Lowry Park Zoo "Red, White and Zoo Week" and "Summer Safari Night: Teddy Bear Picnic": In honor of Independence Day, members of the military and up to three direct dependents are invited to visit the zoo for free now through July 7. Free admission applies to active duty military, reservists or members of the Guardwith a valid military I.D. and up to three direct dependents. Military members must accompany dependents. Free tickets must be lesser value if more than three dependents in attendance. Grab your teddy bear and bring it to the Zoo's Summer Safari Night, 5-8 p.m. July 7, as the Zoo stays open late with free unlimited rides, special animal encounters, and a Teddy Bear Picnic 5-7 p.m. Extended hours are included with Zoo admission. The zoo is at 1101 W. Sligh Avenue, Tampa. Hours: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, with extended hours on select nights during special events. Call for admission prices. Parking is free. Information: LowryParkZoo.com or 813-935-8552.
Bank of America and Merrill Lynch Extended "Museums on Us" Program: Bank of America and Merrill Lynch continue the celebration of our nation's birthday by offering free museum access as part of its Museums on Us program July 7-8 and every first full weekend of each month. Bank of America and Merrill Lynch cardholders in Tampa and St. Petersburg will receive free access to the Florida Holocaust Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg and Tampa Museum of Art. Photo ID and a valid Bank of America/Merrill Lynch credit or debit card must be presented at the time of visit. One free general admission is limited to each cardholder. For location and hours of participating museums, visit http://museums.bankofamerica.com.
Universal Orlando Summer Concert Series: Universal Studio Florida will host one of the hottest concert series around, featuring a star-studded lineup Saturday evenings through July 17 at the Music Plaza. The concert series include: Lupe Fiasco, July 7; Miranda Cosgrove, July 14, and are included with admission to Universal Studios. For guests who specifically want to enjoy the concerts, an all new-ticket that provides one-time access to Universal Studios after 7 p.m. exclusively for the Summer Concert Series are available on line for $59.99. The Music Plaza is in Universal Orlando, 6000 Universal Blvd., Orlando. Information: 407-224-4233 or visit www.universalorlando.com.
Big Cat Habitat First Responders Free Admission: Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary offers free admission to local law enforcement officers, firefighters and their immediate families to thank them for their service. The sanctuary is now on its summer schedule and offers Sunset Safaris 4:30-7 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday through October. Visitors can have an up-close view of exotic and other animals at the sanctuary with special encounters daily. Admission: $15 adults, $7 children ages 12 and younger. Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary is at 7101 Palmer Blvd., Sarasota. Information: 941-371-6377 or visit www.BigCatHabitat.org.
"Island Nights" at Adventure Island: Adventure Island heats up the summer with a family-friendly sunset celebration 5-9 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays through Aug. 11 during "Island Nights," featuring live music, eclectic entertainment, tropical wildlife and island-inspired cuisine. DJs will rev up the energy with music, dancing and games on the beach, while street performers, including larger-than-life stilt walkers, magicians, jugglers, skilled fire performers and a steel drum band keep the celebration going each event night. Park hours during Island Nights are 9 a.m.-9 p.m. daily and Island Nights activities are included with Adventure Island admission or pass. Adventure Island is at 10001 N. McKinley Drive, Tampa. Information: 813-987-5600 or visit Adventureisland.com.
"Summer Nights" at Busch Gardens: Busch Gardens' "Summer Nights" amps up the excitement through Aug. 12 with extended park hours, special entertainment, high-energy DJs, and the thrill of riding world class coasters in the dark -- including Busch Gardens' new triple-launch coaster, Cheetah Hunt. There will be fireworks nightly; "Let's Get Loud" dance parties, featuring Miami-sound style music, a dance competition, and the award-winning Kinetix show, featuring live musicians, singers, dancers and artists from around the world. Events are held at Gwazi Park and the Desert Grill at Busch Gardens. Park hours for Summer Nights are extended until 9 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays and until 10 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays. Summer Nights is included with a day's paid admission or any annual pass. Call for ticket prices. Busch Gardens is at 10165 N. McKinley Dr., Tampa. Information: 888-800-5447 or visit BuschGardens.com.
Universal Orlando Florida Resident offers: Now through Aug. 31, Florida residents can purchase a two-park annual pass and get three more months to enjoy the excitement and adventure of the theme parks, including Universal's Superstar Parade and Universal's Cinematic Spectacular, and this coming summer's Universal Orlando's brand-new blockbuster attraction, "Despicable Me" Minion Mayhem. This special offer must be purchased and activated by Aug. 31, with select Coca-Cola products or a specially marked cup from participating McDonald's. Universal Orlando is also introducing an all-new summer vacation package exclusively for Florida residents. Starting at $95 per adult, per night, tax inclusive, the package includes 3-night hotel accommodations, 2-day base ticket to Universal Orlando theme parks, one-day admission to Wet 'n' Wild Orlando waterpark, access to live entertainment at Universal City Walk, early park admission and more. Guests can book this vacation now through Aug. 31 for travel through Dec. 20. Universal Orlando is at 6000 Universal Blvd., Orlando Information: 407-224-4233 or visit www.universalorlando.com.
Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament: Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament is inviting guests to travel back to the 11th Century with its new show. While some of the most popular traditions remain such as live jousting, sword fights, horsemanship and falconry, the show offers many new elements and a new story, battle scenes, costumes, new horse dressage, equine presentations by pure Spanish horses, Quarter horses, Friesians and Menorcans, a new musical score and an upgraded menu for the utensil-free meal. Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament is at 3707 Edgewater Dr., Orlando. For a full schedule, hours and ticket prices, call 888-935-6878 or go online at www.medievaltimes.com.
"Mummies of the World" Story telling contest: The "Mummies of the World" exhibit, with its astounding collection of 150 specimens and objects, is the largest exhibit of real human and animal mummies and related artifacts ever assembled. Inside every mummy is a story waiting to be told. Now through Aug. 12 MOSI will be hosting a story telling contest that engages exhibition visitors on a whole new level. Interested participants will be asked to select their favorite mummy and write their own version of the mummy's life story. The contest is open to the public. Entries should be limited to 500 words or less and can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org through Aug. 12. Three winners will be selected by a panel of judges comprised of museum representatives and the exhibition producer based on originality and cultural accuracy. On Aug. 28, the first, second and third place honors will be announced and winners presented with special prize packages during a special awards presentation. The exhibit will be on display through Sept. 3. MOSI, a nonprofit educational institution and the largest science center in the southeastern United States and home of the only IMAX Dome Theater in Florida, is at 4801 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa. Call for admission prices. Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Parking is free. Information: 800-995-MOSI or www.mosi.org.