Keep the kids busy, free things to do in the Tampa Bay area for Spring Break

Pinellas, Hillsborough break runs from March 13-17
Posted at 5:04 AM, Mar 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-10 08:02:14-05

Moms and Dad start sweating it out this time of year: It’s Spring Break again, which means a lot of kiddos are at home, bored and bouncing off the couch.

Pinellas and Hillsborough schools are off starting Monday March 13. Pasco, Polk and Manatee follow the week of March 20.

How do you get the family out of the house without spending a fortune at a theme park? Or without everyone getting bored?

Not only do we have you covered with cool ideas, none of them will cost you a nickel.

Let’s start at downtown Tampa’s Curtis Hixon Park and the 2.4-mile Riverwalk. Here you can picnic on the lawn, zip the Frisbee or football around. There are splash fountains, a playground. Bring the bikes and cruise the sun-kissed Riverwalk with that fantastic view of the University of Tampa.

If you head north on the Riverwalk, you’ll come to the path’s epically wet grand finale, Tampa Water Works Park, a splash zone with picnic tables, a rope climb and plenty of bathrooms to change into swimsuits.

Dry off at your local library. YES, THE LIBRARY. I love that place. On either sides of the bay, we are lucky to have some of the best library systems in the state. If your kids wrinkle their nose at this one, just remind them that there are games, long rows of computers and, my favorite, comic books. Catch up on your Marvel and Avengers back-stories before the next batch of movies come out. Go Wolverine!

I live in downtown St. Pete, and its metamorphosis over the years has been nothing short of spectacular. Pack a lunch and take the kids to Vinoy Park. Then ride your bikes along the waterfront to Albert Whitted Park, which has a plane-themed playground and a cool view of the Dali Museum.  

Okay, there’s one more stop: The Beach, the best free playground around.

I bring my daughters to Pass-A-Grille, which is just south of the Don CeSar Hotel on St. Pete Beach. The vibe in PAG is mellow and hip; the sand is soft and the width of the beach is just long enough.

And if parents want to spend a few bucks to reward themselves for a job well-done, the Paradise Grille is a hidden-gem of a beach bar, serving great food and drink, and providing views of the kids playing on the beach.