Free Things to Do in Tampa

10 fun and free things to do in Tampa when you're on a budget

Tampa offers plenty for visitors to do and see without spending a dime. Year-round sunshine and warmer temperatures make for lots of free outdoor activities, but there are also tempting indoor attractions to choose from as well. To help you make the most of your vacation dollar, 10 Best has put together a list of the top free things to do while you're in Tampa.

Tops on our list is the Tampa Riverwalk. Part scenic walkway, part history lesson, this 2.5-mile trail is studded with small parks and hugs the downtown waterfront, linking the city's most popular attractions including the Tampa Museum of Art and the Florida Aquarium. There are also plenty of resting spots along the way where you can enjoy a beverage or a bite to eat.  

In the winter months, the Manatee Viewing Center is a popular free activity. Attracted by the warm waters generated by the nearby power plant, manatees congregate to enjoy a respite from the cooler bay waters. An observation deck and information area allow visitors to enjoy these gentle and intriguing animals.

Whatever your interests, from history to nature, there are opportunities to enjoy yourself in Tampa for FREE!


The J. C. Newman Cigar Company was founded in 1915 by Julius Ceasar Newman as a one-man operation in Ohio. The company grew and flourished and in the mid-50s, J.C. decided to relocate to Tampa to pursue his dream of producing a premium cigar line. A relative latecomer to Tampa's cigar industry, J.C. Newman took over another cigar factory, the Regensburg factory, which had been built in 1920 as one of the last and largest cigar factories built in Tampa. Known for its famous clock tower with hourly chimes, the factory was nicknamed El Reloj, Spanish for "The Clock." Today the clock has been refurbished and the factory remains as Ybor City's last operating cigar factory and features a small museum and cigar shop.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Learn more about Tampa's cigar-making history by visiting the J. C. Newman Cigar Company museum where guests can enjoy a self-guided tour.

Skye's expert tip: A working factory and the last company still making cigars in Cigar City, USA.

Read more about J. C. Newman Cigar Company →

Tampa Firefighters Museum
Photo courtesy of Skye Rodgers

The Tampa Firefighters Museum is located in downtown Tampa next to Tampa Fire Rescue Station One. Built in 1911, the beautifully restored building served as the Fire Department Headquarters until 1974. A tribute to all those who have served and continue to serve the city of Tampa, the 18,000 square foot facility is designed to preserve the history of the fire department and to promote fire safety and prevention throughout the community. Included among the historical exhibits and interactive educational displays is an early fire wagon looking as bright and shiny as the day it was made, and a piece of metal recovered from the World Trade Towers on 9/11.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: The Tampa Firefighters Museum is a tribute to the city's first responders and features a piece of the World Trade Towers.

Skye's expert tip: Kids love this museum and there is play area complete with uniforms and a fire truck.

Read more about Tampa Firefighters Museum →

Lettuce Lake Regional Park
Photo courtesy of Skye Rodgers

Lettuce Lake Regional Park is located along the Hillsborough River about half an hour north of downtown Tampa. The river at this point is in its natural state, untouched by houses and development giving visitors a chance to experience natural Florida at its best. The park features 240 acres of wooded picnic areas, a playground and a paved path for bikes and joggers complete with a fitness course. A haven for nature lover lovers and bird watchers, the park features an amazing 3,500-foot boardwalk and observation tower where visitors can view a variety of wildlife. Visit the interpretive center for exhibits on the local birds, vegetation, and animals. Saturdays and Sundays at 8:30 am the park features a free guided nature walk. You can also explore the river by canoe and kayak as the features a boat launch and rentals. There is a nominal charge of $2 per car.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Ok, it's $2, but that's for a car-full! Lettuce Lake Park offers visitors to Tampa a glimpse of Florida's natural beauty.

Skye's expert tip: The $2 fee for park entrance is cash only.

Read more about Lettuce Lake Regional Park →


A must-visit among breweries in Tampa, FL, Yuengling Brewing Co. is the perfect afternoon excursion. This brewery's roughly hour-long tour walks patrons through the meticulous process of crafting delectable brews for America's oldest beer company. From fermentation through bottling, guests are ushered through the brewing process. There are usually three tours a day, but check their website for specific times. Not to disappoint, all tours end with a stop at the "Biergarten" where patrons can sample fresh-brewed Yuengling standards like their Black and Tan, Porter, Lord Chesterfield Ale and signature Traditional Lager. Visitors can also visit the newly built brewhouse and gift shop.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: The free tours offered at Tampa's Yuengling Brewery are always a popular activity.

Skye's expert tip: Tours daily except for Sunday - check their online calendar for details regarding times.

Read more about Yuengling Brewing Co →

Ben T. Davis Beach
Photo courtesy of Dylan Stinson/Film Tampa Bay

If you're vacationing in Tampa and are looking for a beach close-by that offers powdery white sand for lounging, calm water for cooling off and shelters for picnics, then Davis Beach is for you. This is the closest beach to downtown Tampa and the locals' favorite tailgate spot. Davis offers ideal proximity to the airport for travelers who value efficiency. Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings see the beach populated by local volleyball players. This is one of the best spots in town to watch the sunset and is located adjacent to the new Courtney Campbell Trail, a four-mile biking and pedestrian bridge. Lifeguards are on duty from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Tampa's best municipal beach is Ben T. Davis, offering plenty of sun, sand, beach volley-ball and covered picnic areas.

Skye's expert tip: Parking can be a challenge when the beach is busy and you do have to pay. Try to arrive early or late to snag a spot.

Read more about Ben T. Davis Beach →

Manatee Viewing Center
Photo courtesy of Tampa Electric

Once believed to be mermaids, docile and gentle manatees are now an endangered species. In winter, when ocean temperatures drop, they flock to the heated water discharged from Tampa Bay's Big Bend power plant. From the observation platform, visitors can watch the marine mammals bask in the warm water, enjoying a respite from the cool bay. An educational building, complete with mini-theater, instructs visitors on the habits and lives of manatees while outside, nature trails wind along the banks and through picnic areas. Vending machines are available on the premises, and a gift shop sells related merchandise.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: The Manatee Viewing Center offers visitors the no-cost chance to learn about and view endangered manatees.

Skye's expert tip: This is a winter activity as manatees are mostly attracted to the warm water during the cooler winter months.

Read more about Manatee Viewing Center →

On the fourth Friday of every month from 5 pm - 8 pm, downtown Tampa throws open its doors and offers a huge selection of free activities and free access to top cultural and historic attractions. Gain admission to the festivities by picking up a free wristband from any of the event's participants and enjoy. Attractions and activities vary from month to month but may include free admission to the Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa Bay History Center, and Tampa Theatre, and live local music can be enjoyed at multiple locations. Food and drink specials are also offered at many downtown locales. No need to drive, visitors can stroll the Riverwalk, take advantage of the Downtowner shuttles, Pirate Water Taxi rides, or Coast Bike rentals (free for 1 hour).

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: The best deal in Tampa is the Fourth Friday celebration held downtown offering a host of free admissions to top attractions and activities.

Skye's expert tip: Free activities and attractions vary from month to month, check ahead on their calendar to see what's on offer and plan your itinerary.

Read more about Fourth Friday →

Located in the heart of Tampa's historic district, the Ybor City Visitor Center is the perfect place to start your exploration of this charming neighborhood. Operated by the Ybor City Chamber of Commerce, the Visitor Center offers free attraction maps and expert advice on where to go and what to see. There is also an abundance of other Tampa travel-related brochures and pamphlets. Take some time to explore the small museum and video presentation to provide some background and context to the colorful history of what was once known as the "Cigar Capital of the World." This is also a good spot to shop for authentic and local souvenirs of your visit.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: The Ybor City Visitor Center offers visitors free maps and advice for exploring the neighborhood as well as a small museum.

Skye's expert tip: A great place to find quality local souvenirs with a selection of Tampa-themed books, knick-knacks, and vintage cigar boxes.

Read more about Ybor City Visitor Center →

Bayshore Boulevard
Photo courtesy of Skye Rodgers

Yes, a sidewalk is one of Tampa's best attractions. Before you start with the jokes, this is a very special sidewalk. Running from just north of MacDill Air Force Base to downtown Tampa along Hillsborough Bay, the sidewalk that runs along Bayshore Boulevard is the longest continuous sidewalk in the US. It is also South Tampa's unofficial gym, where at all hours of the day you can find many people walking, jogging, biking, and rollerblading down the nearly flat pavement. With the water on one side and some of Tampa's most expensive real estate on the other, the scenery can't be beaten. It's also the location of our most important celebration, the annual Gasparilla parade in late January.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Bayshore Boulevard is the longest sidewalk in the US and offers beautiful Bay and downtown Tampa skyline views.

Skye's expert tip: There is not much shade, so make sure to bring water and wear a hat and use sunscreen.

Read more about Bayshore Boulevard →

Tampa Riverwalk
Photo courtesy of Skye Rodgers

The Tampa Riverwalk is a scenic exploration of the downtown waterfront and connects many of the city's most popular attractions, parks, and restaurants. The broad paved path follows the banks of the Hillsborough River and Garrison Channel and is easily accessible to everyone including the disabled, kids, and furry friends. There are also many ways to navigate the Riverwalk which accommodates walkers, joggers, and bikers. A few of the landmarks you will pass include the Heights Public Market, Waterworks Park, Tampa Museum of Art, Curtis Hixon Park, the Convention Center, and the Tampa Bay History Center. Along the way, you can discover numerous interpretive exhibits highlighting Tampa's history and public art exhibits. The path is almost 3 miles long, but there are plenty of spots to stop for a rest and grab a drink or a quick bite along the way.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: The 2.8-mile Riverwalk is a scenic walkway that hugs the downtown waterfront and connects many of Tampa's most popular attractions.

Skye's expert tip: Explore by bike ($5 per/hr) with self-serve rentals available at several spots along the Riverwalk.

Read more about Tampa Riverwalk →


Meet Skye Rodgers

Skye is a freelance writer that adopted Tampa as her hometown over a decade ago and never looked back. As a native of Canada, Skye has happily embraced the no snow climate, and in her spare time...  More About Skye