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Over the weekend I took a trip to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay for the first time. After previously visiting their Virginia location I thought the park in Tampa would be relatively similar, starring mostly thrill rides--and I was right. That said, I was pleasantly surprised by how much else there was to do and see at the park for people like me who aren't particularly into riding roller coasters (which they have a lot of!) So, I made a list of 6 fun things to do at Busch Gardens Tampa besides riding roller coasters.
But before I get into that, I just wanted to say that you can save up to $35 off a day ticket to the park (or buy-one-get-one) and explore additional limited-time savings, events, and more here!
1. Go on a safari & meet the animals
Easily my favorite thing to do at Busch Gardens Tampa was seeing all of the animals. The entire park is themed like an African safari oasis so it was only natural they had to include safari tours!
While there is a train that takes you through their safari park that's included in general admission, you can also purchase a safari tour (pictured above) that gets you more up close and personal with the wild-roaming animals including rhinos, zebra, giraffes and so much more.
Additionally, Busch Gardens offers animal encounters/tours with several of their exotic animals. If I had known about these sooner I definitely would have been hanging out with the sloths during my visit. (They're my spirit animal.)
2. Eat your way around the park
As a foodie, I couldn't have been more excited about the many places to stop and get a bite to eat at--many of which were themed eateries. From chains like Chick-fil-A to the unique Giraffe Bar overlooking the safari area (my favorite), to plenty of sweetly-caffeinated cafes, OG Dip n' Dot stands, and everything else in between, there is no way you can go hungry (or get bored) when you're sampling your way around the park. And yes, there are plenty of adult beverages on hand too!
3. Partake in limited-time festivities
From Halloween to Christmas, Summer Nights and more, one thing that Busch Gardens is known for is going all-out for festivities. I was lucky enough to encounter their Mardi Gras celebration during my visit and it was nothing short of exciting, featuring live music, authentic cuisine, boozy drinks and sweets, and plenty of entertainment to match. Best yet, events at Busch Gardens are perfect for all ages to enjoy so it's truly a family-friendly environment. I highly recommend planning a visit around these kinds of events if you don't just want to come for the rides.
4. Watch the performances
With several theaters and stages on site and periodical live showings happening throughout the day, anyone who finds themselves needing a break from the thrill rides can rest assured there will still be plenty of show-stopping entertainment to appreciate. What's more, in addition to live entertainment and shows, the park also hosts "keeper talks" throughout the day to educate guests about animal care and conservation.
5. Shop, shop, shop!
Is it even a good day out if you don't leave with a souvenir? If you are anything like me and browsing shelves of clothes and knickknacks is enough to keep you busy for hours then you surely won't want to pass up the chance to shop 'til you drop at the many gift shops found throughout the park. What I enjoyed the most about the shops was that they all had something a little different from the next, so you really never knew what you might find from one store to another.
6. Uncover cool photo ops
Whether you want to pose in front or stay behind the lens, from murals to art installations, roller coaster backdrops and more, if there's one thing I can promise about Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is that there are tons of great places for photo opportunities that you literally won't find anywhere else--because they only exist here! Unique photoshoot, anyone? Oh--and don't be afraid to bring your good camera. Busch Gardens has locker rentals on site so you don't have to commit to carrying it around until you're ready.
What are your favorite things to do at Busch Gardens? Let us know in the comments!
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