Hillsborough County, the populous gem of the Sunshine State outside of the Miami metropolitan area, is an exceptional destination for family-friendly fun. It offers a variety of attractions that appeal to all ages. Due to its strategic location between three major cities and numerous county subdivisions, tourism is crucial to Hillsborough’s local economy.

For families, the county’s abundant natural beauty, vibrant lifestyle, and rich historical preservations make it an ideal place to visit. The diverse attractions cater to different interests, ensuring that everyone in the family finds something enjoyable. Whether you’re exploring scenic parks, engaging in outdoor adventures, or delving into fascinating history, there’s plenty to see and do for all.

After drawing more than 26.7 million visitors last year, these are The Top 5 Fun Summer Day Trips For Hillsborough County Families:

Clearwater Marine Aquarium 

This nonprofit organization in Clearwater is dedicated to rehabilitating, rescuing, and releasing all its marine animals. Your family can learn about these inhabitants splashing and swimming their very best lives under the care of experts. 

The aquarium consists of five pools and several underwater windows. Residents include a trio of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, eight sea turtles, a nurse shark, four Great White Pelicans, and various stingrays and river otters. 

Outside the aquarium, boat tours are also ready and waiting on the docks. Passengers can learn about the local environment from critters collected in a net from grass beds and sand flats from the bay. 

The story of a dolphin with a prosthetic tail named Winter made Clearwater Marine Aquarium famous. The true story was adapted into two movies, “Dolphin Tale” and “Dolphin Tale 2”. 

The Ringling

Sure, circuses may have fallen out of favor with the modern consumer, but there is still plenty of interest for our entertainment of the past.

The Ringling estate includes a plethora of exhibits to keep every family member entertained. The 66-acre campus, located in Sarasota, offers both previous and contemporary culture. Attractions include the Museum of Art, the 1920s mansion Ca’ d’Zan, the Bayfront Gardens, and the Circus Museum. The latter is a permanent exhibit that details how the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey evolved to become one of the most renowned brands in the world. 

There is a Summer Circus Spectacular that runs throughout the season. Starring a contortionist, acrobat, cyr wheel, and many more, the show is notably absent animals—the taboo that originally doomed the circus. 

Fort De Soto Park 

Whether you want to swim, kayak, or bask on the beach, there’s plenty of family beach activities near the still water’s edge at Fort De Soto. Known as the largest park within the Pinellas County Park System, Fort De Soto sees over 2.7 million visitors annually, exploring the 1,136 acres and five interconnected islands. 

For bird enthusiasts, the park is an ornithologist’s dream. The natural ecosystem hosts 328 species of birds, with new species added every year. The beach is also home to loggerhead sea turtles, which nest from April to September. 

Entry is a mere $5, making Fort De Soto the cheapest, family-friendly option on this list.  

LEGOLAND Florida Resort

LEGOLAND Florida Resort was built, LEGO brick by LEGO brick, in 2011 on the former site of Cypress Gardens. The resort features the theme park, the LEGOLAND waterpark, three onsite accommodations, and a separate ticketed attraction based on the British children’s animated series Peppa Pig. 

LEGOLAND is designed primarily for families with children. The park has over 50 rides, attractions, shows, shops, and restaurants. The park features new exhibits, and this year’s offerings include the Ferrari Build & Race attraction and the SEA LIFE Aquarium.  

Formerly, the site was a historic botanical garden and theme park that opened nearly a century before. Parts of the original area are preserved as part of the park. Preservations include a massive Banyan tree planted on 1939 and four renovated attractions renamed and renovated. 

Crystal River 

You can’t think about Crystal River without thinking about manatees. Just six miles from the Gulf of Mexico, the spring-fed river of 70 springs is also called the Manatee Capital of the World.  Your family can swim with these sea mermaids, exploring the only National Wildlife Refuge in the United States specifically designed for these creatures. The most popular is Three Sisters Springs, enticing the most manatees to its millions of gallons of fresh water. Visitors can also kayak, fish, and hike through unspoiled forests. 

Of course, for retail therapy, there are numerous specialty shops in the historic downtown, supplemented by delicious fresh seafood offerings. 

Adventures Await in Hillsborough County

From aquariums to parks and historical estates, Hillsborough County offers families a diverse range of activities. Each destination provides unique experiences that cater to different interests, ensuring every family member has something exciting to look forward to. Whether discovering marine life, enjoying thrilling rides, or exploring scenic nature spots, the area promises endless fun and educational opportunities.

Hillsborough County is a prime summer destination with its proximity to major cities and a wealth of attractions. Gather your loved ones, plan your trip, and embark on an unforgettable adventure. The Sunshine State awaits with open arms, ready to offer your family memories that will last a lifetime.