Winter is here, which is arguably the best time of year to get out and do things in sunny FLA! If you are looking to have yourself a merry little Christmas (without breaking the bank) consider choosing one or many of these things to do near Tampa on a budget this winter. Best yet, these are all family-friendly activities, so you can feel good knowing the whole family can get involved!
Oh, and don't forget to check out my list of Christmas gift must-haves for the beach lover in your life!
1. Christmas tree farms
Florida might be known for palm and orange trees, but to the surprise of many, we aren't short on real Christmas trees either. If you're looking to hand pick your tree from a farm around Tampa, you will be pleased to know that there are plenty of spots to do so; many of which host a myriad of seasonal activities like hay rides, arts & crafts, bonfires and more. What's perhaps best is that some of these farms are relatively cheap to visit--though, the trees can be pricey. That doesn't mean you can't spend a day with the kids or bae, browsing and enjoying the winter-wonderland atmosphere while sipping a hot cup of coco! A list of tree farms can be found here.
2. Sled riding
Believe it or not, you can go sled riding on real snow near Tampa this season thanks to the Pasco County theme park, Snowcat Ridge. This park offers several snowy attractions, two of which are new this year; Snowy Slopes, Arctic Igloo, Crystal Ribbon (new), Eskimo Outpost (new), and the Alpine Village. Snowcat Ridge is currently open daily and tickets are as low as $26.95/per person. You can find more information about ticketing and activities here.
3. Manatee spotting
Nothing says "season's greetings" in Florida like the appearance of our favorite ocean mammals, the manatees. This is the best time of year to catch a glimpse of the elusive sea cows in all their gentle glory along one of our many coastal springs. You can find out where and how best to enjoy them by clicking here.
4. Winter Beach Festival (St. Pete Pier)
The St. Pete Pier is one of my favorite to-dos any time of the year, but it's even more exciting when they host seasonal events like their 2021 Winter Beach Festival--which features a very outdoor real ice-skating rink. There will also be photo booths, an arcade, festive market, and yes, real snow. The pier is free to enjoy while some of the activities like ice skating are an upcharge. Check out all the activities and prices here!
5. Tampa Winter Village
Curtis Hixon Park along the gorgeous Tampa Riverwalk has been turned into a Winter Village this season, also boasting an outdoor ice skating rink! While the ice skating and Winter Village Express require tickets, you are free to meander through the park's shops, cafes, and gingerbread themed "Sweet Street". There will be periodical free events happening at the park including Christmas movie showings, parades, and Santa sightings. Find out everything you want to know about the Winter Village and all their events here!