School’s started, cooler winds are moving in, and the leaves are drying up. If you’re missing the carefree days of summer, you’ve likely already started dreaming of your next family break. For most schools, your next opportunity is going to be Thanksgiving, when the Northeast starts shivering under their blankets and pulling out winter coats.
For this reason, many families choose to vacation on the sunny shores of Florida for Turkey Day. Here at PromosPro we want to help you get a head start on your planning with some great free things to do at different beach locations. Today we’ll look at how to do Tampa on a budget, even with kids in tow. If the white sand beaches and turquoise waters don’t offer enough free entertainment for you, here are four events that will take your vacation to the next level without spending a cent.
1. Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center
Tampa Electric’s Big Bend Power Station strives to provide energy for the community in an environmentally-friendly fashion. So much so, that when they started noticing manatees seeking refuge in their discharge canal, they willingly surrendered it to them. Today, visitors can visit the canal for free, viewing wild manatees in their natural state. Tampa Electric has also set up a free educational center around the manatees, which is particularly interactive for children with puzzles, manatee bones, and a hurricane simulator. (There is a charge for the hurricane simulator.) Outside the educational center is a gorgeous butterfly garden that’s sure to make any child’s day. The only day you may run into closures over the break is Thanksgiving Day itself, but otherwise hours are 10am-5pm daily.
2. Living History at Pinellas County’s Heritage Village
Part museum, part living-history village, Pinellas County’s Heritage Village is an incredible way for families to step back in time. Free, self-guided kids tours start at 10am, and if you’re going over Thanksgiving break the only day they will be open is Wednesday the 25th. On the tour, children will be able to explore gardens, join a sing-a-long at a church, build cattle pens, learn how to tie knots, man their own ship, and more as they take a step back into the local area’s history.
3. Nightly Festivals at Clearwater Beach
Every evening, weather permitting, there is a free festival at Clearwater Beach. It’s called Sunset at Pier 60, and boasts fire breathers, stilt walkers, magicians, and buskers of all kinds. You will also find crafters selling their wares, and sometimes even live bands. Hours are from 6pm to 10pm. You can find more information here.
4. Holiday Lights at the Florida Botanical Gardens
The Florida Botanical Gardens are always free, and always worth a visit, but if you are staying past Friday, you’ll have the incredible opportunity to visit them during their Holiday Lights event. Their gorgeous gardens are dressed to the nines in festive lights. Free entertainment is present nightly, along with visits from Santa Claus himself. Holiday Lights opens on November 27th, and is open from 5:30pm-9:30pm. While there is no formal admission fee, it is requested that those over thirteen years of age make a donation of $4.
Where to Stay
When you’re booking your accommodations, you want to get the best deal possible. Right now, Embassy Suites is offering a slew of deals in their Tampa locations, including 20% off, premium suites from $149, and special discounts for AAA members.