Activities shine in the shade of indoors


The Florida Museum's Butterfly Rainforest features daily butterfly releases at 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, and hourly from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, weather permitting.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer/file
Published: Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 7, 2013 at 11:53 a.m.

Florida takes its Sunshine State title seriously, but in this city, you don't always know what you're going to get. From blazing temperatures to torrential downpours, Gainesville's unpredictable weather keeps residents guessing — but that doesn't mean the fun has to stop.

The area has no shortage of indoor activities, events and seasonal deals offered during the summertime. Whether you want to stay active or knock down a few pins at a local bowling center, put away the stay-at-home mentality and see what fun away from the sun the city has to offer.

Toddlers, adults and seniors can enjoy the various activities described below, and certain experiences are perfect for the whole family. The Harn Museum of Art, for example, has some upcoming interactive events designed to have everyone dancing or crafting together.

Megan Pugh, the Harn's marketing and public relations coordinator, says there is something for everybody to participate in. Such Harn events as tonight's Museum Nights and Family Day on Aug. 24, for example, offer activities that appeal to all ages.

“There's lots of stuff to do with kids, and it's a great introduction for newcomers and to UF and Gainesville,” she said about the Harn's summertime events.

Bowling:

This popular American pastime never gets old, and Gainesville has a few venues for you to join in the fun of the classic, timeless game. And when you get tired of bowling strikes, grab some pizza and beer or play pool and an arcade game while you wait for your next turn.

Alley Gatorz Bowling Center, 2606 NE Waldo Road

Specials: Groupon deals, starting from $17.49, include bowling with shoe rental, nachos and soda for two or four; 99 cent games per person after 5 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

Info: 371-2695

AMF Alley Katz Lanes, 3705 SW 42nd Ave.

Specials: $69 AMF Fun Pack includes two hours of bowling with soda and popcorn for up to six people; call to ask about the Kids Bowl Free program offered. Hours: 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. Mondays, 3 p.m. to midnight Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to midnight Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to noon Fridays, 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays

Info: 373-3833

Splitz, 1301 NW 76th Blvd.

Specials: $9 all-you-can-bowl 5 to 10 p.m. Mondays, kids eat free (with adult meal purchase), BOGO bowling and laser tag Tuesdays and Ladies Night (women bowl free with paid guys all you can bowl) Fridays

Weekly Events: Trivia Tuesdays, Karaoke and Hospitality Night Wednesday and Texas Hold 'Em Tuesdays and Thursdays

Hours: Noon to 2 a.m. Mondays to Fridays, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturdays and noon to 11 p.m. Sundays

Info: 332-2695 and bowlsplitz.com

Note: After 10 p.m., bowling is for ages 16 and older.

Reitz Union Game Room, J. Wayne Reitz Union

Hours: Opens at noon everyday, closes at midnight Mondays to Thursdays, 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 11 p.m. Sundays

Specials: Kids under 15 can enjoy two free games every day until Aug. 18 when registered at kidsbowlfree.com/reitz; come in on Thursdays, Saturdays and Gator Nights from 10 p.m. to midnight for Extreme Bowling with blacklights and strobes

Laser tag

Rather than chasing a cold breeze outside, run after friends and foes in an out-of-this-world experience in the dark. It's like a cross between tag and hide-and-go-seek, but better with beams of light in a race against time.

Splitz, 1301 NW 76th Blvd.

Rates: Individual games for $6, make party/group reservations at bowlsplitz.com/group-events/group-reservations

Info: 332-2695 and bowlsplitz.com

Skating

At this action-packed venue, have more fun than just a few circles around the skating rink. Try your hand at golf, go-carts, roller hockey, rock climbing and other activities.

Skate Station Funworks, 1311 NW 76th Blvd.

Specials: Discounted prices for the rest of August include $6 Tremendous Tuesdays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., $3 Wacky Wednesdays from noon to 9 p.m. and $11 Totally Terrific Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Libraries

Whoever said libraries aren't all fun and games hasn't been to the Alachua County libraries lately. To see what events are happening at the different branches, go to http://aclib.us. The event calendar posts daily activities, such as crafts, tea parties, résumé building workshops and exercise, for all ages and times.

Millhopper Branch Library, 3145 NW 43rd St.

Activities include: 7 p.m. Kick N' Core Mondays, 3:30 p.m. Wii Fun Tuesdays, 5:30 p.m. yoga Wednesdays and 10:30 a.m. story time Thursdays

Info: 334-1272

Alachua Branch, 14913 NW 140th St., Alachua

Activities include: 6 p.m. Zumba and 4 p.m. Yu-Gi-Oh Club on Mondays, 3 p.m. Lego Club and 6 p.m. pilates Wednesdays and 11 a.m. preschool story time Thursdays

Info: 386-462-2592

Headquarters, 401 E. University Ave.

Activities include: One-on-one computer assistance for adults on various days, 4 p.m. Movie For Kids Mondays, 6 p.m. Zumba Tuesdays, 5:30 p.m. yoga Thursdays, films (at different times) on Fridays and 10:30 a.m. art classes Saturdays

Info: 334-3900

Library Partnership, 1130 NE 16th Ave.

Activities include: 10 a.m. Film Fest on Mondays, 9:30 a.m. preschool story time and 3:30 p.m. beading (for both children and adults on alternating weeks) Tuesdays and book clubs Thursdays

Info: 334-0165

Movie theaters

Watching your favorite actors on the big screen is a good way to relax at any time of the year, but with summer flicks as hot as the sun, there is no better time to head over to the theaters.

Regal Cinemas operates two multiplexes with a total of 30 screens showing the latest from Hollywood, but Gainesville filmgoers also can catch independent and foreign films five days a week at the Hipp Cinema (which is typically closed Mondays and Tuesdays).

And a number of speciality film festivals offer a variety of movies depending on the season. The annual Latino Film Festival, for instance, returns Sept. 12 with screenings of eight films through Oct. 13 in the Harn Museum's Chandler Auditorium. For more information, see ww.latinawomensleague.org.

Regal Gainesville Cinema Stadium 14, 3101 SW 35th Blvd.

Info: 336-0408

Regal Royal Park Stadium 16, 3702 W. University Ave.

Info: 373-4277

Museums

School may be out of session, but learning doesn't have to be. Before classes start again, take advantage of your free time by visiting one of the community's museums. With art and nature, education can be entertaining.

Harn Museum, 3259 Hull Road

Every second Thursday of the month, the Harn Museum of Art organizes a free event with food and entertainment. Tonight's edition of Museum Nights event celebrates the “Much Ado About Portraits” exhibit by featuring a caricature artist, a concert by R. Mutt Blues Band and more.

“This particular museum night is very eclectic,” says Pugh, the museum's marketing and public relations coordinator.

Later this month, the whole family can enjoy a day of cultural activities, dance performances and a tour of the “String of Pearls” exhibit to commemorate India's Independence Day.

Upcoming Events: Museum Night: Facing It! today at 6 p.m., Family Day: String of Pearls Aug. 24, Tot Time and Cosmopolitan: Envisioning Global Communities Aug. 27, Story Time Aug. 28

Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday; free admission at all times

Info: 392-9826

Florida Museum of Natural History, 3215 Hull Road

Surf's up, dude. Whether you're a big kahuna in the water yourself or just admire the gnarly sport from afar, the Florida Museum will make waves at the end of this month with two new exhibits, “Surfing Florida: A Photographic History” and “Surf Science: Waves and Wildlife.”

Opening Aug. 31 and running to January, the indoor exhibits, which combine information on how the sport has changed over time with some beach creatures do it too, provide refuge for visitors from the heat outside during these scorching summer months, says Paul Ramey, the museum's assistant director.

The museum is also the home to the Butterfly Rainforest, which offers daily butterfly releases, and a variety of free exhibits.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday to Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

Rates: Permanent exhibits free for all; other exhibits starting at $4.50; surfing exhibits' cover charge will be $4 for adults, $3.50 for seniors for Florida residents, $3 for children under 18 and free for museum members and UF students

Info: 846-2000

Planetarium

When the stars are out, the best place to see them is from inside — inside a planetarium, that is. You can gaze at the craters in the moon, see how many constellations you can identify or catch a special show.

Kika Silva Pla Planetarium at Santa Fe College, 3000 NW 83rd St. Building X-129

Upcoming Shows: Friday — Florida Skies: Summer at 7 p.m. and Music 360: Pink Floyd — Dark Side of the Moon at 9 p.m.; Saturday — Zula Patrol: Under the Weather at 3 p.m., Black Holes at 5 p.m., Meteors! at 7 p.m. and Music 360: U2 at 9 p.m.

Rates: Music 360 shows are $10, all other regular shows are $5 for adults, $4 for children, UF students and seniors, and free for Santa Fe students and children under 3 years old

Info: 395-5000

Indoor playgrounds

In August, kids may want to play on a jungle gym without the jungle-like humidity, so head over to the O2B Kids Supercenter and Sun Country Sports centers, which offer indoor playgrounds.

Sun Country Sports, which offers classes in gymnastics, swimming, rock climbing, martial arts, fencing and art in one location, bills itself as being “at the center of it all.” O2B Kids has similar activities but for general admission, kids can play in the costume area, experiment with science or art, climb a “Big Toy” structure that looks like a giant block of cheese, go down slides and crawl through tunnels. And if your children just want to play for a short time, the Oaks Mall has a playground that can suit those needs at no cost during mall hours. After exploring the swamp-themed soft playground near the Sears entrance, the family can go shopping before heading home.

O2B Kids Supercenter, 6680 W. Newberry Road

General admission: Free play options for activities listed above; visit website for rates on membership, classes and other areas of the center

Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday; 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday

Program calendar class sign up this Saturday.

Info: 332-5500 and o2bkids.com

Sun Country Sports Kid Center — West, 333 SW 140th Terrace, Jonesville; Millhopper, 4010 NW 27th Lane, Gainesville

Hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday; noon to 6 p.m. Sunday

Rates: $9.50 for a day pass for children to access the Kidquest three-story playground and $10 for a day pass for the rock wall; swim classes for infant water acclimation free every Tuesday at 10:30 a.m.

Upcoming events: Family fun night is once a month, including this Friday at 6:30 p.m. for $20 per child (parents are free). The night includes access to the playground, rock wall and other obstacle courses set up for the event.

Info: 331-8773 for West center, 378-8711 for Millhopper center and suncountrysports.com

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