When the announcement came that Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough County School Districts would reopen school only on Monday, Sept. 18, kids erupted in joy. Parents? Not so much. The thought of entertaining stir-crazy little kids (who’ve already been cooped up for five days absorbing their parents’ hurricane tension) for another five days has many parents and caregivers groaning.
Cheer up, grownups. We’ve got your back. As we were lucky enough to avoid massive damage, many area attractions have worked overtime to reopen and some are even offering special deals. So check out the following options for entertaining your little ones over the next few days.
Glazer Children’s Museum opens today, Sept. 13 and for the rest of September, admission is only $7. Kids can romp through the exhibits, practice their STEM skills and just let out some of that nervous energy at this gem at Curtis Hixon Park downtown.
Lowry Park Zoo also opens today and after being sheltered inside riding out the storm, the 1,300-plus animals are ready for company! One-day admission for children starts at $22.95 online. The Zoo School is also open.
Florida Aquarium not only opened yesterday, but till the end of today, is offering a “Tampa Strong Day” with free parking, $10 adult and $5 child admission. Normal hours are expected and the Splash Pad is also open.
Busch Gardens is not only open, it’s even offering Florida Residents a buy one, get one FREE single-day admission to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay deal, now through Sept. 17 (limit six per transaction). Neighboring Adventure Island is operating on a weekend schedule. Orlando partner SeaWorld is offering the same BOGO deal, and Aquatica also opens today.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium opens tomorrow, Sept. 14 with a special $9.99 admission to all Florida residents through Sunday, Sept. 17.
Great Explorations Children’s Museum in St. Pete, though still working on Longo’s Cove, wants to give residents without a power an air conditioned place to bring kids till school opens, so they’ve opened today at a reduced admission rate until further notice. (Please note the treehouse exhibit is still closed).
Florida Center Ice is open in Wesley Chapel and has added extra public skate sessions and more sticks and pucks to the calendar. Ice Sports Forum in Brandon also has opened and has additional public skates and laser tag times. Topgolf in Brandon is also open. Another great place to burn off that energy: AirHeads Trampoline Arena, which is open noon-8 p.m. through Thursday and noon-10 p.m. Friday. United Skates Tampa has $5 admission and numerous additional sessions.
If you’re looking for a quieter way to spend the day, check out an area museum. The Dali Museum opened today and will operate at regular hours and admission (free for 5 and under and $10 for 6-12). Also open today is the Tampa Bay History Center, with regular hours and free parking. Normal admission fees apply, starting at $7.95 for children 4-12. The Tampa Museum of Art opens at 11 a.m. today with normal admission (starting at $5 for students) and the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Pete opens tomorrow, Thursday, with the café back in business Friday. Admission is free for 6 and under, and $10 for kids 7-18.
Heading to an Orlando theme park can easily keep the young ones occupied for hours. All three Universal parks—Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay—are open, and Halloween Horror Nights is expected to kick off Friday as planned. Discovery Cove will reopen Friday, Sept. 15. Guests who have reservations before that need to call 407-513-4600 to reschedule or refund their visit. Disney parks and Disney Springs also have opened back up, with the exception of water parks, and most resorts are operating as normal, other than Fort Wilderness and Saratoga Springs Treehouse Villas.
LEGOLAND Florida Theme Park and LEGOLAND Beach Retreat will open tomorrow, Sep. 14, and the water park will open at a later date.
Another great option for an air-conditioned, peaceful few hours is your local library. The following branches are open today until 6 p.m.: John F. Germany Public Library, Jimmie B Keel Regional Library, North Tampa Branch Library, Maureen B. Gauzza Public Library, Austin Davis Public Library, 78th Street Community Library, SouthShore Regional Library, New Tampa Regional Library, James J. Lunsford Law Library, Brandon Regional Library, and Robert W. Saunders, Sr. Public Library. Visit hcplc.org for information about other branches and openings.