Got visitors in town and kids about to drive you up the wall? If you are itching to get out the of the house on Christmas Day, there are a few places you can go besides the movies.
Tampa's Downtown on Ice: Even in balmy Florida, you can get in the holiday spirit by skating on an outdoor rink in the park. Each 90-minute session includes skate rental for $10. The rink is open Christmas Eve 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. and Christmas Day 4-10 p.m. at Curtis Hixon Park, 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa.
MOSI: Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry will open its galleries from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Christmas Day and the first IMAX film will start at noon, and the last IMAX show ( Hunger Games: Catching Fire) is at 7 p.m. Admission is $21.95, $17.95 ages 2-12, $19.95 seniors. The museum is at 4801 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. (813) 987-6000.
Get outside: Stroll along Tampa's Riverwalk Park near the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Cruise past the Convention Center then wind your way around toward Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and take in the views along the Hillsborough River (this is about a mile in length, so wear comfortable shoes). Another nice walk is the St. Petersburg downtown, with its series of waterfront parks and banyon trees that are just about the best climbing trees ever.
Christmas Day at the Gardens: The Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales will celebrate Christmas Day with a tour of the Holiday Homes of Pinewood Estates and "Sounds of the Season" carillon concerts at 1 and 3 p.m. Regular daily admission applies. For the Gardens and Pinewood Estate, tickets are $16 for adults, $8 for children (5-12); gardens only, $10 and $3. Bok Tower Gardens, 1151 Tower Blvd., Lake Wales. (863) 676-1408. Open noon-5 p.m. Christmas Day.
Mote Marine: The Sarasota Bay aquarium is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week, 365 days a year, including all holidays. It's a great way to explore the secrets of the sea through touch pools, viewable-working labs and high-tech interactive exhibits that showcase the research of Mote Marine Laboratory scientists. See sharks, manatees and sea turtles, along with more than 100 other species of marine life. Admission is $19.75 for age 13 and older, seniors $18.75, kids age 4-12 $14.75, age 3 and under free. The aquarium is located at 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway , a few minutes from downtown Sarasota by way of the Ringling Causeway, and one mile north of St. Armands Circle.
Busch Gardens: Like most theme parks, the Tampa park is open every day and on Christmas will be open 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Insiders say that day and Christmas Eve are two of the least crowded times to go on what is typically a very busy week.
Hunt for Florida snowmen: Or better yet, make one of your own. The beaches of Tampa Bay, especially the stretch of sand between the snack bar and the Don CeSar at Pass-a-Grille, have several sand people this time of year, ranging from tiny 2-footers to some that are life-sized and carved out of the sand. Be sure to bring a camera to document. They'd make a perfect Christmas card from Florida next year.
Outside the Dali: The Dali Museum is closed Christmas Day but it's still a cool place to visit because the garden outside has a wonderful maze for kids to play in. There are patches of places where you can sit and visit or take photos in the Avant Gardens. Plus, there is a great and little-used kids park across the street at Albert Whitted Airport that has lots of business christmas card greetings themes. Even better, it's all free at Bayshore Drive SE and Fifth Avenue SE in downtown St. Petersburg.
Go fish: The Sunshine Skyway fishing piers are open 365 days a year and are rich with fins around the old bridge, which has been turned into fishing piers on the north and south sides. There are snack bars and picnic areas open every day of the year, 24 hours a day. You don't need a fishing license because they have a pier fishing license that covers all of their guests. Rod rentals are $8 a day with deposit and they'll even loan you a bucket. Pier admission is $4 per car, plus $4 per adult, $2 for children 6 to 11, 5 and under free. Or you can pay a $3 "sightseeing fee" to go there at sunset. skywaypiers.com.
Sink a mini putt: Take advantage of the beautiful weather and hit a miniature golf course. Smuggler's Cove locations in Indian Shores and Madeira Beach are open from noon to 11 p.m. Christmas Day. And to make a special Florida memory, they have real live alligators that you can feed. Give them your email address and they'll send you a coupon for money off a round. smugglersgolf.com.
What's open: Things to do on Christmas Day 12/19/13