Free and cheap things to do with the kids
We of course have lots of holiday events to choose from this time of year, and great light displays to check out, but we have more wallet-friendly ways to entertain the family so you can spend your money on baking supplies. (You have seen our fabulous Christmas cookie package, haven't you?). We have snow in Florida (see a roundup below) and great deals at two great kids' museums this week.
Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry has an early present for us. Everyone is admitted to MOSI’s exhibit galleries for just $5 on Saturday, instead of its regular $20.95 admission. There are lots of hands-on activities (our favorite is the bed of nails that surprisingly doesn’t hurt because the weight is evenly distributed) and from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., clowns from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus will teach “children of all ages” the science that plays into their tricks and special effects. The museum is at 4801 E Fowler Ave., Tampa.
The first Tuesday of the month is always a busy day at the Glazer Children’s Museum because it’s just $2 to get in and we love a deal and regular admission is $9.50 for children and $15 for adults. The museum on Thursday announced that it is sweetening the Target Tuesday deal next Tuesday, Dec. 6, and making it free admission for all from 2 to 7 p.m. The museum says the free day is “in recognition of the last Target Tuesday of 2011 and the holiday season.” The museum is at Tampa’s Curtis Hixon Park, 110 W Gasparilla Plaza. Call (813) 443-3861.
Radio Disney Tampa AM-1380 will be at Tampa’s Curtis Hixson Park on Saturday, bringing multiple charities together to make it easy for kids and families to give back this holiday season in a Festival of Giving. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Radio Disney will supply music, interactive entertainment and prizes. Metropolitan Ministries will be accepting canned goods and non-perishable foods, and Toys for Tots will be accepting new toys. And of course, cash donations are appreciated.
We may be in short sleeves and slathered in sunscreen, but we can still play in the snow. Several holiday events are bringing in snow machines and building ice slides for kids to play in the white stuff. Surprisingly, it stays unmelted for several hours no matter the balmy temperature. Just don’t play with the yellow snow, kids. They are:
St. Petersburg’s Santa Parade and Snowfest
While Santa is parading through downtown St. Pete on Saturday morning, 65 tons of snow will be pumped into North Straub Park for toboggan rides and a giant slide. There’s also skating on a simulated ice rink made of Glice, a moonwalk, make-and-take crafts and kiddie land play area. A $5 wristband includes all activities starting at 10 a.m. The free Santa Parade starts on Central Avenue and ends up at the park’s Snowfest.
Tampa’s Downtown Holiday
The Holiday Parade and Santa Fest afterward in Curtis Hixon Park doesn’t have snow, but they do have an ice-skating rink with real ice, so we say that counts as winter fun in Florida. The parade steps off at 11 a.m. Saturday at Pierce and Madison streets, travels west on Madison to Ashley Drive, turns north to end at Ashley Drive and Cass Street. At Curtis Hixon Park, family activities include visits with Santa Claus, continuous holiday entertainment, hands-on games and make-and-take holiday crafts. Ice skating costs $10 for a 90-minute session that includes skate rental at 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa.
Clearwater’s Miracle on Cleveland Street
The forecast calls for snow in Clearwater on Friday when the Cleveland Street district is dressed in white with 12 tons of snow, two giant snow slides (with toboggans), visits with Santa Claus, a tree lighting ceremony, wreath decorating contest and music by Tommy Mara and the Crests. It starts at 5:30 p.m. Friday in the 400 Block of Cleveland Street.
Oldsmar’s Christmas Wonderland
Oldsmar celebrates Christmas with a giant snow slope, inflatables, pictures with Santa, holiday songs, pony rides and food available for purchase starting at 6 p.m. Friday at R.E. Olds Park, 107 Shore Drive W, Oldsmar. It’s free, but picture packages and pony rides additional.
Why should St. Pete be left out of the food truck fun? The city's first Food Truck Rally will host an array of trucks from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the shopping plaza at 3951 34th St. S. Parking will be available on site.
Haven’t picked out your holiday cards? No worries. At the Project Holiday Cards Artshop with Lisa Ferrante, you can share your artistic side by creating your own cards to mail to all those on your “nice” list. Take a festive family photo, create the card on a variety of media and get a digital image you can take to any printer. The cost is $110 for members, $125 for non-members at the Morean Arts Center, 719 Central Ave., St. Pete. Two-day classes are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday; and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 10 and 1 to 5 p.m. Dec. 11. moreanartscenter.org.
Ruskin is to tomatoes what Idaho is to potatoes. This weekend's Tomato and Heritage Festival celebrates the vital place the salad staple holds in the town’s history. Browse the marketplace with arts and crafts and handmade items for sale, enjoy country and bluegrass music, play in the children’s area, shop the plant show and sale and more. Held 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at E. G. Simmons Park, 2401 19th Ave. NW, Ruskin. $5; kids 12 and under free.
Take your baseball fan to the James Shields book signing The Tampa Bay Rays pitcher along with biographer Bill Chastain host a talk and signing for Shields’ new book, September Nights: Hunting the Beasts of the American League East, at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Barnes and Noble, 11802 N Dale Mabry, Tampa. (813) 962-6446.
Have a climbing monkey of a kid? At the Canopy Tree Climbing, climbers 6 and older ascend into the heights of a live oak using harnesses and a rope pulley system similar to those used in the Amazon rain forests. Organized by Pathfinder Outdoor Education. $10. Lakeview Presbyterian Church, 1310 22nd Ave. S, St. Petersburg. (727) 328-0300. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday.
The Planetarium Shows at St. Petersburg College is great for families with children ages 5 and older are invited to the “star theater” to view the “Yuletide Skies.” Weather permitting, the rooftop observatory will be open after the shows for telescope viewings. Free. St. Petersburg College, 6605 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 341-4320. 7 and 8:15 p.m. Friday.
AMC Theatres and the Autism Society have joined to present sensory friendly films in an environment friendly to those affected by autism and other sensory issues. This week features the film The Muppets. $8, $7 ages 2-12 (price varies by theater). Woodlands Square 20, 3128 Tampa Road, Oldsmar. Toll-free 1-888-262-4386. The event is also being held at Veterans 24 in Tampa, Tri-City 8 in Largo and Regency 20 in Brandon. 10 a.m. Saturday.
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne
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