Seven Parks to Explore in Tampa, Florida

Tampa has some hidden gems right inside of the city. This week I have rounded up seven parks I enjoy visiting in Tampa, Florida. Keep reading to find a new park you can visit today!

Boardwalk without railing with a tree branch hanging over diagonally.

Which Tampa parks should I visit?

While this is not an all-inclusive list of the parks in Tampa these are some of my favorite parks that I frequent often. I like these parks because I can get to most of them quickly and they each have something unique about them that always makes for an enjoyable experience.

  • Al Lopez Park
  • Ballast Point Park
  • Cypress Point Park
  • Gadsden Park
  • Lettuce Lake Park
  • Picnic Island Park
  • Seaplane Basin Park

Please note the current hours are listed, but many parks are open from sunrise to sunset and exact hours may change throughout the year.

Al Lopez Park

  • Address: 4810 N Himes Avenue Tampa, FL 33614
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Amenities: Boardwalk trail, nature trail, fitness stations, community center, dog park, picnic shelters, fishing dock, playgrounds, and restrooms
  • Pet friendly – dog park
Me standing with my back to the camera looking at the lake for Al Lopez Park

Al Lopez Park is 132 acres and the perfect spot to get a dose of nature right in the middle of the city. My favorite part of this park is the north loop nature trail. This trail is a combination of paved trail and boardwalks. The boardwalks are stunning, and this section of the park is more secluded from the nearby busy streets. There is also plenty of shade which is a bonus in the hot summer months.  The south loop is also paved, but there is more exposed sun as well as potential noise from traffic. The total distance of the combined loops is around 2-miles and there are also fitness stations along the trail.

The sun shining over the lake at Al Lopez Park

Ballast Point Park

  • Address: 5300 Interbay Blvd. Tampa, FL 33611
  • Hours: 6 AM to 8 PM
  • Amenities: Fishing pier, splash pad, playground, picnic shelters, boat ramp, restaurant, boat ramp, and fitness and wellness center
  • Pet friendly
My dog and I smiling on Ballast Point fishing pier

Ballast Point Park is a 6.4-acre park and a perfect spot to catch a Tampa Bay sunset or take in the view of downtown Tampa. The park features a 600-foot fishing pier among many other amenities. While there are not any nature trails at Ballast Point Park it’s a great starting point to walk to Bayshore Boulevard. Bayshore is one of the longest continuous sidewalks in the United States at 4.5 miles of interrupted scenic view of Tampa Bay. It is approximately a 1-mile walk from Ballast Point Park to the beginning of Bayshore Boulevard sidewalk.

Plants surrounding a Bayshore Beautiful sign

Taste of Boston Restaurant

If you decide to take a walk along Bayshore Boulevard and work up an appetite you can stop by Taste of Boston at Ballast Point Park. The restaurant is a casual waterfront spot serving New England-style seafood. With indoor and outdoor seating t’s the perfect spot to grab lunch! Leashed pets are welcome on the patio.

  • Tuesday through Sunday: 12 PM to 6 PM
  • Extended hours until 7 PM on Friday and Saturday
  • Closed Monday

Cypress Point Park

  • Address: 5620 W Cypress St. Tampa, FL 33607
  • Hours: 7 AM to 9 PM
  • Amenities: Beach, disc golf course, playground, picnic shelters, sand volleyball courts, paved nature trail, restrooms
  • Pet friendly
Cypress Point Park entrance sign

Cypress Point Park has many similar amenities to Picnic Island Park but is located a little more centrally in the city. One of the highlights of this park is the beach which provides access to Tampa Bay. Additionally, a disc golf course, volleyball court, and picnic shelters are available. I also enjoy walking along the paved walking trail. It is approximately 1.5-miles out-and-back. This park is dog friendly, but pets are not allowed on the beach areas.

Gadsden Park

  • Address: 6901 S. MacDill Ave. Tampa, FL 33611
  • Hours: 6 AM to 8:30 PM
  • Amenities: Walking trail, fitness equipment, picnic shelters, dog park, softball fields, playground, fishing lake, and restrooms
  • Pet friendly – dog park
Palm trees leaning towards the lake at Gadsden Park

Gadsden Park is in South Tampa and is 48-acres. The walking trail is a paved stacked loop, and the total distance is approximately 1.5 miles. The Lake Gadsen loop is just under 1 mile and the play area loop is about 0.5 miles. This is the perfect park to visit if you want to bring your dog because in addition to the walking trail there is a dog park for your dog to run off any excess energy.

Lettuce Lake Conservation Park

  • Address: 6920 E Fletcher Ave. Tampa, FL 33637
  • Hours: 8 AM to 6 PM
  • Amenities: Picnic areas, boardwalk trail, paved trail, playgrounds, observation tower, canoe and kayak rentals, restrooms
  • Entrance Fee: $2 per vehicle
  • Pets are not allowed on boardwalk trails
Boardwalk at Lettuce Lake Park

Lettuce Lake is one of Hillsborough County’s most popular parks to visit and after my first visit I could see why. There is a variety of activities to choose from including walking the paved or boardwalk trail or kayaking or canoeing in the lake. Kayak and canoe rentals are available in the park for $25 for up to 4 hours. Additional hours can be purchased at $10 per hour.

A boardwalk leading to a picnic shelter at Lettuce Lake Park

My favorite part of the park is the boardwalk trails that lead to the observation tower overlooking the lake. However, it’s important to note that pets and bikes are not allowed on the boardwalks. If you would like to bring your dog or ride your bike you are able to walk on the 1.25-mile paved loop. Don’t forget to pack a picnic lunch to enjoy after you spend the morning exploring the park by land or water.

Observation tower at Lettuce Lake Park

Picnic Island Park

  • Address: 7409 Picnic Island Blvd. Tampa, FL 33616
  • Hours: Sunrise to sunset
  • Amenities: Beach, dog beach, boat ramp and pier, playground, picnic shelters, disc golf course, volleyball court, canoe/kayak launch and restrooms
  • Pet friendly – dog beach
Palm trees next to Tampa Bay during sunset

Picnic Island Park is a fun park for the entire family. You can spend time relaxing on the beach, eating a picnic lunch, or playing a competitive game of disc golf. While there isn’t really a well-marked nature trail there are plenty of open grassy fields to get some steps in. One of the park’s biggest highlights is the beach. There is a dog beach as well as regular beach access where you can see views of downtown St. Petersburg. The main beach is the only place in the park that is not dog friendly.

Palm trees and a picnic table near the beach at Picnic Island park

Seaplane Basin Park

  • Address: 650 Seven Ave. Tampa, FL 33606
  • Hours: Open 24 hours a day
  • Amenities: Walking trail, beach, dog park, dog beach
  • Pet friendly – dog park, dog beach

Seaplane Basin Park is a small park at the end of Davis Island. In addition to the park Davis Island Beach is located within walking distance. There is a short, paved trail along the bay that extends further through the quaint neighborhood of Davis Island which can be enjoyed by walking or biking. Seaplane Basin Park makes the perfect spot for a picnic with a waterfront view. It is also another great dog friendly spot with a dog park and dog beach as well as the small area of Davis Island Beach.

Palm Trees next to Tampa Bay at Davis Island

Final Thoughts on Tampa Parks to visit

Florida State Parks often make for a more adventurous day of exploring, but sometimes I just need a quick hour in nature to feel reset. That’s when these Tampa parks are perfect to visit. It is hard to pick a favorite park, but Lettuce Lake is one of them. Unfortunately, they do not allow dogs on the boardwalk trails, which is one of my favorite parts. For that reason, I’d also have to say Al Lopez Park is one of my favorites due to being dog friendly and the north loop trail. Have you visited any of these Tampa parks? Which ones did I miss? Let me know your favorite Tampa park in the comments below!

Looking for more parks to explore in Hillsborough County?

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