Free and cheap things to do with the kids this week
Is it fall yet? We sure hope so or we will fall into a tropical depression. But fear not, penny pinchers. We have some free and cheap diversions for you and the kids, from a giant sand sculpture, to lighthouse tours to a $5 Day a the Zoo.
The Anclote Key Lighthouse, that reddish-brown, cast-iron giant off the coast of Tarpon Springs, at the mouth of the Anclote River, will be open for free tours on Saturday. Climb to the top and check out the view and learn about how it’s constructed. Tours are free from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. No open-toed shoes, please. North Anclote River Park, 550 Old Dixie Highway, Tarpon Springs. www.anclotecso.com.
Saturday is $5 Day at the Zoo Everyone gets into the zoo for $5 Saturday, so arrive early and expect crowds. Lowry Park Zoo, 1101 W Sligh Ave., Tampa. (813) 935-8552. 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.
The Ybor Saturday market will once again feature this Festival del Sabor (Festival of Taste) highlighting the rich and flavorful Hispanic culture of Tampa Bay with food, music and art, including a Latin recipe contest and a cook-off to find Tampa Bay’s best arroz con pollo for cash prizes and bragging rights. Things get cooking at noon and run until about 6 p.m. at Centennial Park, 1800 E Eighth Ave., Tampa.
The fall planetarium shows have resumed at St. Petersburg College and they are a treat for star gazers. The free shows in the “star theater” at 7 and 8:15 p.m. Fridays include an informative talk from an astronomy professor who uses this theater for a high-tech show-and-tell of the Tampa Bay skies. Afterward, weather permitting, you can go on the rooftop observatory for telescope viewing. The SPC Planetarium is on the second floor of the Natural Science building (SC 205) on the St. Petersburg Gibbs campus, 6605 Fifth Ave. N. Free.
Also for space lovers, Sci-Fi and Sky Night is a fun science-based event for students and families. This week features telescope viewings of Pluto and the moon (8:30-10:30 p.m.), the “Autumn Sky” Planetarium show (6:45, 7:15, 7:45, 8:15 and 8:45 p.m.), the “Pluto, what is it?” discussion by professor Darryl Schrader (7:15 p.m.) and a viewing of Tron: Legacy in the rear courtyard (8:15 p.m.). Snacks and drinks will be available for purchase. $3 per person donation. Science Center of Pinellas County, 7701 22nd Ave. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 384-0027. 6:30-10:30 p.m. Saturday.
Satuday is Grandparents Day Party and Animal Sleepover at the Tampa Bay History Center. Kids ages 4-8 are invited to bring their grandparents and a favorite stuffed animal for treats, crafts and story time. Grandma and Grandpa help kids make a special blanket for the stuffed animals to use on their sleepover at the History Center. Go back the next day and pick up the animal and photos of the fun they had on their night out. Limit one stuffed animal per child. $8 adult, $12 child. Tampa Bay History Center, 801 Old Water St., Tampa. (813) 228-0097. 10:30-11:30 a.m. Saturday.
Pioneer Nights at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, is an afternoon of old-time fun and an evening around the campfire. Best for ages 7-13. $25 (advance registration required). Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, 1101 Country Club Way S, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7326. 2-9 p.m. Saturday.
The 150 national and international media representatives who will be in town next week for the press junket associated with the release of the movie Dolphin Tale will have more to see on Clearwater Beach than just the Gulf of Mexico. A 75-ton sand sculpture will be carved near Pier 60 by the professional sand-sculpting company Team Sandtastic of Sarasota. The company carves more than 60 such sculptures each year around the globe. The Pier 60 sculpture will feature Clearwater’s best-known attractions and events, including, of course, Winter, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium dolphin whose story is told in the movie; the Clearwater Jazz Holiday; the Super Boat Races; spring training baseball; the beaches, and local wildlife. The carving will begin Saturday and will continue through Tuesday. The finished sculpture can be viewed Sept. 13-17 and it will be lighted at night. One of the four professional sculptors who will work on the project is Pat Harsh from Clearwater. To view some of Team Sandtastic’s previous works, check out the company’s website at www.teamsandtastic.com.
Grab a bean bag chair for a free movie viewing with family-friendly activities including face painting and balloon artists at Countryside Mall. Today (Thursday) features the PG-rated family comedy Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Tuesday features the G-rated family comedy Charlotte’s Web. Viewings will be held each Tuesday and Thursday through Oct. 27. Westfield Countryside Mall, 27001 U.S. 19 N, Suite 2096, Clearwater. (727) 796-1070. 2 p.m. today and Tuesday.
This isn't cheap, but just so ya know, when Disney says Happy Halloween, it really means happy. The popular annual party Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween will be filled with enough wee princesses and Buzz Lightyears to scare away any self-respecting ghoul. And it starts at 7 p.m. Tuesday — nearly 50 days before Halloween. So dress up the kid in a costume (any one will do because she will change her mind five times before the actual holiday) and haul in some choice candy around the Magic Kingdom, see the “Boo-to-You” parade with the Headless Horseman and top the night off with the Happy HalloWishes fireworks show. Aw, doesn’t that put a grin on your ghost? Purchase of an additional event admission ticket is required: $47.95-$67.95. It runs on select dates through Nov. 1. Walt Disney World, 1515 N Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista. (407) 934-7639 or disneyworld.disney.go.com for more information.
And in more Disney news, Disney on Ice: 100 Years of Magic lets you see just about every Disney character you can imagine — more than 60 — on ice. That’s everything from Mickey Mouse to princesses to Nemo. The show combines choreographed skating with elaborate costumes and Disney songs. $15-$45. St. Pete Times Forum, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. (813) 301-2500. 7 p.m. Friday, 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday.
Now that the weather is every so slightly less humid, there's some outdoor adventures to consider:
Alligator Walk Learn about the habitat, eating habits and other mysteries of alligators on this hike. $3, $1.50 children. Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, 1101 Country Club Way S, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7326. 11:30 a.m. Sunday.
Bike Safari A bicycle exploration of the 245-acre nature preserve where you’ll see alligators, bald eagles, gopher tortoises and ospreys. Two rides available for different skill levels. The “Adventure Trek” is for those with cycling experience and mountain bikes (9-10:30 a.m.). The “Leisure Ride” is better suited for children and those without “off-road friendly” bikes (10:30-11:30 a.m.). Sun block and bug spray are suggested. $5 (includes preserve admission). Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, 1101 Country Club Way S, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7326. 9-11:30 a.m. Saturday.
Going Coastal in a Coral Reef Classroom Learn more about Florida’s “rainforests of the sea,” the coral reef that houses a diversity of animal and plant life. Free. Weedon Island Preserve, 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 453-6500. 1-3 p.m. Saturday.
Great Weedon Bird Quest Learn the identifying marks and behaviors of year-round and seasonal bird residents. Then hit the trails with binoculars and a checklist to help them track their current birds. Recommended for adults only. Free. Weedon Island Preserve, 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 453-6500. 8-10 a.m. Friday.
Saturday Guided Hike at Weedon Island Pull on your grubby sneakers and join a hike through coastal mangroves and upland ecosystems. Bring water and a hat. Recommended for ages 6 and older. Free, but registration is required. Weedon Island Preserve, 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 453-6500. 9 a.m. Saturday.
Weedon Walkabout Learn about the preserve’s early residents on a hike through the coastal environment and upland ecosystems of Weedon Island. Free, but advance registration is required. Weedon Island Preserve, 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 453-6500. 9-11 a.m. Saturday.
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne,
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