Free and cheap things to do with your kids this week
Anybody else getting burned out by the school grind and counting down the days to summer vacation? I'm not just talking about the kids. While we pine for a slower schedule, here's some free and cheap ways to pass the time with your kids.
As the temperatures start creeping up, hitting the splash pad at Dell Holmes Park in St. Petersburg is a great way to keep the kids cool. The splash zone will reopen for the season at 9 a.m. on Saturday (May 1). This is one of our favorite playgrounds in the bay area. Sitting along the shores of Lake Maggiore in St. Petersburg, at 2741 22nd St.S, it has shade covered picnic areas with grills, a boundless playground, cool equipment and swings. And now we get the splash pad area back for the summer. It's a wet playground of sorts where kids can run around and get cooled off in sprinklers and mists. An in-ground tank holds about 3,000 gallons of chlorinated water that is recirculated through the splash pad. The water is also filtered to prevent germs. Also note that the extremely cool sprayground at Dunedin's Highlander Pool is open all year from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
You wanted more cowbell, people, now we have it. Blue Oyster Cult will have a free show at the Fun ‘n Sun Toyota Rocks the Park concert Saturday featuring the cowbell-whacking rock band and their signature song, (Don’t Fear) The Reaper along with Foghat (Slow Ride) and '80s rocker Eddie Money at Coachman Park, 301 Drew St. Clearwater. The free show starts at 5 p.m. Bring a lawn chair or a blanket. There will be vendors, food and drink concessions and a kids play area. It’s free admission, but $20 will get you a reserved seat through Ticketmaster.
Take the kids to cheer on the Tampa Bay International Dragon Boat Races on Saturday. Held in conjunction with Asia Fest (which is also free at the St. Pete Times Forum) this is a colorful race of dragon-festooned boats with 20 paddlers each skimming across Garrison Channel in Tampa. More than 60 teams from around the country will be on hand for this popular — and hotly contested — race starting at 9 a.m. Saturday and continuing throughout the day. The teams train all year to be able to paddle in synch to move the 42-foot long boats through the 500-meter course for three heats in the Channelside area of downtown Tampa.
Time is running out to see the fabulous white Royal Lipizzan Stallions during their training in Myakka City. After this weekend, the magnificent horses hit the road. It’s free, but donations are appreciated. Get details at the website for the Herrmann Lipizzan Ranch, 32755 Singletary Road in Myakka City.
Introduce your kids to the love of comic books on Free Comic Book Day. There are many participating bay area stores. Fine one by typing your zip code or address into the store locator search box on the Web site. While you’re at it, you might as well pick up a free comic book on Free Comic Book Day on Saturday. This year, comics include tales from Shrek, Toy Story, Iron Man — wait, is this just a way to pump up summer movie attendance? There also are many more comics including Archie, G.I. Joe and Superman. To find one of the many participating bay area stores, go to freecomicbookday.com and type your Zip code into the store locator search box. Can’t wait to get cozy with The Tick.
Sometimes seeing a beach in another city can feel like a quick little getaway. On Saturday head down to Sarasota for the 38th annual Siesta Key Sand Sculpture Contest. See the sand turn into sculptures, castles and turtles at the contest with registration at 8:30 a.m. and the contest at 9 a.m. Sculpting ends at 1 p.m. There will be prizes in categories for children and adults. For more information, call (941) 861-5000.
Now if you're looking for a place to watch the Run for the Roses with friends, check out the fun at the Kentucky Derby Watch Party at Tampa Bay Downs. Mint juleps will be sold throughout the park and big hats are optional. The fun starts at noon with races at the Downs. Then at 6:24 p.m post time, watch the horses take off at Churchill Downs.
The Tampa Bay Rays will face the Kansas City Royals this weekend at Tropicana Field and the team has lots of goodies to give away. On Friday, there is a Big Game James T-shirt giveaway to the first 10,000 fans and fireworks following the game. On Saturday, ZZ Top will play after the game. And on Sunday, the first 10,000 kids ages 14 and younger get a parachuting Carl Crawford doll and then can run the bases after the game. After this weekend, the Rays will be out of town for nearly two weeks heading to the West Coast to take on the Mariners, the As and the Angels. Catch them while they're hot.
Doc Brown, aka Christopher Lloyd will be in town for the Sci-Fi Convention but will show up for a free showing of Back to the Future at Sulphur Springs Park. Part of Tampa Theatre's Sunset Cinema series, the movie starts at 8:15 p.m. Saturday on a 50-foot inflatable screen at River Tower Park, 401 E Bird St., Tampa. The Q&A should start about 10:15 p.m.
If you enjoyed The Joy Luck Club, then head over to the John F. Germany Library in downtown Tampa on Saturday or the Straz Benter for the Performing Arts on Sunday to meet author Amy Tan. She will be in town to help kick off the Big Read of her well-loved novel. She'll be at the library at 4 p.m. Saturday ad at the Straz at 1 p.m. Sunday.
And put this one on your radar: Next Thursday, just in time for Mother's Day, there will be a Moms' Nite Out at Tyrone Square Mall in St. Petersburg. Enjoy food and wine tastings, interactive activities and special discounts and giveaways. The fun begins at 6 p.m. May 6. See you there.
Wow, that is a lot to do this weekend. For more events, check out the best place to find events throughout the bay area and beyond, Things to Do.
-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne and Sherry Robinson
Follow us on Twitter @WhoaMomma