20 Things To Do In Ruskin (Florida)

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Ruskin is a small city on Florida’s west coast, just outside of Tampa. The sunshine state is known for having great beaches, nature parks, wildlife and attractions, and you’ll find them all in and around the city of Ruskin. 

Do you have a taste for adventure and want to try your hand at water sports or deep-sea fishing, are into hiking and wildlife or want to get away from the crowds? You won’t be disappointed by the things to do in Ruskin and its surrounding towns, where you’ll find some great museums, parks and sporting venues to keep you occupied.

Ruskin, Florida

20 Things To Do In Ruskin

things to do in ruskin marina at sunset
Cruising around Tampa Bay is one of the things to do in Ruskin.

1- Explore Wolf Branch Creek Nature Preserve

The beautiful and scenic Wolf Branch Creek Nature Preserve is one of a few in the Ruskin area but easily one of the best.

The area comprises 1400 acres (566 ha) of perfectly preserved flora and coastal habitat, including natural mangroves, cabbage palm hammocks and seagrass beds.

Where there used to be a park overrun with invasive species, you’ll now find natural wildlife flourishing, and there is an excellent trail for you to explore.

Only 2.5 miles (4 km) long, you’ll pass stunning views, walk through forests and see crabs scurrying around your feet.

Wolf Branch Creek Nature Preserve is at 481 Villemaire Rd, Apollo Beach, FL 33572.

2- Take The Kids To Camp Bayou Outdoor Learning Centre

If you’re travelling with kids, the Camp Bayou Outdoor Learning Centre makes a great, educational outing for the day.

The centre is situated inside Little Manatee Watershed, where you’ll be able to do guided tours to see some of Florida’s best wildlife.

They’ll also tell you more about the state’s natural history, culture and environment.

After the tour, you can canoe, visit the butterfly enclosure or hike a nature trail if you’re feeling active.

On your visit you can also check out the nearby fishing cabins and Paleo Fossil Museum, perfect for kids who are into dinosaurs.

Camp Bayou Outdoor Learning Centre is at 4140 24th St SE, Ruskin, FL 33570.

3- Go Fishing At Shell Point Marina

ruskin florida pink sunset over the bridge
The Sunshine Skyway Bridge will take you across the water from Ruskin to St Petersburg in about 40 minutes.

The Shell Point Marina is a central working dock between Ruskin, Tampa and St. Petersburg.

The fishing is fantastic, although you can also grab a drink and watch the fishermen as they go about their day.

It may not be as pretty as some of Florida’s picture-perfect beaches but it’s a great spot to have some food or drink and experience the city like a local in the cool sea breeze.

It’s absolutely free, and makes for a great starting point if you’re planning to head out on the water for any activities.

Shell Point Marina is at 3340 W Shell Point Rd, Ruskin, FL 33570.

4- Take A Shell Key Island Cruise

There are several cruises you can head out on from Ruskin and nearby towns to Shell Key Island, all of which focus on spotting Florida’s most playful locals – dolphins!

Tours usually stop for wildlife watching on the way to the island before docking and giving you time to relax and snorkel in the sparkling blue waters.

You can also see manatees, manta rays, and even turtles if you’re lucky.

A lovely option if you have the time is a sunset cruise, or if you’re the active type, you can kayak to Shell Key Island in a transparent bottomed kayak, allowing you to spot wildlife along the way.

5- Hike Bahia Beach Nature Preserve

ruskin birdlife two brown pelicans standing on the sand and one flapping its wings
On a walk in Bahia Beach Nature preserve in Ruskin, Florida, you might see pelicans.

At Bahia Beach Nature preserve, you’ll find a relatively easy 3-mile (4.8 km) trail to hike where you can fully immerse yourself in nature.

The nature preserve is particularly great for bird watching and has a wealth of local flora and fauna.

The park has been deliberately turned into a flourishing wetland area to encourage native species to live there.

You can see herons, pelicans, and kingfishers on the trail by the water.

You’ll also get to admire the rugged beach in the park, and although the trail is short, it makes a perfect pit stop for a few hours.

Bahia Beach Nature Preserve is at 2513 W Shell Point Rd, Ruskin, FL 33570.

6- Visit Hydro Harvest Farms

things to do in ruskin florida a scoop of strawberries
Visiting a farm is one of the things to do around Ruskin, Florida.

Hydro Harvest Farms is a family-owned business in Ruskin that will give you a unique insight into farming and a fun place to take kids.

While there, you’ll learn all about different farming techniques and be able to pick your own fruit and vegetables in the farm’s gardens.

Some of the tasty things you’ll find are strawberries, tomatoes, apples and onions, all of which you can take home.

Alternatively, you can take them with you and set up a picnic in the nearby countryside.

7- Watch A Movie At Ruskin Drive-In Theatre

What could be better than a classic drive-in movie theatre if you’re after a simple but fun activity to fill your evening?

Ruskin’s Family Drive-In will let you enjoy movies from the comfort of your own car, and often shows all the latest Hollywood blockbusters.

For the traditional experience, you can pick up hotdogs, burgers and drinks from their on-site snack bar before the film starts rolling.

The best part is it’s only $6 per ticket, which is valid for two movies, and the drive-in is open year-round, come rain or shine.

Ruskin Drive-In Theatre is at 5011 US-41, Ruskin, FL 33572.

8- Go Camping At E.G. Simmons Regional Park

The E.G. Simmons Regional Park is Ruskin’s biggest outdoor space, which means it is filled with activities for you to enjoy.

It is extremely popular for camping, with over 100 camping sites, as well as picnic spots and a wildlife sanctuary, where you can spot endangered species such as the famous Bald Eagle.

Rent kayaks and canoes for some water-based activities and head out on the lake.

There are loads of walkways, waterways and over 200 acres (81 ha) of mangrove swamp to explore.

If you’re hoping for a beach, you won’t be disappointed as you can walk to the Tampa Bay beach, where you can play volleyball, go fishing or do some water sports.

E.G. Simmons Regional Park is at 2401 19th Ave NW, Ruskin, FL 33570.

9- Get Active At Ruskin Park & Community Grounds

Ruskin Park and Community Recreation is a fun place to spend an afternoon to get out in the fresh air and keep active.

The park has sporting facilities such as basketball, badminton and volleyball courts.

It also has a fitness centre and a covered gym, or you can head to the recreation area if you’d prefer to do your own workout.

You’ll have to sign up for a pass to get access, but once you do, you can take part in classes and activities like soccer and hockey or explore the walking and biking trails.

Ruskin Park & Community Grounds is at 901 6th Street S.E. Ruskin, FL 33570.

10- Explore Little Manatee River State Park

The lush area of Little Manatee River State Park stretches for 40 miles (64 km) into Tampa Bay.

When you visit, you’ll get to explore a range of uniquely preserved ecosystems, which you can discover via hiking, canoeing, horseback riding or camping.

You’ll also find one of Florida’s best hiking trails, a 6.5-mile (10.5 km) loop through the wilderness.

There are over 15 miles (24 km) of equestrian and walking trails for a more relaxed walk.

There are full picnic facilities, so it’s perfect for bringing your lunch and spending half a day finding out more about Florida’s natural habitats.

Little Manatee River State Park is at 215 Lightfoot Rd, Wimauma, FL 33598.

11- Kayak To Cockroach Bay Aquatic Reserve

ruskin, florida zebra dove sitting on a branch
The Zebra dove is one of the birds you might see when exploring the areas around Ruskin, Florida.

Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve encompasses Little Manatee State Park and covers 4,800 acres (1942 ha) of wetland.

It is incredibly tranquil, and you’ll soon find yourself lost in nature, so bring good walking shoes and some snacks.

If you’re into bird watching, Cockroach Bay is home to several different species.

You can only reach the island via the water, so head out in a canoe or kayak for the best experience.

There are no facilities in the reserve, so it is important to bring everything you need with you, especially water and sun protection if you’re visiting in summer.

Cockroach Bay Aquatic Reserve is at 3839 Gulf City Rd, Ruskin, FL 33570.

12- Pop Into Ott’s Off-Leash Dog Sanctuary

Ott’s Off Leash is perfect for people visiting from out of town who are bringing their furry friends with them on holiday or those who simply want to meet a few locals.

The park was created by a local veterinarian who bought up nearly four acres of land in Ruskin.

Nowadays, locals and visitors can go here with their pets, who can run entirely off-leash.

The park makes a fun spot to let loose with the whole family, especially if you’re just passing through the area.

Ott’s Off-Leash Dog Sanctuary is at 2103 3rd Ave SE, Ruskin, FL 33570.

13- Go On A Fishing Charter

ruskin fishing
Fishing for mangrove snapper and other types of fish is one of the fun things to do in Ruskin.

Whether or not you’re into fishing, heading out on a charter to try and catch something is a typical Floridian activity not to be missed.

If you’ve never been before, staff will teach you the ropes while looking out for the different fish you might be able to catch, including flounder, trout and mangrove snapper.

The waters around Tampa Bay are teeming with tropical bird and marine life, and a spawning ground for bigger fish like mackerel and kingfish.

If you’re lucky, you can also spot manatees and porpoises in the waves, and your guide will often take you to secret spots where you’re guaranteed a catch.

14- Go Horseriding At Sun City Stables

Sun City Stables offers an authentic Florida experience, regardless of if you’ve ever been on a horse before.

The stables offer family horseback trail rides for all ages, and you can choose guided or unguided, depending on your experience.

If you have a budding horse rider with you, they also offer private lessons and have a petting zoo for younger guests.

For a taste of Florida’s landscapes, you can head out on one of their off-site adventure rides in the nearby country and state parks or along the beach.

Sun City Stables is at 4430 US-41, Ruskin, FL 33570.

15- Have Fun At The Alley at Southshore

If the weather isn’t playing ball on your visit to Ruskin, heading to The Alley at Southshore for some bowling might be just the thing.

The centre doesn’t just include a bowling alley but also 42,000 square feet of entertainment space, with an arcade, party space and pub and grill.

You can set up a family game and order tasty food like pizza, burgers and wings.

For adults, there is a selection of micro-brews and cocktails and TVs to watch live sports games.

The Alley at Southshore is at 10221 Big Bend Rd, Riverview, FL 33578.

16- Visit The Salvador Dali Museum

st petersburg florida waterfront
Spending the day in St Petersburg is one of the things to do near Ruskin, Florida.

Perhaps an unusual activity if you’re not into art, but the Salvador Dali Museum in Ruskin’s neighbouring town of St. Petersburg is a fascinating insight into the life of the world-renowned artist.

The building itself is a futuristic modern complex, and inside you’ll find some of Dali’s best works, from melting clocks to optical illusions.

They also have other rotating and one-off exhibitions, most recently on Picasso and some fun augmented reality experiences.

Occasionally, there are interactive activities for kids to learn more about art and surrealism.

The Salvador Dali Museum is at 1 Dali Blvd. St. Petersburg, FL 33701.

17- Watch A Game At Tropicana Field

If you’re in the states or just want an excellent family day out, you can’t miss catching a game at Tropicana Field.

The field is the last ever covered dome baseball stadium, meaning you can watch a game even if it’s raining.

The stadium has thousands of seats but doesn’t usually sell out, so you’re likely to find a few free spaces.

You can buy snacks, hot dogs and drinks inside the stadium, but you aren’t allowed to bring any food in with you except water.

Tropicana Field is at 1 Tropicana Dr., St. Petersburg, FL 33705.

18- Visit The Museum of Fine Arts

The Museum of Fine Arts is St Petersburg’s largest art museum.

It has an art and antiquities collection that spans over 5,000 years and a range of fascinating exhibitions and events.

The art collection is the largest in Florida and encompasses exhibits from across the world.

There is also an excellent sculpture garden and a permanent photography exhibition.

The museum has built up a reputation as one of the best museums in Florida and makes for an educational rainy-day trip.

Museum of Fine Arts is at 255 Beach Dr NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.

19- Have Fun At Busch Gardens Tampa

things to do near ruskin Busch Gardens roller coaster
Not far from Ruskin is Busch Gardens amusement park.

Busch Gardens is in Tampa, a short distance from Ruskin but it is worth the trip.

The theme park is a fun family day out and will be a hit with kids who can have fun on the rides and rollercoasters.F=

They also host spectacular live entertainment shows, concerts, and festivals.

You can go on a Serengeti safari tour to get up close and personal with orangutans, kangaroos, rhinos, and elephants.

There are also several child-friendly tours, plus lots of restaurants to choose from and bars for the adults to cool off.

Busch Gardens Tampa is at 10165 McKinley Dr, Tampa, FL 33612.

20- See Marine Life At Florida Aquarium

tampa florida two alligator fish in an aquarium
Visiting the Florida Aquarium in Tampa to see unique marinelife such as alligator fish is one of the things to do near Ruskin.

Further afield, the Florida Aquarium is one of the best in the US.

Perfect for families, you’ll see species like sea turtles, sharks, lemurs and otters.

You can spend an entire day wandering around the site exploring varieties of marine life from across the world, including exhibits such as coral reefs, stingray beach and journey to Madagascar.

Alternatively, the aquarium offers a wild dolphin cruise where you can head out to spot these animals in their natural habitat.

Florida Aquarium is at 701 Channelside Dr, Tampa, FL 33602. 

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India Jayne trainor
India-Jayne Trainor is a British/Australian freelance writer, photographer and contributor to various online blogs and travel websites. She has travelled to almost 30 countries, most recently Cuba and Sri Lanka. Her work focuses on solo female travel, having spent two months backpacking alone through South East Asia as well as living in Germany for a year. Her favourite country to date has been Hong Kong, but she is happy in any country by the ocean. Her next destinations are Uzbekistan and a road trip through the American Mid-West. India is currently based in London, UK.