Tampa Bay is known for its beautiful beaches, tiki bars, amazing restaurants, and theme parks, but it has much more to offer. If you are an adventure seeker looking for some outdoor activities to enjoy, you will definitely enjoy this list.
This list of 10 Exciting Things to Do in the Tampa Bay Area has everything from zip-lining to skydiving. It also encompasses less adventurous activities including the evergrowing microbrewing industry in Tampa Bay Area. This is a great list of less advertised things to do and great for adventure seekers.
This list will give you a different perspective of Florida and let you enjoy the different and less advertised beauty of it that even some locals are not aware of.
1. Zip Lining in Ocala
Ocala is about a 2-hour drive north of St. Petersburg. The Canyons Zip Line & Adventure Park spreads across a 94-acre former limestone quarry with a unique opportunity in Florida to zip through rocky cliffs, wide blue lakes, and forests all in one location. The Big Cliff Canyon tour includes 9 zip lines up to 1100 ft. long, 2 sky bridges, and a rappel at the end.
We have done this tour 3 or 4 times and it is always fun and exciting. It takes about 3 hrs. to complete depending on how many people are in the group. The park offers a few other zip lining tours including a Full Moon (Night) Zip Tour and for those that are not keen on zip lining, horseback riding, and kayaking tours are also an option.
If you are planning to spend more time in this area than just a day trip, you can go swimming in Alexander Springs, visit Silver Springs State Park and take a Glass Bottom Boat Tour, or visit the botanical gardens in Sholom Park.
Cost for Ocala Ziplining
Big Cliff Canyon Tour – $99 per person
2. Visit Wild Monkeys at Silver Springs State Park
Yes, you can see wild monkeys in Florida. About 300+ are estimated to be roaming Silver Springs and people have spotted them hanging out in the trees, drinking water from the spring, or simply swimming in the spring to cool off during the long hot summer months.
These monkeys are native to South and Southeast Asia and how they made their way to Florida is unclear. Some theories are that they were released into the wild after the filming of ‘Tarzan Finds a Son?’ or that a captain of the Jungle Cruise boat ride released them into the wild. Either way, they are here to stay.
The best way to see them is while kayaking the spring’s river, just be careful and respect their space.
For years I (Dana) have been saying “I want to go skydiving!” but in my heart, I do not think I ever meant it seriously, actually I know I didn’t, because when Kris surprised me with a skydiving trip on one of my birthdays my heart sunk for a while. So, we did it!
Two convenient locations offer Tandem Skydiving Jumps close by, Sky Dive City in Zephyrhills and Jump Florida Skydiving in Plant City. Each is about an hour’s drive from St. Petersburg.
Sky Dive City offers jumps from 13,500 ft and 10,500 ft. This location also hosts some of the national competitions for skydiving and parachuting and offers classes if you want to become a licensed skydiver.
Jump Florida Skydiving is solely focused on tandem jumps and skydiving school. At this location, you can jump from 18,000 ft., 14,000 ft. or 11,000 ft.
We jumped at Sky Dive City from 13,500 ft with 60 seconds of free falling, which felt like hours. It was a great thing to experience but I doubt either one of us will be doing it again.
Cost for Skydiving
Tandem Skydive from 13,500 ft – $199 per person at Sky Dive City
Tandem Skydive from 18,000 ft – $249 per person at Jump Florida Skydiving
Hang gliding in Florida? Yes, and it is a lot of fun!
Since we do not have anything resembling a mountain around here, the hang glider is towed by an airplane to a predetermined elevation before being released and then you hang glide down with the instructor. The views are amazing from up there and you get to enjoy them as you are slowly gliding down. The instructor will show you how to control the glider and what to look for to choose the path you want to take.
There are few locations in central Florida to enjoy this adventure. We did ours at Paradise Airsports in Groveland, FL about 95 miles northeast of St. Petersburg. For a tandem flight, you can choose between a 2000 ft. tow or an above-the-clouds 5000 ft. tow. We each did the mile-high adventure!
Be aware that once you are up that high it gets cold even in the summer, so bring something with long sleeves with you. You can also take dragonfly rides here, or if after taking one ride you become obsessed with hang gliding, you can take lessons here to become a pilot.
Another location we hear great things about but have not tried ourselves is the Wallaby Ranch in Davenport, FL about 83 miles northeast of St. Petersburg.
Cost for Hang-Gliding
A Mile-High Ultimate Adventure! – 5000 ft – $269 per person at Paradise Airsports
5. Adventure Course for Adults
TreeUmph! is a treetop adventure park with climbing, suspension bridges, ropes, floating logs, and zip lining in a lush pine and oak forest. In the Lead TreeUmph! Adventure Course you will be navigating through lumberjack’s logs, footbridges, an airborne surfboard, suspended vertical logs, suspended climbing walls, and much more before zip-lining to the finish.
Some other courses are more suited for both adults and children. It takes 3-4 hours to complete everything depending on how long you have to wait to get on each course.
This park is in Bradenton, FL about 40 miles south of St. Petersburg.
Cost for TreeUmph Adventure
An adult ticket is $55.95 per person.
Sailing is a little more involved than just renting a powerboat. You have to apply yourself and know a thing or two about it. Neither one of us has any experience sailing, but we found this sailing trip really interesting because it was more of a teambuilding adventure and great for family vacations.
Our group was divided into two, each group with separate sailboats and a captain that introduced us to basic sailing maneuvers and then helped us race against each other in a predetermined course. It turned out to be a stormy morning when we attempted this, which made it even more exciting!
This adventure is offered straight from the Vinoy Resort Marina in St. Petersburg by Sailing Florida Group and you can make it a half-day or full-day experience.
Cost for Sailing in St. Petersburg
Half-day Event – $79.95 per person or Full-day Event – $149.95 per person
7. Land a Plane in the Water
Aren’t you fascinated with planes that take off and land on water?! Apparently, Tavares in Lake County, Florida is the Seaplane Capital of the World! We did not know either, but with 1400 lakes in the area it is not surprising.
Jones Brothers Air and Seaplane Adventures offers multiple tours, with amazing views of the lakes and often alligators either sunbathing on the shore or swimming in the lakes.
Tavares is about 115 miles northeast of St. Petersburg and the downtown feels like a beach town with waterfront activities and tiki bars.
Cost for Seaplane Adventure
Depending on the tour and number of people, check out their website jonesairandsea.com for more accurate pricing.
Central Florida is full of rivers and lakes where you can go kayaking. During the hot summer months when the Gulf water gets to be too warm, it is a great option to cool off in one of the springs.
Weeki Wachee Spring is one of the more popular locations about 70 miles north of St. Petersburg.
Crystal River is another 25 miles further north and the Three Sisters Springs are amazing with crystal clear water and great for snorkeling.
The Rainbow River is another 20 miles further north in Dunnellon, FL. If kayaking is not your thing, you can also go tubing or snorkeling here.
All three of these will offer you a great experience where you may spot some manatees and other wildlife. We also like to go kayaking in Weedon Island in St. Petersburg, it is unique in the way that you are kayaking through the mangrove tunnels, it gets a little tight especially if some people are going the other way, but that’s what makes it fun!
9. Get Close to the Gators on an Air Boat
Airboats are a very popular means of transportation in marshy and/or shallow waters where a regular motorboat would not work. It is propelled by an aircraft-type engine and is very loud to ride on (bring earplugs!).
In Florida, they are often used for personal use to go fishing and hunting or provide Gator tours that take you to some of Florida’s most beautiful natural wonders that you would not be able to get to otherwise. There are many airboat tours to choose from in Central Florida, have your pick and enjoy the ride!
10. Ride for the Brews
Microbreweries have been on a steep incline in Florida and the Tampa Bay area is quickly becoming a capital of craft brews. Breweries are great hangout spots for families or just adults. In St. Petersburg, most of them are clustered together downtown along Central Avenue, where you can hop on one of the city bikes, or your own, and ride from brewery to brewery-tasting different brews, enjoying live entertainment, games, and food from food trucks.
1st Avenue South and Bayshore Dr SE in downtown St. Petersburg are where Pinellas Bike Trail starts, and you can utilize the trail to go from brewery to brewery or you can ride on the streets, but you will be going with the rest of the traffic.
The first stop is Cycle Brewery, it is a smaller taproom with a unique vibe and selection of craft beer. From there hop over (no pun intended) to St. Pete Brewing Company on 1st Ave N. Only a few blocks down the road is the Overflow Brewing Company, it doesn’t have an open door feel like most breweries do, it is dark inside and just feels different, but they have a great selection of brews worth trying.
Continuing on further west is Green Bench, the largest of the breweries so far, with a big outdoor seating and games area, during the cooler and less rainy months they show movies in the yard and provide a great hang-out spot.
Cage Brewing and Pinellas Ale Works are near each other around 20th Street and both are great hangout spots with live entertainment. We usually end our tour at 3 Daughters, the largest and most popular of all the St. Petersburg breweries, and then ride back on the Pinellas Trail. The list is endless when it comes to breweries in St. Petersburg and these are just some that we frequent.
Hope you try and enjoy some of the things on this unusual and off-the-beaten-path list of things to do in and around Tampa Bay!
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