Free and cheap things to do with kids this week
Fall is in full swing, and so are many of the festivals and family-friendly events to get you of the house without emptying your pocket. We have an only-in-Florida Halloween pool party, dollar day at the county fair, free movies and music in the park and already lots of Halloween treats. Read on for more ideas from this week’s list of things to do with your kids:
Eggs for Halloween? Eh, seems the holidays are a bit scrambled, but what the heck. Kids 12 and younger can hunt for orange and black eggs underwater Saturday at the Egg Haunt at St. Pete Beach Aquatic Center. Then stick around for trick-or-treating on the pool deck and other surprises. It starts at 11 a.m. at 7701 Boca Ciega Drive, St. Pete Beach. $4. (727) 363-9245.
Author Lisa Fleming will be at the Tampa Barnes & Noble to sign her celebrated children’s book Cat and Crow: An Amazing Friendship. A portion of the proceeds from every book benefits St. Francis Society Animal Rescue. Representatives of St. Francis will be on hand with photographs of cats that need homes. They also will answer questions about their organization. It’s free at 1 p.m. Saturday at the bookstore at 11802 N Dale Mabry Highway.
We’re in the middle of the sixth annual St. Pete Beach Concert Series, a family friendly event in Horan Park every Friday in October. The park is adjacent to the St. Pete Beach Community Center at 7701 Boca Ciega Drive. Opening act Frank Cannon will take the stage at 6 p.m. Friday and the Backtrack Blues Band plays at 8. Food, beer, wine and other refreshments are available for purchase and free valet parking is available at the community center.
Wednesday is dollar day at the Hillsborough County Fair, with $1 admission and $1 rides. Admission to this harvest of midway rides, carnival foods, livestock shows and live music is normally $7, $5 for students age 6 through high school, free for 5 and younger. 5-11 p.m. Wednesday. The fair continues through Oct. 21 at the Hillsborough County Fairgrounds, corner of Sydney Washer Road and State Road 60, Brandon. (813) 737-3247.
In our upside-down state, fall is the planting season. Our tomatoes grow from October to May, and our orchids are just now showing off their lovely blooms. You can find those, plus bougainvillea, begonias, African violets, tropical plants, garden accessories, decor and more at the Fall Plant Sale at the USF Botanical Gardens. Check out 60 vendors and plant clubs and even stroll through the scarecrow display from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. $5, free for kids under 12 and members, at 12210 USF Pine Drive, Tampa.
The Farm Fall Festival this weekend offers hayrides, pony rides, a petting zoo, face painting, a pumpkin patch, train rides, games, bonfire, a reptile show and a scarecrow contest. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. $10 children, $8 adults (pumpkin purchase not included). Horse Power for Kids, 8005 Racetrack Road, Tampa. (813) 855-8992.
It's free to browse through the Artists’ Market to find original artwork including wearable art, paintings, prints and more, while supporting local artists and the education mission of the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art. It’s free to roam the market this weekend, and museum admission is also free both days. It’s from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday at the museum, 600 Klosterman Road in Tarpon Springs.
The annual three-day motorcycle extravaganza known as the Cotee River Bike Fest runs through Sunday at Sims Park, 6341 Bank St., New Port Richey, with live music, bike show, Daisy Duke contest, pizza eating contest, a Harley-Davidson drill team show and more. Free. (727) 842-7651.
Looking for a corn maze this month? Head to Bradenton’s Pumpkin Festival and Corn Maze, featuring more than 100 craft booths, live country music, pumpkin games, a pioneer trades village, 7-acre corn maze, hayrides, pony rides, chainsaw sculpting and assorted entertainment. $8, free for 12 and younger; $5 parking; additional charge for corn cannons, corn maze and swamp buggy rides. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Hunsader Farms, 5500 County Road 675, Bradenton. (941) 322-2168. Or visit the Sweetfields Corn Maze, a 5-acre labyrinth made of corn, with a corn cannon and hayride. Water, sunscreen and proper shoes required. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. $8.50, $4.50 ages 3-11, free for 2 and younger. Cash only. Sweetfields Farm, 17250 Benes Roush Road, Masaryktown. (352) 279-0977.
The family-friendly Tampa Bay Veg Fest features vegetarian and vegan foods from local restaurants, live music, eco-friendly exhibits, animal rescue groups and vegetarian cooking demonstrations. Free admission, charge for food/drink. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday. Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park, 601 Old Water St., Tampa. (727) 656-8368.
Young adults ages 13 to 22 share their views on body image and the media, self-esteem and eating disorders at the Proud2Bme Youth Summit on Eating Disorders. Panel moderator will be Carolyn Gregoire, 22-year-old associate editor of HuffPost Teen and author of the expose on Tumblr’s “thinspo” community that promotes anorexia. 1-5 p.m. Saturday. Free (registration required). Takes place in the C.W. Bill Young Hall, Room 206, at the University of South Florida, 4202 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. (212) 575-6200.
Ready to get dirty? The Spartan Challenge includes running through tires, jumping over bales of hay and more on the University of Tampa’s campus to benefit UT scholarships. 8 a.m. Saturday. $25, $30 race day, $5 discount for students/ROTC/active duty military/UT alumni/faculty/staff. University of Tampa Pepin Stadium, 401 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. (813) 257-3644.
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ZooBoo Lowry Park Zoo’s family-friendly Halloween event with haunted houses and trails for older zoo-goers, costumed characters, boo houses and seasonal lights for little ones. Also unlimited zoo rides in the dark. 7-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 7-10 p.m. Sunday and Thursday. $17 adults, $14 children. Lowry Park Zoo, 1101 W Sligh Ave., Tampa. (813) 935-8552.
Haunted Angelus House Situated on 25-acres of land, the PG-13 rated, handicapped accessible haunt features a 40-foot pirate ship, hayrides, a monster midway, a one-mile haunted trail and a haunted cemetery. 6:30 p.m. Friday-Sunday. $12 one haunt, $16 two haunts, $18 three haunts, $25 one night unlimited. The Angelus, 12413 Hudson Ave., Hudson. (727) 364-2868.
Haunted Fire House Wind your way through the 4,000-square-foot Haunted Fire House, with an array of themed rooms. Children under 13 will not be admitted without an adult. 7-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. $5. East Lake Tarpon Fire Station 57, 3375 Tarpon Lake Blvd., Palm Harbor. (727) 784-8668.
Tarpon Springs Haunted Forest A scary van takes those 12 and older to the beginning of the supernatural experience where ghostly inhabitants await you. 6:30-9:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday. $5. North Anclote River Park, 550 Old Dixie Highway, Tarpon Springs. (727) 942-5628.
Halloween Horror Nights On select nights in September and October, Universal Studios is transformed into a labyrinth of haunted houses and scare zones based on the hit show The Walking Dead. Costumes, make-up and masks are NOT allowed. 6:30 p.m. Friday-Sunday and Wednesday-Thursday. $88.99 general admission, but go online for discounts, dates and times: halloweenhorrornights.com. Universal Studios, 1000 Universal Studios Plaza, Orlando.
Howl-O-Scream Busch Gardens’ Halloween celebrates its unlucky 13th year with haunted houses, scare zones, roller coasters in the dark and spooky live shows. 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday. $44.99 advance at participating locations, $79.99 general; go to howloscream.com for more options, dates and times. Busch Gardens, 3605 Bougainvillea Ave., Tampa.
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party Dress up your little boos to collect candy around the Magic Kingdom. There’s also a parade with an appearance by the Headless Horseman and the Happy HalloWishes fireworks show. 7 p.m. Friday, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. $50.95-$69.95. Walt Disney World, 1515 N Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista. (407) 934-7639.
SeaWorld Halloween Spooktacular Kids may dress up and trick-or-treat among friendly sea witches, mermaids, octopus, pumpkin fish and more. Plus, play in an assortment of Halloween and aquarium related activities. All events included with park admission. Noon-8 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. $81.99, $73.99 ages 3-9. SeaWorld, 7007 SeaWorld Drive (Interstate 4, Exit 71), Orlando. 1-800-327-2424.
Brick-or-Treat Features themed treat stations with candy, a scavenger hunt, a Lego pumpkin model activity and costume contests. 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Included with regular admission: $75, $65 seniors and ages 3-12. LEGOLAND Florida, One LEGOLAND Way, Winter Haven. (877) 350-5346.
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Other family friendly events
Children’s Theater Series
How to Eat Like a Child is at 2 p.m. Sunday. Tuesday and Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. features Florida Treasures: A Viva Florida History Exploration. $7, $6 members, $24 family four pack. Carrollwood Cultural Center, 4537 Lowell Road, Tampa. (813) 269-1310.
Florida 4-H Discovering Nature with Your Child
A 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.
Children ages 7 to 11 can enjoy a night of football, kickball, table tennis, foosball, video games and dance parties. First visit free; $6 each following visit. Fossil Park and Willis S. Johns Center, 6635 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7756. 7-10:30 p.m. Friday.
Kids Giving Thanks
Kids are needed to help color about 700 Thanksgiving-themed placemats for Meals on Wheels packages. All volunteers get a gourmet cookie, an applesauce squeeze and a face painting. Free. Silly Dilly Tot Spot, 3217 S MacDill Ave., Tampa. (813) 839-8687. 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Sunday.
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.
National Chess Day
Children can participate in a tournament, play with a giant chess set and get their faces painted with their favorite chess theme. Free. Delphi Academy of Florida, 1831 Drew St., Clearwater. (727) 447-6385. Noon-3 p.m. Saturday.
Parent’s Night Out: Kid’s Night Outside
Mom and Dad can go on a date while kids in grades K-5 are entertained with supervised 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 week’s topic is “Homemade Ice Cream: Make It And Eat It!” $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. and noon Sunday.
Pilots from across the state bring micro and giant scale aircrafts to this all electric fly-in. There will also be a buy, sell, swap vendor area, a play area for kids and concessions available. Spectators free; $25 landing fee. Triple Creek R/C Club, 12705 Balm Boyetterd, Riverview. (813) 390-4062. 8 a.m. Saturday-Sunday.
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne
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