Heather Wheeler | 

18 Free and Cheap Things to Do in Tampa Bay, Florida

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Tampa Bay is located on the central west coast of Florida and includes the Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater areas.

This major metropolitan area is rich in history and culture and also has beautiful parks and award-winning beaches. You can easily find tons of totally free things to do in Tampa Bay!


1. Florida Botanical Gardens

The Florida Botanical Gardens consists of 100 acres of cultivated gardens featuring native Florida plants, butterfly gardens and exotic tropicals. Admission to the gardens is free.

Check out the children’s educational trail or stroll the gardens at your leisure. Take a break and have a picnic surrounded by the gorgeous gardens.


2. The Tampa Riverwalk

The Tampa Riverwalk

Follow this 2.6-mile Tampa Riverwalk along the Hillsborough River for a scenic view of the water and the city.

You can find art along the path, as well as tons of restaurants and parks.


3. Pinellas County Heritage Village

The Pinellas Country Heritage Village is a 21-acre living history museum that features 28 structures dating back from the mid-19th century, including a school, church, sponge warehouse, railroad depot and store as well as a variety of historic homes.

If you’re looking for free things to do in Tampa Bay, enjoy a guided tour with free admission, or stroll through the village at your leisure and enjoy living history demonstrations and hands-on activities such as pioneer cooking, blacksmithing and traditional fiber arts.


4. Manatee Viewing Center at Tampa Electric’s Big Bend Power Station

This Tampa power station is home to the Manatee Viewing Center where visitors can view manatees in a canal (which is a protected manatee sanctuary) that surrounds the station.

There is also an award-winning butterfly garden along the trail and an educational building with various exhibits about the environment and energy. Admission is free; however, it’s only open from November 1 to April 15.



5. Fort De Soto Park

Learn about Tampa’s storied history by exploring the two forts at Fort De Soto Park and by visiting the mini-museum housed within one of the forts.

You can also enjoy a beach day on over three miles of white sandy beaches at Fort De Soto Park. There’s also a huge dog park, nature trails, a fishing pier, picnic areas, playgrounds and a pavilion for group gatherings.


6. Largo Central Railroad’s miniature train

If you’re looking for something to do in Tampa Bay that your kids will love, take them to the Largo Central Railroad.

On the first full weekend of every month, adults and children over one can ride a miniature train on a mile route through scenic Largo Park for free.


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7. Sunset Cinema at Pier 60

Watch movies at Pier 60 during the summer. Bring a picnic blanket or low-lying chairs and enjoy concession stands on site for food and drinks. The movies are rated between G and PG-13 and it’s free admission.


8. Yuengling Brewery Tour

The Yuengling Brewery in Tampa is “America’s oldest brewery.” If this sounds like your cup of tea (or brewsky), take one of the free guided tours of this historic brewery.

You’ll also get to enjoy free samples of Yuengling brand beers. Anyone can go on the tour, but you must have an ID and be 21 and over to sample the beer.


9. J.C. Newman Cigar Company museum

Check out the two-room museum and learn the history behind Tampa’s last remaining running cigar factory. The museum is open 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The company will be celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2020 and plans to offer full tours to the public.


10. Almost free: Lettuce Lake Conservation Park

The park is chock-full of free things to do — you do have to pay $2.00 a car, but that’s up to eight people! There’s a 1.25-mile pathway to walk along, a boardwalk with an observation tower along the Hillsborough River and picnic areas.

They also have kayaks and canoes that you can rent and get close to some of the aquatic birds and wildlife.



11. Ben T. Davis Beach

If you’re looking for a day out in the sun, go to Ben T. Davis Beach, the nearest to downtown Tampa. You can lay out on the white sand beach, have a picnic or watch the sunset.


12. Get discounts and free admissions on the fourth Friday of the month.

On the fourth Friday of each month, visit exhibits and programs at participating art and culture venues around Tampa for free or with discounts.

Some places give free admission, like museums, and others will have special deals, like a discounted drink at a restaurant.


13. Henry B. Plant Museum

The Henry B. Plant Museum is inside a building that was once a hotel between 1904 and 1932. The rest of the building is now part of the University of Tampa.

In the museum, you will find the original hotel furnishings and art collected by Mr. and Mrs. Plant. You’ll also learn about the turn-of-the-century and Victorian lifestyles of the people in Tampa.

If you go between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. on the first Friday of the month (January – November), admission is free. Normally tickets cost $10.00 for adults, $7.00 for students or seniors and $5.00 for children ages four through 12.


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14. YBOR City Visitor Center

Visit the YBOR City Visitor center and learn about the city’s history and culture. YBOR city is a historic neighborhood in Tampa named after one of the founders.

It’s also a great place to get information and brochures on other attractions you may want to visit in the area.


15. Ringling Museum of Art

Get free admission every Monday to the Ringling Museum of Art. The museum has 21 galleries and a large courtyard full of sculptures.


16. Tampa Firefighters Museum

Admission is completely free. Explore the history of firefighters, learn about the different gear they used and see their fleet of firetrucks.



17. Glazer Children’s Museum

At the Glazer Children’s Museum, kids can make forts, learn about gadgets and robots, solve puzzles and more.

Admission is free the first Tuesday of every month. On normal days, children’s tickets are $10.00 and adults’ are $15.00.


18. Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park

Visit this eight-acre park downtown and have a picnic on the grass, play in one of the two interactive fountains or catch a live performance on the lawn.


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19. Florida Cane Distillery

Take a tour of the Florida Cane Distillery and sample their products (21 years old and over). Each tour lasts about 30 minutes and you’ll get to try some of their spirits like flavored vodka and rum.


Looking for more budget vacations? Check out great free things to do in other cities!


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