Steamy summer temperatures are just around the corner, which makes now the ideal time to squeeze in a few outdoor adventures. From horseback riding to nature preserves, zip lining, and water sports, here are our go-to outdoor activities in Tampa Bay for an adventurous date.
Note: Some, but not all of the places and activities listed below may be temporarily closed. Use this list as inspiration for now and the future as our favorite things begin to reopen.
1. Pinellas Trail
Stretching from Tarpon Springs to St. Petersburg, the 38-mile Pinellas Trail is a former railway that was repurposed as a multi-use trail. Hit the trail on two wheels making pitstops to check out the Tarpon Springs sponge docks, park for a refreshing brew (I love 7venth Sun Brewing in Dunedin) and stroll through hip downtown Dunedin. If you feel like making a side trip to the beach, you can follow another pedestrian trail across the Dunedin Causeway for a visit to Honeymoon Island State Park. Admission for cyclists is $2. If you don’t have wheels of your own, rentals are available through companies like Kafe Racer (from $24/day) which is conveniently located close to the trail in downtown Dunedin.
2. Tampa Riverwalk
The Tampa Riverwalk is one of downtown’s best features. Waterfront views, a wide multi-use trail and plenty of activities along the way make it a one-stop shop for a fun and cheap date night by the water. Notable stops and activities include Armature Works, Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, the Pirate Water Taxi (such a fun way to get around) Ulele, and Tampa Bay SUP, just to name a few.
3. Ziplining at Empower Adventures
Get your adrenaline pumping on a multi-hour adventure zipping above water and the treetops at Empower Adventures in Oldsmar. This zip line adventure park boasts five zip lines, the longest of which is 650 feet, a 200-foot suspension bridge over water, plus fun challenges along the way like rope bridges and log swings. Options include the Zip Line Adventure, Moonlight Canopy Tour (select weekends), and the romantic Sunset Zip Line Adventure (Saturdays and Sundays). Reservations in advance are required.
Check out our guide to Four Places to Go Ziplining in Tampa Bay for more inspiration.
4. Myakka River State Park
Florida’s State Parks are all beautiful in their own way, but Myakka River State Park is a crown jewel with its diverse landscape comprised of wetlands, prairies, hammocks and pinelands. Plan a visit to traverse the canopy walk above the trees, embark on a boat ride ride to spot alligators, or take a hike and see how much wildlife you can spot.
Kayaking is pleasurable year round in Florida, but especially during the breezy, cooler months of spring and fall. Paddle among dolphins and other wildlife in a clear kayak at Shell Key Preserve, weave your way through mangroves in Lido Key and Weedon Island Preserve, or visit a sandbar and paddle out into the gulf from Longboat Key. Our post on 10 Great Spots to Go Kayaking in Tampa is full of ideas for an active date.
6. Paddle boarding
For fans of water sports like kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding (referred to as SUP) is an equally fun activity that’s surprisingly easy to pick up, even as a first timer. Tampa Bay SUP offers rentals, lessons and eco-tours from their location along the Tampa Riverwalk downtown. Urban Kai also offers rentals plus fun tours through Downtown Tampa or in dense mangroves.
7. Horseback riding
Immerse yourself in a slice of Old Florida on a peaceful horseback trail ride right outside of downtown Tampa. Local companies In the Breeze Ranch and Cypress Breeze Farm both offer guided trail rides for couples to enjoy. The former is a fully operational horse ranch and the latter specializes in beachfront and guided trail rides.
Floating down a river in a tube is a must-do for any Floridian, at least once. It’s also an incredibly popular summertime activity, so it’s smart to plan your visit during an off season for fewer crowds on the water. While quite a hike from Tampa (1 hour and 45 minutes to be exact), the drive to tube down the spring-fed Rainbow River is totally worth it. You can leave from KP Hole ($25/person) or Rainbow Springs State Park ($20/person). The latter is a shorter tube run, but either way the journey lasts for hours so pack snacks, water and plenty of sunscreen.
9. Honeymoon Island + Caladesi Island
Situated off the coast just minutes from Dunedin, Honeymoon Island State Park offers natural beaches, crystal clear waters, spectacular sunsets and unspoiled coastline dotted with unique shells. Besides lazing on the beach, there are kayak rentals and nature trails to explore. For an added fee, you can hop on the ferry to secluded Caladesi Island for more fun in the sun. Admission to the park is $8 and the ferry to Caladesi Island is $16/person.
10. Hit the beach
We’d be remiss not to mention Tampa Bay’s array of top-notch beaches on this list. Honeymoon Island, St. Pete Beach, Clearwater Beach, Indian Rocks Beach and Madeira Beach are some notable favorites. For realtime info on which beaches are open or have reached capacity each weekend, refer to the beach capacity page created by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
11. Sunken Gardens
Get lost in a botanical oasis together while walking hand in hand through St. Pete’s lush Sunken Gardens. Besides the gorgeous plants lining the paths of the 100+ year old park, the resident flamingoes are a main draw. Admission is $12/person and parking is free.
12. Rent a boat or jet ski for the day
If you’re looking to shake up your usual beach routine, try renting a boat for the day to experience the beach in a new way. Check out this post for tips on boat and jet ski rentals in St. Pete or book a rental with Clearwater Watersports if it’s fast and fun jet ski rentals you’re after.
13. Kraken CycleBoats
If a booze cruise if your idea of a good day, book a trip with Kraken CycleBoats, frequently spotted along the Hillsborough River. You will have to do a little work, pedaling the boat to earn your sips. You’ll need to supply your own alcohol while your captain supplies the cups and ice. The tour also includes a bit of sightseeing as you paddle past the Tampa Riverwalk, Armature Works, Curtis Hixon Park and more.
14. Suncoast Trail
North of the popular Pinellas Trail, the Suncoast Trail stretches for 42 miles and is suitable for biking, jogging or walking. Stopping points including water are located throughout the trail, and multiple trailheads with parking provide access to the paved trail.
15. Riverwalk Boating Company
Did you know you can rent a mini powerboat for two to cruise Tampa’s waterways? Riverwalk Boating Company rents these cute two-seaters which start at $40 for a half hour up to $90 for two hours. Pick up your rental along the Riverwalk and then head out on a self-guided adventure in any direction you choose. The boats go between 10-20mph, so plan for a relaxed trip on the water with your love.
16. Drive-In movies
For a nostalgic date, pack snacks and park the car for an old school date night at the local drive-in. Multiple drive-in move theaters are accessible from Tampa including Funlan Drive-In, Ruskin Family Drive-In, and the Silver Moon Drive-In in Lakeland, just 30 minutes away. Admission is affordable at $6-$7/adult for both movies being screened that evening.
17. St. Pete Mural Tour
St. Pete’s colorful murals are a fixture of the vibrant city, adding pops of color and interest to local buildings. Map out a route for a self-guided tour of your favorites using this handy map, or join an official St. Pete Mural Tour for $19/person. On the guided walking tour, you’ll visit 30+ murals while learning more about the artists who created each.
18. Fort De Soto Park
From renting kayaks to playing on the beach with your four-legged friend, hiking the trails or hopping on the ferry to visit nearby Egmont Key, Fort De Soto Park is ideal for a full-day outdoors date. FYI: Admission is $5.
19. Sunset Cruise
If you really want to wow your date, book a sunset cruise. There are loads of options throughout Tampa, but our top picks for date night include the Yacht Starship which includes dinner and open bar for $59.95/person and Island Ferry’s St. Pete Beach Sunset Cruise. The sunset cruise is a private experience limited to no more than 6 people. You’ll enjoy dolphin sightings along with a stunning Gulf sunset. The cost is $54/person. Find more sunset cruise ideas in our post here.
20. Aerial Adventure Parks
Aerial adventure courses like TreeHoppers and TreeUmph! Adventure Course combine zip lines and aerial obstacles for an exciting workout above the treetops. Think ropes, barrels, suspension bridges and nets. You’re guaranteed to work up a sweat; might as well do it while the weather is still nice!
21. Big Red Balloon Sightseeing Adventures
If a hot air balloon ride has long been a fixture on your bucket list, check it off right here in Tampa. Big Red Balloon Sightseeing Adventures offers hot air balloon tours taking off at sunrise, allowing you to see the surrounding landscape from above, set aglow in the golden morning light. Tours are $195/person including a champagne toast and full breakfast, or splurge for a private flight at $650/couple. (Proposal, anyone?)
22. Pack a picnic
Whether you’re packing your own feast for two or grabbing takeout, picnics are a timeless activity for a memorable date. Lucky for Tampa locals, there are loads of scenic places for a picnic from the quintessential Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park to more romantic spots like Honeymoon Island State Park. Check out our picks for The Perfect Picnic Date In Tampa Bay.
23. Nature preserves
For a totally free date, visit a nearby nature preserve to climb a lookout tower, search for local wildlife, stroll on a boardwalk or hike quiet trails. Weedon Island Preserve features a multiple trails and observation towers, plus scenic boardwalks for walkers and paddling trails for kayakers. Also check out the Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve, which includes 60 miles of hiking trails and loads of wildlife.
24. Riverwalk Pub Crawl
Did you know you can take drinks to-go to enjoy as you walk along the Tampa Riverwalk? Secure a designated driver then head out on a self-guided walking pub crawl to sip beverages from local restaurants and bars in a special Riverwalk to-go cup. The Riverwalk cups are available at the following locations along the Riverwalk: Anchor & Brine at Tampa Marriott Water Street, Columbia Cafe at Tampa Bay History Center, Four Green Fields, Garrison Tavern at Tampa Marriott Water Street, Malio’s Steak House, Remedy, Riverwalk Cafe at Tampa Museum of Art, Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk, SIP at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, The Sail at the Tampa Convention Center and Ulele.
25. Pier 60 Sunset
A right of passage for locals and visitors alike, the lively and iconic sunset celebration at Pier 60 in Clearwater is a fun way to end a perfect day at the beach. The daily festival kicks off a few hours before sunset and lasts several hours after the sun has dipped below the horizon. After a romantic stroll on the beach towards the pier, sit and stay awhile to watch an outdoor movie or interact with street performers.
Feature image credit: Empower Adventures Tampa Bay