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  1. Life & Culture

Free and cheap things to do in the Tampa Bay area in November

World-class sand sculptures and a world-renowned art collection are free to check out.
At the 2018 Sanding Ovations competition, Carl Jara of Clevaland created a piece that mimics people's constant expressions. He was among several artists from around the world sculpting for the annual sand sculpture event in Treasure Island. This year's event is Nov. 17-20. The sculptures tend to last for weeks afterward.
At the 2018 Sanding Ovations competition, Carl Jara of Clevaland created a piece that mimics people's constant expressions. He was among several artists from around the world sculpting for the annual sand sculpture event in Treasure Island. This year's event is Nov. 17-20. The sculptures tend to last for weeks afterward. [ Tampa Bay Times (2018) ]
Published Nov. 2

As we navigate higher prices for everything from school supplies to groceries, the cost of entertaining ourselves has also gone up. In this space we regularly will take a look at some of the deals to be found and highlight things happening around the Tampa Bay area that won’t break the bank.

Here are some options in November:

Sanding Ovations: Be on the lookout for world champion sand sculptors when they descend on Treasure Island for this annual competition starting the weekend before Thanksgiving. While the weekend itself brings fun things like fireworks on Nov. 19 and live music on the beach Nov. 17-20, the sculptures tend to last for weeks after the competition has ended. It makes for a great outing if you have family visiting for Thanksgiving. You’ll find the sculptures just off the Treasure Island beach access at 10400 Gulf Blvd. sandingovationsmasterscup.com.

Artists created dozens of sand sculptures on the beach in Treasure Island as part of Sanding Ovation in 2021.
Artists created dozens of sand sculptures on the beach in Treasure Island as part of Sanding Ovation in 2021. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times (2021)  ]

Glass blowing: St. Petersburg put itself on the map of the glass art world, first by bringing acclaimed artist Dale Chihuly for an exhibit that later turned into a permanent collection housed in a museumlike gallery of works by the superstar glass artist. And in 2019, the esteemed Glass Art Society held its 48th conference in St. Petersburg, bringing an international community of artists and collectors. At the top of every hour Wednesdays through Sundays, from 1 to 4 p.m., you can see live glass-blowing demonstrations at the Morean Glass Studio. The demonstration is included with admission to the Chihuly Collection, located across the street. Or you can pay $10 to check out resident glass artists creating unique works of art. All of the pieces are for sale in the adjacent glass shop at 714 First Ave. N, St. Petersburg. 727-822-7872.

Edelweis Walker blows into a hot glass shape to form an ornament at the Morean Glass Studio in St. Petersburg in 2014.
Edelweis Walker blows into a hot glass shape to form an ornament at the Morean Glass Studio in St. Petersburg in 2014. [ Times (2014) ]

Fall corn mazes: Only in Florida do you have to put on sunscreen and pack some water bottles to get through a corn maze, but darn it, the calendar says it’s fall and we have corn mazes. Polk City’s Harvest Holler Corn Maze runs through Nov. 13. The farm has family activities including a maze, an animal adventure hayride, a cow barrel train, tire swings, a slide and a miniature golf course. $15, $12 ages 2-12/seniors/military, 1 and younger free Fridays through Sundays at 950 Tavares Road, Polk City. 352-895-8687. harvestholler.com. Sweetfields Farm in Masaryktown has a corn maze and pumpkin patch running through Nov. 6 with mazes, a tree house play area, tumbleweed rollers, jumbo foosball, pitcher pump duck races, crafts, pedal tractors, a harvest barn, pumpkin patch, visits with animals and photo ops. $10.75, 2 and younger free. 117250 Benes Roush Road, Masaryktown. 352-279-0977. sweetfieldsfarm.com.

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The corn maze at Sweetfields Farm near Brooksville runs through Nov. 6.
The corn maze at Sweetfields Farm near Brooksville runs through Nov. 6. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times (2020)  ]

Cuban Pathways: The Tampa Bay History Center recently won a Gold Exhibition Award from the Southeastern Museums Conference for “Cuban Pathways,” its guide through 500 years of Cuban history and its Tampa connections. It is on exhibit until Feb. 11, telling the story through the lenses of individuals whose labor, political crusades and search for refuge illustrate Cuba’s complex history. There is an exhibit tour every Monday and Friday at 1:30 p.m. and every third Saturday at 1:30 p.m. from the Wayne Thomas Gallery on the fourth floor. Tours are included with museum admission. $16.95, students and seniors $14.95, age 6 and younger free. Open daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at 801 Water St., Tampa.

Visitors look at a large mural at the entrance to the Howard Tibbals Learning Center at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota.
Visitors look at a large mural at the entrance to the Howard Tibbals Learning Center at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times (2020)  ]

Free Mondays at Ringling: One of the area’s most glamorous and most Gatsbyesque mansions belonged to the 19th century showman and his wife, John and Mable Ringling, whose home and art collection are available to tour in Sarasota. The man who produced the circus that was billed as the “greatest show on Earth” also had an eye for classic art that is on view at the Ringling Museum. Those elephants and clowns paid for the stone statues, carved gems, Renaissance-era paintings and gold jewelry that reveal the quality and depth of Ringling’s astonishing art collection. Enjoy free admission every Monday to a museum that is home to 21 galleries plus a spacious courtyard filled with sculptures. Open daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota. 941-359-5700. ringling.org.

Visitors wander through the courtyards in between the galleries at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art on the day of its reopening in May of 2020 in Sarasota.
Visitors wander through the courtyards in between the galleries at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art on the day of its reopening in May of 2020 in Sarasota. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times (2020) ]
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