Free and cheap things to do with the kids this week
We are in the soggy, sweaty midst of summer, luckily we've got some free and cheap ways to cool off, take teens to a beach part or make home-made ice cream with a park ranger. These are just some of the budget-friendly diversions in this week's list of free and cheap things to do with your kids:
Sitting outside in humid Florida to watch a movie can be sweaty and buggy this time of year. Luckily there are three “dive-in movies” to choose from this week so you can soak in the pool while you watch. Friday at 8 p.m. is Surf’s Up, a perfect title for the Dive-In Movie at St. Pete Beach Aquatic Center, where they charge $4 to play in the pool and watch the animated movie at 7701 Boca Ciega Drive. It’s Flicks and Fins and The Smurfs at the Seminole Recreation Center, 9100 113th St. N on Friday at 7 p.m. Bring an inflatable to relax and $4, $3 child, for non-members. At Largo’s huge Southwest Recreation Complex and Pool they will have themed games for Friday night’s feature Zookeeper, plus free hot dogs, contests and crafts. It opens at 7:30 p.m. and the movie starts about 9 at 13120 Vonn Road, Largo. Price: $5, $4 resident.
There’s a free Teen Beach Bash today (Thursday) on Treasure Island for grades 6 to 12 with live music, rock climbing, water slides, a bungee bounce, water wars and more. It’s free from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Treasure Island Municipal Beach, 11260 Gulf Blvd.
The weekly Park Ranger Program at Tampa’s Lettuce Lake Park is always a nice way to see the wonders there with an educational talk. But this week’s program has special appeal since it’s called “Let’s Make Home Made Ice Cream and Eat It.” Yes, let’s do. It’s $5 per child, adults with children free, or for adult only it’s $5 (cash only). Lettuce Lake Park is at 6920 E Fletcher Ave., Tampa. The program is at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
On Mondays in July at the Hope Thrift Store in Clearwater, parents get a break while shopping. During Story Time at the Thrift Store, parents can shop in peace while their child is watched over and entertained by store staff reading them a children’s story. The store is at 2881 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd., Clearwater.
The Azalea Community Fresh Market is an experiment to see if the west side of St. Petersburg can support a fresh market as enthusiastically as downtown. The new Azalea Community Fresh Market opens Saturday with vendors, fresh produce, activities for kids, arts and crafts, music and a variety of food venders. It runs 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Azalea Recreation Center, 1600 72nd St. N, St. Petersburg.
Here are a few things you probably won’t see during a Tropicana Field ballpark tour.
• Rays manager Joe Maddon’s hidden wine cellar. (Rumor has it it’s beneath second base.)
• The secret recipe for Kayem’s official Rays Dogs. (They’re made with love; that’s all you need to know)
• Raymond’s private locker room. (With all that fake blue hair, there’s a fire risk.)
What you will see, however, is the Rays’ dugout, press box, Touch Tank, RaysVision control room, the Hitters Hall of Fame and more. The 90-minute tours are Tuesday and Wednesday at 10 a.m. $9, $8 ages 65 and older, $7 ages 3-14, 2 and younger free. Call (727) 825-3162 to make reservations.
Be honest: It’s always more fun to see a classic movie on the big screen than it is at home while you sit half-comatose on the couch. And this weekend, you have an interesting choice from 1971. The pure childhood, candy-coated fun of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory Those Oompa Loompas certainly induced some nightmares but Willy Wonka happily maintains its G rating. Plus, it’s free on Friday at 8 p.m. at Tampa’s Curtis Hixon Park. (How much you end up spending on candy at the convenience store after the movie is another matter.)
Trivia time: The flower-shaped cup that Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) drinks from and then eats was actually made from wax. As soon as the scene ended, Wilder spat it out.
Dress up your dog in their best sports gear and bring them out for Yappy Hour at the Baseball Game, a happy hour drink at Frenchy’s Tiki Bar with a biggest pet sports fan contest and a pet food drive to benefit the Humane Society of Pinellas. $5-$9.50 humans, $5 dogs. Bright House Field, 601 N Old Coachman Road, Clearwater. (727) 467-4457. 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Edgewater Park and the streets of downtown Dunedin come alive with the Dunedin Orange Festival, an old-fashioned town festival including a green market, the “Orange Stroll-About” walking parade, dunk tank, a family fun zone, a mojo cook-off competition, the Miss Dunedin Orange Queen Pageant and live entertainment by the City Pipe and Drum Band, Shiloh Baptist Church gospel choir and other area entertainers. A $10 tasting ticket includes all participating restaurants. Edgewater Park, 51 Main St., Dunedin. (727) 736-5825. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.
Area Regal Cinema Theaters are having a Summer Movie Express where they will show select G- and PG-rated movies for $1 every Tuesday and Wednesday throughout the summer. This week features the Adventures of Tin Tin (Tuesday) and Puss in Boots (Wednesday). Movie schedules may vary by location. Check individual theaters for information. $1. Park Place Stadium 16, 7200 U.S. 19 North, Pinellas Park and also Largo Mall 8 and Citrus Park 20. 10 a.m. Tuesday-Wednesday.
Bring blankets, low lawn chairs or towels to plop on Clearwater Beach for Sunset Cinema at Pier 60 and watch free movies. Friday features the PG-rated film Dolphin Tale, starring Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd and Harry Connick Jr. Saturday features the PG-13 rated film Captain America. Pier 60, 10 Pier 60 Drive, Clearwater Beach. (727) 434-6060. Shows start at dusk.
Other family friendly events this week:
Teddy Bear Picnic
Take your teddy bear on an adventure to the zoo, with bear education sessions and furry fun and games with Radio Disney from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday. $23.95, $21.95 seniors, $18.95 ages 3-11, 2 and younger free. Lowry Park Zoo, 1101 W Sligh Ave., Tampa. (813) 935-8552.
Breakfast with Dali for Families
Monthly docent-led tours introduce Salvador Dali’s work to families with children. The interactive tour highlights Dali paintings and other works that appeal to children. A Spanish-themed breakfast buffet and hands-on activities follow. $21, $10 ages 6-12; $10, $5 ages 6-12 members. Dali Museum, One Dali Blvd. (Bayshore Drive SE and Fifth Avenue SE), St. Petersburg. Call (727) 823-3767 for reservations. 9:30-11:30 a.m. Saturday.
Discovery Days Great Escapes
Children ages 6 to 12 can explore nature on this literary escape into the gardens including games and a special story. This portion features Holes, by Louis Sacchar. $10, $55 six classes. Bok Tower Gardens, 1151 Tower Blvd., Lake Wales. (863) 676-1408. 10 a.m.-noon Wednesday.
Activities at Glazer Museum
A themed event I Love H2O starts Monday featuring educational activities about the importance of water and includes a song and dance about the water cycle. Today through Sunday is Happy Birthday USA, with paper quilt making and cooking activities. Included with admission, $15, $12.50 military/seniors, $9.50 children, under 1 free. Glazer Children’s Museum, 110 W Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa. (813) 443-3861. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
The library brings out boxes of Legos for kids to use their imaginations and explore creativity while developing social skills through interaction with other kids. Free. St. Petersburg South Branch Library, 2300 Roy Hanna Drive S, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7244. 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Light Up the Night: Storytime Series
Children ages 3 and older can put on their pajamas and bring a flashlight, pillow and blanket for a story time with activities focusing on night time animals, bedtime silliness, stars and space travel. Free. Palm Harbor Library, 2330 Nebraska Ave., Palm Harbor. (727) 784-3332. 7 p.m. today.
Miniature Train Rides
Kids can 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.
Children will learn how early homesteaders, fishermen and sailors lived and worked through songs, games, a take-home toy-making project and other hands-on activities. This is a teen volunteer docent lead two-hour program. $3. Heritage Village, 11909 125th St., Largo. (727) 582-2125. 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Wednesday.
Saturday Sunsets on the Trail
Vendors line 1 mile of the beachfront trail with street performers, water slides and various inflatables for the kids. This week features live music by Calamity Jane (1-4 p.m.) and Paul Anthony (5-8:30 p.m.). Free. Bilmar Beach Resort, 10650 Gulf Blvd., Treasure Island. (727) 547-4575. 1-9 p.m. Saturday.
Youth Shuffleboard League and Family Night
Every Tuesday through July 24, teens and tweens break into age-appropriate shuffleboard league play. Meanwhile families and younger kids can also play on the courts. Ice cream will be served each week. $3, members free. Mirror Lake St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club, 559 Mirror Lake Drive N, St. Petersburg. (727) 822-2083. 6:30-9 p.m. Tuesday.
Patriotic Family Fun Day
There will be a bike and pet parade, relay races and games, barbecue food, hand-cranked ice cream and activities for all ages. Free park admission. Dade Battlefield Historic State Park, 7200 County Road 603, Bushnell. (352) 793-4781. 4-8 p.m. Friday.
Red, White and Zoo Week
In honor of Independence Day, members of the military and up to three direct dependents are invited to visit the zoo for free through Saturday. Free admission applies to active duty military, reservists or members of the Guard with a valid military ID and up to three direct dependents. $23.95, $21.95 seniors, $18.95 ages 3-11, 2 and younger free. Lowry Park Zoo, 1101 W Sligh Ave., Tampa. (813) 935-8552. 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. today-Saturday.
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne
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