree Umph! Adventure Course.
There are two locations — one north of the Tampa area in nearby Brooksville (40 acres), and one south in Bradenton (14 acres). Both are easy to reach via I-75.
Tree Umph! isn’t your typical zipline. Yes, you’re safely tethered and harnessed, but instead of zooming from landing to landing, you have multiple football fields’ worth of terrain to traverse in both locations. Tackle obstacle courses that range from beginner-easy to reality-show difficult. Swing, sway and tiptoe across treetop footbridges, tightropes and highwires. At the end of your experience, a 475-foot zipline delivers you back to your starting point.
It’s family-friendly with easy ground-level courses for kids. It’s also a perfect workout excuse (ditch the gym that day) and a great way to explore local coastal forests.
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