Fun, Free and Cheap Things to Do
Traveling on a budget? No worries! St. Pete/Clearwater is full of wallet-friendly experiences.
When you want to have fun, but not spend a lot of vacation cash, check out these free and inexpensive activities in St. Pete/Clearwater. If you’re traveling with kids, also read our article on budget-friendly travel for families.
The Perfect Picnic
Relaxing, romantic and tummy-pleasing… what’s not to like about a picnic? It’s a great money-saving idea, too, when you compare the cost to a restaurant meal. Grab lunch or dinner to go from a spot that specializes in delectable takeaway, such as:
- Mazzaro’s, an iconic Italian market in St. Pete
- Spiro’s, a Greek deli and produce market in South Pasadena
- Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish, a delightfully Old Florida spot in South Pasadena renowned for its smoked fish spread
- Rollin’ Oats Market & Cafe, a local secret in St. Pete with a great selection of healthy and delicious prepared foods
- Nature’s Food Patch Market & Cafe, a natural food store near downtown Clearwater that has a large deli
Once your picnic basket is bursting at the seams, head to a glorious spot such as the St. Pete Pier or North Shore Park in St. Pete (plan ahead and you could even be there for a sunrise breakfast!), Upham Beach in St. Pete Beach, Philippe Park in Safety Harbor, or Mobbly Beach Park in Oldsmar. Can’t decide where to go? Just head west, where America’s best beaches and gorgeous sunsets await your picnic blanket. Tranquil Pass-a-Grille Beach or Fort De Soto Park are wonderful options.
Art for Everyone
No need to spend a lot of money to see mind-blowing art here. Explore St. Pete’s amazing murals on foot via a self-guided walking tour or do a little public art-spotting in Dunedin. Pop into art collectives such as The Factory or Coastal Creative, both in St. Pete – or see the eclectic offerings at Safety Harbor Art & Music Center. In South St. Pete, Boyd Hill Nature Park is home to several whimsical sculptures that surprise and delight visitors.
Thursday evening is a great time to visit three local museums – The Dalí Museum, Imagine Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg all offer discounted admission after 5 p.m. The James Museum offers discounted admission all day on Tuesdays. Admission to the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art at St. Petersburg College is always free, though donations are welcome. Be sure to check museum websites before you visit, as special discount promotions are offered throughout the year.
You can also browse local galleries for free, including the Morean Arts Center, the Morean Center for Clay, Florida CraftArt, Duncan McClellan Gallery, and many more.
So Many Markets
No matter which St. Pete/Clearwater community you’re visiting, there’s bound to be a fabulous weekly or monthly market where you’re welcome to explore aisles of booths featuring local craft and food vendors (did someone say free samples?).
The Saturday Morning Market in St. Pete is the ultimate. The Corey Avenue Market in St. Pete Beach is a Sunday standout. Gulfport has a First Friday and Third Saturday Artwalk and a Tuesday farmer’s market. The Dunedin Downtown Market takes place on Fridays and Saturdays, seasonally. They’re all worth going for the people-watching alone, but you’re sure to find something delicious to eat and more to take home.
Beaches, Parks & Gardens
Breezy parks and beaches are abundant in St. Pete/Clearwater, and they’re all free – or close to it. One local attraction is even on the beach: Stroll from the sands of Redington Shores to Seaside Seabird Sanctuary, where you’ll meet the pelicans, cormorants, herons, roseate spoonbills and even owls the facility cares for as part of its rehabilitation mission. There’s no charge for admission, but donations are welcome.
In Largo, admission is free every day at the beautiful Florida Botanical Gardens, where you can stroll amongst gorgeous tropical plants and fruit trees before heading next door to the immersive Old Florida experience at Heritage Village. (Special note: Florida Botanical Gardens hosts a magical holiday lights display every year with live entertainment, and it’s free, too!)
Many local parks offer free admission along with lovely landscapes. For explorers, Weedon Island Preserve in northeast St. Pete offers boardwalks and paths through coastal scrub landscapes and paddling trails through mangrove forests. Nature lovers will also enjoy Clam Bayou Nature Preserve in Gulfport, Sawgrass Lake Park in Seminole, and Boca Ciega Millennium Park in Seminole.
Pro Tip for Outdoors Lovers: Be on the lookout for deep discounts on admission to can’t-miss spots such as Sunken Gardens, an iconic 100-year-old attraction in St. Pete – as well as water experiences like Clearwater Boat Tours.
Find more outdoor adventures in St. Pete/Clearwater.
Budget Beverage Bonanza
Learn all about the people behind the booze with a tour of Kozuba & Sons Distillery in St. Pete’s happening Warehouse Arts District for just $10 (contact the distillery to make an appointment). Or head north to Tarpon Springs Distillery for a free tour and tasting (open Wednesday through Sunday).
Wine lovers will appreciate a tour of Florida Orange Groves Winery in South Pasadena – and samples of their fruit-forward offerings in their tasting room.
Whether it’s a Tampa Bay Rays game in the cool comfort of Tropicana Field or an evening spent watching the Rowdies host another United Soccer League team at Al Lang Stadium, the savvy sports fan always avoids paying full price for tickets. Keep an eye out for special promotions such as $10 Rays tickets (or get the student, military or senior discount anytime). You can find deals for Rowdies games through websites like Groupon.
In the summer months, see the Clearwater Threshers play at Baycare BallPark or the Dunedin Blue Jays at TD Ballpark for just $8, and enjoy all the lively, family-friendly entertainment that comes with it.
And then there’s Spring Training in February and March, when you can watch the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin or the Phillies in Clearwater on the cheap.
Walking Tours on the Cheap
Get your steps in as you dive deep to explore this sunny destination. The St. Petersburg Museum of History offers walking tours once a month for just $15. And you won’t want to miss a walking tour of the waterfront Tocobaga Indian mound in west St. Pete’s lush Jungle Prada neighborhood (adult tickets are just $12) – be sure to snap a photo of the property’s resident peacocks! (Bonus: this spot shares a parking lot with Jungle Prada Tavern, a casual restaurant with plentiful outdoor space filled with giant Jenga and other fun yard games.)