Need some ideas for summer fun?
As regular readers know, one of our more popular features here on the Whoa, Momma! blog is the weekly list of Free and Cheap Things do With Your Kids. So when TampaBay.com started its new feature consumer-oriented feature Here's the Deal, they turned to us for advice on bargain ways to entertain the kids this summer. You can read about it here. For us, it was like a Hall of Fame from our regular cheap and list, but still remarkable to see how long the list is. There really are some great attractions around here that don't cost much. Among our favorites:
• Friday Night Shuffle at the Mirror Lake Park Shuffleboard Complex in downtown St. Petersburg is an all-time favorite recommendation. The huge complex is owned by the city, so the clubhouse, its board games and pool tables, its shuffleboard courts and space for bocce ball, lawn bowling, horseshoes and croquet are all free to use every Friday from 7 to 11 p.m., weather permitting. Friendly volunteers can guide newcomers. Pack a cooler with snacks and drinks and make it family game night at 559 Mirror Lake Drive N.
• The next $5 Day at the Lowry Park Zoo is July 24, but be warned that deal days draw big crowds. We made the mistake of going midday and had to park a good half-mile away. And once inside, expect your kids to ask for a $3 train ride or $2 to feed biscuits to a giraffe. Our advice: Go early and set a budget.
Splash parks and spraygrounds dot the landscape. Among our favorites, all of them free, are:
• Dell Holmes Park, 2741 22nd St. S in St. Petersburg, sits along the shores of Lake Maggiore and is impeccably maintained with shady picnic areas and a splash pad loaded with nifty features like motion sensors so that kids set off the water features. There are also floor jets and misters and half rings that shoot jets into the center of the splash pad.
• Cypress Forest Park in Oldsmar has a 1,500-square-foot sprayground with all manner of shooting and cascading water.
• Kiwanis Sprayground near Highlander Pool, 1937 Ed Eckert Drive in Dunedin, has water cannons, floor jets, a slide and a big yellow bucket that fills up, tips over, and drenches those who stand under it from 9 a.m. to sunset every day.
• Kate Jackson Park, 821 S Rome Ave. in Tampa, is a beautiful park nestled in the heart of historic Hyde Park, with lots of playground equipment, picnic benches and shade trees. Kids especially enjoy running through the fountain, which shoots up water from the ground.
• Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park has two interactive fountains, one on the east side of the park along Ashley Drive and the Mist Fountain on the west side the park along the Riverwalk.
• WaterPlay at Zephyr Park, 38116 Fifth Ave. in Zephyrhills, has cool fountain jets, soaker cannons, falling buckets of water and arches shooting water. The 34-acre sprayground is in downtown Zephyrhills and is the site of the Alice Hall Community Center.
For regular money-saving ideas, bookmark the Here's the Deal site ( and look for a Deal feature every Monday on 1B of the St. Petersburg Times) and for daily updates of coupons and deals "like" the Here's the Deal Tampa Bay Facebook page.
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne
Follow us on Twitter @WhoaMomma