Photo Courtesy of a TripAdvisor Traveler/BremingerEnjoy nature..You might encounter some wildlife.Is not deep and you can get off the kayak to get your feet wet.The water is that clear. The pictures don't do justice.Great place to kayakLeaving Tampa on the GrandeurTAMPA FLORIDABest limo service in Tampa

Families will love:

  • Beautiful grounds with roller coasters, water rides, themed kids' play areas and character interactions
  • Activities that appeal to every age range
  • One of the largest zoos in the U.S. and a chance to see exotic animals and even feed them by hand

What opened in 1959 as a small bird garden and hospitality center for the brewery owned by Anheuser-Busch is now a prime reason for theme park tourists to detour from Disney's theme park corridor and make the short ride west of Orlando to Tampa. Busch Gardens is home to one of the largest zoos in the U.S. and is a sprawling and ... more
What opened in 1959 as a small bird garden and hospitality center for the brewery owned by Anheuser-Busch is now a prime reason for theme park tourists to detour from Disney's theme park corridor and make the short ride west of Orlando to Tampa. Busch Gardens is home to one of the largest zoos in the U.S. and is a sprawling and beautifully manicured landscape of roller coasters, water rides, themed kids' play areas and character interactions that stray from Florida's dominant mouse paradigm.

The brewery that was once here closed down in 1995, and the beer giant merged with another company before the parks were eventually sold off in late 2009. And while the iconic Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales are gone, the years since have seen the debut of several new coasters and attractions.

There are three reasons why families particularly enjoy spending a day at Busch Gardens: the beautifully landscaped grounds, activities that appeal to every age range, and opportunities to see exotic animals up close and even feed them by hand; over 2,700 animals, from aardvarks to zebras, are housed here in surprisingly natural environments that are spread across 335 acres.

And while the Serengeti Plain, introduced at the park in 1965, is what launched Busch Gardens into the world-class theme park realm (and remains one of the park's prime attractions), the park is a hotspot for thrill-seekers too who come to test their nerves on some of the most exciting roller coasters in the country. Busch Gardens' free-roaming habitat for African wildlife is thought to be the largest such environment outside of Africa, and zebras, giraffes, hippos, lions, gorillas, chimpanzees and more call it home. Whether you're looking for a zoo-like experience complete with kangaroos eating from your hand and safari trips across a realistic savannah, live shows that cater to your two year old and let him cuddle with Elmo, or thrill rides that will keep the teens in your entourage thinking you're the best parents around, Busch Gardens is that rare theme park that offers a heavy dose of something for every age child.

You can tour the entire park in one day, but devoting two days to your visit will let you explore all of the attractions at a more leisurely pace. The Tampa area is close to some of the country's finest sugar-sand beaches, too, in Clearwater and St. Pete, so consider tacking on a few extra days while you're in these parts to make the most of your family vacation.

For more ideas on family vacationing near Busch Gardens, read our review of Tampa.

Written by Terry Ward less

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