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5 things to do with kids in Tampa Bay this week: July 12-18

Explore our fascination with alligators, drop the kids off for campfires and pioneer-style activities and mermaids swim through the aquarium.
A juvenile alligator shows off its teeth and mouth while it rests along the banks of Lake Maggiore at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve in St. Petersburg. A newly opened exhibit at the Sulphur Springs Museum and Heritage Center in Tampa explores our enduring fascination with the alligator and the alligator’s symbolic role in Florida history.
A juvenile alligator shows off its teeth and mouth while it rests along the banks of Lake Maggiore at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve in St. Petersburg. A newly opened exhibit at the Sulphur Springs Museum and Heritage Center in Tampa explores our enduring fascination with the alligator and the alligator’s symbolic role in Florida history. [ SCOTT KEELER | TAMPA BAY TIMES ]
Published Jul. 12
Updated Jul. 12

1. Alligator: Dragons in Paradise: This potpourri of fact and fantasy at the Sulphur Springs Museum and Heritage Center explores our enduring fascination with the alligator and its symbolic role in Florida history. The newly opened exhibit includes artifacts such as alligator bags, shoes, purses, cast reproductions of alligator and crocodile skulls and a variety of other alligator memorabilia. There is an accompanying lecture series called Wild Florida that includes a talk at 2 p.m. Sunday by former Tampa Bay Times environmental reporter Craig Pittman. He’ll discuss his book Cat Tale, which is about the Florida panther, the most remarkable comeback in the history of the Endangered Species Act. Free. The museum is open 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays. 1101 E River Cove St., Tampa. 813-935-9402. sulphurspringsmuseum.org.

2. Pioneer Nights: Drop off your kids ages 6 to 13 for a pioneer-style night of friends, activities, a campfire and s’mores at the Boyd Hill Pioneer Settlement, a living history museum next to Boyd Hill Nature Preserve. $20. 6-10 p.m. Saturday. 2900 31st St. S, St. Petersburg. 727-893-7326.

3. Family Fun Run: Dress up and prepare to get silly with Largo’s series of runs with a special twist to keep them fun. Saturday brings a family 5K and pool party that begins at 8 a.m. $10 for an individual, $20 for the family. Highland Recreation Complex and Family Aquatic Center, 400 Highland Ave. NE, Largo. 727-518-3016. playlargo.com.

4. Breakfast With the Animals: You and your family can chat with zookeepers about what animals eat for breakfast as you enjoy breakfast alongside animals including hippos, giraffes and cheetahs. The breakfast includes pancakes with Nutella, doughnuts, fruit, bagels, coffee and juices. There will also be a fruit-carving demonstration and class, a photo op with a rhino and admission to the zoo for the rest of the day. $110, $85 members. 8-9:30 a.m. Saturday. ZooTampa at Lowry Park, 1101 W Sligh Ave., Tampa. 813-935-8552. zootampa.org.

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium has some new sea creatures, mermaids, now through July 15.
The Clearwater Marine Aquarium has some new sea creatures, mermaids, now through July 15. [ Clearwater Marine Aquarium ]

5. Mermaids at the Aquarium: This is the last week to catch a new kind of sea life at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Through Thursday, mermaids will swim in the newly expanded dolphin complex from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. and 2 to 4 p.m. You can get photos with a mermaid, and there are mermaid glitter tattoos and colored clip-in hair extensions available for purchase and mermaid cupcakes at the cafe. You can also take a swim with mermaids as part of a virtual reality experience. The aquarium has extended hours through July 25, opening at 9 a.m. daily and closing at 7 p.m. Included with admission. $32.95, $26.95 ages 3-12. 249 Windward Passage. Clearwater. cmaquarium.org.

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The Clearwater Marine Aquarium has some new sea creatures -- mermaids -- now through July 15.
The Clearwater Marine Aquarium has some new sea creatures -- mermaids -- now through July 15. [ Clearwater Marine Aquarium ]