Saving to buy a house? Free (or low-cost) activities in Tampa Bay

Saving for a house? 12 free (or low-cost) things to do in Tampa Bay

There so much to love about the Tampa Bay area. From watching the sun set to taking a bike ride through a nature preserve, there are plenty of ways to enjoy this great area without spending a dime.

So, whether you’re a local looking for something new to do or are a prospective homebuyer saving for a home in Tampa Bay, read on to discover some of the best free things to do in Tampa Bay.

TECO Trolley

This is probably our free favorite thing to do in Tampa. You can jump on the TECO trolley downtown (near Sparkman Wharf and Amalie Arena) and take it to Ybor City or vice versa. It’s a great way to explore the city and explore some of Tampa’s must-see spots including the Columbia Restaurant, Channelside, the Florida Aquarium, the Tampa Bay History Center and more.

Star gazing

Sky Watch at MOSI

Once a month MOSI hosts a wonderful program that allows you to join experts and look through their telescopes to see the stars, moons, planets and more! The events are free and weather permitting and are held in the Whitney Andrews Lang Center parking lot on the east side of MOSI.

flowers

Florida Botanical Garden, Largo

Enjoy the natural beauty and plants of Florida while walking through 100 acres of formal gardens, scenic landscapes and native habitats in Largo. All walkways are ADA compliant. The Gardens are open daily from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., except for the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Leashed pets are welcome. The gardens are free to visit. 

Tampa Riverwalk

It’s been named one of the best riverwalks in the country! The Tampa Riverwalk is a gorgeous 2.6-mile pedestrian trail and public park spanning the length of the Hillsborough River within downtown Tampa. The Riverwalk provides access to a number of the city's top tourist attractions including the Tampa Museum of Art, Glazer Children's Museum, WaterWorks Park, Channelside, Sparkman’s Wharf and Armature Works. There’s a wide variety of public art showcased along the trail as well. And there are several parks, including a splash pad for kids, along the river.

Our favorite parks in Tampa

Our favorite playgrounds in Tampa

The Tampa Firefighters Museum

If you have a young one who loves fire trucks, this is the place for you. The Tampa Firefighters Museum preserves the history and culture of the Tampa Fire Department in this 18,000-square-foot museum housed within a local historical landmark. Visitors can view a variety of exhibits at the museum, including restored historic fire trucks and fire equipment and a variety of uniforms worn by city firefighters over the years. The museum is free and open to the public daily. 

Tampa Police Museum

The Tampa Police Museum is a free-admission museum showcasing Tampa police artifacts dating back as far as the 19th century. The museum is located within the Tampa Police Headquarters and is open to the public daily between 10a-3p. Major exhibits include a restored 1924 Model T police car, a gallery containing mugshots and fingerprints belonging to the city's famous criminals and a preserved police motorcycle. Visitors can even pose for pictures behind a barred door relocated from the city's former jail building.

glazer children's museum

Glazer Children’s Museum

The Children’s Board of Hillsborough County proudly presents Free Tuesdays held on the first Tuesday of every month, with free museum admission from 9:30am-5pm. Check out the engineers' workshop, the firehouse and art studio, scoop sweets in the ice cream parlor and shop in the grocery store. Climb to the clouds in water's journey and possibly get a little wet playing at the water table. Due to the high attendance volume on free Tuesday, group reservations are not allowed and groups of ten or more will not be permitted. 

St. Pete Pier

We’ll skip over the Bay for a bit to talk about another favorite free place to visit. The 26-acre St. Pete Pier park area is free to explore. It might cost you to park though. Our favorite spot at the St. Pete Pier is the Glazer Family playground. We also love biking along the nearby trails. The beach is also beautiful. You can pack a picnic and eat on the lawn and view the public art nearby. If you want to splurge there are also many restaurants and the Dali museum nearby.

Heritage Village

Heritage Village is a 21-acre living history complex, preserving some of Pinellas County's most historic buildings and businesses. There are 33 preserved historic attractions including a general store, a railroad depot and historic homes, churches and school buildings. The village's visitor center offers free permanent and rotating art and history exhibits, and living history demonstrations are presented on site throughout the year, including smoke house and sugar cane mill demonstrations. The museum is free and open to the public Wednesdays through Saturdays 10a-4p and Sundays 1-4p.

Pier 60 Festival, Clearwater Beach

There’s a party every night at Pier 60 in Clearwater Beach. And it’s free! Again you’ll have to pay for parking and there are many local restaurants to visit. The pier also has vendors there offering art, food and drinks. The event at Pier 60 is held two hours before sunset and two hours after sunset, weather permitting of course. There is a playground by the beach, and of course, nature’s playground…the beach!

butterflies

Hammock Park Butterfly Garden, Dunedin

I love butterflies and have several butterfly plants in my yard to attract these beautiful creatures. This little spot is a hidden gem in Tampa Bay. There are 11 garden beds with 40 varieties of plants in the butterfly garden that is home to 35 different species of butterflies. The garden is near the main entrance to the Dunedin park. The is a playground and restrooms nearby as well as several nature trails.

tampa murals

Self-guided mural tour in Tampa or St. Pete

Get your art fix by taking a self-guided tour of Tampa Bay’s impressive murals. There are beautiful murals in both downtown Tampa and downtown St. Pete. In fact, we wrote a blog just about the Tampa murals as we love them so much. Check it out here

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