Dade City, a small town in Pasco County, Florida, is nearly an hour’s drive from the main city Tampa and is technically considered a suburb of the city. The sparsely populated and rural setting of gently sloping hills and pastures makes it an ideal destination for tourists looking to get away from the crowds while still being close to all the major attractions in the area.
The charming downtown Dade is home to restaurants, historic landmarks, unique boutiques, and the popular antique shops the town is known for.
Dade City and its surrounding areas are home to many attractions, and the town hosts several popular festivals throughout the year, including the Kumquat Festival and the Pioneer Festival.
Here are 14 of the best things to do in and around Dade, FL.
1. Giraffe Ranch
Yes, it’s possible to interact with giraffes outside of Africa; Dade City visitors can do it at Giraffe Ranch. This wildlife sanctuary gives you the chance to feed giraffes. However, unlike zoos, these animals roam freely in environments similar to their native African counterparts.
There are also opportunities to see other animals, including zebras and hippos. Vehicle safaris, camel safari and Segway rides are also available, and expert staff will tell you all about these exotic animals.
2. Daedeok City Cultural Museum
Visitors interested in learning more about Dade City’s history and people can start by visiting the Dade City Heritage Museum. Exhibits and artifacts are on display, and knowledgeable staff share information and personal stories about life in the area.
3. Treehoppers Aerial Adventure Park
Ziplining is becoming a popular activity for adventurous, thrill-seekers of all ages. Treehoppers Aerial Adventure Park in Dade City is the largest aerial park in central Florida and offers a unique and exciting way to enjoy the activity. There are dozens of ziplines with rope bridges, various courses and climbing challenges.
The elements of a traditional zipline are there, meaning each run is separated by a platform before moving on to the next. What makes this park zipline unique is that with different challenges at different levels, participants need to figure out how to get to the next platform. Trained staff are on call to ensure safety and provide seat belts for each participant.
4. Great Storm Brewing Company
With three locations, Big Storm Brewing Co., Odessa, is the closest to Dade City and offers premium, award-winning craft beers. Crafted with fresh local ingredients, visitors can sample over 20 creations in a relaxed setting.
With names like Tropical Stress, Bay Beer and Oktoberfest, there’s sure to be one that’s going to be your favorite during your visit to the area. Clearwater Bar also serves a variety of craft coffees and handcrafted ice creams.
5. Stephen’s Southern Soul Restaurant
Located in Dade City, Steph’s Southern Soul is a favorite dining spot for locals and tourists alike. The friendly staff welcomes every customer as if they were part of the family and the delicious food keeps them coming.
Meals are buffet style with a variety of choices including fish, meatloaf, chicken, BBQ ribs, bread and a variety of vegetables. Soups and salads are also available. Delicious desserts are served after each meal, including classics like key lime pie and strawberry shortcake.
6. Pioneer Florida Museum and Village
For many, an important aspect of any trip is knowing the history of the place and its people. The Pioneer Florida Museum and Village is an open-air museum located on a large woodland area in Dade City; it’s the perfect place to learn all about how the town came to be.
Upon arrival, you’ll travel back in time to learn about the day-to-day life of the pioneers and how they shaped the town into what it is today. There are many restored buildings on site, including a schoolhouse, train station and church. Many displays showcase a variety of artefacts, including tools and household items. Visitors will learn how these pioneers went about their daily lives, such as building houses, farming and making furniture. Provides guided tours.
7. Scream-A-Geddon Horror Park
Every fall, a group of local actors and horror lovers come together to create a unique and terrifying haunted house experience in Dade City. The best part of this experience is that it’s interactive, so you’re part of the terrifying action.
There are six haunted houses on site, each with its own theme – Monster Midway, Bedlam 3D Asylum, Blackpool Prison and Dead Woods are some of the experiences you can expect at Scream-A-Geddon Horror Park. When the fear becomes overwhelming, you can take a break and enjoy a hay ride, sit around a fire, or play a round of zombie paintball.
8. Sweet Blossom Alpaca Farm
Visitors to Dade City can make an appointment to visit a working alpaca farm. Sweet Blossom Alpaca Farm prides itself on raising and working with these docile animals that roam freely on 15 acres of farmland.
During your visit, visit the farm to learn about the animals, how they are raised, and get involved in feeding them. Stay and enjoy lunch or dinner surrounded by alpacas. While you’re there, browse the on-site store where you can buy alpaca items like hats and scarves.
9. Tampa Riverwalk
The perfect way to spend an afternoon or evening is a stroll along the Tampa River Walk. The 2.6-mile walkway runs along the Hillsboro River, passing through the downtown arts district and Tampa’s waterfront.
Along the way, you will see many parks, restaurants, hotels, playgrounds, museums and shops. Various cultural events are held in the area throughout the year.
10. Busch Gardens
A day in Tampa is spent at Busch Gardens, a large African-themed park with a variety of attractions and activities. There are dozens of thrill rides for all ages on site, including nine roller coasters and two water rides. Visitors can also enjoy the zoo area with more than 200 animals. With live entertainment and top performers throughout the day, everything is family friendly.
11. Adventure Island
Water parks are common in Florida, but Islands of Adventure is one of the best. It’s located in Tampa across the street from Busch Gardens, so you can visit both parks on the same day as a day trip from Dade City. On site, you’ll find several water slides, a lazy river, and a swimming pool. Calypso Coaster, Key West Rapids, Endless Surf, Paradise Lagoon and Splash Attack are just some of the attractions. There are several restaurants to choose from while on a hunger strike.
12. Museum of Science and Industry
Visitors of all ages can get a hands-on learning experience in science, industry, and technology by wandering through the many exhibits at the Tampa Museum of Science and Industry for a day. Some of the museum’s experiences include lying on a bed of nails and building robots.
Many exhibits are permanent, while others change. The Sky Trail Ropes Course is another on-site attraction, where visitors of all ages can climb a 36-foot-tall structure for dozens of different challenges. The Sanders Planetarium uses projectors to simulate the night sky.
13. A matter of taste
A Matter of Taste is a time-honored restaurant in Dade City that offers options for every taste. The atmosphere is friendly and welcoming, and the menu reflects the cultural diversity of the area. Everything is made from scratch with fresh ingredients. It serves Greek, Cuban, Spanish and local dishes. Breakfast is served all day and a limited selection of beer and wine is available.
14. Florida Aquarium
Located in Tampa, the Florida Aquarium is a large aquarium that showcases more than 7,000 marine plants and animals from Florida and the rest of the world. While the aquarium’s primary mission is to protect fragile marine ecosystems while educating the public about their importance to the planet, the on-site exhibits provide a fun learning experience for all ages.
Some of the exhibits include replicas of beaches, wetlands and coral reefs. Madagascar Tour, Waves of Wonder and Moon Bay are some other exhibits you can explore.
Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Dade City, FL (FL)
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