Free and cheap family fun for the weekend
This has been quite a week for us. Seeing the new attraction at Universal Studios, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, was a highlight. But there are so many other cool events going on in the bay area this weekend, we know we will be busy. Here are a few of the best.
Now going to the movies is usually not free or cheap but we know a great deal when we see one. On Saturday at two bay area theaters, Shrek Forever After will be shown as a sensory friendly film with the lights up and the sound down to accommodate autistic children and adults and their families. The movie will be shown at 10 a.m. at AMC Veterans in Tampa and AMC Woodlands Square in Oldsmar. If you miss the show this month, then you can head over to the same theaters next month when Toy Story 3 will be shown.
For a movie that will save you a few bucks, Beach Theatre’s “$5 before 5 p.m.” deal is what you need. The historic movie house is going to be offering some first-run movies this summer and has this deal that can get you out of the megaplex. Right now it’s running Iron Man 2 and plans to show hot-ticket summer flicks, along with their usual collection of indie movies, Rocky Horror weekend parties and arthouse films. All shows are $5 before 5 p.m. (and even after that, it’s only $5 for kids, $7 for adults). They also don’t gouge at the snack bar, where you can get a large popcorn and large soda for $5.35 and they sell beer and wine. The theater is at 315 Corey Ave., St. Pete Beach, (727) 360-6697. See the theater's website for show times and coming events.
If you're feeling a little adventurous Sunday, head over to the YMCA at Camp Cristina in Riverview for Family Adventure Day. There will be horses, climbing, archery, a zipline and a giant swing. And you also can sign up for the YMCA's summer camp. For information, call the YMCA at (813) 677-8400.
The Seminole Heights Bicycle Club celebrates National Bicycle Month with the Hub Grub Bicycle Ride, a 7.5-mile ride stopping at several area restaurants. They even offer a bike drive-through option. Helmets required on this meet-up style ride. Meet at 2:45 p.m. Saturday at the Garden Center, 5800 Central Ave., in Tampa. It’s free, and food samples are included. Call (813) 274-5751 for details.
The stand-up paddle board looks like a surfboard but paddles like a kayak, and the growing water sport is attracting paddlers from as far away as Hawaii to race in the Gulf Coast Stand Up Paddle Championship. The race will be a circuit around Treasure Island on Saturday with the start and finish line just north of John’s Pass. It starts at noon and if you want to jump in, it’s $35 for the open race (3.5 miles), $65 elite race (9 miles). But it’s free to watch at the John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk on Madeira Beach
When the Tampa Bay Rays are out of town Sunday, you can watch the game on a huge screen set up on the beach behind the Tradewinds Island Grand Resort, 5500 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach. Before the game, 620-AM WDAE will be broadcasting a live pre-game show, and food, drink and souvenirs available for purchase. Free admission and parking. Interleague play against the Houston Astros starts at 2:05 p.m.
While it is neither free or cheap, Mary Poppins is blowing into town beginning Thursday at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets start at $35 but if you take a canned good to the Straz you can get a $25 ticket to see Mary at the 2 p.m. show Thursday. And here's a tip: Leave your tots at home for this darker than Disney version of the classic tale of a nanny who practically perfect in every way. The Straz recommends no on under age 5 come to the theater for the show.
On Saturday at several libraries in Hillsborough County, tweens and teens will participate in Scratch Day activities. No, it's not because they have some hygiene issues. Scratch is a programming language created by the MIT Media Lab that makes it easy for anyont to create their own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art -- and share the creations on the web. The first event begins at 10 a.m. at the Bloomingdale Library, 1906 Bloomingdale Ave., Valrico. Look in the link above for an event in your neck of the woods.
The always entertaining Sci-Fi and Sky Night event is this weekend at the Science Center of Pinellas County, 7701 22nd Ave. N, St . Petersburg. This month includes planetarium shows from 6-9 p.m., a screening of the film Free Willy 4: Escape From Pirate's Cove at 8:30 p.m. (bring lawn chairs and blankets)and telescope viewings from 8:30-11 p.m. Register to have your name sent to Mars. Pizza and beverages available for purchase 7-9 p.m. It costs just $3 to get in.
There are several pet events this weekend with some of them urging you to adopt an animal. There's the Amazing Animals Talent Show on Friday in Dunedin in which pets with personality will be judged on what they can do on stage; Going to the Dogs, a one-day adoptathon sponsored by the SPCA on Saturday in Largo; and Come Bark in My Park, an event featuring dog grooming, vendors and more on Sunday in Tampa.
That ought to keep you hopping this weekend. Remember to always check our new website Things to Do which has great tips on family friendly events, date night suggestions and restaurant reviews. Go out and have a great weekend with your family.
-- Sherry Robinson and Sharon Kennedy Wynne