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Your summer, on $5 or less

This summer, you have two choices: You can keep complaining about the price of gas, movie tickets, theme parks or doing just about anything fun.

Or you can get out there and take advantage of some of Tampa Bay's best — and cheapest — things to do.

Here's a guide to some of this summer's top events that cost less than $5.

July 20: Lowry Park Zoo Tampa's animal habitat hosts regular $5 admission days, including one on July 20 and another on Sept. 7. On the 20th of June and August you can get two tickets for $20 to celebrate the zoo's 20th anniversary. 1101 W Sligh Ave., Tampa. (813) 935-8552, lowryparkzoo.com

June 14: MOSI SkyWatch Check out the stars when the science museum opens its telescopes to the public. Weather permitting, there are Skywatch nights planned for sunset until 10 p.m. on July 12 and Aug. 9. 4801 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. (813) 987-6100, mosi.com/skywatch.html.

June 20: Rauschenberg: USF USF's Graphicstudio celebrates pop artist Robert Rauschenberg, who died in May, with an exhibit featuring prints, sculptures and photos created at Graphicstudio from 1972 through 1987. The exhibit runs through Aug. 1. The opening reception is free, but you need a $4 parking permit. 7 to 9 p.m. USF Contemporary Art Museum, 4202 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. (813) 974-2849, usfcam.usf.edu.

June 21: Juneteenth The annual celebration of the emancipation of slaves in Texas is celebrated June 21 in St. Pete. You'll see African American dance troupes, storytelling, gospel music and carnival games. Free. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Campbell Park and Community Center, 601 14th St. S, St. Petersburg. juneteenth-stpete.org.

June 21: Dunedin Sketchcrawl It's an innovative concept: A group of artists gathering to walk around Dunedin and sketch what they see. No art experience is necessary. Bring your sketchbooks to downtown Dunedin's Pioneer Park at 9 a.m. for instructions. Free. pencildrawingandhowtodraw.blogspot.com.

June 21: Tampa Bay Storm vs. Los Angeles Avengers Tickets normally start at $10, but bring five cans of food for Metropolitan Ministries, and you'll get a free upper-level pass. St. Pete Times Forum, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. (813) 301-2500, tampabaystorm.com.

June 23: Tampa Yankees vs. Daytona Cubs Donate a canned food item and receive a game ticket for $1. Donations benefit America's Second Harvest of Tampa Bay. Plus, the first 250 fans get a replica Yankees ring. (Admission is normally $3-$6.) One Steinbrenner Dr., Tampa. (813) 875-7753, tampa.yankees.mlb.com.

June 27: Girls Night Out Vino 100 is offering a free night of wine tasting, snack samples and discount fro-yo, facials, massages and hydrotherapy. 4 to 7 p.m., Vino 100, 1038 Bloomingdale Ave., Valrico. (813) 654-8466, vino100brandon.com.

June 28: Main Street Blast! New Port Richey's annual patriotic extravaganza kicks off a week before Independence Day. Enjoy a pet show, Gold's Gym Miss Firecracker contest, beer garden, Eagles and Led Zeppelin tribute bands, fireworks and more. 4 to 11 p.m., Sims Park, downtown New Port Richey. nprmainstreet.com.

June 29: Pickford Sundries One of Tampa Bay's favorite bluegrass groups plays a free show. 4 to 8 p.m., New World Brewery, 1313 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. (813) 248-4969.

July 4: Independence Day The cost of checking out fireworks and celebrations in Tampa, St. Pete and Clearwater? Zip.

July 12: Krux Kickflip Challenge The Skatepark of Tampa is hosting a free day benefitting the Children's Cancer Center with free demos, drinks and food from Chili's, Moe's and Panera Bread. 4215 E Columbus Drive, Tampa. (813) 621-6793, skateparkoftampa.com.

Aug. 2: Family Fun Fishing Day Kids ages 14 and younger can compete for the largest and smallest fish, as well as other categories. If you don't have your own pole, they'll provide you with one. Free. Walsingham Park, 12615 102nd Ave. N, Largo. (727) 549-6142.

June 28: St. Pete Pride One of the country's largest gay pride celebrations begins at 10 a.m., with a promenade, street festival and live music starting at Georgie's Alibi, 3100 Third Ave. N, and winding through historic Kenwood along Central Avenue. Free, though some related parties and events are ticketed. stpetepride.com.

More free fun

• Think like a tourist. At VisitTampaBay.com and FloridasBeach.com, you can print coupons and get a heads-up on deals for dining, entertainment, museums and more. Also Google phrases like Tampa museum free days or Clearwater bike paths for more free fun. Here are a few attractions that are easy on the old wallet.

• St. Pete Shuffle Shuffleboard may sound like an old game, but when the tunes start cranking on the speakers Friday nights, this becomes a great family-friendly event or cheap date night. 7 to 11 p.m. Fridays at the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Courts, 559 Mirror Lake Drive N. (727) 867-7228, stpeteshuffle.com

• Sunsets at Pier 60 Every day is a party starting two hours before sunset with artisans, street performers and live music. There's also beach access, a fishing pier and concessions at 10 Pier 60 Drive, Clearwater Beach. (727) 449-1036. sunsetsatpier60.com.

• SPC Planetarium and Observatory St. Petersburg College offers free shows at 7 and 8:15 p.m. Fridays. (No children under 5.) When the skies are clear, the observatory opens after the second show. Fifth Avenue and 69th Street N, St. Pete. (727) 341-4320.

Your summer, on $5 or less 06/12/08 [Last modified: Sunday, June 15, 2008 12:10am]
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