Many vacationers struggle to choose a location for travel that offers many activities within their budget. Tampa, Florida, is a premier vacation destination for consumers faced with this issue because of the city’s vast array of free activities. The city has a lot to offer, from the Tampa Bay area to downtown Tampa.
There are many free activities in the city of Tampa for non-nature lovers. The city is full of monuments, just waiting in awe for you to discover them.
Free Things to do in Tampa
While on vacation, there are many fun things to do in Florida, especially in Hillsborough County, while on vacation. Below we will share tips and tricks to get the most mileage out of your holiday on a budget.
To begin our look at free activities in Tampa, we will look at a few of the free museums around the city.
There is the Tampa Firefighters Museum, which stands as a testament to the Tampa Fire Department’s history. It is located right next to the Tampa Fire Rescue Station in the downtown district.
You can also visit the Heritage Village Living History Museum, located inside the Florida Botanical Gardens, both of which are free to the public.
The Tampa Museum of Art is a popular attraction for families, housing both contemporary and classical works. It is not free for adults, but there is free admission for children 0-6, college students, and students from the University of Tampa, the University of South Florida, and Hillsborough Community College.
Manatee Viewing Center
If museum-going, if not your style, another great Tampa location is the manatee viewing center. This mini zoo is open to visitors between November and mid-April. The goal of this location is to educate visitors about the Florida manatee and the environmental issues related to it.
Another great event for tourism in Tampa is Fourth Fridays. Fourth Fridays are a monthly art festival where the city’s galleries, studios, museums, and attractions come either free or discounted for visitors.
Some significant sites participating in this Monthly event include the Henry B plant museum, the Italian club, and the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts.
Courtney Campbell Trail
For a fun and exciting outing, take the family on a journey across the Courtney Campbell Causeway Trail. You will get a gorgeous view of Old Tampa Bay. You can drive across the entire causeway or take a walking tour across.
Speaking of historians, those interested in the past should check out Ybor city. This historical town is rich in culture and history.
Originally founded to be a cigar factory district and Hispanic immigrant town, This section of Tampa was nearly abandoned by the middle of the 1900s. Fortunately, this town now stands as a historical landmark after a collaborative revival effort in the eighties.
Ybor City has been named one of America’s ten great streets by the American Planning Association and is now a large shopping district.
Gasparilla Pirate Fest
Another entry on the list of free things to do in Tampa is the Gasparilla Pirate Fest. This sea-themed gathering is the 3rd largest annual parade in the United States.
Created in honor of Jose Gaspar, this festival takes place every January. The Annual party features an entire weekend of pirate seemed entertainment, including a reenactment that is inaccurate and isn’t a parade of pirates.
Those excited about the nautical aspects of Florida should undoubtedly check out this festival.
Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts
If you love traveling for big parties, the Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts is another solid festival. This festival takes place the 1st week of every March And features many mid-career artists.
This festival features many prizes. Awards are given to artists In categories such as printmaking, sculpture, photography, painting, jewelry, and mixed media.
Be sure not to miss the exciting unveiling of the year’s winners, as it always yields some exciting reactions.
Henry B Plant Museum
If you happen to be by Tampa University, the Henry B plant museum is a great place to visit. This public museum is on the same grounds as the Tampa Bay Hotel.
The hotel is unique because it is a former railroad resort used to transport the titular Henry B. Plant. The hotel was also heavily utilized during the Spanish-American war.
This museum houses original furnishings from the hotel’s origins, which helps to sell the charm and livelihood of this living history museum.
If you’re a history buff who enjoys old decor, you will undoubtedly get the most out of this museum.
Glazer Children’s Museum
Another solid museum to check out on your trip is the Glazer Children’s Museum. Unlike the prior historical landmarks, this museum is much more tailored for children’s learning and family fun.
This museum boasts over 170 unique hands-on exhibits. These hands-on and interactive areas encourage children to pursue learning and stay engaged in history. Various exhibit topics include civics, science, and the arts.
Located in Clearwater, north of Largo, near the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, there is Clearwater Beach. The beach at Clearwater Beach is popular for its soft, white sand. Visitors like to walk along the continuous sidewalk, play volleyball in the sand, or go kayaking in the beautiful water.
At night, guests like to spend time on Pier 60, watching street performers and eating delicious food from the local vendors.
Free Excursions in Tampa
Next, we have free excursions in Tampa. While many of the above activities focus on tourism, the free excursions in Tampa are also for locals.
One of Tampa’s most fun excursions is exploring its housing market. Tampa is famous for its unique architecture and formidable climate. People interested in the local area should check out some residential districts, like Hyde Park, St. Petersburg, and Pinellas County.
Walking around a local neighborhood can be fun to experience how Tampa natives enjoy their daily lives. Looking at the architecture can also be fun.
Orlando inhabitants or other Floridians keen on moving to Tampa should look into the potential property in Tampa, as the city is constantly growing.
Parks in Tampa
Parks are another lovely and free activity you can do in Tampa. Spend the day outside, getting some good exercise or having lunch in one of the scenic picnic areas.
Some of the best parks in the area include the following:
- Hillsborough River State Park
- Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park
- Honeymoon Island State Park
- Picnic Island Park in South Tampa
- Waterworks Park
- Ridgewood Park Butterfly Garden
These parks are all beautiful, scenic areas perfect for a warm summer day in Tampa.
For a fun afternoon, you can drive from Ballast Point Park in South Tampa down Bayshore Boulevard, where you can get a beautiful view of Hillsborough Bay.
Want to see some alligators? Sawgrass Lake Park in Pinellas County is the best place to see alligators while visiting Tampa. A nice elevated boardwalk and observation tower make viewing the alligators easy.
Monuments in Tampa
Those looking for free activities in Tampa should look into the city’s many monuments. Foregoing a tour guide and checking out the monuments for yourself can be a fun and exciting twist on a usual vacation activity.
Those looking to explore the many monuments of Tampa should consider finding or creating a Tampa monument scavenger hunt, which will help to keep track of the many destinations around the city. Lists may vary, but some must-see monuments include:
- Tampa City Hall
- Thirteenth Judicial Circuit
- Tampa War Memorial
- Tampa Hydria
While there are other unique monuments beyond those listed, these are the city’s must-see sights.
Walks in Tampa
Walking tours might seem like a boring way to spend a vacation, but they can be the highlight of a trip. Walking is not only great for your health, but it can be one of many fun and romantic things to do in Tampa.
While walking has the potential to be fun, one must first know the best places to stroll down. Fortunately, we are here to give some suggestions on what areas of Tampa are adequately scenic.
The Florida botanical gardens are the premiere locale to take a walk in. This giant garden will surround you with beautiful floral life sure to lift your mood.
This garden is 182 acres long, and the facility is home to ten landscaped visitor gardens with over 10000 total plants.
Another great hike is at the Tampa Riverwalk. This gorgeous two-and-a-half-mile trail is a public park almost as long as the Hillowburg River. This park and boardwalk are open daily, an excellent spot for tourists and locals to take a nice walk on the water.
Overall, Tampa is a great place to go to for its amazing weather and scenic urban areas. Both tourists and long-time Florida inhabitants alike will have a great time, as many of the city’s best activities are free.
The abundance of free activities in Tampa and the city atmosphere make this one stop you won’t want to miss.