Free and cheap family fun
Wow, after July 4, this month has really flown by! We've found some great free and cheap things to do to keep you and your family busy whether you want to be indoors in the air conditioner or outdoors in the sun.
The dudes descend on Clearwater Beach Saturday for the largest skimboard competition on the west coast of Florida. Double Barrel’s Fifth Annual Skimfest starts at 8 a.m. on the north side of Clearwater’s Big Pier 60, and it should attract the usual throngs of spectators as well as some top-flight competitors.
Kids are free at MOSI for the next few weeks. Through Aug. 2, you get one kids admission free for every adult ticket purchased — a $19.95 savings. This deal includes the visiting exhibit Animation featuring Cartoon Network and one standard IMAX film. The Museum of Science and Industry is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and until 6 p.m. on weekends at 4801 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. $25.95 adults (13-59), $19.95 child (2-12), and $22.45 seniors (60+). (813) 987-6000. mosi.org.
Normally, Yappy Hour is a cocktail gathering, but this Saturday it's a more family-friendly setting to take your dog out. The parking lot of the new Sweetbay Supermarket at 6425 County Line Road in Tampa will offer a day of pet grooming, treat sampling, a pet costume contest and coupon giveaways from 9 to 11 a.m. A dog trainer will be there to answer questions and a pet photographer will be taking family photos. You can even get free dog sitting in a fenced-in area if you want to go grocery shopping. Free.
Last week's Michael Jackson Tribute Skate was such a hit that the USA Skateplex has decided they won't stop 'til you get enough. This Sunday will again be free admission, $2.50 for skate rentals to skate to MJ's music, watch videos (a technical glitch nixed the videos last week) and play trivia games from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at 5313 E Busch Blvd., Tampa. If the Gloved One isn't your style, Saturday is a skating Christmas in July party. You can chill out at the roller rink with a winter-themed skate night. There will even be a snowball fight (with ping pong balls) and other winter games from 7 to 10 p.m. at USA Skateplex. It's $6; non-skating adults free. (813) 989-2100.
For one of those "only in Florida" traditions, bring your noodles, floats and chairs and dive into the pool for Dive-in Movie. See a big-screen viewing of Shark Tale tonight (Thursday) at St. Pete Beach Community Center pool, 7701 Boca Ciega Drive. Concessions and glow jewelry will be on sale. The show starts at 8 p.m. Admission price is $2. Or you can head to Largo for the Flick N’ Float: Largo’s Southwest Pool opens at 7:30 p.m. with open swimming Friday night in the Olympic-sized swimming pool. Lights go down and diving boards close at 9 p.m. for a viewing of Matilda. Pool lights stay on, so floating is permitted during the movie at 13120 Vonn Road Largo. Price: $7 for family of five resident, $10 for family of 5 non-resident.
Thomas The Tank Engine and his friends are back in an all new, live musical adventure: A Circus Comes To Town. When Thomas makes a big mistake, all the engines on the Island of Sodor must work together to prepare for the exciting event under the Big Top, and, Thomas must prove he's a really useful engine once again. With thrilling adventures along the way, Percy, James, Gordon, and of course, Thomas, join with Sir Topham Hatt and the townspeople from the Island of Sodor, to welcome a colorful cast of circus performers in an engaging story that demonstrates the importance of friendship and cooperation. The train pulls into Morsani Hall at Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center
1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa on Saturday at 11 a.m. Price: $15-$38
It's not exactly cheap but you do get free rides at Summer Safari Nights, Lowry Park Zoo’s annual summer series featuring after-hours live entertainment, free rides after 5 p.m. and special animal encounters. It’s 5 to 8:30 p.m. Friday at 1101 W Sligh Ave., Tampa. Included with zoo admission: $19.95, $17.95 seniors, $14.95 ages 3-11. (813) 935-8552.
The Portrait Factory lets your kids make like Andy Warhol. The Morean Arts Center's former gift shop has been transformed into a kid-friendly version of Warhol’s Factory, the huge New York studio where the artist worked and hung out with his equally eccentric inner circle. Kids can create their own version of Warhol’s screen-printed portraits of famous people. For $15, your child (or you — adults are welcome to participate) sits for a photograph that is converted via computer to a large screened print. Art supplies are provided so you can customize it. No reservations needed today from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Morean Arts Center, 719 Central Ave., St. Petersburg.
Photo: [CHRIS ZUPPA | Times]