101 things to do with kids this summer in Tampa Bay

We live in Tampa Bay, home to year-round sun, beaches, sports, the arts and endless fun for the kids. But even with all of this at our disposal, when summer comes you're going to need ideas to keep your family happy and safe for nearly three months. So check out this list. It offers a little something for everyone, and includes contact information for each idea. You can also explore our summer camps list at tampabay.com/thingstodo.

1.Participate in the summer arts program at the Marcia P. Hoffman Performing Arts Institute at Ruth Eckerd Hall. 727-712-2706, hoffmanperformingarts.org

2.Learn to write from professional journalists at the Poynter Institute's Writers Camp. poynter.org

3.Go to one of many local YMCA summer camps. tampabayymca.org or suncoastymca.org

4.Visit the Florida Air Museum in Lakeland. floridaairmuseum.org

5.Swim with the manatees at Sunshine River Tours. 352-628-3450 sunshinerivertours.com

6.Learn to scuba dive with Jim's Dive Shop at Scuba Camp in St. Petersburg. 727-393-3483, jimsdiveshop.com

7.Explore acting with American Stage in their summer camps. 727-823-1600, americanstage.org

8.Go behind the scenes and learn about the animal kingdom at Lowry Park Zoo's summer camp. 813-935-8552, lowryparkzoo.com

9.Enroll in one of many performing arts classes at TBPAC's Patel Conservatory. 813-222-1002, patelconservatory.org

10.Visit Kids in Charge! The Children's Science Center at MOSI in Tampa. 813-987-6000, mosi.org

11.Journey behind the scenes with Adventure Camp at Busch Gardens or SeaWorld's day and resident camps. seaworld.org/adventure-camps

12.Join a summer reading program or participate in one of the many community events your local library has to offer. pplc.us or thpl.org

13.Get creative with hands-on art projects at Practically Pikasso in St. Petersburg. 727-822-5204, practicallypikasso.com

14.For everything from sports to swimming, arts to outdoors, visit the city of Clearwater this summer for endless options in the recreation center summer camps program. myclearwater.com

15.Definitely not summer school, but the College for Kids program at St. Pete College is a fun, adventuresome way to learn more about the arts, computers, science and math. 727-341-3196, spcollege.edu

16.Hunt for fossils throughout Tampa Bay. Walk the gulf beaches looking for shark teeth or head to Peace River in search of evidence from Florida's historic past.

17.For children with long-term weight goals in mind, visit Wellspring Florida, one of the country's first scientifically based summer fitness and weight-loss camps. wellspringflorida.com

18.Get a kick out of the University of South Florida's summer soccer camps. With elite staff and facilities, this camp helps train soccer's future stars. usfsoccercamps.com

19.Get surreal with Dali at the Dali Museum Junior Docent Program. It's unlike any other summer arts program. 727-823-3767, salvadordalimuseum.org

20.Explore the visual arts by participating in the popular Morean Arts Center summer art camp in downtown St. Petersburg. 727-822-7872, moreanartscenter.org

21.For that aspiring actor or movie director, visit the New York Film Academy's summer film and acting camps at Disney Studios in Orlando. nyfa.com

22.Scout's honor! For those bay area Girl and Boy Scouts, camping over the summer is a must. gswcf.org, boyscouting.com

23.Discover the beauty of a botanical paradise at Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg. 727-551-3102, stpete.org/sunken

24.For those who want to be an astronaut when they grow up, blast off to one fun-filled week of space travel in Huntsville, Alabama, with Space Camp. 800-63-SPACE spacecamp.com

25.Dude!… Try the Circle F Dude Ranch camp in Lake Wales for all things outdoors including equestrian activities, water sports, rock climbing, arts and dance. circle-f-duderanch.com

26.Hit it out of the park with the Tampa Bay Rays and their summer baseball camps. Learn from pro, college and Olympic athletes and coaches. raysbaseball.com/camps

27.Cool off in the waters of Boca Ciega Bay at Eckerd College's Summer Watersports Camp. Explore marine life, water skiing, kayaking and more. eckerd.edu

28.Looking for a fun and free activity this summer? Visit the Ringling Museum of Art's CSI program. "Cool summer investigations" takes children on a scavenger hunt all over the Ringling grounds. ringling.org

29.Ideal for those hot summer months, learn to ice skate with the Tampa Bay Skating Academy during their weekly summer camps. 813-854-4010, tbsa.com

30.Explore Florida's fragile coral reefs at Seacamp in the Florida Keys for the ultimate marine science experience. 877-SEA-CAMP, seacamp.org

31.Visit the Armed Forces Military Museum in Largo and experience one of Florida's largest, non-government-funded museums dedicated to preserving military history and educating the public. armedforcesmuseum.com

32.Get a hands-on history lesson at Fort DeSoto Park. 727-582-2267

33.Take a ferry ride to Egmont State Park and explore the island and its natural inhabitants. 727-398-6577

34.Watch manatees from the Big Bend Power Plant observation deck. tampaelectric.com/manatee, 813-228-4289

35.Take in a Rays game at Tropicana Field and root for your hometown team.

727-825-3137 for information; 888-FAN-RAYS for tickets.

36.Dinosaur World, an outdoor dinosaur museum with more than 150 life size dinosaurs. dinoworld.net, 813-717-9865

37.Set sail for an adventure on a pirate ship ride at John's Pass, located in Madeira Beach. thepirateshipatjohnspass.com, 727-423-7824

38.Visit the Florida Fine Arts Museum and see outstanding works of art in galleries designed for leisurely reflection. fine-arts.org, 727-896-2667

39.Test your skills on and off the track with a day of go-kart driving and video arcade games. grandprixtampa.com, 813-977-6272

40.Get up close and personal with marine creatures at the Touch Tank at The Pier in downtown St. Petersburg. pieraquarium.org, 727-895-7437, ext. 209

41.Relax and cool off with a leisurely kayak or canoe trip down the Hillsborough River. canoeescape.com, 813-986-2067

42.Take a trip back in time at Heritage Village and see what life was like before video games, cell phones and the Internet. 727-582-2123

43.Hop aboard for a scary ride with Ghost Tours of St. Petersburg. 727-894-4678

44.Challenge your child's mind with hands-on exhibits at Great Explorations Children's Museum in St. Pete. greatexplorations.org, 727-821-8992

45.Cast a spell at the brand new Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal's Island of Adventure theme park in Orlando. universalorlando.com

46.Soar 1,000 feet in the air over Tampa Bay with Big Red Balloon hot air balloon sightseeing tours. bigredballoon.com, 813-969-1518

47.Tour Kennedy Space Center on the east coast of Florida and watch a shuttle launch. nasa.gov, 321-867-5000

48.Play laser tag and video games at Q-Zar in Tampa. qzartampa.com, 813-933-6995

49.Explore the secrets of the sea at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota. mote.org, 941-388-4441

50.Witness the magic of mermaids, take a river boat cruise or visit Buccaneer Bay, all at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park in Hernando County. floridastateparks.org/weekiwachee, 352-592-5656

51.Enjoy 30 acres of water-soaked fun at Adventure Island, Tampa's premier water theme park. adventureisland.com, 888-800-5447

52.Visit John's Pass Village & Boardwalk on Pinellas County's Intracoastal for plenty of shopping, dining, fishing and entertainment. johnspass.com

53.Catch the "big one" on a deep-sea fishing trip in the Gulf of Mexico. hubbardsmarina.com, 727-393-1947

54.Get Xtreme on the street course or fly high from the vert ramp at the Vans Skatepark in Orlando. vans.com, 407-351-3881

55.Explore the historic sponge docks of Tarpon Springs and stroll through more than 100 specialty shops and attractions in this Greek community. spongedocks.net

56.Climb into the cockpit of a Corsair fighter while touring Fantasy of Flight, home to more than 40 rare and vintage aircraft in Polk City. fantasyofflight.com, 863-984-3500

57.Skim along the waters of the gulf off of Clearwater Beach in the Sea Screamer, a 72-foot-long, deep-V-hull speedboat that reaches up to 31 knots. seascreamer.com

58.Discover the beauty and spirit of natural Florida at Forever Florida in St. Cloud. Eco-safaris, horseback riding and zip lines 55 feet in the air are all part of this 4,700-acre attraction. foreverflorida.com, 866-85-4EVER

59.Trek through 10 acres of lush tropical vegetation, winding jungle trails and entertaining bird and reptile shows at Sarasota Jungle Gardens. sarasotajunglegardens.com, 877-861-6547

60.Enjoy Clearwater Beach's Sunsets at Pier 60, a free family event featuring artisans, street performers and live entertainment. sunsetsatpier60.com

61.Tour Bok Tower Gardens, a national historic landmark in Lake Wales. Meander through breathtaking gardens or listen to daily concerts produced by the tower's 60-bell carillon. boktowergardens.org, 863-676-1408

62.Travel the universe inside Bradenton's Bishop Planetarium, home to a state-of-the-art, domed, digital projection system and 25,000-watt sound system. southfloridamuseum.org

63.See the real Florida Everglades up close with an airboat ride through Big Cypress Reserve. wootenseverglades.com, 800-282-2781

64.Learn the game of golf, and some life-enhancing values, with The First Tee of St. Petersburg. thefirstteestpetersburg.org, 727-551-3300

65.Beat the summer heat by catching some of summer's biggest flicks. Shrek Forever After and Toy Story 3 for the little ones (and fun-loving adults); The Twilight Saga: Eclipse will entertain the teens.

66.Cool off inside the Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex just south of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Figure skate, play hockey or just casually ice skate during the many public skating times. ellentonice.com, 941-723-3663

67.Get your license to play with the city of Largo and their Play2Day summer theme camps including sports, dance, nature, performing arts, health and wellness and more. largocamps.com

68.Children 8 – 15 years old can explore the great outdoors with more than 130 exotic cats at Big Cat Rescue in Tampa. bigcatrescue.org, 813-920-4130

69.Canoe, snorkel or tube the Rainbow River in Dunnellon. Camping and picnic pavilions also available. 352-465-8555

70.Visit the Gulfcoast Wonder & Imagination Zone, G.Wiz, in Sarasota and tour the many science exhibits this museum has to offer. gwiz.org, 941-309-4949

71.Check out AquaCamps at the Florida Aquarium. The camp, for K-8th-graders, allows children to interact with marine animals, visit Explore A Shore, go on field trips and learn the science behind the aquarium. flaquarium.org, 813-273-4015

72.Learn to sail at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, located in Demens Landing in downtown St. Pete. spyc.org, 727-822-3873

73.Giddyap and go with Barnyard Ponies in Odessa. Learn to ride a horse, go on trail rides and participate in a horse show. 727-519-5741

74.Create your own masterpiece by painting your own pottery at Pinky's Painted Cottage in St. Pete. pinkyspaintedcottage.com, 727-821-8399

75.Take to the air for a tour of Orlando from the seat of a helicopter. Air Florida Helicopter located on International Drive in Orlando offers nine popular packages covering all of the local landmarks. airfloridahelicopter.com, 407-354-1400

76.Put the power of rhythm to work and participate in one of many drum circles throughout Tampa Bay. drumcircles.net

77.Join the circus! (At least for the summer.) Participate in Florida State University's Flying High Circus Camp in Pine Mountain, Ga. Learn everything from juggling to flying on the trapeze. circus.fsu.edu, 850-644-4874

78.All aboard the Largo Central Railroad! Travel along the 1.2 mile track on working large-scale model trains. Open to the public the first weekend of each month. lcrailroad.com

79.Try beading at Tampa's Bead Cafe, located on Gunn Highway. Take one of 12 classes offered or work on your own original project. tampabeadcafe.com, 813-374-9099

80.Learn to play guitar, drum or even sing with lessons at Seminole Music & Sound in Pinellas County. seminolemusic.com, 727-391-3892

81.Tour Greathouse Butterfly Farm near Gainesville and enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at butterfly gardens where free-flying butterflies will capture your imagination. greathousebutterflyfarm.com, 352-475-2088

82.Beat the summer heat by staying inside at your local bowling alley. Try Pin Chasers located in Hillsborough and Pasco counties. pinchasers.net

83.It may be the middle of the summer, but it's never too early to start thinking about the holidays. Visit Storybook Land at Rogers' Christmas House & Village in Brooksville. rogerschristmashouse.com, 352-796-2415

84.Get on your bike and ride the Pinellas Trail. Travel along the 34-mile trail while visiting some of the county's most picturesque parks and enjoying some of the scenic coastal views. pinellascounty.org, 727-549-6099

85.Travel to Orlando and witness one of the most exciting equestrian shows around. The Arabian Nights dinner theater features exotic horses, a thrilling storyline and multi-course dinner. arabian-nights.com, 800-553-6116

86.Play on one of the largest playgrounds in Tampa Bay. R.E. Olds Park in Oldsmar features a 12,000-square-foot wooden fort and a 400-foot fishing pier. ci.oldsmar.fl.us

87.Dance the summer away at Rungo Dance Academy's Ballroom Bootcamp in Clearwater. This two-week program caters to children ages 10-16. rungodance.com, 727-445-9755

88.Take in a classic at historic Tampa Theatre. Tour the theater, watch a movie and even go on the late-night ghost hunt. tampatheatre.org, 813-274-8981

89.Rent a houseboat with your family and travel some of the 266-mile-long Suwannee River in Live Oak. floridastateparks.org

90.Tour the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo where beautiful flowers, wildlife and the state's natural resources come together on 30 acres of land off of Ulmerton Road. flbg.org, 727-582-2100

91.Visit Winter the dolphin, or any of the other sea life at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home to Turtle Lagoon, Stingray Beach and the Atlantis Theater. seewinter.com, 727-441-1790

92.All aboard! Visit the Florida Railroad Museum in Parrish where you actually get to ride the exhibits. Open weekends only. frrm.org, 941-776-0906

93.Travel back in time at Pinellas County's Heritage Village Museum. The 21-acre park is home to 28 historic structures and exhibits. pinellascounty.org, 727-582-2123

94.Learn how to cook at the Young Chefs Academy in Brandon. Weekly cooking classes, cooking parties and field trips are offered. youngchefsacademy.com, 813-643-7025

95.Visit Bits 'N Pieces Puppet World and experience beautifully crafted marionettes, rod puppets and hand puppets. Hands-on workshops also available. puppetworld.com

96.Dive for scallops along the shores of Crystal River and Homosassa in Citrus County. All it takes is a mask, a fishing license and a sense of adventure. visitcitrus.com

97.Browse through the children's section of Haslam's Book Store in St. Pete. Open for more than 70 years, Haslam's is one of the state's largest new and used book stores. haslams.com, 727-822-8616

98.Take the fun indoors with games, tickets and great prizes for the young and old. Try any one of the many Chuck E Cheese locations, Celebration Station or Treasure Island Fun Center.

99.Take to the links with miniature golf at any of the five Smugglers Cove adventure golf courses. And after your round of golf, feed the live alligators. smugglersgolf.com

100.Experiment at Mad Science, an innovative, hands-on science program that is both educational and entertaining for children of all ages. madscience.org

101.Visit the new Sesame Street Safari of Fun attraction at Tampa's Busch Gardens. For the rest of the year, Florida kids ages 5 and younger get in free. buschgardens.com

101 things to do with kids this summer in Tampa Bay 03/16/10 [Last modified: Monday, March 22, 2010 12:52pm]

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