Free and cheap things to do with the kids this week
Woo-hoo! I love the onset of fall, and not just because it's football season. In this tourist-friendly area, fall and winter mean a lot more things to do, many of them free or cheap. For one, Saturday is Free Museum Day with a slew of local museums offering free and reduced admissions. There's also festivals and fall fairs gearing up that will keep you busy and keep you out of debt
The Smithsonian-inspired Free Museum Day is Saturday and you get free admission to most museums in the Tampa Bay area all day Saturday as part of an annual celebration paying tribute to the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C. Local museums include Cracker Country, Henry B. Plant Museum, Tampa Museum of Art, Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, Ybor City Museum State Park and Tampa Bay History Center. To print out tickets and for more information, visit the
It's not free but it's $5 Day at MOSI on Saturday, and everyone can tour MOSI’s exhibit galleries and catch an IMAX standard film for just $5, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Museum of Science and Industry, 4801 E Fowler Ave. Call (813) 987-6000.
The month is almost over which means Swaptember is coming to an end. Lowry Park Zoo pass holders receive free admission to the Florida Aquarium and MOSI in September. In turn, members of the Florida Aquarium and MOSI receive free admission to the zoo. 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Call (813) 935-8552.
Visitors to Davis Islands Dog Park on Friday shouldn’t freak out if they see a giant blue dog on the premises. It’s just Hydrodog, a new mobile pet grooming wagon in Tampa Bay. The company is teaming up with the Humane Society to offer free dog washes (though a $20 donation to the Humane Society is appreciated) from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday at Davis Islands Dog Park, 1002 Severn Ave., Tampa. And from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, they’ll be at John Chestnut Sr. Park, 2200 East Lake Road, Palm Harbor. For more info, see HydroDog's website.
Lowry Park Zoo’s family-friendly Halloween event ZooBoo will have haunted houses and trails for older zoo-goers, boo houses and seasonal lights for little ones, from 7 to 11 p.m. today and Saturday at 1101 W Sligh Ave. Unlimited zoo rides in the dark. $10 sneak peek. Call (813) 935-8552.
Happy birthday Glazer Children’s Museum! Kids (and parents) get a gift as the Tampa museum turns 1. First there’s $5 admission through Sept. 30, a break from the usual $15, $9.50 for kids, it costs to play on more than 170 challenging “interactivities” in 12 themed areas. Plus, there’s a party in Curtis Hixon Park on Sunday from noon until 2 p.m. There will be musical entertainment by the University of Tampa marching band, a Fit Kids Playground, outdoor games, face painters, balloon artists, Radio Disney and cake. Free. The museum is in Curtis Hixon Park at 110 W Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa.
The Gulfport Weird Mini-Triathlon is part of the “Keep Gulfport Weird” effort, this race takes place the same day as the Tangerine Blues Fest and is designed to be short enough to get all ages and fitness levels involved and fun enough to meet its goal of keeping the artsy town eccentric. So instead of prizes for winning the race, there will be awards for enthusiasm, originality, costumes — you can even get a prize for simply finishing. Teams and individuals will start at the church parking lot of 5424 Gulfport Blvd. S for a 1-mile run beginning at 7 a.m. Saturday. Then, take a 3-mile bike around the Clymer Park Greenways to Shore Boulevard S to finish with a quarter-mile swim along the beach to the finish line at the Gulfport Casino. It’s free, but you need to register by today . You’ll find the link to the registration at www.mygulfport.us, or call (727) 321-6965.
In celebration of Pinellas County School System’s 100-year anniversary, bring your gently used books to a Book Swap and trade them in for something new to read. Free ice cream for the first 1,000 people and baked goods for sale. Free. Pasadena Fundamental Elementary School, 95 72nd St. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 344-0007. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday.
Grab a bean bag chair for Pop-Up Theatre, a free movie screening with family-friendly activities including face painting and balloon artists. Today features the PG-rated animated adventure Open Season. Tuesday features the 1939 family classic The Wizard of Oz. Movies are each Tuesday and Thursday through Oct. 27. Free. Westfield Countryside Mall, 27001 U.S. 19 N, Suite 2096, Clearwater. (727) 796-1070. 2 p.m. today and Tuesday.
Simon Kidgits Club Princess and Pirate Event welcomes kids to dress like their favorite pirate or princess and spin the wheel for prizes, enjoy crafts, activities and meet fun characters. All kids in costume get a free lunch at Chick-fil-A (noon-4 p.m.). Princesses take ballet dance classes while pirates meet the swashbuckling crew from the pirate ship at John’s Pass and enjoy face painting and prizes. Free, but $5 annual Kidgits Club membership required. Tyrone Square Mall, 6901 Tyrone Square, St. Petersburg. (727) 347-3889. 1-3 p.m. Saturday.
Do you have a Star Wars or comic book geek in the house? (It's OK if it's your husband) Daniel Wallace, the author who specializes in Star Wars and superheroes genres, will speak at St. Petersburg College at 11 a.m. Friday. The self proclaimed “lifelong geek” has authored and co-authored more than two dozen books including The Art of Superman Returns, The DC Comics Chronicle, The Marvel Encyclopedia and the New York Times bestseller Star Wars: The New Essential Guide to Characters. The talk is free at SPC’s Music Center, 6605 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg.
Saddle Up Riding Club is open for Farm Interaction Day with horse rides ($5) and to see and pet all the animals. Snow cones, hot dogs, popcorn for sale. All proceeds benefit Equine Therapy Program for disabled children, adults and veterans. 6080 94th Ave., Pinellas Park. $2 admission. (727) 520-3132. www.saddleupridingclub.org. 5-7 p.m. Sunday.
Bring your kids along for the Forgotten Children March on Saturday. Voices for Children of Tampa Bay and the Hillsborough County Guardian ad Litem program join together for this short march around the park followed by a celebration with music, food, guest speakers, family-friendly activities and entertainment by Dawson Dance Team, the Florida Academy of Performing Arts, Shana Banana and the J Dalton Band. This event is wheelchair and stroller accessible. Registration begins at 8 a.m. Proceeds benefit Voices for Children to advocate for the abused, neglected and abandoned children in the community. The walk is free, but you may sponsor a child for $100 if you choose. Curtis Hixon Park, 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa. (813) 275-9300. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.
Bring chairs and blankets for a free outdoor movie. This week features Disney’s PG-13 rated action/adventure Pirates of the Caribbean, starring Johnny Depp. Concessions available. Movie begins at sundown Saturday. Concessions cost extra. Land O’Lakes Community Center, 5401 Land O’Lakes Blvd. (813) 333-2288.
If you have an animal lover you can see Jane Goodall Live on Tuesday. The movie theater broadcast event provides a glimpse at 50 years of Jane Goodall’s most extraordinary observations of the wild chimpanzees in Tanzania and insight into who Jane is today. $12.50-$15 (varies by theater). Park Place Stadium 16, 7200 U.S. 19 North, Pinellas Park. (727) 525-7777. This event is also being held at Woodland Square 20 in Oldsmar, Citrus Stadium 20 in Tampa and Regency 20 in Brandon. 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Bring blankets, low lawn chairs or towels to plop on Clearwater Beach and watch free movies. Friday features the PG-rated film Shrek: Forever After. Saturday features the PG-rated film No Reservations. Concessions for sale. No alcohol. Shows start around dusk. Pier 60, 10 Pier 60 Drive, Clearwater Beach. (727) 434-6060.
It is fall, remember? Ignore that thermometer. At Scott’s Fall Corn Maze you can wander through 7 acres of live field corn with miles of paths where you find pictures, clues and games. Also on site is the living tree maze and children’s activities, a 60-foot super slide and the “jumping pillow” bounce house without walls. $11, $9 ages 3-16, 2 and younger free. Long and Scott’s Farms, 26216 County Road 448A, Mount Dora. (352) 383-6900. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sunday.
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne
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