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Free and cheap things to do in the Tampa Bay area: see frogs in a new exhibit, shop for trains

A new exhibit at the Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center stars frogs and toads. Plus, you can visit a state park for free with your library card.
Tree frogs, such as this one, are part of the hands-on Ribbit Exhibit at the Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center at the St. Pete Pier.
Tree frogs, such as this one, are part of the hands-on Ribbit Exhibit at the Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center at the St. Pete Pier. [ Tampa Bay Watch ]
Published Aug. 24|Updated Aug. 24

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:

The Ribbit Exhibit: A new exhibit at the Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center at the St. Pete Pier highlights the state’s native and invasive frog and toad species in thematic displays, with immersive sights and sounds. It includes everything from green tree frogs to barking tree frogs and Southern toads, which are increasingly threatened by invasive species such as Cuban tree frogs and cane toads. The Ribbit Exhibit will educate visitors on the importance of native species, the dangers of invasive ones and how to tell them apart. Additionally, visitors will learn what to do if they stumble upon invasive species outdoors. The marine center is open daily at the St. Pete Pier. Admission is $5, $3 for ages 4-12 and $3 for active military and teachers. 700 Second Ave. NE, St. Petersburg. tbwdiscoverycenter.org.

Tampa Bay Watch's educational Ribbit Exhibit highlights native and invasive frog and toad species in thematic displays, with immersive sights and sounds and educational components.
Tampa Bay Watch's educational Ribbit Exhibit highlights native and invasive frog and toad species in thematic displays, with immersive sights and sounds and educational components. [ Tampa Bay Watch ]

Toy Train Show: For train lovers of all ages, vendors will be selling model trains, and various hobbies, collectibles and die-cast cars at this show and sale. There will also be a running train layout for children to enjoy. It runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Lopez Hall, 7177 58th St. N, Pinellas Park. $5, ages 12 and younger free. 727-244-1341.

Summer Market: A slimmed-down version of the Saturday Morning Market has moved to Williams Park through September. You’ll find vendors, food and refreshments in the shady park. Free. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday at the park. Fourth Street and First Avenue N, St. Petersburg.

Minecraft Mania at MOSI: Every Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m., kids can play Minecraft while learning new skills to become a Minecraft Designer, Adventurer or even Master. While you’re there, stay and play at the science museum, which currently has an animatronic exhibit called Dinosaurs Around the World. The lifelike dinosaurs are there through Sept. 5. The museum is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. $12.95, $10.95 seniors, $7.95 ages 2-12. Parking is free. Museum of Science and Industry, 4801 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. 813-987-6000. mosi.org.

At Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, manatees frolic near the main spring. The Real Florida Reader Day Pass provides free admission to state parks. You can get the pass at your local public library.
At Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, manatees frolic near the main spring. The Real Florida Reader Day Pass provides free admission to state parks. You can get the pass at your local public library. [ JOE BURBANK | Orlando Sentinel ]

Visit a state park: Your library card is all you need for a free pass into Florida’s state parks. The Real Florida Reader Day Pass provides free park admission, and you can get the pass at your local public library. The pass is good for one vehicle, up to eight people, and is valid through Sept. 12. The pass does not include camping or three of the state’s parks: Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife, Skyway Pier and Weeki Wachee Springs state parks. Each library location has an allotted number of passes for checkout by library patrons. Find out more at floridastateparks.org/RealFloridaReader.

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