Free and cheap things to do with your kids this week
Ah, feel the warmth? It's about darn time. While the beach is one of our favorite free things to do (you can read our beach guide for moms here), we also have some free and cheap happenings around the bay area to keep you busy -- and thawed out.
As if Facebook and Twitter aren't enough, there's also Foursquare, a social networking app which lets you tell folks where you are all the time. Seems a bit excessive to us but with Foursquare comes privileges. And because April 16 is 4/16 or four squared, there are all kinds of deals throughout the Tampa Bay area on Four Square Day. Check to see if you have to "flash an app" to get the deals. We especially like the deal at the Florida Aquarium, where you can get four tickets for $40. With the warm temps, it's a great time to check out Explore A Shore.
Bring a blanket or some chairs to see a free Movie Under the Stars showing of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. It’s a noisy, special effects extravaganza that stars Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox’s tight T-shirts. The movie starts at 8 p.m. Friday at Seminole City Park, 7464 Ridge Road, Seminole. Bring your lawn chairs and blankets. Food available for purchase.
If you love movies and a great deal, the Beach Theatre in St. Pete Beach is rolling back prices to celebrate its 70th anniversary. You can see the Wizard of Oz at 1 and 4 p.m. and His Girl Friday at 7 p.m. on Sunday at the theater, 315 Corey Ave., St. Pete Beach. The movies will each cost 25-cents. There will also be 10-cent popcorn and drinks. Now, that's a great deal.Like the X Games for dogs, the Purina Incredible Dog Challenge puts pooches through their paces. Dogs, owners and pet enthusiasts can compete in and watch dogs race in swimming, agility, flying disc, diving, hurdling and other competitions. It’s 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday, and 11 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Saturday at Spa Beach, 615 Second Ave. NE (at the Pier approach) in St. Petersburg. For more details on this free event, go here.
Speaking of pets, there are plenty of other events going on throughout the bay area to keep the fur flying. Saturday goes straight to the dogs at Fur-Fest, with a doggie mix and mingle, puppy parade, obstacle courses, dog games and a pet fashion show at Safety Harbor City Park, 940 Seventh St. S from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Also on Saturday, Four legs against two may not be fair, but you have the leash at Dog Run Dog, a 5K and 10K for dogs and people on Fort DeSoto Park’s flat areas. The race, designed to promote wellness for dogs and their owners, starts at 8 a.m. and it’s $50 for an adult and dog, $35 adult only, $15 ages 16 and younger with or without a dog at the park, 3500 Pinellas Bayway S. And at Come Bark at My Park, your pooch can get a wash and some grooming at Water Works Park in Tampa. The fund-raising event is from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday.
Feel the texture of a starfish or touch the skin of a shark at MarineQuest, an annual and popular open house at the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute on Saturday. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., fish fans of all ages will get to experience science through more than 60 exhibits and discussions with biologists. There will be both indoor and outdoor activities at the institute, 100 Eighth Ave. SE in St. Petersburg. It's free.
Kicking off what is sure to be a whole week's worth of events to mark Earth Day is the Earth Day Tampa Bay celebration from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday at the Lowry Park Bandshell area, 7350 N Boulevard, Tampa. To mark the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, this event will include exhibits on ways to “go green” from water and energy conservation to green home and garden products, alternative energy and recycling. There also will be demonstrations, arts and crafts, community groups, live music, and children’s activities.The Urban Gypsies will perform at 2 p.m. with guest appearances by 11-year-old eco-rapper Lil Peppi at 11:45 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. Other performances feature Tim Mullally (11 a.m.), Sunset Bridge (noon), Axis Acoustic (1 p.m.) and Bride of Chaotica (3 p.m.)Four-legged family members are also welcome at this event which is presented by the Tampa Bay Sierra Club.
One of our favorite ways to catch the game when the Tampa Bay Rays are out of town is on the giant inflatable screen set up on the beach at the Rays Watch Party behind the Tradewinds on St. Pete Beach. Admission and parking are free and the party gets started at 1:35 p.m. Sunday at the hotel, 5500 Gulf Blvd. But get there early because that big parking lot can fill up fast.
Really, we mean it this time, after two extensions this is finally closing weekend for Cavalia, the beautiful horse show put on by Cirque du Soleil creator Normand Latourelle that features 12 breeds of horses, acrobats, dancers and riders. See it at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Florida State Fairgrounds, I-4 at U.S. 301 N. The final show is 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $44.50 to $189.50, so it is neither free nor cheap but Marty Clear, who reviewed the show for the Times, said it was awfully good. For details, visit Cavalia's Web site or call toll-free 1-866-999-8111.The Grand Central Trolley Hop is great date night fun this Friday (no one under 21 is allowed).
From 4 p.m. to midnight, trolley riders can get shopping discounts from the local pubs and restaurants in downtown St. Pete and the Grand Central District. The “passports” for this adventure are $7 for one or two for $10 at the group's Web site or downtown businesses.
The Doo-Dads are a Kansas City-based rock group that caters to the kid-friendly crowd and they will be playing Saturday at Ella's Americana Folk Art Cafe in Tampa. In addition to the rock songs for tots, tweens and their parents, there also will be face painting, a bounce house and a special menu for kids from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Ella’s, 5119 N Nebraska Ave., Tampa. You pay $5 to hear the band and eat the grub. Call (813) 234-1000 for more details.
If the MacDill Airfest merely whetted your appetite, the Sun n’ Fun International Fly-In and Expo is a meal. Plane-crazy Lakeland hosts a week of fly overs, workshops, exhibits, meet and greets and performances by the USAF Thunderbirds. Jeff Skiles, the first officer on U.S. Airways Flight 1549 that safely landed in the Hudson River, will be at the Museum Forum at 2 p.m. Friday. The festival runs 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday’ 6:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday; and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday at the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport, 3900 Don Emerson Drive, Lakeland. Tickets and passes are $35-$150 general, $30-$95 members. Check online for youth prices. Florida resident/military day specials. Call (863) 644-2431 for more info.
One of our favorite kids books, Click, Clack, Moo is about cows who find an old typewriter and write a letter of protest: “Dear Farmer Brown, The barn is very cold at night. We’d like some electric blankets. Sincerely, The Cows.” Things escalate into a milk strike that ends up being mediated by a duck. The tale has been turned into a moooo-ving new musical about compromise, based on the award-winning book by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin. See it at 1 p.m. Sunday at Ferguson Hall at David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. Tickets start at $8.50. Call (813) 229-7827 for more info.
MOSI has been celebrating the genius of Leonardo da Vinci for a few months but now the museum will celebrate something else da Vinci related: the anniversary of his birth. At da Vinci's Birthday Bash, kids and adults can celebrate the ingenuity and creativity of the artist and inventor who was born April 15, 1452. That would make him 558 years old! Activities include the Ultimate Coaster Challenge, Paper Test Pilot Challenge, Straw Bridge Challenge and the da Vinci Invention Party. The event, which is from noon-5 p.m. Saturday, is free with paid admission. Go to MOSI's Web site or call (813) 987-6000 for more information. The museum is at 4810 E Fowler Ave., Tampa.
Is that enough to keep you busy this weekend? If not, check out all the kid and family friendly events going on in the bay area this weekend. And if you need some date night and dining tips for you and your significant other, go to our new Web site, Things to Do, which gives you the 411 on events throughout the bay area.
-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne and Sherry Robinson