Polk and Hillsborough County public school students are on spring break this week, and what's a parent to do?
We live within spitting distance to the theme park capitol of the world, but dropping wads of cash at Mickey's place isn't in the cards for many families in this economy.
We feel it too, here at Free & Cheap.
So we rounded up some ways to enjoy spring fever without breaking a sweat (or the bank.)
Art class: Teens ages 13 to 17 are invited each Monday and Wednesday to participate in free art instruction from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Childs Park YMCA in St. Petersburg. (Details: http://tbo.ly/yCVEl5)
Spring Frenzy: Kids in Polk County are invited to participate in open recreation at a selection of centers. The program is free but registration is required. (Details: http://tbo.ly/wJiZeO)
Crafts at Ikea: Tampa's favorite Swedish store has several days of crafts and cooking fun lined up for kids next week. You can choose from several time slots. Includes a free meal and T-shirt. (Details: http://tbo.ly/AjVnC7)
Dino world: Teachers enjoy the time off just like their students. And every day in March teachers with valid ID are admitted free to Dinosaur World. (Details: http://tbo.ly/yDqsfc)
River O'Green Fest: Tampa's mayor will be transforming the Hillsborough River to a vibrant green to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Other activities and entertainment are planned to supplement staring at the water. The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 17 in downtown Tampa at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and is free. (Details: http://tbo.ly/yIM5uS)
Irish Music Fest and Lucky Dog Parade: Bring your dog along to enjoy some traditional Celtic tunes. There's also a scavenger hunt, dancers, pipers, face painting and more. The fest is free and takes place at Central Park in Bradenton on Saturday, March 17 from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Details: ttp://tbo.ly/xnO1PR )
Don't forget about the Bay area parks, which are free and a great way to enjoy this nice weather. Here are some of our recommendations:
Vinoy Park: Located on waterfront property, this park has a beautiful view of The Pier and downtown St. Petersburg. You can bike along the path to North Shore Park or toward the Pier. It includes a playground and access to dip your toes in the bay. It's also within walking distance to several nice outdoor restaurants. (Details: http://tbo.ly/zPGAiR )
Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park: A popular weekend destination for families in downtown Tampa. Located on the banks of the Hillsborough River, it offers a playground (kids line up for a turn on the interactive NEOS 360 Ring), dog run and water play area, so don't forget bathing suits. Handily located next door to the Glazer Children's Museum. (Details:http://tbo.ly/AtMDZF )
Al Lopez Park: With more than 100 acres, this park is nicely shaded and has two paved paths where you can bike or rollerblade. The kids have the option to play at several playgrounds, including one for older kids and another for toddlers and pre-schoolers. Dogs are welcome, too and have their own shaded park. (Details: http://tbo.ly/wjBwFX)
Lettuce Lake Park: With 240 acres of bike and jogging trails, it also is a destination for canoe and kayak enthusiasts. The picnic areas and boardwalks line the low-lying forest and swamp, and include an observation tower overlooking the lake. There is a nominal fee per car to enter the park. (Details: http://tbo.ly/zBWdqB)