Explore the past, embrace the present: Blue Star Museums at the Tampa Bay History Center

Blue Star Museums
Blue Star Museums

Summer in the Tampa Bay region brings not only the warmth of the Florida sun but also a special opportunity for our military families. The Tampa Bay History Center proudly participates in the 2024 Blue Star Museums program, offering free admission to a world of exploration and learning from Armed Forces Day, May 18, through Labor Day, September 2. This initiative is a heartfelt thank you to those who serve our country, providing them and their families a chance to immerse themselves in our local history.

Who’s eligible?

The Blue Star Museums program opens its doors wide to those currently serving in the United States Military—Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard—including Reservists, National Guardsman (regardless of status), U.S. Public Health Commissioned Corps, NOAA Commissioned Corps, and up to five family members. To gain free entrance, qualified members must present one of the following forms of identification: a Geneva Convention common access card (CAC), DD Form 1173 ID card (dependent ID), or a DD Form 1173-1 ID card.

Upon your arrival, please see a Visitor Services associate and present your military ID to ensure your entry under this program. For any questions you might have before your visit, including details about the program and eligibility, we encourage you to click here for FAQ.

Discovering Tampa Bay’s history

The Tampa Bay History Center isn’t just a museum; it’s a journey through time, offering a glimpse into the lives of those who walked these lands long before us. From the early indigenous peoples to the explorers, settlers, and community leaders who shaped the region’s future, the center brings their stories to life through interactive exhibits, engaging storytelling, and educational programs.

Planning your visit

To ensure you and your family make the most of your visit to the Tampa Bay History Center, here are a few tips:

  • Check the hours: The History Center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. while the Blue Star Museums program is offered.
  • Explore beyond: The History Center is a key part of Tampa’s vibrant Riverwalk area, surrounded by parks, dining, and other attractions. Consider exploring the neighborhood to round out your day.
  • Engage with the past: Prepare for your visit by discussing which aspects of history most interest your family. The museum offers a range of exhibits, from the age of pirates and explorers to the boom of the cigar industry, ensuring there’s something to capture the imagination of visitors of all ages. Click here to open the gallery map.

A special invitation

To our nation’s servicemen and women and their families, the Tampa Bay History Center extends a warm invitation to explore, discover, and perhaps see the world through the lens of those who shaped it. It’s our way of saying thank you for your service and sacrifice. We’re here to offer a space where history isn’t just observed but experienced—a place for learning, reflection, and family fun.

Join us this summer at the Tampa Bay History Center. It’s not just an opportunity to connect with our past—it’s a chance to create new memories with your family. We look forward to welcoming you!