Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Gibsonton, FL

  • Published 2023/03/24

Gibsonton, also known as Gibtown, is a small town in Florida initially known for its carnival and circus business.

This town in Hillsborough County is far enough from the busy cities to give you a quiet and peaceful getaway.

However, it’s still near Tampa if you’re looking for a change of scenery.

Gibsonton is home to exciting eateries and restaurants with varying cuisines.

This town is perfect for those looking for a quiet vacation due to the small population.

Despite its small size, Gibsonton still has many tourist attractions that are great for first-time visitors.

Here are the best things to do in Gibsonton, FL:

Stop by Cracker Barrel Old Country Store

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store is a 2-in-1 restaurant and retail store.

Found in the heart of Gibsonton, their menu includes staple American meals, whether you’re having breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Some crowd favorites include their classic southern fried chicken, half-pound cheeseburgers, and freshly baked chicken pot pie.

Their retail store sells general items, such as clothes, jewelry, household items, and more.

Eat Delicious Chicken at Zaxby’s Chicken Fingers & Buffalo Wings

If you love all things chicken, check out Zaxby’s Chicken Fingers & Buffalo Wings.

This restaurant serves chicken dishes, from classic chicken wings to sandwiches and salads.

Dedicated to serving the community and its visitors, you can drop by for a quick snack or have a full meal.

Their chicken dishes are bursting with flavor with delicious sauces that pair perfectly with your dish.

Whether you’re dining alone or with the whole family, Zaxby’s Chicken Fingers & Buffalo Wings will welcome you with open arms.

Do Various Activities at Gardenville Recreation Center

Check out the Gardenville Recreation Center for some family-friendly fun.

This establishment caters to indoor and outdoor activities for a fun day.

Their outdoor facilities are excellent for playing basketball and softball, and an open field to soak up the sun.

Kids are also welcome to play on the playground and relax under the shade of the picnic pavilions and shelters.

Their indoor amenities include fitness centers and an indoor gym for more room for sports.

This venue often hosts different events depending on the season, so you can stop by and see what they offer.

Satisfy Your Mexican Cravings at Portales Mexican Restaurant

This restaurant at the heart of Gibsonton is home to crowd-favorite Mexican meals that can satisfy your cravings.

From tacos and quesadillas to heavier rice meals such as the pollo, you can find authentic Mexican dishes here.

One of their best-selling community favorites is their famous horchata.

They also allow you to mix and match their meals to create your favorite dish.

Soak up the Sun at Gardenville Beach

Florida has some of the best beaches worldwide, and Gibsonton doesn’t disappoint!

Gardenville Beach is easily accessible through the town center, where you can build a sandcastle with the kids or get the tan you’ve always wanted.

Lay out a beach towel, soak up the sun, or play beach volleyball.

This beach is also near surrounding establishments that provide various activities like golfing.

You can also go kayaking, paddle-boating, and more, as long as you follow beach guidelines.

Dine at the River’s Edge Bar & Grill

The River’s Edge Bar & Grill is right next to the lovely Alafia River, providing a river view and a cool breeze while you enjoy your meal.

This bar and restaurant is a great place to wind down and relax, whether you’re looking for a light meal to fill your stomach or some drinks.

You can indulge in grilled dishes during the day and grab some drinks at night.

They also have a pool room where you can challenge your friends to a friendly game of billiards.

Stop by, see what live bands are playing, or join the various events.

Enjoy the Outdoors at Golden Aster Scrub Nature Preserve

This nature preserve in Gibsonton is perfect for birdwatchers, nature lovers, and hikers.

Spanning over 1,181 acres, Golden Aster Scrub Nature Preserve provides tons of outdoor fun where you can commune with nature.

This preserve is home to native and rare species of birds such as the Florida Scrub-Jay and rare, endemic plants such as the Florida golden-aster.

Hikers can explore their marked trails that stretch over three miles and see natural habitats, swamps, various species of trees, and more.

Visit when the sun is out and wear the right shoes to protect yourself.

Grab Seafood Favorites at El Pulpo Marisquería Inc.

El Pulpo Marisquería Inc. is a one-of-a-kind seafood truck in Gibsonton that sells authentic seafood dishes and chicken meals in the afternoon.

They’re known for their fresh and delicious shrimp cocktails.

If you’re craving seafood, this truck is right in the middle of Gibsonton.

Their fish sandwiches come with a side of fries that are perfect for a light snack to keep you going.

There are a variety of seafood and chicken meals you can taste at El Pulpo Marisquería.

Unwind at the Showtown Bar & Grill

Showtown Bar & Grill is best known as a restaurant and lounge in one, combing comfort and savory meals.

This eatery is a community favorite, selling arguably the best food and drinks in all of Gibsonton.

They’re best known for their weekly and daily specials, giving you discounts and deals on your purchases.

Showtown Bar & Grill has recently remodeled their branch, elevating the cozy feel of this local diner.

Whether grabbing a meal with the whole family or simply enjoying a cold beer with your friends, Showtown Bar & Grill is more than happy to cater to your needs.

Book a Private Charter at the Tiki Boat of Riverview

The Tiki Boat of Riverview is a boating agency in Gibsonton that tours customers around Eastern Tampa Bay.

Board a tiki boat and go on a tiki cruise, a unique way to explore the waters of Florida.

These private charters can carry up to six people, and you can choose between a sunset cruise or a nighttime cruise.

Your tour guide will take you out to the open waters, give you a brief background, and ensure you have a great time.

You may even bring some snacks and drinks to keep you full and energized on your tiki tour.

See Wildlife at Manatee Viewing Center

Manatees are one of Florida’s most elegant and gentle creatures, and you can see tons of them at Manatee Viewing Center.

This nature preserve is outside Gibsonton in the neighboring city of Apollo Beach, Florida, roughly ten minutes away.

Besides the beautiful manatees, you can spot different animals and species, such as manta rays that you can touch.

Their Tidal Walk walkway brings guests 900 feet into the mesmerizing Tampa Bay.

You may climb their famous wildlife observation tower that stands at an impressive 50 feet, giving you a bird’s eye view of the preserve below.

There are also many trails you can hike and explore at Manatee Viewing Center.

Watch a Movie at AMC Riverview 14

If you need to catch a newly released movie while in Gibsonton, head to AMC Riverview 14 on Theater Drive.

The theater showcases first-run movies on digital projectors and large screens and top-notch sound quality.

It’s popular for its notorious Signature Recliners that make you feel at home while having your popcorn and enjoying the movie.

You can also take with you a travel blanket to use as you enjoy the movie, which makes it more comfortable for you.

AMC Riverview 14 also allows you to choose the seat that you like, and also order your snacks in advance through its app before you get there.

Make a Pit Stop for Coffee and Snacks at Circle K

Coffee on the road would be great, and as soon as you get to Gibsonton, why not grab a delicious cup of coffee at Circle K?

The convenience store is a great pit stop for hot coffee, snacks, cold drinks, and fuel, especially when you’re driving all the way from your home to discover the wonders of Gibsonton.

You can also use the ATM on-site if you need cash, as well as the restrooms.

Circle K is literally a convenience for travelers!

It’s located in Exxon on 41 Highway South.

Experience Adrenaline Rush Adventure at Checkmate Escape Rooms

Can you escape from a room in 60 minutes?

For traveling family or friends seeking extra adventure in Gibsonton, look no further than Checkmate Escape Rooms on Big Bend Road.

Find yourselves trapped in a room filled with mysteries and puzzles to solve so you can get out before the clock runs out.

There are four different themed rooms to choose from, and all of these have their own game masters who will assist you with everything.

Checkmate Escape Rooms also hosts special events for team building and other corporate events.

Bring a Picnic to J. B. Gibson Park

Share a delicious picnic with your loved ones at J. B. Gibson Park.

If you seek a quiet and peaceful spot to enjoy lunch or snacks with your family and friends, this charming small park is your place to be.

It features picnic shelters with tables and grills for cookouts while taking advantage of the park’s relaxing atmosphere.

There’s also a playground for the little ones, as well as a basketball court, and a walking trail to explore around.

J. B. Gibson Park is located off Vaughn Street.

Explore the Fred and Idah Schultz Nature Preserve

There are lots of activities to do at Fred and Idah Schultz Nature Preserve, which is perfect for those who love the outdoors.

This quaint 134-acre nature preserve features estuarine and freshwater wetlands, coastal lands, and artificial reefs.

You can take scenic walks on the trails, and you’ll see wildlife and wildflowers along the way.

Look out for rabbits, birds, butterflies, and more.

Fred and Idah Schultz Nature Preserve was restored in 1995 by the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

You can find it at Kracker Avenue.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Visit the Popular Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

People riding Busch Gardens Tampa Bay's rollercoaster


Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is one of the most well-known theme parks in the entire city of Tampa, Florida.

It’s 22 minutes away from Gibsonton.

This theme park guarantees thrill and adventure with its rides, attractions, shows, safari tours, and even restaurants.

Test your bravery on rollercoasters that go up to as high as 200 feet.

Drop tower ride at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Dolores M. Harvey /

Ride their rafting expeditions for some splash, or enjoy the thrill of the drop tower.

You can also get close to animals on their safari tour.

Otherwise, sit back and watch the shows they have prepared for you.

Get your pass to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay for a day of fun and excitement.

An elephant at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

photosounds /

Meet Crocodiles at Croc Encounters

Croc Encounters is also in Tampa, where you can get up close and personal with crocodiles without jeopardizing your safety.

This reptile park also lets you see these fierce creatures in their natural habitats.

Established in 2005, this park was originally a sanctuary dedicated to protecting and preserving even the scariest animals like the crocodile.

Visiting this park will also teach you more about these reptiles through their educational programs.

Over 23 species of reptiles have made this park their home; you can see them all by visiting Croc Encounters.

Tour the Skies at flyVENTURE

There’s nothing more thrilling than being 10,000 feet up in the air on a helicopter.

Get an experience like no other with flyVENTURE in Tampa, taking you on a helicopter tour of the city.

This touring company will show you Tampa and its surrounding cities’ most prominent landmarks from thousands of feet up in the sky.

They will take your breath away with the beauty of the sight below you.

Their pilots are professional and experienced, ensuring a safe tour.

Don’t forget to call and make a reservation ahead of time.

Go on a Haunted Tour with Nightly Spirits

If paranormal activity or all things horror and spooky fascinate you, check out Nightly Spirits in Tampa.

This touring company will take you to Tampa’s most haunted destinations, giving you a backstory on their spooky reputation.

You’ll see Tampa’s creepy side by joining a Nightly Spirits tour.

Explore the eerie pubs and hear some horror stories while enjoying the haunted food tour.

You may hear footsteps, see objects move, and get goosebumps while on this spooky tour.

Are you brave enough to survive this tour?

Book a reservation before they run out at Nightly Spirits.

Final Thoughts

Though Gibsonton is known for its quiet environment and serenity, this town is still packed with things to see and do.

Get away from the daily hustle and bustle of cities by taking a trip to this peaceful town with a relaxing aura.

You can try various authentic cuisines and dishes by taking a food tour of Gibsonton’s best restaurants and eateries.

Its location next to the cities of Riverview and Tampa also gives you more options if you’re looking for more activities outside of town.

Reconnect with nature with the surrounding woods and forests or visit the animals in the various nature preserves.

Book your trip to Gibsonton today!

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