16 Free Things to Do in Tampa While Visiting

Steve Cummings


Are you planning to visit Tampa, FL, and looking for fun and free things to do there? You're in the right place! It's no secret that traveling can be expensive, and Tampa is no exception. But don't worry! Despite being a popular tourist destination, you can still enjoy Tampa without breaking the bank. 

This article will cover the top free things to see, do, and visit in Tampa, Florida, including strolling along the Tampa Riverwalk, relaxing on Tampa Bay beaches, visiting art museums, and joining free botanical tours. Whether you're on a tight budget or just want to save a few bucks, this list might be for you. So, without any further ado, let's begin!

About Tampa

Before we get into the free things to do in Tampa, let's first see why Tampa is worth visiting.

Tampa, located on the Gulf Coast of Florida, has palm tree-lined neighborhoods. Tampa is a popular destination in Florida with a waterfront location, diverse culture, historic architecture, modern landmarks, botanical gardens, beaches, and year-round festivals.  

From the Gasparilla Pirate Fest to the Gasparilla Music Festival, something exciting is always happening in the city. In downtown, you can visit popular attractions like the historic Ybor City district, the Tampa Riverwalk, the Florida Aquarium, and trendy bars and restaurants. 

The city's subtropical climate makes it a year-round destination, with mild winters and hot summers. Whether you prefer a winter getaway or a summer beach trip, Tampa is a perfect destination for families, adventure seekers, and food and wine lovers alike.

16 Free Things to Do in Tampa, Florida

Below are the 16 fun and free things to do in Tampa you shouldn't miss!

1. Visit Ybor City

Ybor City
Credit: VIAVAL/Depositphotos

Start your Ybor City itinerary with a tour of Ybor City. Nicknamed the “Cigar Capital of the World,” Ybor City tells many stories about Tampa's rich history and Latin culture. Whether you're a history buff, foodie, art lover, night owl, or a family, you can find everything in this neighborhood. You can visit the Ybor City Museum inside the old Ferlita Bakery building to learn about Tampa's history. 

Join a walking tour to see old cigar maker's houses and other historic spots. There are many art studios, galleries, and museums for art lovers. 

Ybor City is also famous for its food, especially Cuban sandwiches. Join Ybor City food tours to savor the taste of Ybor food.

Even though Ybor City is known for parties, there are still things for families to do. You can ride a streetcar through Tampa's streets, visit the Saturday market, attend events like Art in the Park, play games at GameTime, or visit Centro Ybor.

Ybor City: Directions

2. Stroll Along the Tampa Riverwalk

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Strolling along the Tampa Riverwalk is a must-do and free activity in Tampa. Spanning 2.6 miles, this pedestrian path winds along the Hillsborough River in Downtown Tampa. The trail is perfect for walking, biking, or even riding a Segway. It starts from Heights Market at Armature Works and ends at Sparkman Wharf. There are many free activities, including public art installations, waterfront parks, and playgrounds.

As you stroll down the path, you'll come across various interesting spots, such as Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park, Water Works Park, and Curtis Hixon Park. (We'll discuss these spots in detail in this article.) 

When you reach the northern side, take a break at one of the best restaurants in the area, such as Columbia Cafe, the Sail Plaza, Ulele, or Anchor and Brine. I highly recommend Ulele. This restaurant is named after a famous Florida Indian princess and serves delicious food inspired by Native American culture.

If you visit during sunset, capture the incredible sunset view. Stay until night to see the mesmerizing sight of city lights reflecting on the water!

Tampa Riverwalk: Directions

3. Attend a Free Yoga Class at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park

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When strolling along the Tampa Riverwalk, stop by Curtis Hixon Park. This 8-acre park is free to visit and has many fun things to do. It has spacious green areas, a playground, splash pads, and even a dog park for your furry friends. 

Whenever you go, there is always something happening, like festivals, concerts, movie nights, and yoga classes. If you're visiting during the winter, you won't want to miss the Winter Village, where you can enjoy holiday lights and activities like ice skating and curling.

One exciting event is Sunday Yoga, where you can do yoga for free. It happens every Sunday from 6 to 7 pm. Anyone can join, whether you're a beginner or a more experienced yogi. Join fellow yogis on the park's lush green lawn overlooking the Hillsborough River. It is a great way to melt away your worries without spending any penny! 

Location: 600 N Ashley Dr. Tampa, Florida 33602

Open Hours: Daily, 7 am – 10 pm

4. Take Your Kids to Glazer Children's Museum

Glazer Children's Museum
Credit: fotoluminate/Depositphotos

If you're visiting Tampa with kids, don't miss out on the Glazer Children's Museum, conveniently located halfway along the Riverwalk at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. 

With a minimal admission fee (just $3 for up to 4 guests), the museum is an affordable attraction. But if you're looking to save even more, mark your calendar for the first Tuesday of every month when they offer free entrance. The museum provides an interactive and educational experience for kids and adults alike. 

Inside the colorful three-story building, kids can dress up, climb, create art, build things, and learn. Big John, the largest fossil triceratops in the world, is currently displayed at the museum for a three-year exhibit. The museum also offers the popular Camp Imagine program, with various year-round camps and field trips. 

It is a fantastic opportunity to enjoy all the interactive exhibits and activities without worrying about the cost. 

Location: 110 W Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa Florida, 33602

Open Hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 9:30 am – 5 pm

5. Walk Along Bayshore Boulevard Greenway

Walking along Bayshore Boulevard is a favorite activity among locals and visitors alike. It is famous for being one of the longest sidewalks in the United States, spanning 4.5 miles along Tampa Bay. 

This 10-foot-wide sidewalk offers beautiful views of fancy homes in Old Hyde Park on one side and Hillsborough Bay on the other. It begins at Columbus Statue Park on Platt Street in the north and goes to Gandy Boulevard. 

Along the way, you can enjoy panoramic views of the bay and downtown skyline, visit Ballast Point Park, or stop at famous restaurants and bars. Bayshore Boulevard is also renowned for hosting the annual Gasparilla Festival every January, adding an extra buzz to the bay.

Remember, there's no shade along Bayshore Boulevard, so apply sunscreen and stay hydrated.

Location: 3402 W. Columbus Drive, Tampa, FL 

6. Visit Hyde Park Village

If you're looking for a dynamic and charming destination in Tampa, visit Hyde Park Village in the historic district of Hyde Park. This lively community hub is located at the Dakota and Swann Avenues intersection. It is a famous spot for hanging out and having a good time with friends.

The Village is spread across six city blocks and filled with local stores, restaurants, cafes, and famous brands from all over. Visitors can enjoy everything from an upscale cinema and full-service salon to unique attractions like a 24/7 cupcake ATM. They also host fun events like the Fresh Market and outdoor concerts and offer free fitness classes, making it feel like a real community spot. Don't forget to capture the photos with the stunning murals that adorn the walls of Hyde Park Village. 

The best part? All of Hyde Park Village's outdoor areas and patios are pet-friendly. So, your furry friends can also join in on the fun!

Location: 1602 W. Snow Ave, Tampa, FL

Open Hours: Daily, 10 am – 12 am

7. Visit Henry B. Plant Museum on Free Saturdays

Henry B. Plant Museum
Credit: VIAVAL/Depositphotos

If you want to learn about Tampa's history, consider visiting the Henry B. Plant Museum.

Housed within the former Tampa Bay Hotel, this museum highlights the luxurious lifestyle of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The hotel operated from 1891 to 1932, and famous people like Teddy Roosevelt and Babe Ruth stayed there. 

Renamed Plant Hall, the building is recognized as a National Historic Landmark. It is now home to the University of Tampa and the Henry B. Plant Museum. The museum displays the original Boulle-style furniture and items used by the hotel's early guests. There is also a store where you can buy old-fashioned toys and jewelry. 

The best time to visit is Free Saturdays, held on the second Saturday of each month from January to November. On these special days, you can enjoy free admission to the museum, free guided tours, and live music. 

Open Hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 10 am – 5 pm

Location: 401 W. Kennedy Blvd. Tampa, FL

8. Visit Water Works Park

If you're looking for a fun activity in Tampa without spending a dime, Water Works Park is the perfect spot. This public park enjoys the waterfront location with plenty of green space and kid-friendly amenities. 

There is a playground, a splash pad for kids, and many picnic spots with shaded tables. 

The playground has a dolphin teeter-totter, a jungle gym with slides, a rope climber with a pirate tower, and more. If you've got a furry friend, bring them along to Queenie's Dog Park for some playtime. Free events and concerts are held at the park amphitheater and festival lawn throughout the year.

So, when you're in the city, include Water Works Park on your list of free things to do in Tampa!  

Open Hours: Daily, 7 am – 10 pm

Location: 1710 N Highland Ave, Tampa, Florida

9. Relax on Tampa Bay Beaches

beautiful beaches
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No visit to Tampa is complete without a trip to the beach. Tampa's sunny weather, with nearly 365 days of sunshine, is perfect for beach adventures. Luckily, the city is surrounded by stunning coastal destinations that offer free access to sun, sand, and water. 

Here are a few must-visit beaches in Tampa:

  • Along the Courtney Campbell Causeway, Ben T Davis Beach stands out as the city's top beach destination. It boasts soft white sand, picnic areas, and beach volleyball courts. Moreover, it is conveniently close to popular spots like WTR and Whiskey Joe's.
  • Clearwater Beach is a favorite spot with its sugary sands, wild dolphins, and family-friendly attractions. For a memorable beach day, consider parking at Frenchy's Rockaway Grill.
  • Caladesi Island is a hidden place that is accessible only by ferry. Here, you can enjoy sunbathing, spotting sea life, and collecting seashells.
  • St. Pete Beach, one of the best Florida beaches, features beautiful white sands and emerald-green water, top-notch restaurants, and waterfront resorts. From parasailing and sunset cruises to water and outdoor activities, the beach has something for all visitors. 
  • Honeymoon Island State Park is a popular destination offering nature trails, RV parking, camping, fishing, and beach lounging.
  • Madeira Beach, also known as “Mad Beach,” offers a classic Florida beach experience without the crowds.
  • If you're traveling with your furry friend, head to Fort de Soto Beach for fun. 

Other famous Tampa beaches include Picnic Island Park and Cypress Point Park. Note that some state parks may require a small parking fee!

10. Enjoy Free Events at Armature Works

If you're looking for a lively spot to explore in Tampa, head to Armature Works. Formerly an old warehouse, Armature Works is now a cultural center and trendy food market. From dining at innovative restaurants to attending memorable events, it offers enjoyable experiences with a beautiful view of the Hillsborough River. 

From yoga sessions to movies on the lawn, live concerts, seasonal events, and the Heights Night Market, Armature Works hosts numerous free events throughout the year. While food and drinks may cost, you can still enjoy the complementary entertainment options without spending a penny. 

Open Hours: Mon-Thur: 7:30 am – 10 pm, Fri: 7:30 am – 12 am, Sat: 8 am -12 am, and Sunday: 9 am – 9 pm 

Location: 1910 N Ola Ave, Tampa, Florida 33602

11. Observe Gentle Creatures at Manatee Viewing Center

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Make sure to add a visit to the Manatee Viewing Center to your list of top free activities in Tampa, FL. This nature preserve is perfect for observing gentle giants known as manatees swimming through the Tampa Electric water plant. These fascinating creatures, often mistaken for mermaids, are large, warm-blooded mammals that love warm water. That's why they gather near Tampa Electric's power station in Apollo Beach during the colder months (November 1 – April 15).

Besides watching the manatees, you can also enjoy other attractions at the center. You can stroll along the 900-foot Tidal Walk trails or visit the Rays Touch Tank to see these Cownose Rays up close. Don't forget to climb up the 50-foot tower for a great view! You can also explore the center's education center to learn more about these incredible animals and their habitats. 

Open Hours: November – April, Daily: 10 am – 5 pm

Location: 6990 Dickman Road, Apollo Beach, Florida

12. Take the TECO Streetcar

Hop on board the TECO Streetcar to explore downtown Tampa. This streetcar offers a scenic ride along a 2.7-mile fixed route through different parts of the city, like Ybor City, Channelside, and Amalie Arena. It's like a vintage train, and guess what? It's free!

You can get on and off whenever you want. Forget about parking challenges or dealing with busy traffic. Enjoy the city views from the streetcar's window as you ride around. The streetcar offers service every 15 minutes on weekdays and every 20 minutes on weekends.

So, next time you're in Tampa, don't forget to take a free ride on the TECO Streetcar!

Location: 603-611 Channelside Dr, Tampa, FL 

13. Florida Botanical Gardens

If you're looking for a peaceful place to relax and enjoy nature in Tampa, the Florida Botanical Gardens is a perfect choice. This 100-acre park is located in Largo, just a half-hour drive from downtown, and it is free to visit.

The Pinellas County Park system manages the garden. It has paved paths and a nature trail with grassy paths. Walking around, you'll see many different types of plants, flowers, and tropical fruits in its 11 gardens. There is a cactus and succulent garden, a butterfly garden, a cottage garden, a palm garden, and more. The garden also offers self-guided tours.

If you visit during the holiday season, don't miss the magical Holiday Lights in the Gardens event. 

Open Hours: Mon-Sun, 7 am – 5 pm

Location: 12520 Ulmerton Road, Largo, FL

14. Visit Tampa Firefighters Museum

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If you want a free, family-friendly activity in Tampa, head to Tampa Firefighter Museum. The Tampa Firefighters Museum, established in 1997, is a non-profit organization that honors the bravery of firefighters. The museum is housed in a restored 1911 firehouse. It preserves the history of the Tampa Fire Department and teaches people how to stay safe from fires. 

You'll see many interesting things, from horse-drawn equipment to modern firefighting vehicles and tools. Kids will love climbing into a vintage fire truck! It is fun and educational for the whole family. The museum is open from 10 am to 2 pm on Wednesdays to Fridays, but you need to make an appointment.

Location:  720 E Zack Street Tampa, FL 33602

15. Visit the Hindu Temple of Florida

If you're looking for religious and cultural attractions in Tampa, visit the Hindu Temple of Florida

It is a great place to learn about Indian culture, heritage, and religion.

When you visit, you'll see beautiful Indian-style architecture, including towers called gopurams. Inside, you'll find statues of Hindu gods and goddesses, and you can participate in prayers and ceremonies. They offer special classes for people who want to learn about Hinduism, languages, music, art, and dance. The temple is free to visit. 

To show respect for this sacred place, dress modestly by covering your shoulders and knees. You can visit the temple Monday through Friday between 9:30 am and 11:30 am, from 6 to 9 pm. On weekends, it is open from 9:30 am to 9 pm.

Location: 5509 Lynn Road, Tampa, FL, 33624 

16. See the Amazing Street Art in Tampa

One of the top free activities in Tampa is taking a colorful adventure through the Tampa streets! Tampa features beautiful art and paintings on its walls, with more than 50 colorful murals all over the city! These murals show the city's culture and artistic spirit and provide a visual pleasure for both locals and visitors. Whether you're biking, walking, or driving around the city, you're bound to stumble upon these incredible pieces of art. 

Begin your mural tour in downtown Tampa, where you'll see many amazing murals. Each one has its own story and makes the streets look interesting and full of life. Head further to neighborhoods like Ybor City and Seminole Heights. Here, you'll find colorful abstract designs in alleyways and building facades, showing the creativity of local artists. Don't forget to capture a picture with your favorite murals.

Final Thoughts

There you go! Tampa is a city full of fun and excitement; you don't need a big wallet to enjoy it! Whether you're visiting waterfront parks, strolling through Riverwalk, having beach fun, or admiring colorful murals, the city has so many exciting and free activities for everyone. I hope this list has helped you plan your budget-friendly trip to Tampa. Happy travels! 

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