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Free Things to Do with Kids

Sometimes it feels that you may be at your wit’s end trying to keep the kids occupied.

Or, if you’re a grandparent, you’d love to spend more time with the grandkids, but the purse may not match your plans.

Good news! There are plenty of things to do for free (or nearly free) with kids in Clearwater. And who doesn’t like free stuff?

Enjoy a Sunset Performance

The Sunsets of Pier 60 is a year-round, nightly sunset celebration at Pier 60 Park which begins two hours before until two hours after sunset, weather permitting, 365 days per year. The daily festival promotes Clearwater Beach as a prime tourism destination. This free, family-friendly event features artisans and street performers who incorporate their acts around the actions of those watching the show. On any given night, you may see a variety of acts including fire breathers, escape artists, magicians, stilt walkers, painted-metallic living statues or more. While no tickets are sold, the audience decides the worth of the performance and can throw a tip into a hat.

On Friday and Saturday evenings, a free family-friendly film plays under the stars at the Sunset Cinema.

For even more entertainment, check out the Sunset Cinema – an outdoor movie theater under the stars. The Sunset Cinema is great for family outings, date nights or family get-togethers. Bring a blanket or low lawn chair to watch popular movies. Concession food and popcorn are available as well. For an upcoming movie schedule, click Here.

Check Out Books…and More

Clearwater has five, yes five, libraries – all of them unique in their own way. Libraries just ain’t for books anymore!

  • Main
  • East Community
  • North Greenwood
  • Countryside
  • Beach

The Clearwater libraries offer all sorts of activities for free – art classes or computers with cool online programs such as National Geographic Kids, FunBrain, Seussville and games (some of which will actually teach something!)

The Main Library provides free meals for kids and teens this summer, so they can take a break and munch on food.

The Discovery Studio stations give school-aged children the opportunity to play and experiment by focusing on science, technology and engineering, art, and math. There are many gadgets, games, and crafts to tinker with and enjoy.

Kids can also check out games, puzzles, art kits, bike locks, ukulele kits and more to take home.

Each library has a bookstore (I recently discovered great kids’ books for .10 (TEN CENTS!) at the North Greenwood branch.)

Clubs such as Crafty Kids Camp, Mission SpaceCRAFT, Family Drum Circle, Chess, a YA book club, needle arts, Pokemon league, MOSI Star Lab, Saturday Slime* provide even more free fun.

(*Bonus: so they don’t have to do this at home!)

In addition, the Pinellas Public Library Cooperative partners with nearby area museums to offer free family admission to the following museums: Florida Holocaust Museum, Great Explorations Children’s Museum, Henry B. Plant Museum, Imagine Museum, Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts.

And oh yeah, you can get books there too!

Fun in the Sun

We don’t have the #1 Beach in America for three years straight for nothing! Clearwater Beach is second to none with its powdery white sand. The beach serves up a great way to get some Vitamin D (but use the sunscreen!), get creative with sandcastles and build those leg muscles by running in the sand and swimming. You may even get lucky and see some cool marine life. Dolphins frequently chase those boats, so keep your eyes on the boat wakes – the waves behind the boats. I once saw some large shapes in the water. Okay, I freaked out and scrambled as fast as I could toward shore, but they turned out to be manta rays, harmless creatures that can be quite curious about people. So grab those blankets and coolers and get out and experience the best that our city has to offer.

Become One with Nature

If you’re like me, you’re tired of kids playing constantly on video or computer games, their own (!!!) cell phones, or plopped in front of the TV. Exercise and fresh air are imperative to keep the mind and body healthy.

Clearwater has 110 parks for people to enjoy. ONE HUNDRED TEN! That’s a ton of parks. Being outside in nature also has the added bonus of relaxing the mind and calming the spirit – which can be huge for an over-stressed, exhausted parent.

Playgrounds

Parks = Playgrounds. Okay, not ALL of the parks have them, but man, they can be a God-send for frazzled parents. Kids do get revved up and need to release that pent-up energy. In a playground, just turn ‘em loose and let ‘em go, and an hour later – Voila! All that intensity has been used up and they’ll sleep like babies.

Have a Blast!

Blast Friday is a free food and craft festival featuring a live concert from local and national touring artists on the Tampa Bay Times Cleveland Street Stage. Food trucks and vendors serve a wide variety of specialty food and beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages for purchase. Concert goers can bring their own lawn chairs to watch the concert. A variety of other activities are located in the 600 block of Cleveland Street.

Hit the Lanes

Free bowling? C’mon, really? Yup, at KidsBowlFree.com you can find participating alleys where you can roll those gutter balls to your heart’s content. In Clearwater, Maples Lanes Countryside participates in this program. Registered kids receive two free games of bowling each day of the KBF program all summer long, a value of over $500 per child.

Scavenge for Treasures

Go on the world’s largest treasure hunt using Geocaching.com. With more than two million geocaching sites worldwide, you and your kids can find hidden treasures in their own communities. All they need is a phone or GPS. It’s all about the thrill of the hunt!

Go Wild

Take a peaceful and refreshing walk under oaks, across ponds and creeks and watch for an array of wildlife including gopher turtles, raccoons and many birds at Moccasin Lake Nature Park, a 51-acre nature preserve with trails and boardwalks. There’s even a small waterfall and butterfly garden. Several injured birds of prey make their home at the rehabilitation center where knowledgeable staff provides information about what you can see.

Having fun doesn’t mean spending a fortune!

Kelly Kelly
the authorKelly Kelly

5 Comments

  • I love that you included geocaching on your list. My family loves geocaching. We find caches at home as well as when we travel. Also, I never knew there was a turtle called a gopher turtle. I learned something new. Thanks.

  • Such a great list! I love taking the kids to the library, especially in the summer. Last week, we happened to be there right during a STEAM activity! We definitely need to visit Clearwater on our next trip to Florida.

  • Great article! We live on the east coast of Florida but love going to Clearwater. I took my daughter there for a mother-daughter getaway weekend once when she was a teenager and she loved it. She still talks about the beach there and PIer 60. She now has two daughters of her own and I look forward to them being old enough to take on a weekend adventure. Thanks for sharing the suggestions on free activities. I hadn’t thought about the library. I’ll have to see if the one we have here has any good programs for the older granddaughter (two years old).

  • Thanks for sharing. I live in Tampa and try to go to Sand Key Beach at least once to watch the sunset. So beautiful!

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