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Frugal Family: Explore the Great Outdoors

Day excursions, fun in the sun, and kayaking on gorgeous rivers...my kind of family adventure, and nature is still free

We're all watching our family budgets these days. Whether shopping with coupons or looking for two-for-one deals, we're taking advantage of all sorts of offers and savings that help us stretch our dollars.

This column is dedicated to giving you five great local deals each week that will help your family’s bottom line, and since we do the scouting for you, you can save time as well as money.

You are a big part of this column. Let us hear about the deals you've seen. Just add them to our comment box.

Today on Frugal Family,  Analyn Megison, a Patch columnist and member of our Moms Council, gives her opinon on best places to enjoy the great outdoors.

There are a lot of great things to do and enjoy here, and all you need is a sense of adventure and creativity for weekend excursions and family fun.  Remember: we live where most people vacation.  Since nature is still free, this is a good time to discover or re-discover Florida outdoors with the whole family.  Dust off the picnic basket, grab your sunblock, and go outdoors in your own backyard. For more of the great outdoors fun listed  below, here are some more ideas.  Make sure you mention that you read this article and tell them “Analyn sent me.”

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park (6131 Commercial Way in Spring Hill) If you want to go exploring outside of New Port Richey, a short day trip down the road can lead you to Weeki Wachee. you can enjoy kayaking fun in the sun on the river or take in one of their famous mermaid shows.

This weekend, my family was very happy with the Kayak Shack at Weeki Wachee at 5414 Darlene St, Weeki Wachee.  All the smiles and laughter at this getaway made it definitely worth the trip and a highlight of the long weekend.  For more information or reservations, call 352-610-4169 and ask for John, the owner.  

A single kayak costs $10, a double kayak costs $15 and a canoe costs $15.  Half-day and full-day rates are also available.  There is also an art gallery on site that features a local artist, enjoy some ice cream, and beautiful clean rest rooms are available on site.  The water is incredibly beautiful, and so clear that you can see your shadow chasing beneath your vessel in the perfectly reflected sunshine while passing cheerful boaters along the way.  There are great swimming spots and rope swings to jump off as well. 

You can bring your picnic basket here, too.  And we did.  Admission to Weeki Wachee Springs is $13 for adults and $5 for children ages 6-12.  Children under 6 get in free. 

Need to keep the admission price down?  You can get your family in for half price and catch their current show of The Little Mermaid if you get there at 2pm or later.  You don’t need fishing poles to catch this one!  The show runs at 2:30pm, so you still get to look around, visit the peacocks, grab a snack or see a little of what’s happening at this incredible state park.  Location is Weeki Wachee Springs State Park 6131 Commercial Way in Spring Hill.  For more information check out their website at www.weekiwachee.com

Tarpon Springs Aquarium, 850 Dodecanese Blvd. in Tarpon Springs  is wonderful educational fun for children as well as parents. It is so close by, but it is still a hidden treasure of the Sponge Docks in Tarpon Springs.  Admission rates are: $7 for seniors, $7.75 for audults, (3-11) $5.75 for children.

Children under the age of 3 get in free.  Go online to their website for an additional discount coupon for admissions.  Also, you can get stamped before the live diver in the tank show (our personal family favorite), alligator feeding and more, or go feed the sharks and stingrays while you wait.  The nice thing is you can leave and come back once you have paid your admission, and it allows for flexibility.

Want to feed the children before the sharks?  Head over to Mykonos restaurant down the street, or pack a picnic and head over to scenic Spring Bayou.

If you want to leave and come back for the shows, St. Nicholas Boat Line is there to take you and your family on a sponge dive with their diver. You can learn about all the traditions and rich history of why this is the sponge diving capital of the world. 

Kayaking outdoor adventures around New Port Richey Ask aound for hourly rates and any specials that may have available.  Keep in mind that most often these are locally owned and operated businesses. They are your local neighbors who enjoy your family’s patronage:

Makai Kayak and Kanoe ( 5323 Main Street, New Port Richey) 727-534-1336.  $25 for two hours and $35 for a half day for a single kayak.  Tandems are $35 and $45.  Overnight rates are available.  Enjoy the beautiful Pithlachoscotee River.  This one even delivers to your location! Ask for the owner, Joan. 

Sands Kayak Rentals in New Port Richey (727-916-0152) You can find out more about their rates by calling them

Club Kayak (north on US 19 one block past Main Street)  

juliehurley February 23, 2011 at 07:35 PM
beutiful springtime adventures for the outdoors of watersports.
Analyn Megison February 23, 2011 at 10:03 PM
Many springtime adventures are ahead, Julie, I agree!
Steven Williams February 23, 2011 at 11:48 PM
Excellent! I'm a ways away; however, the best things in life are free. I take my sons metal detecting in areas, where we can not only enjoy quality time together, but learn about history in regards to the located artifacts. Searching for arrowheads from American Indians from long ago is also a great adventure. Go to plowed ground and wait until after the first rain and go see what you find.
Analyn Megison February 24, 2011 at 04:05 PM
Steven, I agree, the best things in life are free. Thanks for these great ideas!

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