Our beloved and growing city along the Alafia River, Riverview, was founded in 1885. From its founding through to today, Riverview has been a great place to raise a family.
According to DataUSA, Riverview now has a population of over 91,000 people, with an average age of 35. With an average age of 35, that means there are a lot of young families in our community with children. While few things in life beat the enjoyment of a trip to Disney, it can be a very expensive endeavor, and we all know that traffic, as you get into Orlando, can turn an 80-mile drive into a 2-3 hour ordeal!
Luckily, we are blessed to have many wonderful destinations and activities that you can do as a family, either free or at a much lower cost than Disney, within just a short drive near our Riverview community.
Unique Attractions Near Riverview
Let’s take a look at the 10 fun free (or inexpensive) things to do as a family in the area:
Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center
Located in Apollo Beach, this state-designated manatee sanctuary is a wonderful place to visit the appropriately appointed “cows of the sea”. Originally the canal of an old power station, the viewing center gets visitors up close and personal with these enchantingly blubbery creatures.
If you’re in the mood for a stroll, a habitat loop trail leads to a 50-foot-high wildlife observation, so you can spot the fat water-loving mammals from a different vantage point.
You can learn more about the viewing center by visiting: tampaelectric.com/company/mvc/
Lithia Springs Park
Lithia Springs Park provides natural spring waters with your traditional outdoor water activities, including kayaking and canoeing, as well as swimming in a natural spring.
Put on your good walking shoes: the area has incredible woodsy hiking trails and campgrounds for a family staycation. The park’s 45 camping sites and RV accommodations don’t require a reservation; everything is done first-come, first-serve.
The springs is located at 3932 Lithia Springs Road in Lithia, FL. It is just a 15-minute drive from Riverview.
Sure, you’re going to want to bring your wallet to Winthrop. But — obviously — walking through the specialty and department stores won’t cost a thing. Small business offerings include Brandon Bikeworks, Mainstream Boutique, and Mama’s General Store.
After shopping, get some grub at Ciccio Cali or Acropolis Greek Taverna. It’s an authentic community setting that excels at combining delectable dining, events, and culture for the curious Floridian.
Winthrop should be less than a 10-minute drive from just about anywhere in Riverview.
Bell Creek Nature Preserve
This 477-acre preserve serves as a habitat to a variety of local natural plants, as well as designated fishing outlets. It has everything nature-wise Floridians and visitors to the Riverview area could ever want, including a trail system through pine flatwoods, marshes, swamps, and grasslands.
Bell Creek hiking routes are marked by different colors so that they’re easy to remember: yellow, blue, and red — with the latter being the primary trail lasting five miles.
Alafia Scrub Nature Preserve
The Alafia River runs through Riverview, the preserve playing home to numerous natural habitats: including scrub, tidal marsh, ravines, and creeks.
The best place to view the river is located in the preserve, about a half a mile from the trailhead. The river’s watershed comprises 10 lakes and ponds and concludes by emptying into Tampa Bay.
Be advised that the Thatcher Road entrance periodically closes due to flooding. You can always call the nature preserve at 813-672-5320 to check if the road is open.
Yes, we had to spell check the heck out of this one. If your child gets this one at their next spelling bee, it just isn’t going to be their day! From now on, we’ll refer to the Buddhist Thai temple as simply ‘Wat’.
The center for meditation and study is situated in a beautiful temple located on the banks of the Palm River. The main prayer hall is festooned with an impressive Buddha statue that has been a sanctuary for those who seek peace.
On Sundays, the Wat food market offers authentic Thai ethnic food for reasonable prices.
Riverview Civic Center
The Riverview Civic Center location has a boat ramp for any water activity you could possibly desire. Kayak down the river for some waterside dining or drinks, while taking in the lush Florida greenery. Located just across the river is Gibsonton or Apollo Beach for further aquatic adventures. The Civic Center is replete with a nine-acre park, playground, and plenty of picnic spots to make an entire fun-filled family day.
The civic center is open from sunrise to sunset. It is located at11020 Park Dive.
You don’t have to leave the country or even leave Florida to visit Peru. Well, not really. But you can take an adventure to uncover some of the forgotten past that was Peru in Riverview.
In the 1830s, early settlers arrived on the south side of the Alafia River and made Peru their home. It wasn’t until the 1940s that Riverview absorbed Peru, stripping the area of its unique name.
Visitors enamored with history can still check out remaining houses and structures that survived from the nineteenth century, sprinkled around the southern part of the region.
International Independent Showmen’s Museum
Try to say that name five times fast.
This specialty museum, which could do with an abbreviation or acronym, showcases the history of amusement rides.
At the Showmen’s Museum, visitors can experience thousands of artifacts, including a 1903 Conderman Ferris Wheel and a 1950 American Beauty Herschell Kiddie Carousel, plucked from the heyday of carnivals.
Tickets are $12 or adults, children are $7, and anyone under 10 is free.
Busch Gardens Tampa
Maybe not so inexpensive, but if you’re an adrenaline junkie, are into wildlife, or want a shorter trip, get in your car for the half-hour drive to Busch Gardens Tampa. The roller coasters in the park are said to be the most thrilling in the state of Florida, surpassing both Orlando’s Disneyworld and Universal Studios as the preferred destination for hair-raising drops, loops, and thrills. But beyond the more adventurous rollercoasters, there are plenty of rides, activities, and nature-related things to do that are geared more toward the entire family, so don’t get thrown off by the big ride opportunities.
The park offers different admission options.
The prices for daily admission to Busch Gardens are about the same as a day pass to one park at Disney. However, they are always running specials, and the annual pass for Florida residents is a tremendous value. Overall, a day trip to Bush Gardens, once you factor in parking, food, and other expenses, will cost you about half of a Disney trip. You’ll also spend a lot less time in long lines
Bonus: Fun Riverview Fact
Did you know…
Riverview is said to be one of the oldest settlements in the state, named after the “River of Fire” spotted by early settlers because the waterway would glow from phosphorus found in its waters.