Zephyrhills is a city of about 14,000 residents that’s located in central Florida’s Pasco County.
It’s situated about 30 miles northeast of Tampa and is known for its pure spring water, wide-open spaces, and natural beauty that’s less developed than it is in other, more metropolitan areas nearby.
Zephyrhills is a big skydiving destination too. It’s an easy drive from many of the region’s most beautiful beaches and fun-filled theme parks, and the city hosts a number of fairs and festivals throughout the year that keep many guests coming back time after time.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Zephyrhills, Florida.
1. Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce Visitor Information Center
Visitor information centers and local chambers of commerce are perfect first-stops for travelers that are new to an area and unsure what to see and do.
With the internet, it’s pretty easy to do research in advance of your trip, but it’s hard to beat an actual brick-and-mortar building staffed by knowledgeable locals to get things headed in the right direction.
The center is full of travel brochures, area maps, and business guides; they’re all free for the taking, so don’t be shy about helping yourself, and asking the staff for their suggestions.
The center is located on 5th Avenue in Zephyrhills.
2. Waterplay at Zephyr Park
Previous guests to Waterplay at Zephyr Park on 4th Street in Zephyrhills have commented that it was clean, packed with amenities, and nearly entirely shaded.
The park portion of the facility includes a variety of playground equipment, like slides, jungle gyms, and swing-sets. There are plenty of covered seating areas near to all the action so weary parents can take a load off out of the sun while keeping a watchful eye on the little ones.
The water park includes a number of pools, a splash pad, and lots of water slides. During the dog days of summer, there are few better places to beat the Florida heat.
3. Main Street Zephyrhills Christmas Parade
It should be noted for visitors from the Midwest and Northeast areas of the country that Christmas in Florida may include swaying palm trees, 80-degree weather, and revelers wearing Hawaiian-style shirts.
It’s not exactly the most traditional Christmas environment for out of state visitors, but it’s nothing short of amazing, and the annual Christmas parade is one of the highlights of the city’s much-loved Festival of Lights that takes place in December every year.
The event features live entertainment, tasty food, and a variety of vendors selling arts and crafts, prepared food items, clothes, and other locally made odds-and-ends.
4. Skydive City
With its flat, undeveloped tracts of land stretching to the distant horizons, the area around Zephyrhills is perfect for skydiving.
Skydive City is a local operator that has ages of experience providing safe and exhilarating high-altitude experiences to brave souls from all over the country, who think that paying someone for the privilege of jumping out of their perfectly good airplane thousands of feet over the ground is a fun way to spend an afternoon.
First-time jumpers have claimed that it was one of the most memorable experiences of their lives. With trained and patient staff and a number of jump options, it’s an appropriate activity for a wide range of ages and levels of physical ability.
5. Saturday in the Square
Downtown Zephyrhills is a trendy and historic area that hosts a variety of fairs and festivals, and is known for its all-around fun atmosphere.
Saturday in the Square is a monthly block party that takes place on the last Saturday of the month. It includes great food, tasty drinks, live entertainment, and a variety of arts, crafts, and family-friendly activities.
Many vendors and local restaurants offer drink, food, and merchandise specials. The event often includes cool hands-on activities, like getting up close and personal with the city’s fire trucks, which is a big hit with little boys – and men who still act like them.
6. Founder’s Day & Heritage Festival
Rumor has it that Zephyrhills’ Founder’s Day and Heritage Festival has been going on for more than 100 years.
The event takes place in the beginning of March annually, when the central Florida weather is at the peak of perfection; it’s one of those things to do that most residents look forward to every year.
Food, parades, and live entertainment abound, and it all takes place in downtown Zephyrhills.
Each year, the festival features a different theme, and last year’s was Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Check their website periodically to see what will be this year’s theme.
7. Little Ninja Thai-Japanese Food & Café
Though central Florida isn’t typically associated with ninjas or Asian cuisine, there’s one local restaurant that combines a bit of both; it’s a popular hotspot for those looking for a taste of the orient without breaking the bank.
Previous guests have called Little Ninja Thai-Japanese Food and Café a hidden gem and a rare treat. It features a full menu of fresh cuisine that’s amazingly vibrant and just seems to go well the sunny and hot Florida weather.
Noodle soup, curry, chicken satay, and crab Rangoon are a few favorites. Their prices are reasonable, so it’s a good fit for those traveling on a budget.
8. Halloween Howl
Zephyrhills’ annual Halloween Howl takes place in the historic downtown area and includes a dizzying array of family and kid-centered activities that make it one of the area’s most anticipated events every year.
A free event, it features a spooky haunted house, hayrides, and a safe, well-lit trick-or-treating area.
There are costume parades and contests where every child who enters wins a prize, as well as a number of carnival-style rides and games that add to the already festive atmosphere.
A number of local food vendors will be on-site offering tasty and hearty fare like burgers, dogs, and boardwalk fries as well.
9. Annual Music & Motorcycles
For over 15 years, the city of Zephyrhills has been hosting an annual event that’s centered around live music and motorcycles. Though it’s younger than many of the city’s yearly events, it has attracted quite a loyal following.
Taking place in mid-September on Main Street, it includes live bands, tasty street food, abundant adult beverages, and a number of motorcycle contests.
It’s not as family-friendly as some other local events, but for those who don’t mind locking the kids in the closet for a few hours or pawning them off on an unsuspecting relative, it’s a great way to spend a few evening hours.
10. Saddlebrook Resort
Saddlebrook Resort is about 30 miles north of Tampa, and just a short drive from Zephyrhills.
The resort is a truly unique area attraction in that it includes a variety of world-class amenities on-site. For many activity and luxury-minded travelers, it’s where they spend a significant amount of their vacation time.
The resort’s centerpieces include two 18-hole golf courses designed by Arnold Palmer, dozens of tennis courts, a complete fitness center, and a mega-pool that holds nearly a half a million gallons of water.
There’s also a European-style spa and a number of restaurants offering a variety of cuisines.
11. Lake Mirror Park
Though you might not know it from its name alone, Lakeland’s Lake Mirror Park is much more than just another park-and-pond combo.
Often described as a multi-faceted entertainment destination, its amenities include an amphitheater, lakeside promenade, and sprawling grounds that cover more than 2,000 acres.
Lake Mirror Park is a particularly popular area for campers and those traveling by RV; there are more than 100 individual sites, many with full water and electrical hookups.
The park features an extensive network of multi-use trails, and many of the park’s areas are accessible to those using wheelchairs.
12. The Polk Theatre
The Polk Theatre is located on South Florida Avenue in nearby Lakeland and has a history that dates back nearly nine decades.
The theatre was built during the Roaring ‘20s, and over the years, it’s hosted some big names in music, like Elvis and Glenn Miller.
There were decades when the theater fell on hard times too, but since the ‘80s, it has undergone a number of renovations and upgrades that have restored it to its former glory. It’s once again providing a full schedule of entertainment and performing arts to the community.
Most of the theater’s funding comes from grants and donations, so catching a show is a great way to support this unique community resource.
13. Busch Gardens Tampa
Central Florida is home to the country’s largest concentration of world-class theme parks, and Busch Garden Tampa is one of the area’s most popular.
Busch Gardens Tampa is part amusement park, part zoo, and part live entertainment venue. It’s one of those places that tends to occupy large portions of the itineraries of those traveling with children.
Much of the safari-themed attraction is full of animals and landscapes that resemble Africa more than they do Florida, and there are a wide array of lodging, dining, activity, and live entertainment options on-site as well.
Expect a crowd, especially during the peak summer months when schools across the country are closed.
14. The Florida Museum of Photographic Arts
Though they’re often overlooked as an artistic medium of expression, photographs can capture moments in ways that other kinds of art can’t.
The Florida Museum of Photographic Arts is located on Ashley Drive in Tampa’s trendy and historic waterfront district, and is housed inside an architecturally unique building shaped like a cube.
The museum’s exhibits include both permanent and temporary collections; many of them are from famous photographers who’ve traveled the world capturing amazing sights.
There are a number of special events annually, as well as instructional and educational courses that are appropriate for adults and children alike.
15. Tampa Bay History Center
For history-minded travelers who find themselves with a few hours to kill in Tampa, there’s no better place to check out than the Tampa Bay History Center.
The museum is focused on preserving and promoting the area’s rich history, and their exhibits span thousands of years – starting in prehistory and working their way through to the present.
Many of the exhibits promote activity and interaction; they’re both engaging and informative for those of different ages and with a wide range of interests.
The center’s amenities include a map gallery, presentation theater, gift shop, and a café serving light meals and hot and cold drinks.