45 Free and Cheap Things to Do in Tampa Bay

The Tampa Bay Area has plenty of fun things to do, but it also has a ton of free and cheap options. There’s something on this list for everyone whether you’re a local looking to do something new, or vacationing in the Tampa Bay area. Here are 45 cheap and free Tampa Bay Area activities to try. Click any of the numbered titles for a link to that activity.

1. Heritage Village

Heritage Village is at the top of our list of free Tampa Bay things to do. What better way to spend the afternoon than exploring historic buildings from the 18 and 1900s like a general store, train depot and log cabin? The whole experience is free, from guided tours of some houses to a museum with period artifacts, to the parking.

Cost: free (donations welcome)

Read our full Guide to Heritage Village.

2. Florida Botanical Gardens

Right next to Heritage Village is the Florida Botanical Gardens. This is a beautiful garden full of flowers, trees, fountains and more. Its very peaceful and tranquil, and we’ve never found it to be too busy. Best of all it’s completely free, including parking. You won’t even have to move the car if you’re also visiting Heritage Village.

Cost: free

3. Beaches

Grab your beach bag and towel and head to some of the best beaches in the country. Clearwater Beach, Honeymoon Island, Treasure Island Beach, St. Pete Beach, and Pass-a-Grille are some favorites, just to name a few! The beach is completely free is most cases (unless you’re opting to visit a beach park) and the only fee you’ll need to pay is parking. In Pinellas County the hourly parking rate is typically around $2.50 per hour. If you get there early enough and look hard enough, you can also find public beach access with free parking in Treasure Island and Indian Rocks Beach.

Cost: free

Shop My Beach Must-Haves:

This section contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase through these links, at no additional cost to you.

4. Murals Walking Tour

Many of the cities around Tampa Bay have eclectic and artsy downtown areas. Tampa, St. Pete, and Dunedin all have a ton of beautiful murals. Do a little research before heading out to locate specific murals, or just hit the streets and see what you can find! They are around nearly every corner!

The two shown here can be found in St. Pete outside Green Bench Brewing and Bandit Coffee Co., respectively.

Cost: free

5. Curtis Hixon Park

One of the quintessential parks in downtown Tampa. It’s surrounded by beautiful buildings and the Hillsborough River. Stop here after a day spent in Tampa to watch and enjoy the atmosphere. They also host a ton of free events such as movie nights and yoga in the park, so check the event schedule for more info.

Cost: free

6. Manatee Viewing Center

A little bit farther out is this Apollo Beach gem, the Manatee Viewing Center. During November-April, you can see hundreds of manatees gather around the warm water runoff from the TECO power plant. They also have nature trails, an interactive manatee education center, a butterfly garden and more. This is a must-do free Tampa activity if you love manatees!

Cost: free

Read our post about How to See Manatees in Florida.

7. Tampa Riverwalk

This 2.4 mile path next to the Hillsborough River is very popular in Tampa. Head out for a stroll or bike ride and admire the river views and Tampa skyline. There are a ton of different places to stop along the way for dinner, drinks, shopping and more. Keep in mind you may have to pay for parking in downtown, but Riverwalk is a fun and free Tampa activity.

Cost: free

8. Riverwalk Guided Art Tour

Or turn your walk into a scavenger hunt. Take this self guided art walking tour of the Tampa Riverwalk. You’ll see murals, sculptures and bridges.

Cost: free

9. Lettuce Lake Park

This park is one of my favorites in the Tampa Bay Area. Located near USF, the park offers paved and unpaved trails, a boardwalk and an observation tower over the Hillsborough River. Rent a canoe, have a picnic, look for birds and alligators, or let the kids enjoy the playground.

Cost: $2 per vehicle

See more of our Must Visit Tampa Bay Parks.

Shop My Hiking Must-Haves:

10. Ybor City and Museum

Ybor City is full of rich history and a ton of things to see and do. Visit the Columbia, the oldest restaurant in Florida, or look at the beautiful parks and architecture. You can easily find free parking in Ybor during the day. Ybor City Museum State Park is small, but has an informative museum about Tampa’s diverse history and a small garden.

Cost: free, Museum $4 per person

Read our full Guide to Ybor City.

11. TECO Streetcar

Get around Tampa quickly on the TECO Streetcar. The free historic trolley can take you from Ybor City through Downtown Tampa. You’ll save time waiting in traffic, and you’ll save money having to pay for multiple parking lots in Tampa, which can get pricey.

Cost: free

12. Waterworks Park

This free Tampa park will be a favorite for the whole family. It’s located in the heart of downtown on the Tampa Riverwalk, near favorite restaurants like Armature Works and Ulele. it features lots of green space, a dog park, picnic areas and a splash pad for the kids.

Cost: free

13. Sparkman Wharf

A popular stop in downtown Tampa, Sparkman Wharf is Tampa’s latest foodie concept. Eclectic food, drinks and a biergarten make it one of Tampa’s hippest hangouts. Even if you don’t order a meal, you can spend time with friends in the vast park right on the water. You’ll also find the big pink TAMPA sign next to the wharf.

Cost: free

14. Fourth Friday

Fourth Friday in Tampa is an opportunity to enjoy free and discounted admission to some of Tampa’s museums and cultural venues. Some of these include: Henry Plant Museum, Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, Tampa Museum of Art, and Tampa Bay History Museum. This is a great chance to check out some of the museums at a lower cost. Check the website for updated schedules and participating venues.

Cost: varies

15. Fresh Market at Hyde Park Village

On the first Sunday of each month, enjoy a huge market in Hyde Park Village. Shop for locally-made products, fresh produce, and tasty treats. Or simply enjoy the atmosphere and people watching.

Cost: free

16. Florida Orange Groves Winery

Located in St. Petersburg, Florida Orange Groves Winery is an iconic stop for unique wines. They offer free tours and tastings daily. Any fruit you can think of, they have probably made a wine out of it from kiwi to key lime.

Cost: free, wine prices vary

17. Geocaching

If you haven’t heard of geocaching, it’s basically a huge worldwide treasure hunt! Download the free app, and start looking for “caches” in your neighborhood or at local parks. There’s not a prize for finding them, but it’s definitely exciting to search and get to write your name on the log. Bring a pen!

Cost: free

18. Pinellas Trail

This trail runs from Tarpon Springs to St. Petersburg. It’s completely paved and is great for walking, running, biking and skating. Hop on the trail wherever is closest to you and get some fresh air!

Cost: free

19. Upper Tampa Bay Trail

The Upper Tampa Bay Trail is located in North Tampa and is also paved. Enjoy walking, running and biking with a view!

Cost: free

20. St. Pete Pier

The St. Pete Pier is newly rebuilt and just opened in July 2020! It offers beautiful views of the water and downtown St. Petersburg. Enjoy the greenery around the pier, dining, walking, biking and even fishing. Avoid pricy parking at the pier and find free or metered parking around downtown St. Pete.

Cost: free

Read What to Know Before Visiting the St. Pete Pier.

21. Clearwater Pier 60 Sunset Festival

Every night is a festival at Pier 60 in Clearwater! Enjoy a Sunset Festival every night around sunset with a variety of local vendors and performers at the pier.

Cost: free

22. Hillsborough River State Park

One of my favorite Florida State Parks! Hillsborough River State Park has so much to do, from hiking, horseback riding, biking, wildlife viewing, fishing swimming, paddling, and walking the suspension bridge. It’s a must do if you’re looking for some time in nature.

Cost: $6 per vehicle

Read our full Guide to Hillsborough River State Park.

23. Visit Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks

About 45 minutes north of Tampa, you’ll feel transported into a quaint coastal Greek town. Watch sponge divers haul in their catches, shop at the local gift shops, or enjoy a traditional greek meal at one of the many family owned restaurants.

Cost: free, activities vary

See our Day Trip to Tarpon Springs Guide.

24. Armature Works

One of Tampa’s food halls, Armature Works is a great place to grab a unique bite to eat and hang out with friends. They have a variety of cuisines from sushi to empanadas to barbecue. Or just grab an ice cream or a drink. They also host many events like pop-up markets and drive-in movies.

Cost: free admission and parking, food prices vary

Check out more Must Try Restaurants in Tampa.

25. Cypress Point Park

This little beach park is tucked away in South Tampa on Tampa Bay. If you’re looking to spend a whole day on a true beach, check out the Pinellas County beaches. But this is one of our favorite free Tampa parks for catching the sunset or having a quick picnic, and it’s much closer if you’re located in Tampa.

Cost: free

26. Florida Cane Distillery

The Florida Cane Distillery is located in Ybor City. You can enjoy free tours and tastings of various liquors like vodka, gin and rum. You can also make your own cocktail using one of their cocktail kits.

Cost: free tastings, liquor prices vary

27. Antique Shopping

Antique shopping is a great way to spend an afternoon and beat the Florida heat (or rain!), even if you don’t end up purchasing anything. There are many great antique stores in the Tampa Bay area. Two of our favorites are Seminole Heights Antiques (Tampa), and Park Street Antique Center (St. Petersburg)

Cost: varies

28. Ybor City Saturday Market

If it happens to be Saturday during your trip to Ybor City, stop at the Saturday Market. You’ll find local goods, produce and handmade products.

Cost: free

29. USF Sporting Events

Check the USF calendar for available sporting events. Many games like softball, soccer, and tennis are cheap or may even be free on certain dates.

Cost: varies

30. Haslam’s Book Store

Edit: Haslam’s closed due to the pandemic and has remained closed as of July 2023. Check their hours before visiting.

Haslam’s Book Store is Florida’s largest new and used bookstore. There are so many books you may find yourself lost amongst the shelves. It’s definitely a must do for book lovers, even if you don’t purachase anything!

Cost: free

31. Tampa Firefighters Museum

The Tampa Firefighters Museum is a hidden gem among free Tampa activities. Located in a historic 1911 fire house, the non-profit museum will be a hit with the kids who can see actual firefighter gear and devices and even play in an interactive area.

Cost: free

32. USF Contemporary Art Museum

The small art museum located on USF Tampa campus gives you the opportunity to see modern art without the hefty price tag. You will have to pay metered parking on USF Campus (unless you already have a parking pass), but the small cost is offset by the free museum.

Cost: free

33. Seaside Seabird Sanctuary

The Seaside Seabird Sanctuary is a hidden gem in Indian Shores. The sanctuary rescues and rehabilitates sick or injured seabirds. View nearly 100 permanently disabled seabirds in the facility, take great photos, learn about avian medicine, and climb the observation tower.

Cost: free

34. Clearwater Beach Walk

Stroll the Beach Walk at Clearwater Beach. With beautiful ocean views, artistic touches, and plenty of shops and restaurants, you’re sure to have a good time.

Cost: free

35. John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk

John’s Pass is one of the most iconic tourist attractions in Pinellas County. Filled with shopping, dining, and things to do, you can easily spend a day at John’s Pass. Pick up some souvenirs and sundries, or enjoy ice cream on the boardwalk while you dolphin watch.

Cost: free, metered parking available

36. Dunedin History Museum

This museum contains artifacts, photographs and an extensive research library about Florida history. Exhibits range from the history of the railroad to the citrus industry.

Cost: $5 per adult

37. Boyd Hill Nature Preserve

This nature park in St. Petersburg is a great place to spend some time outdoors. With boardwalks and trails through different ecosystems, a playground, plus a birds of prey sanctuary, you’ll have plenty to do at this park.

Cost: $3 per adult, $1.50 per child

See our full post about Boyd Hill Nature Preserve.

38. North Straub Park

This park in Downtown St. Petersburg is a wonderful place for a picnic or a stroll in the park. Waterfront views, walking paths, statues, and seasonal events are all features of the park.

Cost: free

39. Largo Central Park

This beautiful park in the middle of Largo is a huge 70-acre area with a fun playground, fountains, picnic areas and more. They often have seasonal events, so be sure to check the calendar.

Cost: free

40. Tarpon Springs Heritage Museum

This museum is situated on Spring Bayou, where the first settlers of Tarpon Springs built their homes. The museum features exhibits about the Greek community, the sponge industry, and Native American inhabitants.

Cost: $5 per person

41. Weedon Island Preserve

Weedon Island is an amazing park to spend the day. It has plenty of hiking trails and boardwalks, plus a paddling trail, observation tower, and Cultural and Natural History Center. They also host free guided nature walks a few times a month.

Cost: free

42. Gizella Kopsick Palm Arboretum

A hidden gem in St. Petersburg, the arboretum has over 500 palms and cycads. With benches, gazebos and lots of green space, it’s a great spot for a scenic picnic.

Cost: free

43. Vinoy Park

Vinoy Park is one of the most visited parks in St. Petersburg. It has beautiful waterfront views and recreation trails. It’s also a popular place for events including local markets and concerts.

Cost: free

44. Saturday Morning Market

This weekly St. Petersburg Market is one of the most popular in the area. With over 125 vendors to see each Saturday, you’ll be sure to find handmade goods, farm fresh produce and international cuisine you’ll love.

Cost: free

45. Fort de Soto Park

Fort de Soto Park is one of my all time favorite things to do in Tampa Bay. Not only is it a pristine, uncrowded beach — it also has nature trails, bike rentals, kayak rentals, a historic fort, picnic areas, camping, and a museum. It is on my must-visit list, and the best part is, it’s pretty cheap!

Cost: $5 per car (Plus a few dollars in tolls if you’re coming from I-275)

See our full post about Fort de Soto Park.

The information in this post was accurate at the time of publishing to the best of the author’s knowledge. If you are planning to visit any of the sites mentioned in this post, we recommend checking the most up-to-date information on their respective websites.

9 thoughts on “45 Free and Cheap Things to Do in Tampa Bay”

  1. Pingback: Mount Dora Travel Guide - Florida Lives

    1. Thank you so much Destiny, that means a lot to me! I’ve lived in the Tampa Bay Area for about 8 years so I’ve done a lot here and I’m always looking for free activities!

    1. You are so welcome, I’m glad you liked it! There are so many fun things to do in Tampa without spending a ton of money. Hope you have a fantastic vacation!

  2. Thanks so much! I have a 13 week assignment starting at Tampa General on July 12th. This is a great resource for me.

    1. Hi Caroline! You’re so welcome, and I’m so glad you found it helpful. Enjoy your time in Tampa!

  3. This site is great !!
    I lived in Tampa from 60’s through the 70’s. It was a different world then. Everything has changed dramatically.
    I feel almost like I am just now visiting Tampa because so many things are gone that I remembered and so many things are new. Florida has progressed and I still live in the past. This site has really helped me.
    Thank You !!!!

    1. Thank YOU! I’m so glad the site has been helpful for you! Even in my 8 years in the Tampa Bay Area, so much has changed. Happy exploring!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.