Local casinos are being dominated by poker tournaments in October and November, and they're always filled with slot machines and other games. But if you're looking to try something different on your next visit, you're in luck.
If you're bringing kids, Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino (901 S. Federal Highway, Hallandale Beach, 954-454-7000, GulfstreamPark.com) has free cartoon-drawing classes 2-3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at its Barker Animation Art Gallery. All supplies are provided. And junior-chef cooking classes are held select Saturdays at its Williams-Sonoma. The cost is $40 for kids aged 5 to 12. Gulfstream even has a bowling alley with two lanes designed for kids.
But the most popular family activities at Gulfstream are free concerts at Champions Plaza. Each week has "International Tuesdays" from 7 to 9:30 p.m., with Benji Rafaeli singing in 10 languages, including English, French, Yiddish and Russian. From 8 to 11 p.m. Saturdays, the plaza features various performers, including Joey Dale Band singing doo-wop on Oct. 22. And from 6 to 9 p.m. Sundays, visitors can encounter the chillaxing jazz of Travis Bridges.
From 5 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31, "[Not So] Spooky Halloween" will provide a kid-friendly DJ, magic shows and trick-or-treating at more than 20 stops throughout the plaza. According to Corin Angel, marketing manager for the Village at Gulfstream Park, more than 1,000 families will participate.
If you're nostalgic for Hollywood icons, visit Seminole Casino Coconut Creek (5550 NW 40th St., 954-977-6700, CasinoCoco.com). Exhibited on the second floor are artistic images of John Wayne, Grace Kelly, Marlon Brando, Coco Chanel, Clint Eastwood, Sophia Loren and Mick Jagger. They were created by Russell Young, an artist whose work has been displayed all over the world. You can buy the images too, with Brando being the most expensive at $29,000.
Most of the local casinos present live acts, ranging from big names such as Toni Braxton (Oct. 26) and Pitbull (Dec. 9) at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino (1 Seminole Way, Hollywood, 800-937-0010, SeminoleHardRockHollywood.com) to your neighbor's classic rock band.
And if you want to try something really different — that is, if you're not a longtime fan from the heydays of the '70s and '80s — watch the entertaining sport of jai alai at the Casino at Dania Beach (301 E. Dania Beach Blvd., 954-920-1511, CasinoDaniaBeach.com). The current season features teams for the first time, so now you can root for Dania Beach, Hollywood or Fort Lauderdale as well as individual players. And, of course, you can wager on them, since the casino is a pari-mutuel.