Summer's over but cheap thrills are not. We've got a Soggy Doggy Splash Party to close out a Largo pool, a new skate park with free skating through October, a price break and Thunderbug at Dinosaur World and a cool Sci-Fi night of movies and telescope viewing. We've got all that and more in this week's list of free and cheap thigs to do with kids:
Every year Soggy Doggy Day marks the close of the season for the Highland Family Aquatic Center in Largo. With two sessions — one for smaller dogs under 18 inches and a second one for taller dogs — it’s an extremely popular play date for pups. They slosh through the pools, strut through the sprayers and take turns on the frog slide in the wade pool, left You’ll need to provide proof of vaccination and there will be plenty of circus-themed activities and a costume contest. Small dogs swim from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; dogs taller than 18 inches swim from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. No swimming for people, though. $5 per dog; free for owners at the aquatic center, 400 Highland Ave. NE, Largo. (727) 518-3018. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday.
Hillsborough County commissioners will hold a grand opening ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday for Apollo Beach Skate Park, an 11,000 square-foot street plaza-style skate park shaped like a three-pointed star with an elevated center. Grab your skateboard and try it out for free through October. 664 Golf and Sea Blvd. (813) 635-3500.
You can get a price break at Dinosaur World on Saturday during the Tampa Bay Lightning Rolling Thunder. It’s part of a 20-stop tour celebrating the team’s 20th anniversary. Activities include $8 admission if you get there between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., visits with the Thunderbug, giveaways by the Lightning Girls and interactive games. $8. Dinosaur World, 5145 Harvey Tew Road, Plant City. (813) 717-9865.
This isn't free or cheap, but Halloween already? Yep, it’s apparently never too soon to dress up your little boos to collect candy around the Magic Kingdom for Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Halloween has become big business as a separate ticket event, with just about all the theme parks getting in on the scaring action. Disney aims for cheeky gags over gore, so there’s a parade that starts with a finely dressed fellow on a galloping horse — only he has no head. The Disney villains are the stars here with Maleficent, the Queen of Hearts and Captain Hook doing meet and greets. And you’ll end the night with a bag full of candy as you watch a fireworks show with special-effects ghosts flying in the night sky. It’s on Tuesday and Friday nights in September and then picks up more dates in October. $50.95-$69.95. Walt Disney World, 1515 N Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista. (407) 934-7639. 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Spend a day at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve’s open house for its Pinellas Pioneer Settlement. Visitors can see renovations of the buildings, plus there will be crafts, hayrides and kids’ games from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and it's all free. 1101 Country Club Way S, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7326.
Sci-Fi and Sky Night features telescope viewings (8-10 p.m.), planetarium shows (5:30, 6, 7:30, 8 and 8:30) and a science fiction movie (7:30), which this week is Titan A.E., an animated fantasy with the voices of Matt Damon, Bill Pullman and Drew Barrymore. It’s $3 per person Saturday at the Science Center of Pinellas County, 7701 22nd Ave. N, St. Petersburg. Call ahead to reserve a spot. (727) 384-0027.
Turn up the heat with fiery foods, searing sauces, salsas and more at the annual I Like It Hot Festival, with a pepper eating contest (2 p.m. Sat.), amateur hot sauce competition (3 p.m. Sat.), a Hot Hula Hoop competition (1 p.m. Sun.), Lolly Lick-A-Thon (2 p.m. Sun.) and amateur salsa competition (3 p.m. Sun.). There are also pepper plants for sale and live music. It runs 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Minnreg Building, 6340 126th Ave. N, Largo. $5, kids 12 and under free. (727) 423-8433.
At 6 p.m. Friday, check out Houston, We Have Blast Off, an opening reception for four space-themed exhibits at the Dunedin Fine Art Center. There will be live music, refreshments and an artists’ talk. The exhibits have staggered closing dates through Dec. 21. It’s $5, members free, at 1143 Michigan Blvd. (727) 298-3322.
Disc golfers from around the world gather to play two rounds of 18-holes in the
Discraft Ace Race competition. Registration for play is closed, but it’s free to watch at 10 a.m. Saturday at John S. Taylor Park, 1100 Eighth Ave. SW, Largo. (727) 560-8079.
The Soldiers Angels benefit concert and
Remember Our Heroes Field Day is open to the public. Nashville recording artists Logan Mize and
Nashville Star finalist and Navy veteran Jared Ashley will perform. There will be a variety of field day activities for kids and adults, a foam party, mechanical bull, bungee trampoline jumping, and more. It runs 4 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday with the music cranking up at 6 p.m. $15, $10 students/military. University of South Florida Marshall Student Center, 4202 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. (813) 974-3180.
Fisher-Price Play Weekend brings a supersized play area filled with their newest toys for kids ages 5 and younger to try out. Dora the Explorer appears Saturday and the Laugh & Learn Puppy appears Sunday. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday Included with admission. $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.
Bring a folding chair for a rink-side view of a season-ending
Roller Derby Championship. See who will take home the “DRRD-Y Trophy” when the Hot Red Hotties take on the Cat O StrophiX. Donations of canned dog or cat food benefit Pet Pal. 7 p.m. Sunday. $10 advance, $12 at the door. Astro Skate Pinellas Park, 10001 66th St. N, Pinellas Park. (727) 546-0018.
Other family events this week:
Fisher-Price Play Weekend
Fisher-Price brings a supersized play area filled with their newest toys for kids ages 5 and younger to try out. Dora the Explorer makes a special guest appearance Saturday and the Laugh & Learn Puppy makes a special guest appearance Sunday. Included with zoo admission. $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. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
Solar Walk Ribbon Cutting
Pasco County Commissioner Pat Mulieri serves as chairwoman for Investigation Station’s ribbon cutting ceremony of the From the Sun to Pluto exhibit. The exhibit is a one-mile scaled model of the solar system featuring graphic artwork and fun facts. The dedication will take place on the bicycle path near shelter 5. Free. J.B. Starkey Wilderness Park, 10500 Wilderness Park Blvd., New Port Richey. (727) 459-7331. 11 a.m. Saturday.
Discover Nature and Culture with Your Child
Stop by the coastal classroom so children can explore authentic archaeological materials and sift through the past with hands-on aboriginal tools. Free. Weedon Island Preserve, 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 453-6500. 1-3 p.m. Saturday.
Florida 4-H Discovering Nature with Your Child
An Extension naturalist leads your family on a 4-H designed learning adventure to help you understand the wonders of nature. Free (registration required). Brooker Creek Preserve, 3940 Keystone Road, Tarpon Springs. (727) 453-6800. 1-2:30 p.m. Saturday.
Girl Scout Mad Science Celebration
In celebration of the Girl Scouts’ 100th anniversary, join them for a mad science party with liquid nitrogen ice cream, birthday cake and other scientific surprises. $12 (includes museum admission). Glazer Children’s Museum, 110 W Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa. (813) 443-3861. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.
olden Era Fly-In
The Bay City Flyers bring us this air show featuring Golden Era planes from 1919 through 1939. Takes place on Field 52. $3 spectators, $10 pilots. Conners Preserve, 22500 S.R. 52, Land O’Lakes. (727) 669-9012. 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.
Growing Great Minds: Back to School
Get answers to your home schooling questions from representatives of Pasco Hernando Community College, Pasco County Co-op, Florida Virtual School, Pasco Arts Council, Golden Rainbow Ranch and more. Vendors will also be on site selling home school supplies. Free. Gulf Coast Worship Center, 10534 Little Road, New Port Richey. (727) 514-1475. 7 p.m. Friday.
Hispanic Heritage Month at Glazer
Children can celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month by investigating the music, food and people of the Hispanic culture. Included with museum 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. today-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 1-6 p.m. Sunday.
Kid’s Art Fest
It’s all about kids at this festival with a paint-a-car activity, games, food, music and a discussion and autograph session with astronaut Nicole Passonno Stott. Free (donations appreciated). Dunedin Fine Art Center, 1143 Michigan Blvd., Dunedin. (727) 298-3322. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.
Music Makers Workshop
Children can learn about and try all different types of instruments, make an instrument and take it home in a goody bag. Free. Music Showcase, 402 Oakfield Drive, Brandon. (813) 685-5998. 9:30-11 a.m. Saturday.
Organic Gardening for Children
Children ages 8 to 13 can learn the basics of organic gardening, cooking and healthy living. $8, $30 six classes. Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, 1101 Country Club Way S, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7326. 1-2:30 p.m. Sunday.
Parent’s Night Out: Kid’s Night Outside
Go out on a date while kids in grades K-5 are entertained with night hikes, crafts and a campfire with s’mores. $15. Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, 1101 Country Club Way S, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7326. 6-10 p.m. Friday.
Park Ranger Nature Educational Programs
This portion features “Beginners Orienteering: Having Fun With A Compass.” $5 per child, adults with children free, adult only $5 (cash only). Lettuce Lake Park, 6920 E Fletcher Ave., Tampa. (813) 987-6204. 10 a.m. Sunday.
Sunset Cinema at Pier 60
Bring blankets, low lawn chairs or towels to plop on Clearwater Beach and watch free movies. Friday features the PG-rated animated film Pirates! Band of Misfits, starring Hugh Grant, Salma Hayek and Jeremy Piven. Saturday features the PG-13 rated romance The Vow, starring Rachel McAdams, Channing Tatum and Sam Neill. No alcohol. Pier 60, 10 Pier 60 Drive, Clearwater Beach. (727) 434-6060. Shows start at dusk.
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne