Not only is Florida home to the famed Disney World, it also hosts ‘Busch Gardens;’ an African themed park with all the wonder the wild continent has to offer. This park has everything from the tame ‘Rhino Rally’ to what they call the ‘Sheikra,’ an intense ride with a beyond 180 degree drop. The park is only eight hours north-east of downtown Tampa, and nearby hotels offer buses to and from the park most days.

Busch Gardens Thrill Rides

Busch Gardens most well recognized ride is the ‘Cheetah Hunt,’ plunging at speeds of just under 100km/hr, this ride has everything from steep belly dropping declines, to scenic views over grassy plains and rivers. Starting out high up with a huge initial drop then backed up by a fast ride through a river canyon and around the landscape.  The line, while long, is well worth it for the extended experience this ride triumphs others with.

But the Cheetah Hunt is not the only kind of ride you will find at Busch Gardens, younger children feel right at home too with the ‘Treetop Trails,’ ‘Sesame Street Safari,’ ‘Serengeti Railway’ and ‘King Tuts’ tomb. While I haven’t personally experienced these rides, those who have say these rides are good for younger children, but the whole family can have fun there too. So if the male members of the family can set aside their egos for a while, they might find playing with Elmo and climbing through treetops can be a bit more exciting than imagined. If all these rides end up being too much for you, though, try the ‘Garden Gate Café’ or the ‘All Day Dining Hall,’ I’ve heard they serve the best food, with great service time; so you can get back to having fun as soon as possible.

Where to Stay?

The most highly recommended hotel that comes within the vicinity of Busch Gardens is the Hyatt Place Hotel, Tampa. It’s not the cheapest hotel in the area, but you do get your value for money with a heated outdoor pool, fitness center, cage, and free internet/parking. Not to mention it’s only a few km from Busch Gardens. For couples without kids, you might want to try the ‘Hard Rock Hotel and Casino’ which is also very close to Bush Gardens, but not very child friendly. However their buffets are outstanding (yet not free..) and the spa is as remedial as it gets. If you’re on a budget, try the ‘Days Inn Motel;’ it’s right near Busch Gardens. Personally I would recommend this as it has a pool and is still an easy place to relax in after a full on day of fun at the Gardens.

Visiting the Animals

‘Busch Gardens’ is not just a theme park; it’s also a safari adventure. If you’re looking to fly to Miami this is a good place to start out. You’ll see Cheetahs (even baby ones seen here), Hyenas, Lemurs, Meerkats, Peacocks Elephants, Flamingos, Lions, Rhinos, Kangaroos Tigers, Gorillas, and the list goes on. Some of these you can even see up and close on the rides.

Author – Tom Wilson+ is a freelance travel writer who enjoys writing about a variety of destinations