Tampa, FL boasts gorgeous weather, beaches, and fun attractions and things to do!
Additionally, what’s more enticing is a visit to the Bay Area doesn't have to cost a fortune. Follow along to discover the 20 best things to do in Tampa for free.
From St Petersburg to Hillsborough County, there are countless free things to do in Tampa.
Savor an evening stroll down the Tampa Riverwalk with your honey. Or enjoy the vibrant hues of the Monarchs in the Butterfly Garden.
Get your fill of amazing murals and public art in Ybor City, or snag a selfie with the free wandering chickens.
From beaches to free botanical tours, there’s never enough time to conquer all of the gratis attractions and activities in the Big Guava.
Already packed that swimsuit and SPF? Before you make a beeline for the beach, you’ll need to secure some epic accommodations. While we’ve yet to find a way to score a free luxury suite downtown, we can offer you a wide array of Tampa Hotels.
From modernly appointed lofts to spacious rooms featuring Riverwalk views, we provide lodgings for every style and price point. Prime and primp for all of the free things to do in Tampa this weekend when you book today.
Free Things to Do in Tampa FL
From charming neighborhoods steeped in Cuban culture to festivals that run on Jolly Roger-infused fun, Tampa activities, and attractions run the gamut. From spellbinding sunset celebrations of purple, red, and gold to entertaining your physical fitness goals on the Pinellas Trail, there is no end to all of the free things to do in Tampa, Florida.
Ready to ogle Bayside mansions and soak in some panoramic Bay views? Seek out one of the longest continuous sidewalks in the United States for 4.5 miles of scenery. Bayshore Boulevard is a waterfront road on Hillsborough Bay in South Tampa, Florida that features 10-foot wide sidewalks. Walk through this storied path and cover parks, historic homes, and the charm of Old Hyde Park.
Visit Ybor City
Chock full of character and cobblestone streets, Ybor City is a must-visit for any Tampa itinerary. For over 135 years, this area has served as the beating heart of Tampa. In fact, Ybor City is the only neighborhood on the west coast of Florida to be designated a National Historic Landmark District. Now a lively area overflowing with nightclubs, eateries, and retail. This stretch of the city was once only known for cigars.
Take your time exploring Ybor’s winding streets, as you make your way to the Ybor City State Museum. Housed in a former 1920s bakery, museum entry costs $4 but it’s well worth viewing the numerous exhibits that illuminate the history of the cigar industry and the area’s immigrant communities.
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Continue on with your Cuban appreciation sans passport when you stroll through Jose Marti Park. A real-life Cuban territory on U.S. soil, this .14-acre urban park honors Cuban national hero Jose Marti. Round out your day of Ybor sightseeing with a stop at the ‘Viva Ybor’ mural and spring for a mouthwatering Cuban sandwich from La Segunda or Columbia Restaurant.
Ringling Museum of Art
Breathtaking baroque art that is open to the public? Yes, please! Ignite your creative spirit, when you tour the official state art museum of Florida. Located in Sarasota, the Ringling Museum of Art was established in 1927 to bring art to the people of Florida.
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Free to visit every Monday, visitors and locals alike will be blown away by the breadth of their collection. Featuring everything from European fine art to vintage Ringling Bros posters, the museum contains 21 galleries and an enclosed courtyard. Observe paneled rooms from the Gilded Age Astor Mansion in New York, or gaze in wonder at 3rd-century Buddhist statues.
Sunsets at Pier 60 Festival
Need a recipe for a splashy date night that won't cost a cent? Hightail it to Clearwater Beach with your camera in hand, to document a fiery sunset celebration like no other. For almost 30 years the vibrant Sunsets at Pier 60 have enthralled visitors to slow down and appreciate the majesty of mother nature.
Bring along a beach blanket, and stake out your spot to snag a view of this world-famous sunset. Come up to two hours before the fiery finale and browse artisanal wares or jam out to the groovy beats of buskers.
Contemplate a tarot card reading, or let yourself be mesmerized by the front rolls and flips of an acrobatic performance. Snap a photo with a Transformer, or watch grown men devour fiery flames.
Grab some wheels, or just lace up your trainers when you hit up Pinellas County’s most famous rail trail. The Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail is a 45-mile multi-use trail that stretches from Tarpon Springs in the North to St Petersburg in the South.
This idyllic green space was fashioned along a portion of the railroad corridor. It offers wide paved paths perfect for walking, jogging, or biking. Combine your physical exertion with plenty of sightseeing. As the trail also provides opportunities for stops in the charming towns of Dunedin, Clearwater, Largo, and Gulfport.
Tampa Downtown Partnership Free Guided Walking Tours
Fitness, sightseeing, and culture oh my! Thanks to the Tampa Downtown Partnership both locals and tourists can dig a little deeper into the diverse neighborhoods that make up the Big Guava. The Tampa Downtown Partnership is a non-profit that seeks to share the offerings of this multicultural city through immersive projects, events, and tours.
A uniting force within the downtown community, eager explorers can participate in walking tours complete with a free guide or weekly yoga classes in Curtis Hixon Park. Combine culture and motion with walking tours from Poe Plaza, or warm up those hips with some fiery Zumba classes.
Looking to let loose sans sweating? Carve out some time in your schedule for Tampa’s free concert series, Rock the Park. Normally held on the first Thursday of each month and kicking off around 6:30 p.m. Guests can treat their ears to everything from reggae to rock.
Henry B Plant Museum
A sprawling Victorian structure that once defined the Bay area, the Tampa Bay Hotel is a love letter to the forgotten opulence of a bygone era. Today visitors can travel back in time to the turn of the century America, when they experience the hotel through the Henry B Plant Museum.
In addition to being a National Historic Landmark, the museum allows guests to see furnishings and artifacts from the original hotel. Stroll down the Grand Hallway and see why this period was referred to as ‘the Gilded Age.’
Next, dive into their permanent collection of ceramics and Boulle-style furniture, or educate yourself on the intricacies of Plant’s Southern empire. Please note that while general admission to the museum is not free, the museum provides several complimentary admission days throughout the month. Even better, many of these museum-free days include guided tours and live music.
Argh matey! We hope you've packed that eye patch and Jolly Roger flag because it’s time for some swashbuckling fun in the Big Guava. Gasparilla is a massive pirate-themed parade and party held every year in Tampa since 1904.
Make your plans now, as the next festival will occur on January 28th, 2024. Named after the fearsome pirate Jose Gaspar, who wreaked havoc in the coastal waters of Florida during the 18th and 19th centuries, today the parade is the third largest of its kind in the United States.
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You won't believe your eyes as you watch hoards of beaded and costumed revelers make their way through the 4.5-mile parade route. Watch in awe as nearly a thousand swashbucklers invade the Bay on the signature ‘Jose Gasparilla’ ship.
Bearded merrymakers will be able to participate in a number of themed events both before and after the parade. From kid-approved Gasparilla activities to music and art festivals throughout March and April, there are endless treasures to uncover.
Water Works Park
On the hunt for one of the best free things to do in Tampa with family? For all of our intrepid travelers exploring Tampa with tots in tow, it’s time to cool off. Pay a visit to the splashtastic Water Works Park in downtown Tampa and enjoy an afternoon of aquatic refreshment.
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Bring along a swimsuit and perhaps even pack a picnic, as you and your gang will want to spend hours by this stunning section of the Tampa Riverwalk. Water Works Park extends along the Hillsborough River. Besides offering scenic views, this space contains an open lawn, children's splash pad, playground, amphitheater, and dog park.
Be sure to check the park’s schedule to see what special events may be occurring at the amphitheater at the time of your visit.
Hit up the Beaches
What’s a Florida getaway without a little fun in the sun? Make all your friends jealous when you return from your Tampa getaway refreshed, relaxed, and with a signature beach glow. Balmy Tampa is lucky enough to receive almost 365 days' worth of sunshine. And be a mere 30-minute drive from some of the best beaches in the country.
From Clearwater to Caladesi, there are beaches to suit every fancy. Set your sights on St Petersburg, and swing by Egmont Key State Park for pristine blue waters, secluded beaches, and a bevy of palm trees. As an added bonus you can even spot their 150-year-old working lighthouse and gun batteries built in 1898 to defend the Bay.
For wide swaths of white sand and a dash of romance head to Honeymoon Island. Or, let Fido enjoy some Vitamin Sea when you take advantage of the Fort de Soto Dog Beach. Please note that most state parks will require a small entrance and/or parking fee.
Courtney Campbell Trail
Training for that Ironman, or just looking to up your physical exertion before you return to your regularly scheduled program of sunbathing and pina coladas? Soak in the epic scenery of Clearwater and Tampa, when you tackle the Courtney Campbell Trail.
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This concrete trail tops out at a little over 10 miles. And offers ample opportunity to walk, bike, rollerblade, or jog along the southern side of the Courtney Campbell Causeway. Whether you set forth at dawn, or wait till sundown for a cooler sweat session, you’ll be blessed by epic Tampa Bay and Bridge views.
Lucky Bay residents have even reported seeing swimming rays or manatees in the waters below.
Florida Botanical Gardens
Hoping a little green thumb magic will take hold during your Tampa trip? Immerse yourself in fragrant blooms, tropical fruits, and topiaries, when you stop by the Florida Botanical Gardens. Owned by Pinellas County, this 100-acre park is free to enter and is home to everything from Begonias to Bromeliads.
Take a moment to appreciate the delicate creatures fluttering around the ever-popular Butterfly Garden. Spot a Black Swallowtail on a Beautyberry Bush or admire the vivid color of a Passion Butterfly.
Enjoy succulents, Prickly Pear, and night-blooming Cereus in the Cactus Garden. Or, transport yourself to Jolly Old England, with the perennial flowers, vines, and roses of the Cottage Garden. Wondering what grows in Florida’s backyard? Brush up on your native plant knowledge with a meander around the Native Plant or Palm Garden.
Looking to eke out even more flora and fauna education? Check out the Garden’s wide array of self-guided tours. Or download the TaleBlazer app to learn even more about these leafy residents.
Lettuce Lake Observation Tower
Calling all budding biologists! Inject your Tampa stay with some nature, when you seek out some of the most stunning Hillsborough River views. Lettuce Lake Conservation Park is one of the county’s most visited natural areas.
Containing both hardwood hammocks and pine flatwoods plant communities, visitors can hike, walk or kayak through an abundance of both wildernesses. Tackle the 1.25-mile paved exercise trail and 3,500-foot boardwalk complete with an observation tower.
Have that camera or binoculars ready, as Lettuce Lake is a sanctuary for alligators, limpkins, roseate spoonbills, and barred owls.
Manatee Viewing Center
Gentle giants once thought to be rather robust mermaids, Manatees have long captured the curiosity of the public. These adorable warm-blooded water mammals can be observed up close in their natural habitat with a visit to the Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center. Just like your favorite sunshine-loving senior, Manatees love warm water.
Thanks to Tampa Electric’s power station at Apollo Beach, warm water is circulated back into the Bay. This makes Tampa an ideal refuge for Manatees in the chillier winter months. Thanks to the viewing center, guests of all ages can wander and along the boardwalks to see where these gentle giants gather to eat, socialize, and rest.
Traipse down the 900-foot Tidal Walk, stroke some Cownose Rays in the touch tank, or take in the view from above when you trek up to the 50-foot high tower.
Fourth Friday Tampa
Wondering what to do after sunset? Fill up that Friday night dance card without blowing your hard-earned dollars, when you attend Fourth Friday Tampa. A searing combination of music, cultural destinations, drink specials, and more, every fourth Friday of the month residents gather to complete this art and cultural crawl through downtown.
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Sway in time to the sounds of live jazz or rock music. Try to sneak in a photography or history exhibit when you score free admission to museum and cultural partners such as the Henry Plant Museum, Florida Museum of Photographic Arts (FMoPA), and The Straz Center.
Replenish your energy when you part with a few bucks to purchase a specialty cocktail. Take your libations to go with special vendor-approved cups via the Sip & Stroll program. Combat traffic and skip out on parking woes when you utilize the public transport provided by the Teco Line Streetcar.
Looking for the beating heart of downtown Tampa? Prime those feet for some a serious step count, when you relish the unbeatable atmosphere, attractions, and views afforded by the Tampa Riverwalk. Utilize the 2.6-mile walkway for exercise, or make a day of exploring local hotspots ranging from Sparkman Wharf to Curtis Hixon Park.
From playgrounds complete with shaded swings to Fido-friendly green spaces, there’s loads of free activities to enjoy. Refresh with a watery stop at one of three splash pads, or take an ice-cold mojito to go in a specialty cup. Stay put after nightfall and be rewarded with an array of colorful lights and a lively atmosphere.
Often overlooked by flashy Miami or the theme park capital of Orlando, in the past few years the city of Tampa has truly come into its own.
Delivering equal parts beachy paradise and buzzing cosmopolitan city, today Tampa is a mecca for all Florida lovers.
Furthermore, thanks to an abundance of free things to do in Tampa, you can be guaranteed your Guava City vacation won’t leave you broke.
Pack up your peg leg and stuffed parrot when you make your Gasparilla debut. Or head downtown to marvel at the exquisite Victorian architecture of the old Tampa Bay Hotel.
Gawk at the cows of the sea when you spot lumbering Manatees by the power plant. Or say ‘Au Revoir to another perfect day of surf, sun, and sand with a Clearwater Beach sunset celebration.
From wetland-studded nature trails to vintage circus posters, every minute of your Tampa getaway will be filled with thrilling curiosities.
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