Are you looking for a Florida vacation destination where you can avoid the crowds but still have plenty of fun activities to enjoy? Pasco County, Florida may not be the first place that comes to mind, but with great waterfront dining, plenty of fun, family activities and great places to stay, this destination just north of Tampa is one of Florida’s best kept secrets.

How to have a great family vacation in Pasco County Florida

The kids loved vacationing in Pasco County Florida. Photo credit: Lisa O’Driscoll / Do It All TravelingMom

When we were planning a last minute spring break getaway, we wanted a spot that had lots to do but wouldn’t be overrun with the spring break crowds. I’d met someone from Pasco County, Florida, a few months earlier who filled me in on all the great activities and restaurants that Pasco County had to offer. Located just north of Tampa, it seemed like the perfect choice.

Where To Stay In Pasco County, Florida

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Trinity

The first thing on the agenda was to find a place to stay. We chose the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Trinity. This new hotel is centrally located, making it easy to get to all the places we were planning to go. When we saw the room, the first thing we noticed was how spacious it was, perfect for our family of four.

Hotel rooms are spacious at the Holiday Inn in Pasco County Florida

The rooms are spacious at the Holiday Inn Express and Suites Trinity. Photo Credit: Lisa O’Driscoll / Do It All TravelingMom

We had a great view of the picturesque lake behind the hotel and went downstairs to check it out! Besides enjoying a pretty lake view, you can relax on the hammocks, cook out on their BBQ grills, lounge in the sitting area and even play cornhole.

Relax overlooking the lake in Pasco County Florida

The hotel has the perfect spot to relax overlooking the lake. Photo credit: Lisa O’Driscoll / Do It All TravelingMom

The girls couldn’t wait to play in the heated pool and had fun splashing around while mommy and daddy hung out in the hot tub.

The kids loved the pool at our hotel in Pasco County Florida

The girls couldn’t wait to play in the heated hotel pool. Photo credit: Lisa O’Driscoll / Do It All TravelingMom

TravelingMom Tip: If you plan to spend a lot of time in the pool, you may want to bring your own beach towels. The pool towels at the hotel were very small, only slightly larger than kitchen towels.

Another reason to stay here? Breakfast was free! They had a great selection with eggs, bacon, sausage, cereal, fruit, yogurt and a lot more. The girls especially loved the machine that made pancakes with the touch of a button…I wouldn’t mind having one of my own!

Overall, we had a great stay at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Trinity. It was very clean, the rooms were open and airy, the staff was friendly and the kids were happy. Isn’t that the most important thing when traveling with kids?

Where To Eat

Gill Dawg Tiki Bar And Grill

We love dining on the water so that was a priority for us. Gill Dawg Tiki Bar And Grill fit the bill. I was looking forward to checking this place out because not only were we going to eat here, we were planning to participate in water activities as well (more about that later). Located on the banks of the Cotee River, it’s a casual bar/restaurant with a fun vibe.

Dining waterside at Gill Dawg in Pasco County Florida

Dining waterside at Gill Dawg. Photo credit: Lisa O’Driscoll / Do It All TravelingMom

We started by ordering the goat cheese spread and pita chips.

goat cheese dip at Gill Dawg in Pasco County Florida

We started our lunch with the goat cheese dip and pita chips. Photo credit: Lisa O’Driscoll / Do It All TravelingMom

While the girls were happy to order grilled cheese off the children’s menu, my husband and I went for the tacos. He had the steak tacos but I was in the mood for seafood and ordered the fish tacos. All four of us gave the lunch a thumbs up.

Fish tacos at Gill Dawg in Pasco County Florida

Having fish tacos for lunch. Photo credit: Lisa O’Driscoll / Do It All TravelingMom

If you want a nice lunch on the water, Gill Dawg is casual and fun.

Sam’s Beach Bar

Since we love tiki bars so much, we decided to check out Sam’s Beach Bar. It’s located along Hudson Creek and I love that their website features a sunset countdown every day.

Sam's beach bar in Pasco County Florida

You can dine and dance at Sam’s Beach Bar. Photo credit: Lisa O’Driscoll / Do It All TravelingMom

From the minute we sat down, our waiter AJ took care of our every need! He recommended the coconut shrimp and he definitely knew what he was talking about. They were amazing! My husband went so far as to say they were the best coconut shrimp he’s ever had. Since he’s the biggest shrimp lover you’ll ever meet, that’s really saying something. I had to agree!

Dining at Sam's Beach Bar in Pasco County Florida

The coconut shrimp at Sam’s Beach Bar were amazing. Photo credit: Lisa O’Driscoll / Do It All TravelingMom

Once again, the girls ordered grilled cheese (do you see a pattern?). My hubby went for more shrimp and ate every last one.

Seafood at Sam's Beach Bar in Pasco County Florida

Shrimp for dinner at Sam’s Beach Bar. Photo credit: Lisa O’Driscoll / Do It All TravelingMom

I chose the blackened grouper and it was delicious. It was so juicy and perfectly seasoned, I couldn’t help but eat the whole thing!

Enjoying seafood in Pasco County Florida

There’s nothing better than eating seafood on the water. Photo credit: Lisa O’Driscoll / Do It All TravelingMom

As if the food weren’t good enough, this was our view towards the end of dinner…

Looking for a great Florida vacation destination? Find out why Pasco County Florida is such a hidden gem and a great place for family fun!

Enjoying a beautiful sunset over the water. Photo credit: Lisa O’Driscoll / Do It All TravelingMom

The girls didn’t realize until they finished dinner that their plates were actually frisbees. Between that and the giant servings of ice cream, we had two very happy kids. Overall, Sam’s Beach Bar was a big hit and I would eat here every night if I could!

What to do in Pasco County, Florida

Water Sports

The great thing about Gill Dawg is that you can go for lunch, then stay and enjoy all sorts of water sports. They offer kayaking, paddleboarding, fishing charters and camps for kids. They also have boating excursions and tours. I was very disappointed that the Sangria Sunset Tour didn’t fit into our schedule. I may just have to go back for that one!

My nine year old daughter wanted to try paddleboarding so we decided to give it a go. She and my husband each went out on their own board, and my five year old shared one with me. Ashling was excited to get going!

Paddleboarding in Pasco County Florida

Enjoying the paddleboards at Gill Dawg. Photo credit: Lisa O’Driscoll / Do It All TravelingMom

Paddleboarding was a lot of fun and the only problem I had was when my five year old wanted to “help” paddle and kept whacking me in the head. Luckily she tired out after a few minutes and preferred to just sit back and enjoy the ride. It was the perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon!

Boating

Who doesn’t love a day boating on the water?! We packed some snacks and sunscreen and took off in a pontoon boat from Windsong Charters. Before we hit open water, we boated down a long canal lined with houses and were already picking out our vacation home! Once we cleared the canal, we went full throttle and made our way to one of several islands in the area.

It was a small, undeveloped island and so much fun to explore. The girls searched for seashells, raced along the shore and chased the birds.

Chasing birds in Pasco County Florida

Chasing birds on one of Pasco County’s islands. Photo credit: Lisa O’Driscoll / Do It All TravelingMom

I had forgotten just how much I loved boating. We were already having a perfect day, then it got even better when we saw dolphins! They came right up to the side of our boat and it was exciting to get such a great view.

Looking for a great Florida vacation destination? Find out why Pasco County Florida is such a hidden gem and a great place for family fun!

Enjoying a dolphin encounter on our boating trip. Photo credit: Lisa O’Driscoll / Do It All TravelingMom

Once the dolphins took off, it was time to head back. Keira took a turn in the drivers seat and it brought back memories of boating with my grandpa when I was a little girl. Now my girls will have fun boating memories to look back on too!

Boating in Pasco County Florida

Letting the littlest one play captain for ahile. Photo credit: Lisa O’Driscoll / Do It All TravelingMom

Tree Climbing

The grand finale of our trip was a visit to Treehoppers Aerial Adventure Park. If you’re scared of heights, this probably isn’t the place for you. However, if you like adventure, you’re going to love it!

You begin by getting strapped into a harness and going through training. You’ve successfully “graduated” training when you demonstrate that you know how the harness works and can complete the training course.

Looking for a great Florida vacation destination? Find out why Pasco County Florida is such a hidden gem and a great place for family fun!

A climber in training. Photo credit: Lisa O’Driscoll / Do It All TravelingMom

Then it was off to the big courses. While kids as young as five can do the easier courses, little Keira got too frustrated and gave up. Though she’s tall for her age, she still had trouble reaching a lot of the ropes. After a few attempts, I took her back to the training course. When Jon was finished with the course, he watched Keira while I took a turn in the trees with Ashling.

TravelingMom Tip: While there may be some five and six year olds that are up to the challenge, I recommend taking children no younger than seven.

It was a blast! There were different challenges every step of the way, some harder than others, but that’s what made it so much fun. While I felt five was too young, nine was perfect and Ashling was having the time of her life.

Adventure in the trees in Pasco County Florida

A little adventure in the trees. Photo credit: Lisa O’Driscoll / Do It All TravelingMom

Of course, no tree adventure course would be complete without a zipline and there were several along the way.

Ziplining in Pasco County Florida

We loved the ziplining at Treehoppers. Photo credit: Lisa O’Driscoll / Do It All TravelingMom

I loved Treehoppers; the great thing about it is that you can choose to make it as easy (relatively) or challenging as you want. They have a variety of courses with different skill levels so if you complete one and want to take it up a notch, you just head to the next course.

These were just the places in Pasco County that we had time to visit. There are so many more that we may just have to take another trip. Who would have though that Pasco County would turn out to be such a hidden gem?

Looking for a new Florida vacation destination? Find out why Pasco County Florida is such a hidden gem.