Free and cheap things to do with the kids
We are making a declaration of independence from tyranny of expensive day trips and pick-pocket theme parks. Our free and cheap choices this week include a free Wiggles show, left, after a Rays game, a scary showing of Jaws in the pool, fun festivals, $2 day at the children's museum and more.
First off we have to get the fireworks and July 4 info out of the way. There's lots of it. You can find a complete list here, which includes special deals as well as fireworks shows, parades and Independence Day events. Some highlights include a free concert with country star Darryl Worley Sunday before the fireworks of Freedom Fest at Town Square Plaza Park, 5010 81st Ave. N, Pinellas Park. There's also fireworks at the Clearwater Threshers and Tampa Yankees games this weekend.
Here's some July 4 deals that don't involve explosions:
Fourth of July Special at MOSI: In honor of Independence Day, MOSI offers a buy one get one free admission special. Free ticket must be of equal or lesser value. $20.95 adults (13-59), $16.95 child (2-12), $18.95 seniors (60+) at 4801 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. (813) 987-6000.
Tampa Bay History Center: It’s free admission today to celebrate Independence Day, and you can stick around in the museum’s atrium for an air-conditioned view of the Channelside fireworks.
Seminole Mall Sparklebration Escape the heat in the comfort of the mall for some holiday fun with music, inflatables and more. Noon-3 p.m. Sunday. Free. Seminole Mall, 11201 Park Blvd., Seminole. (727) 392-8174.
Red, White and Zoo: Members of the military and up to three direct dependents will be admitted to the Lowry Park Zoo free of charge. Includes active duty, reservists and National Guard members, 1101 W Sligh Ave., Tampa.
Patriotic Picnic: Wear your bathing suits and bring towels to this old-fashioned picnic at Craig Park, 5 Beekman Way in Tarpon Springs, with water slides, free food, a game area including horse shoes, badminton, sack races and more, as well as live entertainment and outrigger rides in the bayou. Free, starting at 10 a.m.
What a scene we espect to see when hundreds of squealing preschoolers are waggling DJ Kitty puppets as The Wiggles rock out to Hot Potato in the Trop. This is quality family time as the Tampa Bay Rays take on the St. Louis Cardinals at the very family-friendly time of 1:40 p.m. Sunday. If you covet one of the LOL puppets, then buddy up to a kid; they’re free to the first 10,000 age 14 and under. Then the multiplatinum Australian group the Wiggles will make the wee ones dance jubilantly to pop-rock tunes about fruit salad and magic buttons in a free concert after the game. Should be plenty of room for the Big Red Car. Game tickets start at $17. Toll-free 1-888-326-7297.
This week you get Two Dollar Target Tuesday, where you get into the new Glazer Children’s Museum for only $2 this Tuesday from 2 to 7 p.m. It’s normally $15 for adults, $9.50 for kids. Once inside, kids can pilot a cruise ship, build a noodle sculpture, design a city, fly an airplane, paint with light and slide down a fireman’s pole. The museum is in Curtis Hixon Park, 110 W Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa. (813) 443-3861.
Remember the kid on the floatie in Jaws? The ominous fin zeroing in. The music. The geyser of bloody water. Yeah, pretty much no one will be left in the pool by the end of the shark thriller on the big screen at Flick n Float. Actually, the 1975 Steven Spielberg film is tame by today’s standards, but it’s not exactly Finding Nemo, either. Parents, you’ve been warned. This week there’s also a beach/luau theme, with games and hot dogs (want ketchup on that?) starting at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Southwest Recreation Complex and Pool in Largo, 13120 Vonn Road. BYOF (bring your own floatie). Movie starts about 9 p.m. $5, $4 residents. (727) 518-3126.
Pioneer Park and the streets of downtown Dunedin come alive Saturday with an old-fashioned Dunedin Orange Festival, a town festival including a green market, the “Orange Stroll-about” Walking Parade, a family-fun zone, a mojo cook-off competition, the Miss Dunedin Orange Queen Pageant and entertainment by Linda Darlin (9-10:30 a.m.), Jack and Josie (11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.) and Sarah/Evolution (1-3 p.m.). The juice gets squeezing at 8:30 a.m. at Pioneer Park, Main Street and Douglas Avenue. It’s free, and tasting tickets are available for purchase. See dunedinorangefestival.com.
The always-fun Gulfport Art Walk will have live music while you browse works by more than 50 artists and crafters Friday, and the Industrial Art Center offers glassblowing miniclasses. And while you are there, keep an eye out for the 15 Gulfport restaurants that have crafted a special “Best of the Road Sampler Plate.” The funky little town is in a competition for Rand McNally/USA Today’s “Best of the Road” competition in the “Best for Food” category. Each plate has taste-sized samples of that restaurant’s signature dishes for $10 to $15. The Art Walk starts at 6 p.m. Free.
This is the last week to try out the Canopy Tree Climbing. Climbers 6 and older can 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.
Family Fun Days at the St. Pete Beach Aquatic Center includes swimming, music, games, contests, pool basketball, bingo and more. $3, $2 children. St. Pete Beach Aquatic Center, 7701 Boca Ciega Drive, St. Pete Beach. (727) 363-9245. Noon-3 p.m. Monday.
Discover the preserve as you follow clues along the boardwalk and trails for a Weedon Island Explorers Scavenger Hunt. Use signs to navigate. Water and closed-toe shoes recommended. Free. Weedon Island Preserve, 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 453-6500. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.
For Itty Bitty Splashtime, children ages 5 and younger can enjoy the pool’s splash area. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. $1.50, 2 and younger free. Highland Recreation Complex and Family Aquatic Center, 400 Highland Ave. NE, Largo. (727) 518-3016. 9:45-10:45 a.m. Friday, Monday and Wednesday.
An educational and fun performance by Liang the Acrobat will show kids acrobatics, dance and the music of China. Free. Jenkins Community Wing, 120 Central Park Drive, Largo. (727) 587-6715. 2-3 p.m. Friday.
Ride the miniature trains of Largo Central Railroad. Free (donations for train maintenance appreciated). Largo Central Railroad, 105 Central Park Drive, Largo. (727) 587-6775. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.
Teen Tidalwave Tuesdays is for teens and tweens ages 11-17 can hang with friends and enjoy swimming, snacks, games and prizes in and around the pool. $3. Highland Recreation Complex and Family Aquatic Center, 400 Highland Ave. NE, Largo. (727) 518-3016. 7-9 p.m. Tuesday.
It's a first for Largo on the first. Largo's new First Friday Street Festival is this week with live music, street performers and art vendors. This month features the Lounge Cat (7 p.m.) followed by Jus’ Jeff “The Singin’ Piano Playin’ Guy.” Free. Clearwater Largo Road S and First Avenue SW, Largo. (727) 588-4444. 6-11 p.m. Friday.
Movie Night In Tierra Verde is today. Bring your chairs, coolers, kids and even the dog for these outdoor movie screenings with musical entertainment. This portion features the 1995 family/adventure Indian in the Cupboard. Free. Downtown Tierra Verde Parking Lot, 1110 Pinellas Bayway S, Suite 101, St. Petersburg. (727) 216-9661. 7:30 p.m. today.
Bring blankets, low lawn chairs or towels to plop on Clearwater Beach and watch free movies. Friday features the G-rated film An American Tale. Saturday features the PG-13-rated film The American President. Concessions for sale. No alcohol. Shows start around dusk. Free. Pier 60, 10 Pier 60 Drive, Clearwater Beach. (727) 434-6060.
We've already got explosions in the sky all weekend, why not add more noise with a Machine Gun Shoot. Cars, trucks and an assortment of other targets will be destroyed. $20 shooters, $2 spectators, kids free. Hernando Sportsman’s Club, 16121 Commercial Way, Brooksville. (352) 597-9931. 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday.
This is the last week to catch Motherhood the Musical. You can see our review here. This musical comedy takes a look at the joyous journey, blessings and perils of being a mom, and it runs through July 10. $42. Jaeb Theater at David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org. 7:30 p.m. today, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday.
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne
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