TAMPA BAY, Fla. — It's no secret that Florida summers can be brutally hot. If you're looking for some fun ways to cool down in and around Tampa Bay, consider an inflatable aqua park, a 7.5-acre lagoon or even a restaurant that allows you to snorkel in its fish tank!
Location: 31885 Overpass Rd., Wesley Chapel
Cost: Adults are $35 | Kids are $28
Tired of the beach? Opt for a lagoon instead! Epperson Lagoon is one of the largest pools in the U.S., with 7.5 acres to swim in. It has tons of fun for the whole family with a 50-foot slide, inflatable obstacle course, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, beach toys, a virtual reality diving experience, lawn games and a swim-up bar. If you're trying to catch some sun and chill, there are also private cabanas, AquaBanas and tikis available for rent. AquaBanas are inflatable cabanas that allow you to kick back and relax while floating on the water!
Splash Harbour Water Park
Location: 399 2nd St., Indian Rocks Beach
Cost: Adult Florida resident admission is $25.95 | Junior Florida resident admission is $21.95
This Key West-themed water park is nestled inside the Holiday Inn Harbourside in Indian Rocks Beach, making it just hidden enough to avoid large droves of tourists. It has plenty to do like Smuggler's Run, a 42-foot tall slide with a bowl feature; Pirate's Plunge, a body slide for thrill-seeking single riders; a Treasure Cove Splash Zone for the little ones, a Great White Lazy River with over 600 feet of winding turns and more. Plus, there's a "snack shack" with tons of lunch options and Cruzan Rum Shack, for frozen specialty drinks, beer and others.
The Lift Adventure Park
Location: 17362 Old Dixie Highway, Hudson
Cost: $15 for a 45 minute session
This adventure park will allow you to challenge your agility and balance—all while on the water! It's the largest inflatable aqua park in Florida and offers plenty of obstacles for you to complete. But that's not all there is to do in the park. There are also opportunities for wakeboarding, paddleboarding and kayaking if water sports are more your thing.
Best Pro Kiteboarding
Location: 1031 4th St. N., St. Petersburg
Cost: Lessons start at $60 per person per hour.
Speaking of water sports, kiteboarding is definitely one of the coolest ones to learn how to do. It combines elements of surfing, paragliding and wakeboarding. Best Pro Kiteboarding offers lessons for every skill type, from beginners to advanced. You can choose between a two hour and four hour lesson and jet ski assistants are provided with each lesson as well! They are held at Skyway Beach just off the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, but express caution before you go. Red tide has been present in the area and you'll want to make sure it's not there before you head on over!
Tampa Bay Water Bike Company
Location: 333 S. Franklin St. at the docks along the Tampa Riverwalk, Boat Slip 15.
Cost: $30 for adults |$25 for children (ages 15 and under)
Looking to get active but not a huge fan of kiteboarding? Tampa Bay Water Bike Company has just what you need. This company allows you to bike along the Hillsborough River, taking in sights such as University of Tampa and Davis Island. You may even spot some dolphins! The water bikes are pretty easy to ride and you receive a quick safety orientation beforehand as well. There is also the option to rent single and tandem kayaks, if you'd like to explore the river in a different way.
Snorkeling at RumFish Grill
Location: 6000 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach
At RumFish Grill, not only can you enjoy fish as a meal—but you can enjoy them as a snorkeler as well! This fascinating restaurant allows guests to take a dip in their 33,500-gallon aquarium, which is home to over 30 species of fish and aquatic life that are native to the Gulf of Mexico. Expect to see creatures like tarpon, amberjack, grouper, redfish, blackdrum, cow-nose rays, pompano and nurse sharks. When you're done wading through the 13 feet of artificial sea water, head to the actual restaurant where you can munch on ceviche, fresh-shucked oysters, chilled shellfish and more.
The Chassahowitzka River
Location: 8600 West Miss Maggie Dr., Homosassa
Cost: Parking is $5
Who knew that jungles and underwater caves could be accessible in Florida? At Chassahowitzka River, also known as "Chaz River," you can experience this and more! This park located in Citrus County has shallow, clear blue water and if you choose to swim, you'll be able to spot blue holes and underwater cave systems. There are tons of marine life that inhabit the waters, so you might be able to spot a few dolphins and otters, as well as numerous fish. There are also rentals available for paddleboards, kayaks, canoes and jon boats, which you can access here. Don't forget to wade out in the spring until you reach "The Crack," a section that has a pond-like area with rope swings above it for the adventurous types.
Location: 19158 S.W. 81st Place Rd., Dunnellon
Rainbow Springs is the state's fourth largest spring, home to sapphire-blue waters, mossy hammocks, a variety of wildlife and human-made waterfalls. Rainbow Springs is a great place to cool down for the summer since its water stays around a cool 72 degrees all year. If you'd like to do more than just swimming, the park offers tubing, kayaking, snorkeling and fishing. Tubing is one of the most popular and to rent one, it's $20. Take advantage now; tubing is available weekends only until September 28, when it closes for the winter season.
Weeki Wachee Springs
Location: 6131 Commercial Way, Spring Hill
Cost: $13 for adults | $8 for children ages 6-12
Last but certainly not least is Weeki Wachee Springs, one of the best experiences you can have in all of Florida! It's been a main Florida attraction since 1947 and once you see the natural crystal clear springs, you'll realize why. There's many unique experiences here, like the mermaid show that's performed in a submerged auditorium, a spring-fed water park called Buccaneer Bay and areas for kayaking and snorkeling. Also, keep an eye out for the park's wildlife, which includes turtles, otters, pelicans and other exciting marine animals!