1. Manatee Viewing Center: Got relatives in town for the holidays? Nothing impresses Northerners more than a herd of manatees lolling about (yes, the sea cows are collectively called a herd). TECO's Manatee Viewing Center is once again open to the public to see the gentle lugs congregate in the warmer waters near the Big Bend power station. The center is closed Thanksgiving Day but otherwise open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Best of all, it's free at 6990 Dickman Road in Apollo Beach. See tampaelectric.com/manatee for live webcams.
2. Art on the House: If you've got relatives in town, Friday is a good time to take advantage of the Tampa Museum of Art's free perk. You can check out its current exhibition of the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, one of the leading photographers of the 20th century, or its visiting exhibit of artifacts of the ancient Mediterranean world. The museum's permanent collection includes 20th century fine art, as well as Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities. It's normally $10 admission, but it's free each Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. at the museum in Curtis Hixon Park, 120 Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa.
3. Gem, Jewelry and Bead Show: Shop for gems, jewelry, crystals, minerals and beads for sale Friday through Sunday at the Coliseum from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Exhibits will feature a variety of jewelry, handcrafted beadwork, raw crystals and dichroic, or two-color, glass. Admission is $4 (good all three days) with kids under 16 admitted free at the Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N, St. Petersburg.
4. Extended Guided Hike: Take a brisk 2.8- to 4-mile walk on the longer trails of the Brooker Creek Preserve in Tarpon Springs. Water, hat and closed-toe shoes recommended. This may be challenging for children under 12. It runs 9 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday and it's free, but registration required at (727) 453-6800. The preserve is at 3940 Keystone Road, Tarpon Springs.
5. Grow! Gulfport has a special "green Saturday" lineup to salute the produce of our planet. It features a fruit and nut tree sale, expert advice on tree stewardship, community food table and a screening of Anthony Masterson's film Grow!, a documentary about the new generation of sustainable farmers. It starts at 4 p.m. Saturday on the grounds of the Catherine Hickman Theatre, 5501 27th Ave. S, Gulfport. $5.
Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Times staff writer