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Staycation: Inexpensive Things to do in Tampa Bay Florida

Free and fun things to do in Tampa Bay, Florida.

Tampa Bay, Florida is an amazingly beautiful place. I was born and raised in this sunny paradise and still find myself spending a good deal of time here. We never run out of things to do.

Beaches? Award-winning children’s zoo? Broadway shows? Natural wildlife? Yeah, we’ve got that. And an aquarium and a children’s museum. The list goes on and on. Tampa Bay is full of amazing things to do. Why not plan a staycation there this year?

There are more fun and inexpensive things to do in Tampa Bay than I could possibly ever list, but I hope this will at least get you started. Let’s dive into the fun!
Free and inexpensive things to do in Tampa bay


Be a tourist—>

Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks provide fun and excitement for any age. Eat at one of many amazing greek restaurants. Go dolphin watching. Take a walk through the greek village and browse over 100 shops. And of course, don’t forget to pick up some sponges!

Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks

Ringling Museum of Art is free on Mondays. They have beautiful grounds full of unique banyan trees, dwarf gardens and a super fun playground. There is no admission fee to the playground or the gardens. Enjoy anytime!

Bolger playground

Clearwater Marine Aquarium has gotten a lot of notoriety in recent years after the release of the movie Winter. This aquarium is the focal point of the movie and Winter still lives there today. Last summer, we had the opportunity to visit and we loved it! (This is not particularly cheap, but it is super fun.)

clearwater marine aquarium


Sunsets at Pier 60 is a free and fun way to enjoy the beauty of the sun setting on the Gulf. There is a large boardwalk with artisans, crafters, street performers and musical entertainment.

watch the sunset

Port of Tampa tour I’ve never personally been on this tour, but I am fascinated by the trip that this homeschool group took. Best of all, it’s FREE. Read more about it from my friend Jenn’s blog.

Port of Tampa

Go to the park—>

Spraygrounds will keep you cool in the summer. The Tampa Tribune has a great list of options here.  Personally, I love the one in Hyde Park (sprayground at Anderson park). It’s super fun!

spray parks


Common Ground Park Lakeland is a newer playground that boasts an amazing play experience! A few of my old favorites include Alderman Ford which has a gorgeous walking/bike trail through a nature preserve and a nice playground. Medard Park has canoeing, fishing, picnic areas and playgrounds, but it also has really neat large dirt hills for kids to climb and explore (used to be a phosphate mine). For a reasonable fee, you can go canoeing on the Little Manatee river.

Or go swimming at Lithia Springs Park or explore 596 acres of God’s creation at Upper Tampa Bay Regional Park. And of course, Paul Sanders Park is our all time family favorite place to be. The shaded wonderland is full of amazing climbing trees for all ages.

Spend the day at the park

Learn something new—>

Hydrofarm is one of the coolest things. If you’ve never been, it’s a must see. Most of them give tours and offer upick produce. It’s fascinating to see how they grow. Of course, you can go the traditional route and pick just about anything from strawberries to tomatoes in central Florida!

pick fruit

Ft. Desoto Park is full of rich history, wildlife and beauty. Stroll the 7 miles of beach, tour the historic fort and check out the FREE museum on site. Of course there is also a huge boardwalk for biking/walking and a boat ramp. Or check out Sawgrass Lake.

Fort desoto park

Want to learn about Florida’s heritage? Check out Cracker Country or  Pinellas County Heritage Village. Both are full of buildings sharing the story of Florida’s past. Check their schedules for demonstration days when volunteers will be on site teaching many of the trades of the time period.

cracker country

Got an idea? Share it with us!


  1. Tricia says

    Thanks for posting this! We love Cracker Country Homeschool Days and Fort DeSoto!

  2. says

    After reading all of those fun place to visit I really want to plan a vacation to FL! We already have vacation plans for TN so maybe next year. Until then we’re working on a project called R is for Rhode Island. Basically it’s our own alphabet book filled with quintessential RI activities and places. Is a lot of fun being a tourist in your hometown!

  3. says

    I can’t wait to check Ft. Desoto Park! I have heard so many great things. Do you have any park or greenway recommendations for the Brandon area?

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