It takes a lot of planning and saving to plan a great vacation, right? Well, being able to have a memorable vacation without breaking the bank is important to most travelers (me included!) — especially if you have kids or multiple friends and family.
Fortunately, there are numerous free and cheap things to do in St. Pete, Florida — making this hot destination in the Sunshine State perfect for budget-conscious travelers. Check out the following free and cheap things to do in St. Pete to plan the perfect vacation (and save some money while you’re at it!).
This post was written by guest contributor Stephanie from Fleurty Girl Travels. Some of the links in this blog post are affiliate links, meaning that I earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase at no additional cost to you. This helps me keep the content on my website free for you to enjoy!
Cheap Things To Do in St. Pete, Florida (Under $20)
Everyone’s definition of “cheap” is different. However, the following attractions have an entrance fee of $20 or less — making them relatively cheap enough for all travelers (even those on a tight budget!).
1. Skyway Fishing Pier State Park
Dubbed as the longest fishing pier in the world — Skyway Fishing Pier State Park does not disappoint!
When the new bridge was built, the old portions were turned into fishing piers — one on the North and one on the South. Each pier has a concession stand that sells snacks, drinks, and fishing supplies, including rental gear. It costs about $12 for a rod rental and entry, which is good for a 24-hour time period. Fishing licenses are not required.
Spending the day fishing in St. Pete is a great activity for the entire family. Pack a picnic and a cooler full of drinks and enjoy the wide-open spaces on the fishing pier. Don’t forget to bring a beach umbrella, a hat, or some sort of shade for daytime fishing — the Florida sun can be hot and relentless!
2. Fort De Soto Park
Fort De Soto Park is the perfect place to spend the day. This beautiful park included a seven-mile multi-use trail, fishing piers, a dog-friendly beach, kayak and bike rentals, a historic fort and museum, and miles of gorgeous white-sand beaches.
Parking can be a challenge on the weekends, so plan on getting there early (or visit on a weekday to avoid the crowds). Drive through the entirety of the park — there are some great places where you can capture pictures of the Skyway Bridge. The park also has restroom facilities and playgrounds for the kids. It only costs $5 per vehicle to park at Fort De Soto Park, which makes this one of the best cheap things to do in St. Pete!
Ferry services to Egmont Key and Shell Key are also available from Fort De Soto Park. They don’t fit into the “cheap” category — tickets are $45 per adult and $25 per child — but if you’re looking for a spectacular island adventure, taking the ferry is worth the cost!
3. Boyd Hill Nature Preserve
Boyd Hill Nature Preserve will give you an up close and personal look at a variety of Florida wildlife, especially birds — it has been included on the Great Florida Birding Trail because of the bird species found here. It only costs $3 per adult and $1.50 per child to enter, which easily makes it one of the best cheap things to do in St. Pete, Florida!
When you arrive, pick up a “checklist” from the Lake Maggiore Environmental Education Center filled with different birds, butterflies, reptiles, and amphibians. You can document your findings on the checklist! The Environmental Education Center also offers interactive exhibits and indoor and outdoor activities that highlight the wildlife and natural wonders in Boyd Hill Nature Preserve and the surrounding area.
4. The Ale & the Witch
Hidden in a beautiful courtyard in the heart of downtown St. Petersburg is a bar called The Ale & the Witch.
Yes, we agree — running up a large bar tab is not a “cheap” activity. However, every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, this tap house has free live music in the courtyard, and no purchase is necessary in order to enjoy the tunes! If you do want a drink, this restaurant offers 34 varieties of beer, 14 different wines, and plenty of non-alcoholic beverages. You can usually get a drink (and leave a tip) for under $10 per person.
We recommend arriving early to snag a patio seat, or you can bring your own foldable chair to enjoy the free local music.
5. Sunken Gardens
Sunken Gardens is a stunning botanical garden that has been a part of St. Petersburg since 1911. Mr. Turner bought four acres of land and drained it, leaving a muck that was perfect for his gardening hobby. By the 1930s, he was charging the neighbors to tour his gardens, and the rest, they say, is history.
Sunken Gardens is now a staple attraction in St. Petersburg and is home to over a thousand plant species, including orchids, trees, and flowers. There are even flamingos, tropical birds, and waterfalls in the Sunken Gardens!
Admission is $15 for adults and $6 for children, and you should plan to spend at least an hour wandering through this garden — it is one of St. Pete’s hidden gems! It’s very peaceful, especially considering it sits along a busy street, and the gift shop is filled with lovely items to take home for your own garden.
Cheap Places to Eat in St. Pete, Florida
In addition to the cheap things to do in St Pete, there are also plenty of inexpensive places to eat. Check out these popular cheap eats in St. Petersburg to add to your list of cheap things to do in St. Pete.
6. Trip’s Diner
Trip’s Diner is a modern diner with a retro “feel” that has recently been awarded the People’s Choice Award by Tampa Bay Times for the best breakfast restaurant. This unassuming establishment serves up traditional diner fare, including breakfast, burgers, sandwiches, salads, and more. They have two locations — one in St. Petersburg and one in Tampa.
It usually costs about $10 per person for a meal here, plus the cost of a beverage and tip. If you’re looking for somewhere inexpensive to eat in St. Pete — be sure to add Trip’s Diner to the list.
7. Casita Taqueria
Who doesn’t love tacos? And even better — cheap tacos? If so, you’ll certainly love the delicious Mexican-inspired cuisine served at Casita Taqueria.
Casita Taqueria has three locations in St. Petersburg and offers at least a dozen varieties of tacos served on homemade corn tortillas. Tacos range from $3 to $4.25 each, so you can get a few for $10 to $15 — that’s a pretty cheap meal, right? Casita Taqueria also serves burritos, bowls, salads, tortas, alcoholic beverages, and non-alcoholic drinks, like Mexican Coca-Cola.
8. Dead Bob’s Bar & Restaurant
If you’re searching for a delicious burger you can enjoy near the beach while watching the latest game — from NFL to NBA — you’ll love the cheap eats at Dead Bob’s Bar & Restaurant.
You’ll find plenty of unique burgers on the menu at this local establishment, including the French Dip Burger, The Philly Bob, and The Money Tree Burger. And the best part? All burgers are under $11, so it’s a pretty cheap place to grab a meal. Dead Bob’s is also a great place to stop for an inexpensive breakfast. All their breakfast entrees average between $7 to $8.
Free Things To Do In St. Pete, Florida
In addition to the cheap things to do in St. Pete, there are plenty of free things to do too — you’ll only have to pay for parking. Check out the list of free things to do in St. Pete below!
9. Shine Mural Tour
Did you know there are more than 600 colorful murals that decorate the walls of St. Petersburg? And, since 2015, the SHINE St. Petersburg Mural Festival has created more than 150 murals on the streets and walls in and around downtown St. Petersburg.
The best way to see the murals is by joining a walking or biking tour — but these tours will cost a little bit of money. However, this map has the locations of all the murals you can visit — you guessed it — for free! The artists who created these murals are extremely talented, and each of these stunning art pieces tells a story. They’re a ton of fun to find, admire, and snap a photo of — making mural hunting one of the best cheap things to do in St. Pete!
10. John’s Pass Village & Boardwalk
Created by a hurricane in the mid-1800s, John’s Pass Village & Boardwalk is a tourist hotspot that offers kitschy shops, fresh seafood restaurants, and scenic views — if you closely watch the waters, you might see a dolphin or a manatee!
Visiting the village and boardwalk is free, with the expectation of parking. If you’re staying along the beach, utilize Free Beach Ride to save money on parking.
It’s easy to spend a few hours walking through John’s Pass Village and out on the jetty to the Gulf of Mexico. When the deep sea fishing boat comes back to the dock, the crew cleans the fish, throwing the carcasses to the pelicans and seagulls nearby. This is quite the show! We also recommend timing your visit to catch the spectacular sunset.
11. Pinellas Trail
Pinellas Trail is a multi-use trail extending nearly 50 miles from St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs. This beautiful trail is a great way to enjoy the outdoors in St. Pete by walking, jogging, skating, or biking (our personal favorite way to explore the trail!).
If you’re driving to St. Pete and can bring your own bicycles to Pinellas Trail, this activity is completely free. Otherwise, there are tons of great bike rental places in St. Pete that can hook you up with durable wheels. In addition to Pinellas Trail, there are many other multi-use trails that link up to Pinellas Trails, so you’ll have plenty of trails to explore.
Downtown St. Pete is also bike-friendly — so take advantage of your bike rental and bring your wheels around downtown, too!
12. St. Pete Beach & Pass-a-Grille Beach
The beaches in St. Pete are top-notch and award-winning Florida beaches. Whether you choose to visit the infamous St. Pete Beach or the quainter Pass-a-Grille Beach — visiting these beautiful white-sand beaches costs nothing!
If you’re not able to find free parking, you’ll likely pay a small fee. There are municipal parking lots along Gulf Boulevard, but if you’re staying on the beach, chances are — your hotel includes parking (woohoo!). Please observe the no parking signs in shopping plazas and on residential streets — you will get towed, and that’s not a fun way to spend your vacation!
Regardless of the time of day, the beach is always spectacular. However, the sunsets along the Gulf Coast of Florida are some of the best in the world! During your beach walk, you may find seashells and parts of sand dollars that have washed ashore. Keep a look out for dolphins — they are spotted very frequently along the coast. You can even rent a glass-bottom kayak to spot the marine life below the water’s surface!
Walking along the beach is tranquil, relaxing, and stress relieving. The kids will be entertained for hours, building sandcastles and splashing in the surf. The beach is also a romantic place to sit together and gaze toward the horizon. It’s no wonder that visiting the beach is one of the best cheap things to do in St. Pete!
13. Morean Arts Center
Morean Arts Center is a non-profit contemporary art gallery that is free and open to the public.
This gallery has a large collection of artwork which can be explored on Monday to Saturday from 9 AM to 5 PM. You can also visit the Morean Center for Clay — the largest working pottery in the Southeast USA — where you can look at the rotating exhibitions for free.
14. St. Pete Pier
In 2020, St. Petersburg unveiled its newest waterfront gem — the reimagined St. Pete Pier. The pier district utilizes 26 acres of waterfront and includes several restaurants, a playground and splash pad, a beach area, and a fishing deck at the end of the pier. Various art sculptures and a nature walk enhance the experience.
This state-of-the-art structure is free to visit, but parking charges apply. A free shuttle runs from the parking areas, the base of the pier, and out to the pier structure. The views from the pier are breathtaking. Visit Pier Teaki at the top for the best city views — no purchase is necessary.
15. Second Saturday ArtWalk
You guessed it — on the second Saturday of each month, the local art galleries in the Central Arts District, Grand Central District, Warehouse Arts District, Uptown Arts District, and Waterfront District open their doors for the Second Saturday ArtWalk from 5 PM to 9 PM.
This free event is the only time that certain galleries are open to the public, so it’s a really special time to explore the artwork in St. Petersburg. Definitely don’t miss out on this event if you’ll be in town — it’s one of the best cheap things to do in St. Pete!
FAQs: Cheap Things to Do in St. Pete, Florida
Is St. Pete expensive?
Though Florida has a reputation for a high cost of living, St. Pete is actually one of the cheaper cities in Florida. Out of Tampa and St. Petersburg — St. Pete is the more affordable option for both living and travel expenses.
Can I swim at St. Pete Beach?
Yes, you can swim at St. Pete Beach! The water is clear, beautiful, and generally warm enough for swimming and other water sports. However, heed the beach warning flag system and stay out of the water when red flags or double red flags are flying — these flags warn beachgoers of dangerous water conditions, like rip currents.
Is St. Pete worth a visit?
While many visitors flock to Tampa on the Gulf Coast — St. Pete is absolutely worth a visit during your time in the Sunshine State! In addition to all the free and cheap things to do in St. Pete, several other popular attractions — like the Salvador Dalí Museum and Museum of Fine Arts — make a visit to St. Pete a must!
Enjoy These Free & Cheap Things to Do in St. Pete, Florida
Taking a nice Florida vacation doesn’t have to be expensive. With a little planning and research — your beach getaway can be fun and affordable with this list of free and cheap things to do in St. Pete!