Free and cheap things to do with your family this long Labor Day weekend
After all the rush to get back to school, it's nice to have a long weekend to get a little relaxing in with the family.
Speaking of Labor Day, we have lots of great things for the family to do in this long list of holiday events. You're bound to find something in there to keep you as busy as you want to be.
The fake hamsters known as Zhu-Zhu Pets are on a national Zhu-niverse Tour and bringing a life-size hamster wheel for kids to play on. Families can explore the “Zhu-niverse” in activities that range from grooving with your favorite rodent on the Rock Star Stage, playing in a life-sized hamster habitat or testing game skills in the Nintendo DS Gaming Tent. It’s making two stops in the Tampa Bay area: noon Friday at the Toys “R” Us, 1900 Tyrone Blvd., St. Petersburg, and from 10 a.m. 8 p.m. Saturday at Gulfport’s Gecko Fest. The Zhu-niverse Tour and Gecko Fest are free. If you do head out to the fest, you may want to shop for a few items so you can gush for the geckos.
Instead of whining about the heat, pant for some puppies at the free Dog Days of Summer, a family-friendly event with “Meet the Breeds,” adoptable dogs, vendors, a pet CPR class, a look-alike contest, demos by the Tampa Fire Department Search and Rescue Dogs and War Dogs from MacDill Air Force Base from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. All dogs must be on non-flexible leads. It’s free but parking is $5 at the Florida State Fairgrounds Special Events Center, 4802 N U.S. 301, Tampa.
Saturday's Sunsets on the Trail, the free weekly beach fest, has a special installment of Beach Blanket Bingo for prizes from local merchants from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at Treasure Island Beach Trail Park, 10400 Gulf Blvd. Then musicians and vendors line about a mile of the beachfront trail along with street performers, water slides and various inflatables for the kids. The pop rocker Sunza Beaches play from 5 to 9 p.m.
We have to admit that sometimes even we're a little weary of the movies that you get to see for free. But at Sunset Cinema @ Pier 60 on Friday, you get a real treat. The Oscar-winning animated film Up will be featured. Bring your blankets, beach chairs and towels and find a spot to sit on Clearwater Beach to watch the movie. No alcohol allowed but you can bring a nice picnic. The show starts around dusk. On Saturday, see the Zac Efron film, 17 Again.
If you want to go on a date Saturday, then maybe you could drop the kids off at Lowry Park Zoo for its monthly Parents' Night Out event. From 5:30-11 p.m., kids can enjoy pizza, entertainment and an animal encounter while you go out and enjoy anything that isn't pizza or chicken nuggets. You can even skip the animated movies for once. Now this one is not free but when you consider Saturday night sitting costs it's reasonable: $30 for the first child, $10 for each one or two additional children. Go to the zoo's website and scroll down to sign up (and don't let the week in advance scare you off -- you still have a little time).
For more family-friendly fun, check out our list of events on the Things to Do website.
~ Sharon Kennedy Wynne and Sherry Robinson
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