BRANDON — The Christmas toys are a day old. The house is still packed with visitors. And the kids are saying they're bored. Looking for a way to keep your parental sanity during this winter break without breaking the bank? Check out these close-to-home ideas for keeping the family busy while school is out.
Activities: under $20, ages 5 and up
The Ruskin Drive-In: Surprise them with a Friday or Saturday night trip to the Ruskin Drive-In at 5011 U.S. 41 N., Ruskin. Now until Jan. 1, starting at 7:30 p.m., they'll be playing The Tale of Despereaux, rated G, and Delgo, rated PG. The box office opens at 7 p.m. Admission is $5 per person. Children ages 5 to 8 are $1 per child; kids under 4 get in free with their own parents. Call (813) 645-1455 or go to www.ruskinfamilydrivein.com.
A day at the park: Load up the car with a picnic basket or barbecue, a digital camera and visit Aldermans Ford Park, 100 Aldermans Ford Park Drive, Lithia, This scenic park includes two branches of the Alafia River. Several picnic areas are connected by a pedestrian/bicycle loop path, and there's a boardwalk and foot bridges. Or try Edward Medard Park, 5737 Turkey Creek Road, Plant City. This park has trails and a boardwalk that leads to an observation tower on a small island within the reservoir.
Let the kids take turns photographing wildlife for a scrap-booking session later.
Pajama rides: Just after you tuck the kids into bed, make a grand re-entrance and announce a pajama ride. Load the kids into the car with a thermos of hot chocolate and a good Christmas CD, and take a ride to enjoy holiday lights.
Family day at the Skateland of Brandon: A family of four can skate for $10. Holiday skate times started Dec. 22. Skateland of Brandon, 750 Robertson St., Brandon. Call 681-3635 or visit skatelandofbrandon.com.
For older kids
Rock Band or Guitar Hero day: These are the kinds of video games that even parents can't stop playing. You can spend a whole evening battling it out with family members to see who gets the highest score. Take turns playing the drums or guitar. Make smoothies or milkshakes and break out the video camera and record these hilarious moments.
Camps for kids 5 and up
Tech Playzone camps: Winter Technology Camp offers rotating sessions in Web design, Lego robotics, electronics, computer programming, video game creation and more. 13208 Boyette Road, Riverview. Call (813) 453-7329 or visit www.techplayzone.com.
Learn to cook: Young Chef's Academy, 1576 Bloomingdale Ave., Valrico. Offers a mini-camp ($125) full of recipes this Monday through Wednesday. For more information, call 642-7025 or visit www.youngchefsacademy.com/brandon.
Ostinger's Baseball Camp: A winter camp featuring drills and instruction runs Monday through Wednesday. There's also a three-day pitcher-catcher camp for high school players. 8711 Lithia-Pinecrest Road, Lithia. Call 737-3000 or visit www.ostingbaseball.com.