Enjoy a budget-friendly night out with this list of 50 free things to do in Tampa Bay!
Trying to save a little money? You don’t need a huge budget in order to plan a romantic and memorable date night with your partner. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite free things to do in Tampa Bay, from monthly festivals to art and walking tours, local attractions, and more.
Note: Some of the attractions and activities listed here may be temporarily canceled to ensure public safety. We’ll update this list as things continue to reopen.
1. Tampa Riverwalk
It doesn’t cost a dime to take a stroll along the scenic Tampa Riverwalk with your date. Stretching 2.6 miles, the waterfront walkway is popular with walkers, bikers and joggers alike. Free activities include a host of outdoor festivals, sightseeing, a self-guided public art walking tour and the spacious Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park which is the perfect place to set up an afternoon picnic.
2. Pinellas Trail
Stretching from Tarpon Springs to St. Petersburg, the 38-mile Pinellas Trail is a former railway that was repurposed as a multi-use trail. Bring along your bike and hit the trail on two wheels making pitstops to check out the Tarpon Springs sponge docks, park for a refreshing brew (I love 7venth Sun Brewing in Dunedin) and stroll through hip downtown Dunedin. If you feel like making a side trip to the beach, you can follow another pedestrian trail across the Dunedin Causeway for a visit to Honeymoon Island State Park. Admission for cyclists is $2 (close enough to free for a mention!).
3. Free Friday Planetarium shows at SPC’s Planetarium & Observatory
Stargaze with someone special select Friday nights at St. Petersburg College’s Planetarium & Observatory. When school is in session, the Planetarium opens up to the public for Friday night shows at 7pm and again at 8:15pm. Admission is on a first-come, first-served basis so arrive early to snag a seat. After the show, head up to the rooftop observatory to gaze at the night sky through the 20-inch reflecting telescope.
4. Hit the beach
A major perk of living in the Tampa Bay area is close proximity to the area’s incredible, award-winning beaches. Head to Madeira Beach to stroll the shops at John’s Pass Village & Boardwalk, or laze the day away on the quaint and full of character Anna Maria Island. Other local go-tos include St. Pete Beach, Indian Rocks Beach, Fort De Soto ($5 beach parking), and Clearwater Beach. Or, do as the locals do and watch a sunset from Ben T. Davis Beach.
5. Gizella Kopsick Palm Arboretum
Walk just north of Vinoy Park in St. Pete and you’ll find Gizella Kopsick Palm Arboretum, a lush park filled with hundreds of palms. This tropical paradise offers 2 acres of waterfront zen where you can see more than 500 palms and cycads from around the world. Winding red brick paths lead you through the park and past open green spaces which serve as the perfect location for setting up a picnic. Parking and admission are free.
6. History Bike Tampa bi-monthly tours
Every other month, join History Bike Tampa for a themed community bike tour that will teach you a little slice of Tampa history. Past themes include historic cemeteries, secret societies, love stories and more. Rides typically last about 2 hours and are on a first come, first served basis capped at the first 80 riders to register. The fun kicks off at Kahwa Coffee in downtown Tampa on select Saturdays at 9:30am. While the rides are free, there is a suggested donation of $5/person if you can swing it!
7. Pinellas County Heritage Village
Home to 33 historic structures, the Heritage Village bills itself as a “living history museum.” Step into Pinellas County’s past while exploring bungalows, homes, a sugar cane mill, church, store, and more in addition to the museum exhibits located within the Welcome Center. There’s also a native plant trail and sensory garden. Best of all, admission is totally free!
8. Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park
With sweeping views of the waterfront and steps from the Tampa Riverwalk, Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park offers abundant open-air breezes and draws many couples to its beautiful and sprawling green-filled space. It’s also home to a variety of recurring events, including a community yoga session on Sunday evenings ($5 suggested contribution), monthly free outdoor concerts and more.
9. Sunsets at Pier 60 Festival
Soaking up a spectacular Gulf coast sunset is a favorite pastime of Tampa Bay locals. Why not turn the event into a full blown celebration by attending the nightly Sunsets at Pier 60 Festival on Clearwater Beach? Nearly every night of the year visitors, street performers, and artisans gather for a lively sunset celebration that’s a must anytime you’re in the area.
10. St. Pete Second Saturday ArtWalk
On the second Saturday of each month, galleries throughout St. Petersburg’s Waterfront Arts District, Central Arts District, EDGE District, Grand Central District and the Warehouse Arts District stay open from 5-9pm for an epic art walk. Featuring pottery, glass, paintings, sculpture and more, this monthly free event hosted by the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance is a must-do for art lovers. There’s even a free trolley that will take you to multiple stops throughout each of the districts.
Note: the ArtWalk is currently virtual. Check for the latest updates here.
You can’t call yourself a true Tampa local until you’ve experienced your first Gasparilla. This annual festival is a right of passage and draws a huge crowd every January for the epic Gasparilla Pirate Fest, which includes the legendary Gasparilla Invasion and Parade of the Pirates. This is one event you don’t want to go into without a solid plan, so check out our Ultimate Gasparilla Guide.
12. Explore local nature preserves
The beach is always a solid choice for a free outdoorsy date, but for a different experience head to one of Tampa Bay’s local nature preserves. Boasting 3,190 acres, boardwalk trails and scenic observation decks, Weedon Island Preserve is ideal for nature lovers. Just 45 minutes from downtown Tampa you’ll find Brooker Creek Preserve, another free preserve spread out across 8,700 acres. Explore six unique hiking trails of varying lengths weaving through wetlands, oak hammocks, pine flatwoods and cypress swamps.
13. Self-guided mural tours Tampa/St. Pete
Get your art fix by embarking on a self-guided tour of Tampa Bay’s impressive murals. The City of Tampa has a helpful list of murals and their locations, and Tampa Downtown Partnership’s Downtown Mural Tour lists even more murals around town. But Downtown St. Pete is the best place to discover colorful murals and snap a few new photos with your boo. Go on a self-guided adventure for free with this mural map or spring for an organized walking mural tour of the area (this option isn’t free, but worth the splurge if you’re interested).
14. Fourth Friday Tampa
Featuring local arts venues like The Straz Center, Henry B. Plant Museum and Tampa Theater, Fourth Friday Tampa is a monthly arts event that grants you free admission to multiple venues throughout Downtown Tampa and Ybor City. Pick up a free event wristband to score special food and drink deals, and enjoy free hop-on, hop-off access to the TECO Line Streetcar to get around. Check the website for the latest update on when this monthly gathering will resume.
15. Saturday Morning Market
Experience one of the top farmer’s markets in the US right here in St. Pete! Saturdays from 9am-2pm, the Al Lang Field parking lot in downtown St. Pete comes alive with around 170 vendors during the Saturday Morning Market. Besides fresh produce and artisans selling unique goods, there’s live music and multiple options for grabbing a bite. The Saturday Morning Market runs from early October through late May, while the Summer Market, located at Williams Park, runs from June to August.
Note: the market is currently open for online ordering only with drive-thru pickup each week.
16. Sunday Yoga in the Park Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park
Unwind every Sunday at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park for the Tampa Downtown Partnership’s free community yoga class, Yoga in the Park. Held on Sundays at 6pm (5pm in the winter months), each class is led by instructors from local studio Lucky Cat Yoga. While this class is technically free, there’s a suggested donation of $5.
Note: classes have gone virtual for the time being. Check Facebook for the latest updates.
17. Florida Botanical Gardens
De-stress amidst spacious themed gardens and natural areas at Florida Botanical Gardens. Admission is free to this lush oasis and it’s also picnic-friendly, so pack a blanket and some snacks! Stroll the boardwalks, listen to the soothing water fountains, spot unique art and visit themed areas like a butterfly garden and succulent garden. The gardens are open daily from 7am-5pm.
18. Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center
Warm water discharging from a canal at Tampa Electric’s Big Bed Power Station has drawn manatees since 1986, and today the designated Manatee Viewing Center is a free place to see these gentle giants. The area is a designated manatee sanctuary and it’s best to visit during manatee season (winter months). While you’re there, walk the trail and boardwalk to climb the 50-foot observation tower.
19. Florida Cane Distillery tours
Situated in Historic Ybor, Florida Cane Distillery is a local distiller specializing in a variety of Florida Cane vodkas made with Florida Sugar Cane, plus rum, gin, moonshine and Bourbon whiskey. Get acquainted with these local spirits on a free tour which includes free tastings, too!
20. Jose Marti Park
Visit Cuba without leaving Ybor at Jose Marti Park. This small park (it’s only 0.14 acres) has been owned by the Cuban government since 1956, so yep, you’re basically going on a visit to Cuba when you step inside! The park honors José Martí, a poet, writer, literary figure and Cuban national hero. Combine this park with a visit to Florida Cane Distillery which is less than a 5-minute walk away.
21. Gulfport Art Walk
Located between Downtown St. Pete and St. Pete Beach, Gulfport is an artsy locale with a waterfront village comprised of adorable eateries, independent shops, galleries and boutiques, all locally owned. On the first Friday and third Saturday each month, artisans gather along Beach Boulevard to showcase their creations for the Gulfport Art Walk. Check Facebook for the latest events schedule.
22. 3rd Thursday Tampa
Enjoy a trifecta of food trucks, cocktails and live music at 3rd Thursday Tampa, a monthly food truck street festival taking place in Downtown Tampa’s Channel District. You’ll typically find 15+ food trucks set up at each event, which takes place at the Grand Central at Kennedy.
23. Hyde Park Healthy yoga
Pack up your yoga mat and head to trendy Hyde Park Village for a free weekly yoga session outdoors. Hosted by VKNG Fitness, the weekly yoga session takes place at the fountain every Wednesday at 6pm. Make sure to bring your own mat, towel, water and anything else you’ll need for your practice. Check Facebook for the latest event details.
24. Bar trivia
Inject a bit of healthy competition into date night by playing bar trivia. We love to play at 3 Daughters Brewing (Monday nights at 7pm), World of Beer South Tampa (select nights with fun themes) and The Patio (Wednesdays at 7:30pm – currently on hold).
25. Robinson Preserve
Instead of spending a full day at the beach, visit Robinson Preserve during your next visit to the quaint and full-of-character Anna Maria Island. It’s free to explore the preserve’s multiple hiking trails and observation deck with views of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. There’s also a designated kayaking trail. The park is open year round from sunrise to sunset.
26. Beach Market at Coquina Beach
Whether you want to pick up some produce or browse artisan goods, the Beach Market at Coquina Beach on Anna Maria Island is a fun addition to a Saturday beach day. Find dozens of vendors set up at Coquina Beach ever Wednesday and Saturday from 10am-4pm. Parking is plentiful and free at Coquina Beach, which is Anna Maria Island’s southernmost public beach. FYI: The market is closed for the months of August, September and October.
27. J.C. Newman Cigar Co.
An important piece of Tampa’s history and identity ties back to the cigar industry, which was booming in Ybor City from the late 1800s-early 1900s. Today you’ll find dozens of cigar shops throughout Ybor City, but there’s only one factory still actively producing cigars in Cigar City: J.C. Newman Cigar Co. The factory and existing museum are currently undergoing a renovation and when reopened, the expanded museum will also include a hand-rolling area, store and more. Learn about this slice of Tampa history on a self-guided tour or join a guide.
28. Wat Mongkolratanaram Buddhist Temple
Looking to do something out of the ordinary? Wat Mongkolratanaram of Florida (Wat Tampa) is a gorgeous waterfront Buddhist Temple that’s free to visit. The best day to go is on Sunday for the weekly Sunday market, which features an assortment of Thai food plus Thai tea and coffee. The market typically runs from 8:30am-1pm. You can also visit the main Temple when the grounds are open to the public, but make sure to respect Temple etiquette as outlined here.
29. Pack a picnic
Tampa Bay is home to dozens of scenic parks and trails that serve as the ideal setting for a romantic picnic. Pack up some gourmet cheese, meats and snacks and set up your own DIY feast with a scenic park as your backdrop. A few of our favorite options include Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, Vinoy Park, Lettuce Lake Park ($2 entry fee) and Gizella Kopsick Palm Arboretum. Check out our post on the Top Tampa Bay Parks for the Perfect Picnic Date for more ideas.
30. Courtney Campbell Trail
Looking to burn some serious calories? Pack up your bike and hit the Courtney Campbell Trail, which stretches over Old Tampa Bay for 10 miles connecting Tampa and Clearwater. Make sure to stop periodically to look for dolphins or just soak up the view. Parking is available at Ben T Davis Beach.
31. Museum Day
While this annual event hosted by Smithsonian Magazine only happens once a year, it’s worth mentioning, especially since several Tampa Bay museums participate. Held annually, Museum Day grants you free admission for two to museums throughout the country. Past participating museums in Tampa Bay include the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, Henry B. Plant Museum, Imagine Museum, The Ringling and more.
32. Stroll Ybor City
Take a scenic stroll through the Ybor City Historic District for a fun way to spend an afternoon. Enjoy a free visit to Jose Marti Park and the Oakwood Cemetery or peruse the local art galleries. And for a nominal $4/person, you can stop by Ybor City Museum State Park housed inside a historic bakery from the 1920s. You’ll also be able to check out the museum’s cozy Mediterranean-style garden.
33. Sunrise at Ballast Point Park
If you don’t mind rising early, make your way to Ballast Point Park to take in a beautiful sunrise over Hillsborough Bay. Stroll out along the 600-foot pier, soak up the views of the Tampa skyline, and bring along a picnic breakfast to enjoy afterwards. There are multiple picnic tables and open space throughout the park to sit and stay awhile.
34. Weekday yoga at Armature Works
Get in a weekday workout in the Courtyard at Armature Works on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month from 9-10am. Armature Works’ Weekday Yoga classes are free and open to the public, and led by Bella Prana, a local meditation and yoga studio. Check the event calendar for upcoming dates and registration details.
35. Riverview First Friday Food Truck Rally
While you’re likely to spend some money on grub at Riverview’s monthly Food Truck Rally, there’s no cost to peruse the local vendors and enjoy the live music. Parking and admission are free. Find it at the Summerfield Crossings Golf Club the first Friday of each month from 6-9pm.
36. Oaklawn Cemetery Walking Tour
Dating back to 1850, the historic Oaklawn Cemetery is an interesting, if a bit morbid, way to expand your knowledge of Tampa history. Here you can visit the graves of local historical figures, including Tampa’s first mayor, Joseph B. Lancaster, and Henry Laurens Mitchell, the 15th Governor of Florida. Follow the cemetery’s self-guided walking tour to visit the most notable graves, most of which include intriguing stories.
37. Tampa Firefighters Museum
With a mission to “preserve the heritage of the Tampa Fire Department and promote life safety education and fire prevention within the community” the Tampa Firefighters Museum is a free and educational place to discover. The museum itself is housed in a renovated firehouse and the building’s brick walls, fireman’s poles and more compliment the exhibits.
38. Heights Night Market
Celebrate the middle of the workweek with a relaxing stroll through the Heights Night Market, which takes place on the 2nd Wednesday of every month from 5:30 – 9:30pm in front of Armature Works. Listen to the live music as you mingle with local artisans and makers displaying their handmade crafts and art.
39. Upper Tampa Bay Trail
The Upper Tampa Bay Trail offers 7 beautiful miles of smooth riding for bikers (it’s great for walking, too!) in the northwest section of Hillsborough County. Bathrooms are plentiful along this scenic rail trail, as are picnic areas for snack breaks. Six trailheads provide access depending on where you want to kick off your ride, and a connection meets up with the Suncoast Trail for a longer ride. FYI: there is a $2 admission fee per vehicle if arriving by car.
40. Ringling Museum of Art Free Mondays
Score free admission to The Ringling Museum of Art every Monday! The museum is home to 21 galleries plus a spacious courtyard filled with sculptures. Note: free admission only applies to the Museum of Art, not the Circus museum or Ca’d’Zan.
41. St. Pete Shuffle
Try something new by joining the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club for a free Friday session. Every Friday from 7-10pm, you can learn how to play shuffleboard from the best during the weekly St. Pete Shuffle. Volunteers are present to help you get set up and learn the rules of the game. While this event is free and open to the public, a $2 suggested donation is appreciated if you’re able to make a contribution.
42. Free Walking Tours
You don’t have to pay to join a tour to explore the city; many self-guided walking tours are available online and in person for free. Marvel at local buildings on an architecture tour through Downtown, Ybor City and Hyde Park. Or, join one of the Tampa Downtown Partnership’s free walking tours ($5 donation suggested if you can) October-May on select Fridays at noon. Or, enjoy the free Postcard Tour, an audio tour that will take you around the grounds of the historic Tampa Bay Hotel.
43. Tarpon Springs + Sponge Factory
Learn about Tarpon Springs’ Greek heritage and learn about the city’s sponge divers with a stop by the Historic Sponge Docks. Tarpon Springs is a great day trip destination where you can indulge in delicious Greek cuisine, learn about the city’s history and walk around enjoying the sights. Make sure to stop by the Sponge Factory (you can’t miss it) to check out the sea sponges plus handmade soaps and other wares.
44. Ben T Davis Beach
After a workout on the Courtney Campbell Trail, reward yourself with some beach time at Ben T Davis Beach. This sunny bayfront beach is a chill place to spend a few hours or catch a sunset. FYI: parking fees do apply here.
45. TECO Line Streetcar System
The TECO Streetcar is a convenient and free way to get around Ybor, Channelside and parts of downtown. The 2.7-mile route gives you hop on, hop off access that’ll plant you within walking distance of stops like the Ybor City Museum, The Florida Aquarium, Sparkman Wharf, and Amalie Arena. Depending on the day, service starts either at 7am or 8:30am and continues late until 11pm, or 2am on Fridays and Saturdays.
46. Downtown Wednesdays
Every Wednesday, multiple venues throughout Downtown Tampa come together for Downtown Wednesdays. This weekly celebration includes drink specials at participating venues plus fun and free activities like karaoke, live music, games and more. There isn’t an official schedule, just check out the participating venues and start at your favorite spot. The fun kicks off every Wednesday beginning at 5pm.
47. North Tampa Market at Carrollwood Cultural Center
Held outdoors on the second Saturday of each month from 10am-2pm, the North Tampa Market is a gathering of 70+ vendors selling a variety of goods, handcrafted items, collectibles, baked goods, plants, flowers, and more. Park yourself at a picnic table under the oaks to listen to live music and enjoy the atmosphere.
48. Tampa Riverwalk Public Art Walking Tour
Looking for a new way to explore the beautiful Tampa Riverwalk? Embark on a self-guided walking public art tour with this handy map as your guide. The tour includes 16 stops highlighting various works of art including sculptures, murals, mosaic and more.
49. Explore Bayshore Boulevard
Bayshore Boulevard is a beautiful road to explore on foot or by bike. Throughout the 4.5-mile, 10-foot wide continuous paved path, there are no intersections, breaks, or obstacles in your way. Time your ride to soak up views of the bay during sunrise or sunset. Looking at the mansions lining the other side of the road is fun, too!
50. Tampa Riverwalk Festivals
The Tampa Riverwalk is fun any time of year, but it especially shines during the annual festivals held throughout the year. Line up your visit with Riverfest, a free multi-day festival that includes a live music concert series, a hot air balloon glow, sidewalk chalk artists and more. Other annual events include the Holiday Lighted Boat Parade and Holiday Harbour.
Feature image credit: Tampa Riverwalk