Free and cheap things to do with your kids
Hang onto your hats, we are now entering the rollercoaster of holiday hooplah where never feel like we have enough time, money or Scotch tape. Here are some cheap ways to get visiting friends and family out of your house after Turkey Day. You might even want to go along.
To celebrate the 85th anniversary of the Renaissance Vinoy Resort and Golf Club, the hotel’s head chef and his baking team have created a giant replica of the hotel in cake. The 150-pound, 6-foot-wide chocolate cake represents the landscape and building of the Vinoy in its original 1925 state and took three months to build. The light brown (surprisingly, not pink) replica is made of pastillage, modeling chocolate, marzipan, fondant and royal icing. See it for free in the hotel’s main lobby — festively decorated for the holidays — now through Jan. 5. The Vinoy is at 501 Fifth Ave. NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 894-1000.
Show ’em how we watch movies in Florida. First, bring blankets, low lawn chairs or towels to plop on Clearwater Beach to watch the sunset. Then take in Christmas with the Kranks (PG) on Friday or see National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (PG-13) on Saturday. Movies start around dusk and concessions will be for sale (no alcohol). All at Pier 60, 10 Pier 60 Drive. Free. (727) 434-6060. Try that in Minnetonka in November.
Nothing delights Northern relatives more than seeing our famous manatees up close. Your best bet is Tampa Electric’s Big Bend Power Station, which is open each year from Nov. 1 to April 15. It features a wooden boardwalk over the water, garden and habitat displays, a snack bar and decks to view the manatees, which are attracted to the plant’s warm water. The center is at 6990 Dickman Road, next to the power plant at the end of Big Bend Road. It’s open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., but closed on Thanksgiving. Admission and parking are free. (813) 228-4289. Click here directions and more, go to tampaelectric.com/manatee.
The 2010 Southern regional champion water ski team will totally flip for its holiday show, the last one of the season. It’s 4 p.m. Saturday at 130 Burbank Road, Oldsmar. (813) 917-8354. tampawaterski.com. Free.
The first 2,500 kids under 12 entering to see the Tampa Bay Lightning come up against the Florida Panthers get a three-ring school binder courtesy of Sweetbay Supermarket on Saturday. Tickets are $10.75 and up at 7:30 p.m. St. Pete Times Forum, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. (813) 301-2500.
Help Toys for Tots and get into Jump!Zone free. Parents get one free children’s admission for each new unwrapped toy they donate. Free. Friday 11 a.m.-3 p.m., 12402 Race Track Road, Tampa. (813) 925-1010.
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