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Free and cheap things to do in Tampa Bay: free splash pads for kids, $1 Threshers games

Or, take in the melting clocks at the Dali Museum or join a free tour of the Florida Botanical Gardens.
On Thursdays, the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg has half-price admission of $12.50 after 5 p.m.
On Thursdays, the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg has half-price admission of $12.50 after 5 p.m. [ CHRIS URSO | Times (2019) ]
Published Aug. 17|Updated Aug. 18

As we navigate higher prices for everything from school supplies to groceries, the cost of entertaining ourselves has also gone up. Each week we 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 this week:

Surreal Summer Nights: St. Petersburg’s Dalí Museum knows something about melting clocks in this summer heat. On Thursdays, they have half-price admission of $12.50 after 5 p.m. This Thursday, there’s a bonus: an evening with a live DJ performance. Sip on a signature surreal cocktail from Café Gala and then cool down as you peruse the permanent collection at a comfortable 72 degrees. 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday. 1 Dalí Blvd. (Bayshore Drive at Fifth Avenue SE), St. Petersburg. 727-823-3767. thedali.org.

Dali Clock ornament, $12.95.
Dali Clock ornament, $12.95. [ Courtesy of the Dali Museum ]

Cool off: Now that our days are scorchers, the best solution is to just get wet. Luckily, the Tampa Bay area has many spraygrounds, public pools and splash zones that are free, or nearly so. The St. Pete Pier has a fun splash pad located near the St. Petersburg Museum of History and Spa Beach, which both front Second Avenue NE. Tampa’s riverfront parks, Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park, 1001 North Blvd., and WaterWorks Park on the Riverwalk come with fun splash pads, joining the sprayground of dancing fountains at Curtis Hixon Park just down the river. The terrific sprayground at Del Holmes Park in St. Petersburg is open until Sept. 30 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily at 2741 22nd St. S.

Kids can cool down at the splash pad at the St. Pete Pier.
Kids can cool down at the splash pad at the St. Pete Pier. [ ANGELICA EDWARDS | Times ]

Readers Theater: Sun City Center’s Pelican Players Community Theater is offering a free double-header Thursday that will be presented in a radio show-style they call “Readers Theater.” Guests are welcome to bring snacks and drinks to the theater as they watch “The Cure” and “The Whistler: Urge to Kill.” Free. Doors open at 6 p.m., curtain at 6:30 at Kings Point Veterans Theater, 1900 Clubhouse Drive, Sun City Center. 813-634-9229. pelicanplayersscc.org.

Florida Botanical Gardens: If you need inspiration for your garden, take a free tour of one of the best botanical displays in the area. Enjoy a pleasant walk through 150 acres of the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo. It has formal gardens, scenic landscapes and native habitats. This week there will be an orchid auction on Saturday. You will find award-winning plants from members of the Florida West Coast Orchid Society who will auction off their plants and orchid products. Doors open for a preview at 9 a.m. The auction starts at 9:45 Saturday. The gardens are open daily from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. 12520 Ulmerton Road, Largo. 727-550-7993. pinellascounty.org/flbg.

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This boardwalk runs through a natural habitat in the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo.
This boardwalk runs through a natural habitat in the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo. [ SUSAN TAYLOR MARTIN | Times ]

Clearwater Threshers: The minor league baseball team and its stadium are a lot of fun. They offer a price break on “$1 Tuesdays” when they open the gates early at 5:30 p.m. for $1 hot dogs, 16-ounce fountain sodas and 12-ounce domestic drafts, as well as peanuts, popcorn and other concession goodies. There are also $1 berm tickets available for walk-up at the box office. BayCare Ballpark, 601 N Old Coachman Road, Clearwater. 727-712-4300. milb.com/clearwater.

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