Every military wife knows the struggle of arriving at another new city and having to essentially restart her life. You have to find a place to live, make new friends, find all the resources for your kids, find new places to eat, find a job (if you work outside the home), the list goes on. It can be overwhelming when trying to settle into a new city. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a military wives guide to Tampa Bay?
Thankfully, in every city, there are always wives there who have already done it. As a wife that likes to hit the ground running in every new city, I put this guide together to help other military wives and moms get connected and figure out life in Tampa Bay. These resources continue to help me make Tampa Bay feel like home.
Child Care for PCS
Thanks to the MacDill Family Child Care Program, every family has access to 20 hours of free child care upon arriving at or leaving MacDill. When you haven’t quite made friends and don’t have a sitter, this support is perfect for getting important tasks done without kids in tow.
Call Ms. Cox to obtain the necessary paperwork to sign up and begin scheduling your care.
MacDill AFB Spouses & PCS Info
I recommend joining this page immediately. You can search for or ask questions related to anything Tampa and PCS. IF you need a realtor recommendation, school reviews, other area suggestions, etc, this is the page for that. I find it to be much less drama-filled than other spouse pages.
MacDill AFB Wives Group
This Facebook group is for finding a hairstylist, church, or getting other advice from local spouses. Both Facebook groups have this information, but this page is meant to be more social than the PCS page.
Tampa is in the Tricare East region. Once you have been assigned a PCM, be sure to take advantage of the online messaging system to contact your doctor without actually visiting the office. In many cases, you can submit a referral request through this messaging system.
Once you find a place to live you will also want to join the Facebook page for that area. These pages will be great for connecting with other moms and resources in your area. Search for “(city name) Moms” and that should give you a list of group options.
Anna Maria Island
Anna Maria Island, this is where you will find some of the area’s prettiest beaches. The island is a little over 1 hour from the base. Parking is free at beaches on this island. Coquina Beach and Manatee Beach are both beaches on the island.
You should know that most people do not recommend swimming at the beach access on base as the water levels are always questionable. It is best to take the drive to other beaches.
Stuff to Do in Tampa Bay
This Facebook group is a great resource for finding ways to explore the area.
Learn & Play Tampa Bay
This structured playgroup is free for all families of children up to 5 years old. But, you do need to register. Then you simply show up to the program location of your choice. This is a great way to meet other moms and make some friends for you and the kids.
Hillsborough County Libraries
Most of the Hillsborough County libraries have a play area, which is great for moms needing to get some work done too. My favorite library is the New Tampa Regional Library, it has an awesome setup for working and letting the kids read/play.
Kids Eat Free
This site gives you information for the days that kids can eat free at different restaurants in the Tampa area.
This County organization funds many programs, many of which are free, to provide Tampa Bay parents with service and support, such as parenting classes, literacy programs, or safety services.
Tampa Bay Lifestyle
Follow #tampabaybloggers on Instagram to get connected with bloggers in the area of essentially any niche that interests you.
Groupon for the Tampa Bay area
Find deals on activities, services, and food in the area.
Citrus Park Mall
As COVID passes, Citrus Park Mall will be hosting in-person events again. There is a free play space outfitted with all Melissa and Doug pretend play items. There is also a nice play and climbing area, as well as a train ride for kids. The mall is always empty during the week so you can feel free to take the kids to just roam around and have lunch.
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Stephani, owner of Great Life is a Must, is a blogger, military wife, mom of 2, and a work-from-home Venue Sourcing Professional. Her spirited daughter is 5 and her cool son is 3. Stephani loves eating, exploring with her family, listening to books on audio, cooking, and connecting with others. Stephani is originally from Columbus, Ohio, and has previously lived in Kansas, Georgia, and Germany. She and her family currently live in Riverview. Stephani is making it her goal to eat and explore her way through the Tampa area! You can find Stephani on Instagram: @greatlifeisamust and learn more at Great Life is a Must.