Free and cheap things to do with your kids
Has all the back to school shopping drained your bank account? Here's some free and cheap things to do with your kids during this most wonderful time of the year -- for us.
Stick a freshly sharpened No. 2 pencil in it, summer is done. At least for all the kids heading back to school this week and next. The All About Kids Back to School Bash mixes free swag with education and fun, including free bike helmets and haircuts, samples of healthy lunch box suggestions, bounce houses, a petting zoo, face painting and a character parade. It runs 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Tampa Convention Center, 333 S Franklin St., Tampa. $9, 12 and younger free. (813) 920-7100. See more back-to-school events here.
Since it’s too hot to be outside during the day, enjoy the summer sky instead at the Sci-Fi and Sky Night at the Science Center of Pinellas County. It features the new planetarium show Hubble Vision (6, 6:40, 7:20, 8, 8:40 and 9:20 p.m.), a special guest speaker from NASA will be there at 7 p.m., and then you can lay out a blanket or some chairs to watch the movie ET in the courtyard at 8:30 p.m. See if you can find some extraterrestrials of your own at telescope viewings from 8:30 to 11 p.m. Snack and drinks will be available for purchase. Entry is $3 at the center at 7701 22nd Ave. N, St. Petersburg.
The Bulls come out the gate charging Sunday at the USF Bulls Football Fan Fest. Raymond James Stadium will be awash in green and gold Sunday, with more than a few grown men sporting a helmet with horns escorting women with gold glitter eyeshadow. Meet the football players and coaches, get autographs and pictures with them, and then try your hand at some of the interactive games set up Sunday starting at 1 p.m. Free.
Man your battle stations, a Carrollwood bookstore is getting invaded by Star Wars Stormtroopers Saturday. To promote the release of Dorling Kindersley Star Wars: The Clone Wars Character Encyclopedia, three characters, including the dreaded soldiers who watch Darth Vader’s back. Get character autographs at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Barnes & Noble Carrollwood, 11802 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa.
The Run for the Fallen, an annual memorial run hosted by the Tampa Area Marine Parents Association is a free 5K and 1 mile run/walk in E. G. Simmons Park on Sunday. To date, Florida has lost 264 military men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Tampa group’s goal is a walking or running representative for each of the local fallen soldiers. Registration begins at 8 a.m.; the opening ceremony is at 9 a.m. with the walk/run immediately following. Advanced registration is requested so they can verify participant numbers to reach the goal. Registration and information can be found at www.usmcfamilysupport.org, by calling (813)965-2682. The park is at 2401 19th Ave. NW in Ruskin.
The only thing the Swedish like more than affordable shelving is seafood, so the Ikea Crayfish Party is back. The Tampa Ikea is holding its second annual summer celebration with a smorgasbord of all you can eat Swedish treats, including crayfish, Friday at 6 p.m. at the Ybor store, 1103 N 22nd St. Tickets are $9.99 adults, $2.49 kids. Last seating is at 8 p.m.
As a last blast to summer for some kids, head over to Inkwood Books for free ice cream treats in purple, the color of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth, the fifth book in the popular series that will be out Nov. 9. Bring your camera to take photos of the decorated truck and the Wimpy Kid staff. (You can also get a deal on prepaid orders for the book, naturally.) Free. 4 to 5 p.m. today (Thursday) at 216 S Armenia Ave., Tampa. (813) 253-2638.
One last splash for summer, so bring your noodles, floats and chairs to watch Madagascar while floating in the pool at the dive-in movie at St. Pete Beach's community scenter. $3. Drinks, snacks and glow jewelry will be sold. Friday 8-10 p.m. St. Pete Beach Aquatic Center, 7701 Boca Ciega Drive. (727) 363-9245.
If you aren't tired of them yet, there's a Bandz Swap Party on Satruday at International Plaza. Bring your bands to trade at a party hosted by Bandzmania. You can enter to win door prizes with drawings at 11 a.m. and noon. And if you buy anything at Bandzmania, you get a free cone at Chick-fil-A. The trading is in the Sharp Lounge near Dillard’s. Free. Saturday 10 a.m.-noon. International Plaza and Bay Street, 2223 N West Shore Blvd., Tampa. (813) 342-3790.
The Sunset Cinema @ Pier 60 will have Johnny Depp and his band of pirates for a free movie on the beach. Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach is the perfect setting to watch Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (PG-13) on Friday. On Saturday the film is Miracle. Both nights you can bring your blankets, low lawn chairs or towels to plop on the beach, and concessions will be available. (As always, no alcohol is permitted on the beach.) The shows start around dusk. Free. (727) 434-6060.
Remember, you can always find other date night, family and restaurant ideas on our website, tampabay.com/things-to-do. Go out and have a great weekend.
~ Sharon Kennedy Wynne and Sherry Robinson
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