The new Vertical Ventures indoor climbing gym picked a great week to open in St. Petersburg. With stir-crazy kids (and parents), the place has been packed this week with families desperate to find some rainy day fun. But they aren't the only indoor play zone in town.
As you dodge puddles the rest of the rainy season, here are some indoor play areas around Tampa Bay to consider. But a word of advice: Call first to make sure they aren't closed for a summer camp and check if there's a long wait behind other families.
There are the obvious choices, like mall play areas, bowling, ice and roller rinks and the movies. Here are some other ideas:
• Consider the huge trampoline arenas to burn off energy. Most kids are thoroughly worn out within an hour of literally bouncing off the walls. Check out Boing Jump Center, 622-624 Ware Blvd., Tampa, (813) 341-4897. boingjumpcenter.com. Also, Airheads Trampoline Arena, with locations in Carrollwood and Largo, (813) 247-4323. airheadsusa.com.
• Skatepark of Tampa: A good chunk of this well-known skateboard facility is actually indoors, with mini-ramps and street courses for all levels, including its famous bowl. 4215 E Columbus Drive, Tampa. (813) 621-6793.
• Q-Zar arcade has a huge laser tag area, running games every 20 minutes or so at 7807 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. qzartampa.com.
• Escape rooms: Players in groups of 2-8 must work together to find clues, crack codes and solve puzzles to escape the room before time runs out. Two in the area include the Great Escape Room, 300 Madison St., Tampa and the Tampa Bay Escape Room in downtown Clearwater at 625 Cleveland St. Booking is done online for both at tampabayescaperoom.com and thegreatescaperoom.com.
• Xtreme Adventures Family Fun Center near Land O' Lakes is a two-level, 6,000-square-foot center with laser tag, an indoor dodgeball and soccer arena, an arcade, a small bumper car area and a cafe at 24810 State Road 54, Lutz. xtremeadventures4fun.com.
• Vertical Ventures indoor climbing gym now has locations near Tampa International Airport and in St. Petersburg, offering huge walls of man-made rock obstacles. verticalventures.com.
Museums and attractions
Sneak in some culture or educational play at these Tampa Bay favorites.
• Glazer Children's Museum: If you have a Hillsborough County library card, the hands-on children's museum is free this week through Saturday for you and three guests. For the rest of us, the museum is free Tuesday afternoon when the Children's Board of Hillsborough County sponsors free admission from 2 to 7 p.m. at the Glazer Children's Museum, 110 W Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa. $15, $12.50 military/seniors, $9.50 children, younger than 1 free at 110 W Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa. (813) 443-3861. glazermuseum.org.
• Florida Aquarium Channelside, near the Port of Tampa, has more than 20,000 aquatic plants and animals in its various exhibits. There's an outdoor splash play area if the weather ever lets up, but there's plenty inside as well at 701 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $23.95, $20.95 seniors, $18.95 ages 3-12, 2 and younger free. Prices are generally about $2 cheaper if you buy them online. flaquarium.org.
• Tampa Bay History Center currently has a Smithsonian traveling exhibit called Patios, Pools, & the Invention of the American Back Yard running through Aug. 30. Located on the waterfront in Tampa's Channel District, the 60,000-square-foot history center's three floors contain interactive exhibits, theaters, a map gallery, research center, event hall and museum store. $12.95, $10.95 seniors/students with ID, $7.95 ages 4-12, 3 and younger free at 801 Old Water St., Tampa. (813) 228-0097. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily.
• Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) has permanent exhibits on hurricanes and weather, dinosaurs, space, flight, Florida and natural disasters, the human developmental life stages as well as an IMAX Dome Theatre and the Saunders Planetarium. Parking is $4 for nonmembers. $22.95, $20.95 seniors, $18.95 ages 6-12, 5 and younger free. There is separate pricing for IMAX-only admission, and if the weather stays clear for just a little while, check out the zip line ($15 by itself, or $10 with admission) and ropes course ($10, $7 with admission) at 4801 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. mosi.org.
• South Florida Museum: The Bradenton museum has an aquarium, a planetarium with live star talks and an impressive series of displays on the ancient history of Florida at 201 10th St. W, Bradenton, $18, $16 seniors, $14 ages 4-12, 3 and younger free. southfloridamuseum.org.
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