Test the Waters: The Cross-Bay Ferry is offering free "Test the Waters" rides for the 50-minute trip across Tampa Bay between downtown St. Petersburg and the Tampa Convention Center from Monday-Wednesday. Rides are first-come, first-served and can't be reserved. See the website for departure times. Regular service starts Saturday with $10 tickets. crossbayferry.com.
Winter Village: The new holiday setting at Tampa's Curtis Hixon Park runs through Dec. 25 with seven popup shops in decorated PODS containers, an ice rink and a cafe. Ice-skating costs $12 for a 90-minute session, including skate rental. Mise en Place's popup cafe offers holiday snacks like roasted chestnuts, festive sweets and a full bar with themed drinks. wintervillagetampa.com.
Thanksgiving Day Races: Choose from a buffet of races to run before you pig out Thursday. The Times Turkey Trot includes a 1 mile, 5k and 10k that begins and ends at Clearwater High School. 7 a.m. $12-$45. tampabay.com/turkeytrot. Tampa's Goody Goody Turkey Gobble is a 5K out-and-back course across the Platt Street Bridge and along Bayshore Boulevard. 7 a.m. kickoff at Amalie Arena. $15-$35. amaliearena.com.
Dolly Parton: The country superstar needs no introduction. In addition to classics and songs from her new album, she'll also play songs that haven't been heard live for decades Saturday at Amalie Arena. $45.75-$125.75. amaliearena.com.
KIDS AND FAMILY
Christmas in the Wild: The animals come out at night Friday-Saturday for Lowry Park Zoo's new holiday party with carolers, costumed characters, performers, a Christmas tree, holiday treats, music and photo opportunities with Santa and his elves. Runs through Dec. 30 and is included with admission, or $21.95 after 4 p.m. on event days. $29.95, $27.95 seniors, $22.95 ages 3-11, 2 and younger free. lowryparkzoo.com.
Christmas Town at Busch Gardens: More than 2 million twinkling lights transform the park into a wonderland with Christmas-themed entertainment. Take photos with Rudolph, Clarence, Yukon Cornelius and Bumble in "Rudolph's Winter Wonderland" and enter Santa's North Pole home. Included with admission, which is $99, $79 for ages 3-9. buschgardens.com.
More to explore
Holiday light displays are popping up around the bay area. Find them at tampabay.com/holiday.