Busch Gardens is located in central Tampa and is about an hour from Orlando, Florida. It is a great theme park, and much different than many others in that it has a unique zoo side to it, with lots of animals to see, and much information to glean while still having tons of fun as you would as other theme parks.
Homeschooling in Florida – 10 Reasons to visit Busch Gardens Tampa Fl
I recently posted the top 8 reasons to visit Bush Gardens but I want to share why you should also visit as homeschoolers. There are so many things to see and do and it makes for a really fun time of learning and enjoying yourselves at the same time.
Remember Busch Gardens is part of the CityPASS program you can visit Busch Gardens, The Florida Aquarium, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, Clearwater Marine Aquarium, and then choose between the Museum of Science & Industry OR Chihuly Collection.
Also if you are a military member don’t forget their waves of honor program, you and your family can get in for free once a year.
They have a very vast amount of animals all over the park and many are from Africa, but not all. There are lots of birds, many aquariums, penguins, turtles, alligators and much, much more. They have several exhibits dedicated to the animals like the safari area, (and they do have a separate safari tour you can go on, but it does cost extra), the Myombe reserve, which has gorillas and other primates, an Australian exhibit, a cave area with bats and snakes, an animal nursery and a place where some of the animals are healing or going through things are kept, but in a place you can see them well, a Tiger exhibit and more.
What a great way to get up close to animals they are learning about in their school work.
There are 2 different aviaries and both are toward the same side of the park. One is called Lorikeet landing and it does have several types of birds but the primary focus is the lorakeets, which will fly right up and sit on you if you have food for them. They sell the food at the entrance to the aviary, but you don’t have to purchase it. They are beautiful, colorful birds and so fun to watch even if you’re not feeding them. The trainers are always nearby and are great with answering questions. If you tell them you are homeschooling and visiting, they are awesome about helping you out too.
Then the second aviary is closer to the Australian animal exhibit and it is a great place to sit and sketch some birds and relax. They have nice information cards for you to use to help identify the birds, too, which is very helpful.
There are several shows to see in the park but as far as homeschooling goes, the pet show is easily a favorite, as it is funny and very entertaining, but it also shows many animals, some who are rescue animals, doing tricks. It’s located in the center of the park and is a good stop for the middle of the day when you are tired and hot! The ice show is excellent as well as some of the musical shows too. They do have a few kid’s shows also, one in Sesame place for littler kids and a Madagascar show also. The characters do come out and do pictures with the kids which is very fun.
Riding the train is an excellent way to ride something as a family that everyone can enjoy, and it is a steam powered train, which you don’t see very often anymore. It goes around a large portion of the park and the best part is that is goes out into the safari areas and they narrate for you, telling you all sorts of neat facts about the animals you will see on the ride. The giraffes, zebras, rhinos and other wildlife will be out there and sometimes come very close to the train cars and it’s amazing to see.
This is a great ride after you study the railroad and the history of it and how trains work!
My grandparents used to take me here as a kid, and this was my favorite part of the park, riding around and getting to see all the animals!
There is an area called Jungala that is towards the back of the park that is perfect for kids of all ages. It has a few rides to ride, two water areas for splashing in, and a huge rope jungle gym for them to run and climb on. This is perfect for PE class 😉
It’s a nice area to eat near, and one of the places has tables nestled in the shade under where the rope gym is, so parents can easily get a break and cool off while the kids play but still be able to see the kids and have them check in. It is a great mix of some physical activity, other than walking, mixed with a lot of fun.
The animal center is a building that is across from the elephant exhibit and it has a few rooms where the trainers will hold sessions you can sit in on, for example, you may walk in to find a trainer with an owl, who is giving its history and facts about owls, while you sit and ask questions. It is different every time you go and you never know what’s going to be happening in there. They have a surgery center in the building as well and they do frequent operations on rescued animals as well as their own if needed. They have a massive glass wall so you can watch the surgery and a trainer is there answering questions and describing what is going on and why. They have tv screens that show any x-rays of the animal, too, which is really neat. They do advise that if you want to see a surgery going on, to get there early, close to park opening time.
I can’t think of a better in-person learning experience!
They hold a few seasonal events at the park, like Christmas Town, Howl-O Scream and Summer concert series’. For these events there is usually an extra fee and the activities begin later in the day. They are worth doing for sure, especially the Christmas one, but they do still decorate all over the park for these things, and so even if you don’t attend, you get to see the park in a different light than its norm.
They will have trees and garlands done up in animal themes, different countries’ décor and lots of lights to see. They are amazing at displaying all sorts of neat topiaries in all types of shapes, like animals and even a nativity.
You will get to see a huge variety of plant life at the park. There are the typical tropical Florida native plants which are beautiful, but there is much more than that. All over the park are gorgeous flower beds in various patterns, topiaries, trees, orchids and more. It is a perfect place to have your kids do a nature study or choose some new plants to research or sketch. At different seasons, they change them out into new color schemes and types. They also sometimes sell some of the plants and the prices are very reasonable.
In several places around the park they will have the trainers come and speak throughout the day. They do feedings at times that will be posted, so if you watch for the signs as you’re viewing some of the animals, you’ll see those times posted. They give lots of interesting information and they are super friendly and will chat with your kids and answer questions. If it isn’t busy, they’ll talk a long time to them, too. You will learn a lot of information by sitting in on these, and it changes up the typical learning they normally do, which is nice for parents and kids both! A few of the spots that have these trainers on a regular basis are the elephants, cheetahs and tigers.
All over the park are large information cards, located where each animal is. You can have your kids use those to write down lessons or do some type of hunt to see how many they can find. They have other neat things around in random places too, like where the cheetahs are, with interactive quizzes and videos they can watch. There is no lacking for new information on animals here and it gives them a renewed love for them when they can see things in this perspective and not just out of a book.
One more tip. If you want to check out the non Universal or Disney park attractions you can get discount admission with the Orlando GoPass. You can save up to 55% off admission prices buy building your own pass. Locations to choose from including Legoland, Sea World, Bush Gardens, The Titanic Museum, The Kennedy Space Center, Gatorland, many water parks and more! You can also buy an all-inclusive pass for up to 5 days and get into as many attractions as you can fit into your schedule for 5 days!