Big John the Triceratops at Glazer Children's Museum in Tampa

Best Winter Break Ever: Your Family Fun Bucket List in Tampa Bay

‘Tis the season for sleigh loads of winter break fun in Tampa Bay!

The kids are out of school and you probably have guests in town looking for something fun to do! Lucky YOU for calling Florida home because there is no shortage of FUN family-friendly things to do this winter break in Tampa Bay!

Here are some of our favorite ideas to help you put together the Ultimate Winter Break Family Fun Bucket List.

Related stories to check out:

Book a Winter Break Camp 

Camp Imagination at Glazer Children’s Museum
Camp Imagination at Glazer Children’s Museum.

If you have to work or the kids want a day to play with other kids, there are several Winter Break camps available. MOSI and Glazer Children’s Museum offer some of our favorite winter break camps to not only keep kids busy and having fun, but also learn! See Our Favorite Winter Break Camps in Tampa Bay here.

Visit Christmas Town at Busch Gardens!

Busch Gardens Christmas Town 2023
Enjoy the beautiful lights at Busch Gardens Christmas Town 2023!

Squeeze in even more Christmas fun before the end of the year! Christmas Town is a holiday must! Walk among millions of lights–there are so many that Busch Gardens starts installing the lights over the summertime! This event is held every night through January 7, 2024. It’s included with admission.

One of our favorite things to do with the kids is the Holly Jolly Express. Sip on hot cocoa and listen to your favorite Christmas songs as you go for a ride through the park.

Go play in the SNOW at Florida Aquarium!

Snow Days at The Florida Aquarium Snowballs
Play with real snow at Snow Days at The Florida Aquarium. Photo by Laura Byrne – 2023.

Snow is in the forecast at The Florida Aquarium daily from December 26 through December 31, 2023. The frosty festivities of Snow Days are included with membership or general admission. Grab your basket of snowballs for a snowball toss or slingshot, try snow painting, and even navigate your way through the Snow Maze. While you’re there, be sure to check out the new MORPH’D exhibit where you can meet some strange creatures who have found unique ways to adapt to their environments like axolotyl.

Go Ice-Skating outside at Winter Village in Downtown Tampa 

winter village ice skating tampa
Ice-skating on REAL at Winter Village is a memorable experience. Photo by Laura Byrne.

How about an outdoor ice-skating experience in Florida? It can happen at Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park in Downtown Tampa! There is a market featuring local vendors for last-minute holiday shopping and eats and treats if you get hungry and you can even try a game of street curling!

You will need to book your ice skating time in advance. It’ll be open through January 1, 2024.

Experience some beautiful holiday light displays throughout Tampa Bay!

Enchant Christmas 2023 Owl
This gorgeous owl is one of the mischevous forest animals you’ll meet along the way through the maze at Enchant Christmas. Enchant is on display through December 31, 2023 Photo by Laura Byrne – 2023.

There are some other incredible light displays in Tampa Bay like the ZooTampa, Downtown Tampa and St. Pete, and the Holiday Lights at Largo Central Park. We have a complete rundown of our favorite holiday light displays here.

Related: INSIDE LOOK: What to expect when you go to Enchant Christmas in St. Pete

One must-see is the Chick-fil-A on Waters Ave in Tampa which is pretty much magic. You can experience it as a drive-thru or go inside. And be sure to check out the front windows for some playful fun with the cows!

Go Nose to Snout with the World’s Largest Fossil Triceratops

Big John the Triceratops at Glazer Children's Museum in Tampa
Big John the Triceratops at Glazer Children’s Museum in Tampa is now on display. Photo by Laura Byrne -2023.

 If you didn’t already know, we have a record-breaking dinosaur on exhibit here in Tampa and he’s a sight to see! You don’t have to have kids with you to experience Big John the Triceratops at Glazer Children’s Museum. We’re sharing more about the paleontologist who found Big John and the Tampa family who brought the dinosaur to Tampa.While you’re at the museum, you can also head to Gingerbread Village on the second floor and add your own create to the village! It’s on display through the end of the year.

And of course, for the dinosaur lovers out there, there is Dinosaur World in Plant City which is always a must-see!

Explore MOSI’s DC Superheroes Exhibit

MOSI's all-new DC Superheroes exhibit
MOSI’s all-new DC Superheroes exhibit

Your child’s favorite superheroes are featured in this brand-new exhibit in the big dome (formerly the IMAX tehater and soon-to-be the largest planetarium in Florida!).  Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman are among the characters who will be part of the action as you solve mysteries and immerse yourself in interactive challenges. Learn more about the DC Universe Superheroes exhibit here.

Explore NEW Parks in Tampa Bay 

Mable the Mosaic Owl Bonnet Springs Park in Lakeland
Mable the Mosaic Owl play structure at Bonnet Springs Park.

When we say you have to see it to believe how incredible it really is, we mean it when it comes to Bonnet Springs Park in Lakeland. You can read 10 Things We Love About Bonnet Springs Park here.

This brand-new privately built park sits on 168 acres on the outskirts of downtown Lakeland and we have a feeling it will quickly become one of your favorite ways to play too. It’s also home to the NEW Florida Children’s Museum which is amazing!

Coachman Park in Clearwater re-opened this year and it’s equally as epic! The $84 million renovation includes a new park space, gateway plaza, pedestrian promenade, scenic overlook, playground, splash pad, and performing arts venue.

Go on a high-speed jet boat adventure on the Bay Rocket in Tampa 

Bay Rocket jet boat Tampa
The Bay Rocket jet boat is a must for the thrill seekers in your life!

The 2800 horsepower Bay Rocket jet boat is the newest addition to the Yacht Starship fleet and it’s ready to launch you and the family to heart-pounding speeds and 180-degree turns for a thrill ride on the Bay like no other.

And when we say ‘like no other’, we mean it. The Bay Rocket is one of only five-speed boats like it in the country. Similar jet boats can be found in waterfront cities like New York, Boston, Chicago, and San Diego…and now Tampa.

Kids must be able to sit and buckle in their own seats in order to ride.

Head to a U-Pick Farm

Dooley Groves Citrus U-Pick Farms
Dooley Groves in Ruskin – Citrus U-Pick

It’s not quite u-pick season in Tampa Bay, but a few place are offering u-pick opportunities like Dooley Groves in Ruskin. They have citrus available–check with their website to see what they have before you go. They open the day after Christmas.

Florida Sweeties in Dade City is another local farm offering u-pick citrus. Stay up-to-date on what they have available and their u-pick hours by visiting their Facebook page here.

We’ve got a full list of Winter U-Pick events in Tampa Bay here.

Try a new restaurant with the kids

st Pete Pier

We’re sharing some of our favorite family-friendly places to eat with the kids and BONUS…many of these spots have outdoor space to eat like Sparkman Wharf and Armature Works. The St. Pete Pier has some pretty cool offerings too!

Explore Tampa’s Riverwalk

Ulele riverwalk

Tampa Bay Parenting Contributor Maggie Rodriguez shared some of her favorite ways to explore and dine along the Riverwalk! Some of our favorite spots include lunch at Ulele, stops at Julian B Lane Riverfront Park, and a ride on Pirate Water Taxi to give your feet a break.  Check out her adventures here.

Swim with the Manatees

swim with manatees

Yes, you CAN swim with the manatees and this is prime time to do it! The only place in North America where you can legally swim with the manatees is in Crystal River and Homosassa. We’ve done the manatee tour with the Adventure Center on Plantation on Crystal River which was great!

They supply the sanitized wetsuits, snorkel gear, and even hot chocolate and coffee on the boat. While manatees gather in the springs year round, the prime season is November through March as hundreds of manatees head for the warmer waters of the springs to thermoregulate.

Explore TECO Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach

TECO Manatee Viewing Center
TECO Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach. Photo by Laura Byrne.

This is a wonderful outdoor adventure for the entire family! You can walk the stroller-friendly boardwalks to view the manatees as they seek the warmth of the clean water coming from the Big Bend Power Station. There is also an observation tower along the trail and plenty of spaces to enjoy an outdoor picnic and it’s FREE. We’re sharing more details here about what to expect when you go.

Experience Art at Fairgrounds St. Pete 

Fairgrounds St Pete Lampscape
Fairgrounds St. Pete is a unique way to experience art in Tampa Bay!

Fairgrounds St. Pete is an exhibit you’ve never seen, heard, or even smelled before! More than 60 artists were commissioned during the pandemic to bring it together. You can go and simply enjoy the whimsical art that celebrates weird, wacky, wonderful Florida, or choose a different adventure and try to crack the codes and mysteries you’ll find throughout. Learn more about what it’s like here!

Outdoor Adventures in Tampa Bay with the Outdoorsy Diva

Explore the great outdoors in Tampa Bay

Lauren Gay of shares her favorite outdoor adventures in Tampa Bay from trips to the beach like Shell Key Preserve to the Treetop Canopy at Myakka River State Park…she’s got it all on her list of favorite outdoor adventures in Tampa Bay here!

Experience the Dali and the Impressionists Exhibit at The Dali

Dali and the Impressionists Exhibit at The Dali Museum in St. Pete
Dali and the Impressionists Exhibit at The Dali. Photo by Laura Byrne.

This extraordinary showcase brings together the early works of the legendary Salvador Dalí alongside a stunning collection of Impressionist paintings from the renowned Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA). You’ll find yourself surrounded by the timeless creations of artistic giants such as Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, and many more. You can also snap a selfie which will transform your photo into an Impressionist work of art.

Celebrate the Holidays with a quick trip to Orlando


Our team is sharing a TON of holiday fun in Orlando from holiday events at Disney World, Sea World and Universal! Check out their stories here! 

Gasparilla Children's Parade


Take advantage of the early bird deals if you want to upgrade your day with First Mate seats or even bleacher seats! This is a great way to view the Ashley Children’s Gasparilla presented by Chick-fil-A on January 20, 2024 and the adult Pirate Fest the following weekend. We’ve got all the details on the Gasparilla 2024 parades here.