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10 “Off the Beaten Path” Family Adventures in Tampa Bay

School is out! This is a transition time for anyone that has children. Children are less structured, at home longer, and staying up later!!  How can we make the summer enjoyable for everyone? Let the WLBPA lend a hand. We want to help you balance your time with family and your continuing responsibilities at home and work.

family adventures

This week, the WLBPA wanted to cover some unique day-trip ideas (that are really cheap)! When you run out of ideas at home, or want to get out of the heat, give one of these places a visit.  Share this with your friends and carpool!


Henry B. Plant Museum

I loved this museum as a little girl.  Exploring the Victorian/Edwardian period, this museum will transport you back in time.  Exploring the past of Tampa’s railroad heyday, the museum, originally the Tampa Hotel, was one of the most splendid destinations in its era. Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for seniors, $7 for students and $5 for children 4 – 12 years.  Spend the day in another time and then explore Curtis Hixon Waterfront park and downtown Tampa.


Explorations V

Located in Lakeland, this museum is a 5-senses journey through three floors of kid-powered exhibits! Members & Children Under 2 are FREE, children and adults are $7.00, Seniors (65+), Military Families & Teacher Families (ID required) are $3.50.  There is also  10% off for AAA members.


American Victory Mariners Memorial & Museum Ship

The world-class SS American Victory was built in only 55 days. Having served in WWII, and the Korean and Vietnam Wars, the ship went through a $2.5 million restoration in June 1985. The ship now resides in the Channelside District in downtown Tampa. Currently, the SS American Victory is only one of 3 fully-functioning ships in the country. Explore this real Victory Ship which is free for members, $10 for adults, $8 for seniors 65+, $5 for veterans, $5 for children 4-12, and free for children 3 and under.  Check out their site for special events.

american victory


Cracker Country

Cracker Country is Tampa’s only living history museum, located on the Florida State Fairgrounds. The historically furnished buildings recreate the lifestyles of the past, and costumed interpreters portray daily living as Florida pioneers. Learn about Old Florida.  It is not open on a daily basis, but you can keep track of the public opening days or schedule a tour on the website.


Tampa History Center

Tampa’s Channelside District, houses 60,000 square feet of exhibits, linking modern culture with cigar factories, sports legends, railroad tycoons, cattle drives, pioneers, Spanish conquistadors and Florida’s first native inhabitants — 12,000 years in all.  The History Center has a changing list of activities and special events specifically for families. Pricing is as follows: Members – FREE! Adults – $12.95, Senior (65+) – $10.95, Youths (13-17) – $10.95, Students (with ID) – $10.95, Children (4-12) – $7.95, Children (3 and under) – Free, Military Discount: $2.00 off regular admission rates.


Heritage Village

Heritage Village is a 21-acre living history museum located in the heart of Pinellas County. Children can experience life in Old Florida and participate in old-timey, hands-on activities and games. Open Wednesday – Saturday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sunday 1 – 4 p.m. Admission is FREE and donations are greatly appreciated!



Another place I loved visiting as a child, has gotten even better over the years.  The John and Mable Ringling Museum, of circus fame, has a breathtaking museum in Sarasota, FL.  They have complied several self-guided itineraries, and one is dedicated to family fun!  The worlds largest mini-circus museum is sure to grab their attention. Regular prices are: Members: Free, Adult : $25, Senior 65+ : $20, Student 18+ with ID: $5, Child 6-17: $5, Child 5 and under: Free, Florida Teacher with ID: $10, and US Active Military: $10.  They have several discount days, like Free Mondays for the museum of art portion and special “After 5” admission price.



The Tampa Firefighters Museum

The museum is located next  to Tampa Fire Rescue Station One in downtown Tampa. This beautifully restored 18,000 square foot facility stands as a tribute to all those who have served and continue to serve the Tampa community. Admission is FREE.


The Pioneer Florida Museum and Village

This museum highlights the “Florida Pioneer Man” and his family, showing how he constructed his house,  his furniture, plowed his fields, harvested his crops, and did his leather-work and blacksmithing. The property also houses the Trilby Depot, the 100 year-old, Lacoochee one room schoolhouse, Methodist Church from Enterprise, and the two story 1864 restored Overstreet House.  Visit historic Dade City, and this museum: Adult $8, Senior $6, Children 6-18 $4, Children 5 and under FREE, Active Duty Military with ID (with immediate family)FREE.


Florida Rail Road Museum

Everyone loves trains!  At this museum, you not only get to explore all the workings of a train, you can also ride one. Call ahead to make sure you don’t miss the scheduled departure for the day, or get information to take a themed train ride (such as the Pumpkin Patch Express). Regular train rides leave on Saturday and Sundays. Admission is as follows: Adults (12+) $14, Children 3-11 $10, Under 3 FREE. During the summer months, Kids age 3-11 can take a FREE 1.5-hour train ride along historic tracks. Adults pay the regular admission. Offer valid every Saturday and Sunday through Aug. 31, 2014.


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