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Things to do with kids around Tampa Bay over winter break

With kids out of school for another week, here are some ways to entertain them.
Snow Days have returned to the Florida Aquarium. The snow play area set up in the week after Christmas is included with admission. New this year, kids can launch snowballs off the Aquarium’s TECO Deck.
Snow Days have returned to the Florida Aquarium. The snow play area set up in the week after Christmas is included with admission. New this year, kids can launch snowballs off the Aquarium’s TECO Deck. [ The Florida Aquarium ]
Published Dec. 27, 2021|Updated Dec. 28, 2021

Christmas is over, now what? We still have a week to go before kids head back to school (including Monday off for students in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Hernando public schools). If you are running out of ways to entertain the darlings, we have some ideas, including snow play and ice skating for kids who never get to play in the cold stuff, and some ways to sneak in some history and art appreciation.

For Snow Days at the Aquarium, the Florida Aquarium puts about 65 tons of ice through a wood chipper to create snow for kids to play in.
For Snow Days at the Aquarium, the Florida Aquarium puts about 65 tons of ice through a wood chipper to create snow for kids to play in. [ Tampa Bay Times (2015) ]

Snow Days have returned to the Florida Aquarium. For the past seven years, the Tampa aquarium has added a snow play area in the week after Christmas, included with admission. New this year, kids can launch snowballs off the Aquarium’s TECO Deck at snow monsters on the Wharf. They can also navigate through a brand-new Snow Maze at the Sea Star Pavilion while snow falls from above. Be sure to wear gloves and closed-toed shoes to keep warm. The snow play area is open 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m. now through Friday and 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission starts at $33.95, $28.95 for kids at flaquarium.org. 701 Channelside Drive, Tampa.

You can slide down the Snowy Slopes attraction at Snowcat Ridge alpine snow park, which is open through March in Dade City.
You can slide down the Snowy Slopes attraction at Snowcat Ridge alpine snow park, which is open through March in Dade City. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

Snowcat Ridge, the Dade City arctic park, has an ice rink, a giant igloo where you can play with snow, tube slides and hot chocolate by the fire. Tickets are $26.95-$39.95, depending on the day, and skate rental is $9.95. You can save $5 buying tickets in advance at snowcatridge.com. 27839 St. Joe Road, Dade City. 813-576-1450.

Clyde Butcher's "Moonrise," a silver gelatin fiber-based photograph from 1986, is on display in "America's Everglades" at the Clearwater Main Library through May 21.
Clyde Butcher's "Moonrise," a silver gelatin fiber-based photograph from 1986, is on display in "America's Everglades" at the Clearwater Main Library through May 21. [ CLYDE BUTCHER | Courtesy of Clyde Butcher’s Venice Gallery & Studio ]

Clyde Butcher Exhibition: The world-famous landscape photographer has been called Florida’s Ansel Adams for his dramatic large black-and-white photos of the Everglades. You can see a free exhibit at the Clearwater Main Library through May 31. There are 35 large-format photos, a video and Butcher’s 8-by-10-foot camera on display. Free. The library will be closed Friday and Saturday in observance of the New Year’s holiday. Current hours resume on Sunday. The library is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily, noon-5 p.m. Sunday. 100 N Osceola Ave., Clearwater. 727-562-4970.

Florida Artists Hall of Fame photographer Clyde Butcher, 79, visited the Clearwater Main Library last month to kick off his America’s Everglades exhibit at the library.
Florida Artists Hall of Fame photographer Clyde Butcher, 79, visited the Clearwater Main Library last month to kick off his America’s Everglades exhibit at the library. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
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Outback Bowl Parade: Friday brings a parade in Ybor City with 15 high school bands and the marching bands from Penn State and Arkansas, whose teams will face off in the bowl game the next day at Raymond James Stadium. Numerous floats and units will travel down Seventh Avenue from 20th Street to 14th Street, where the college bands and cheerleaders will participate in a pep rally. The parade starts at 5:30 p.m. Friday in downtown Ybor City. Free.

Riverwalk Holiday Hunt: This mobile-based scavenger hunt along the Tampa Riverwalk lets you explore downtown Tampa while solving puzzles, completing holiday challenges and answering historical Tampa trivia. Download the Mobile Adventures app and scan the QR code found at thetampariverwalk.com or use the code: 427961469795. Make sure to tag #RWHolidayHunt to be featured in the Riverwalk social media pages. The free game is available through Sunday.

Ice skating has returned to  Curtis Hixon Park’s Winter Village in Tampa, running daily through Jan. 2.
Ice skating has returned to Curtis Hixon Park’s Winter Village in Tampa, running daily through Jan. 2. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

Ice skating: There are several temporary ice rinks set up for the holiday season, including Winter Beach, downtown St. Petersburg’s 4,000-square-foot skating rink set up at Spa Beach at the entrance of the St. Pete Pier. Skating is open 11 a.m.-11 p.m. daily this week, and Friday brings a special midnight skating session with a front-row seat for the city’s fireworks. You can reserve a skating time and buy tickets ($17) at winterbeachstpete.com/ice-skating. Over in downtown Tampa, the Winter Village has shops and decorations, and for a 10th year there’s an ice-skating rink with a view of the river. A new paperless ticket system allows you to reserve a time and buy skate rental tickets for $17 at wintervillagetampa.com. And the Postcard Inn on St. Pete Beach has Skate By the Ocean, where they have turned their courtyard into an ice rink. It is open 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday through Jan. 3. It’s $15 for one hour of skating, which includes skate rental. Advance purchase recommended at postcardinn.com/calendar/ice-skate. 6300 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach. 727-367-2711.

The first weekend in January each year brings a reenactment at the Dade Battlefield Historic State Park. Actors dressed as Seminole tribe members and period soldiers fire guns and a cannon as narrators describe the action.
The first weekend in January each year brings a reenactment at the Dade Battlefield Historic State Park. Actors dressed as Seminole tribe members and period soldiers fire guns and a cannon as narrators describe the action. [ ANDY JONES | Times (2016) ]

Dade Battle Reenactment: Each year, the first weekend in January is set aside to re-create the Dec. 28, 1835, Seminole attack on Maj. Francis Dade’s men, who were marching from Fort Brooke (present-day Tampa) to Fort King (present-day Ocala). Historians and reenactors bring history to life with period soldier, Seminole and civilian camps, a vendor trade fair, historic arts and crafts demonstrations, full-scale cannon firing, plus 19th-century games and activities for children. Admission is $5, age 5 and younger free. Parking is $3. 9 a.m-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Dade Battlefield Historic State Park, 7200 County Road 603, Bushnell. 352-793-4781. dadebattlefield.com.

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