Places to play around the Bay

With a limited supply of cash and extra time on their hands, students who are staying in the Bay area have a hard time finding how to fill their time with fun stuff to do during break. But fear not: There are plenty of inexpensive activities to help speed up the space in between semesters.

The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg will be hosting a new exhibit beginning today called Pollock to Pop: America’s Brush With Dali. The art shows the relationship between post-World War II American Art as well as Dali’s art during that time period, according to There were also changes in society that came with the end of WWII, which are reflected through the abstract expressionism and pop art pieces. The exhibit will run through April 23, 2006. The Web site has a printable $2-off coupon for admission.

If you want to step back in time, the Henry B. Plant Museum at the University of Tampa will begin performing “theatrical, single-character vignettes that bring turn-of-the-century Tampa Bay Hotel staff members and guests to life,” according to the Plant Museum’s Web site. Each character shares his or her perspective on life at the beginning of the 20th century based on research done by the museum. Upstairs/Downstairs at the Tampa Bay Hotel performances begin Jan. 1, 2006, and run through May 2006, with each show on Sunday at 2:00 p.m. The 30-minute show is complimentary with your admission to the museum, which is $5. Reservations are not necessary.

Looking for a musical venue? Check out the exhibit visiting the Florida International Museum in downtown St. Petersburg. The Beatles: Backstage and Behind the Scenes runs through Jan. 7, 2006, and features photographs, memorabilia, film and songs from John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. According to the museum’s Web site, “A replica stage with early Beatles’ guitars and drum set adorns the center of the museum space, and a 1960s-era living room and console television re-create where most average Americans first saw the band.” The exhibit is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. It’s located at 244 Second Ave. N. Cost is $7 for college students and $10 for adults.

Want to visit the theater but avoid the steep ticket costs? Visit the Tampa Theatre in downtown Tampa for a balcony-to-backstage tour. You’ll have everything about the landmark explained by a staff member, such as mythology, history, art and architecture. The tour runs for one and a half hours, and a suggested $5 donation is collected. No reservations are necessary; the next tours are Saturday, Dec. 17 at 11:30 a.m. and Wednesday, Dec. 21 at 11:30 a.m.

Want to feel like you’ve gone somewhere but don’t want to pay airfare? The Chocolate Nutcracker will feature dance from 1950s Harlem, the rhythms of West Africa and the Brazilian Carnivale. Jazz, hip-hop and classical are few musical genres that will be included in the show. The performers are local aspiring artists. Performances are at 7:30 p.m., and ticket prices are between $14.50 and $19.50. Call (727) 791-7400 for more information.

Stuck babysitting young family members? Take your nieces, nephews and cousins to Centro Ybor. Starting on Dec. 26, there will be free daytime entertainment. Fire-eaters, mimes, magicians and more will be at this weeklong event. Events start daily at noon. The event ends with the start of the Outback Bowl parade on New Year’s Eve. The general location of the event is at 8th Avenue and 19th Street in Ybor City. More information can be found at

The Barenaked Ladies are having a New Year’s bash for the second year here in Tampa at the St. Pete Times Forum. The party begins at 8:30 p.m., and Barenaked Ladies perform at 10:00 p.m. Afterward, the band will host the countdown to midnight and watch the ball drop on the Jumbotron. For more information about the party, call (813) 301-6859 or visit

Looking for a free, romantic date? The Friday Night Jazz Series in Old Hyde Park is a good idea. Local artists perform on the third Friday of every month. All events are free to the public. On Dec. 16, the Valerie Gillespie Quartet is performing. Wine will be sold; the proceeds will benefit Lowry Park Zoo. The event is sponsored by Smooth Jazz WSJT 94.1, The Tampa Tribune and ABC Fine Wines and Spirits. For more information, visit or call (813) 251-3500.

Want to go for a drive? Head to Apollo Beach to watch the manatees. When the water temperature drops below 68 degrees, the manatees crowd into the inlet near the power plant for warmth. You can visit the Tampa Electric Co. Manatee Viewing Center any time from now until April 30, 2006. It’s free, and there are volunteers who can provide information about the manatees and their habits. Admission and parking are free; donations are accepted. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m daily, except on Christmas, and Easter. Call (813) 228-4289 for more information.

Another romantic date idea is to take a carriage ride through Hyde Park and view the holiday lights and decorations. Rides are available on Saturday, and Dec. 20 and 22 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. For more information, visit

Even if you can’t afford to leave the Bay area this winter, you can at least experience some local culture. For more event information, go to

All photos Special to the Oracle.