Saint Petersburg, Florida is known for its wide selection of beaches, restaurants, nightlife, shops, and museums. For those of us who call this city home, we may not want to spend like a tourist every weekend! And those of you who are staying here for vacation probably don’t want to break the bank doing all the best activities in St Pete either.
Throughout my first year of living here I started discovering the best free activities in St. Pete, *spoiler*, there are so many options that I’m still working on visiting all the spots on this list!
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase.
23 Things to do for free in Saint Petersburg
1. Walk the St. Pete Pier
The 3-year, 98 million-dollar construction for the new St. Pete Pier was finished and opened in 2020. It is now one of the most popular things to do for free in Saint Petersburg (for good reason!).
It is complete with 6 restaurants, a public beach, sculptures, vendors, a museum, a playground, and a splash pad for kids. In my opinion, I’ve yet to see a better pier anywhere else, it’s really a must-do if you’ve yet to go! The views from the rooftop bar at the end of the pier, Pier Teaki, are stunning!
While not quite free you can also rent a bike for pretty cheap and check out the pier and surrounding areas that way. You can also spend a little more to go via a Segway on a tour.
2. Watch planes take off at Demens Landing Park
A more secluded park downtown is Demens Landing which offers free parking for up to 3 hours! It’s located right across from the St. Pete Airport so you’ll be able to see planes land and take off from here. Facing the other side of the park there are views of the city, pier, and the marina. I also saw a limpkin (type of crane) hunting sea critters!
3. Relax at Fort DeSoto Beach
Fort DeSoto is my personal favorite beach in the Tampa Bay area and among my favorite free activities in St. Pete. It’s tucked away from tourism and really gives you a more exclusive experience with nature.
Parking is never a challenge (a lot of sections are free) and the beach is a very short walk from the car! If you park in the sandy area watch out for fire ants, I stepped on a nest once – not my fondest memory!
Don’t overlook the history while visiting! There’s an actual fort, a museum, and cannons at the Battery Laidley landmark.
If you want a more unique experience that doesn’t cost too much you can take the Shell Key Ferry that departs right from the Ft Desoto Boat Launch and explore Shell Key Island – the water here is some of the clearest and bluest in the area!
You can find out more information on the ferry along with other water activities on St Pete Beach here.
4. Duncan McClellan Gallery
Another one of the free activities in St Pete is admission to Duncan McClellan Gallery. The inside is filled with glass exhibits and an active glass-making studio where you’re allowed to watch the glass-blowing process!
Outside in the garden, you will find more glass art hidden throughout! Don’t sleep on this place if you’re into glass sculptures or looking for an incredible natural setting for weddings, parties, and special occasions.
5. Morean Arts Center
Art lovers listen up! Morean Arts Center always offers free admission to their first-floor contemporary art gallery! The artwork inside rotates often and a majority of the art is local.
Tickets to the rest of the gallery are $20 USD per person. You can find out what exhibits are ongoing here.
Fun Fact: Morean Arts Center has one of the oldest contemporary art galleries in Florida.
There is free and paid street parking on the streets surrounding the arts center.
Since this activity is downtown I think pairing this activity with one of the other free activities in St Pete, like a visit to one of the downtown parks would be a fun afternoon!
6. Saturday Morning Market
Ranking in the top 20 nationwide markets is the Saturday Morning Market and one of the best weekend activities in St Pete.
While this is technically a free activity in St. Pete, it might be hard to resist all food, drink, and shopping options inside this market but it’s still fun to people-watch and walk around. The homemade guac and bread vendors I’ve tried from in the past were both delicious!
Keep in mind they relocate their setup to a nearby location during the summer months for more shade. You can find out more specifics here.
October to May, 9–2 pm in the Al Lang Stadium parking lot.
June to August 9 am–1 pm in Williams Park.
7. Pinellas Trail
The Pinellas Trail stretches from Tarpon Springs in the north all the way south to Fort DeSoto in Saint Petersburg. It’s a well-known thing to do for free by locals of all ages used for walking, jogging, skating, and biking.
This trail isn’t the most scenic by any means however it’s not super busy and the section of the trail in downtown does have a lot of cool graffiti murals to look at. Plus, you can easily hop across one or two streets to 1st or Central Ave to grab water, tea, coffee, or even a beer from one of many local businesses.
In St. Pete, there are many entrances to the trail. Check out this downloadable PDF or their website for more detailed maps and information.
You can bring your own bike for free or rent a city bike from several places on the streets around town or directly from Bay E-Bikes.
8. Hike Weeden Island Preserve
This outdoor free activity in St. Pete is inside a 3,190-acre natural area with multiple hiking trails and a canoe/kayak launch which will take you through a dense red mangrove forest.
You can also see the skylines of both Tampa and St. Pete from the observation towers. Of course, the hiking trails would be the thing to do for free, unless you own a kayak or canoe!
Option to rent a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard from Weeden Island Rentals
It’s recommended before hitting the water to bring lots of water and check the tide chart posted outside the restrooms because some areas in the preserve get pretty shallow.
Click here for the visitor’s map from their main website.
9. Day trip to downtown Gulfport
If I could describe Gulfport in one word it would be “charming”. The heart of Gulfport, located just 10-15 minutes from downtown St. Pete, is made up of a few blocks on Beach Blvd S. that lead all the way up to the water.
It’s so pleasing just to walk around and take in all the bright pops of color and eclectically styled exteriors, it’s hard to stop staring! There are endless choices for dining, breweries, coffee shops, and boutiques if you wish to spend!
Gulfport also has a public beach that is clean but it’s not somewhere I’d want to swim– the bottom is kinda nasty! A few times after work I’ve brought some Chick-fil-a and sat on a bench or under a pavilion to enjoy the view! There’s also a new pier to the left of the Gulfport Casino (also left of the beach) that has a fun bench swing.
Overall, visiting Gulfport can be an extremely fun thing to do for free not far from downtown St. Pete!
10. 2nd Saturday Art Walk
Every month, many of St. Pete’s districts combine to form an Art Walk! Like the title says, every 2nd Saturday of the month from 5-9 pm the districts showcase local artists and their art. Visit their website for all the details and a downloadable map!
11. Leisurely enjoy Historic Round Lake Park
Historic Round Lake Park is a very small park right off 4th St North with a notably large banyan tree. It’s usually very quiet and there are a few benches around the lake to sit at.
I like to enjoy this park by grabbing some coffee to-go from FLATBREAD & BUTTER or Foxtail Coffee Co and walking around the lake. There are also several restaurants close by (The Bier Boutique is closest) if you want to walk off your lunch or dinner.
Looking for more free activities in St Pete? I have a post on 30+ free birthday deals you can claim in Tampa Bay!
12. Look for gators at Sawgrass Lake Park
The options for secluded trails in St. Pete are quite limited. Sometimes I just want something more quiet and relaxed with an easier parking situation than the beaches and downtown.
Sawgrass Lake Park in Pinellas Park is the perfect tranquil setting with the potential to see a variety of wildlife, including birds, armadillos, turtles, and alligators. This trail has a mile-long boardwalk through the marsh with an observation tower with benches at the end and several short dirt trails. Both the times I’ve visited there have only been a couple of people walking the park.
Note: dogs are not allowed on the boardwalk
My Finding’s Tip: You’ll have to go through a residential neighborhood to get to the entrance! It’s a bit weird but don’t turn around!
13. Find dolphins at Vinnoy & North Shore Park
These two parks are connected to make for a wide-open walking path lined with palm trees. If you walk right up to the water’s edge oftentimes you’ll see dolphins or stingrays! You could also bring a hammock and set it up along the water and enjoy the closest and best views of St. Pete Pier.
14. Gizella Kopsiick Palm Arboretum
I recently learned about Gizella Kopsiick Palm Arboretum, a perfect thing to do for free if you want to get lost inside a tropical oasis! The waterfront park is brick-lined with 150+ palm trees from all around the world! Most of the palms have labels so you can learn their origins. The options of things you could do here are endless; walk your dog, meditate, go on a date, rollerblade, have a picnic, or bring a chair and sit on the beach.
Amenities: Bathrooms, outdoor shower, water fountains.
Free parking and entry
15. Coffee Pot Park & Bayou
Along Coffee Pot Blvd are two underrated areas, Coffee Pot Park, and slightly south, Coffee Pot Bayou. There’s a boat ramp for small boats at Coffee Pot Park. This is also a great area for biking, rollerblading, running/ walking, wildlife sightings (manatees in winter), and fishing.
If you follow the road north it will connect all the way to Weedon Island Preserve, south it will lead you to Vinnoy Park, Gizella Kopsick Palm, Cycad Arboretum, and eventually, St. Pete Pier.
I love visiting Coffee Pot Blvd and the Snell Isle Blvd bridge intersection and scoping out the wealthy homes while enjoying a leisurely walk, plus this area is also great for pictures!
16. Spend an afternoon at Florida Botanical Gardens + Heritage Village
It’s a little bit outside of St. Pete but after reading from the park’s website, I had to include it! This is a great thing to do for free that offers a lot of value! I am dying to check this place out soon!
The Florida Botanical Gardens are 100+ acres of plants, landscapes, fauna, and nature trails. It is directly connected to Heritage Village which showcases exhibits of local Pinellas County history, how cool!? I’m not originally from this area (who really is? lol) but I’d love to learn more about it.
Follow both the garden and the village’s Facebook pages below because I noticed they’re always hosting events such as garden yoga, live music, and seasonal activities!
17. Gaze at the Bending Arc
This is directly related to the last activity as that is where you will find the Bending Arc art piece by Janet Echelman. During the daytime, you might instinctively find this large floating piece of netting to feel a little bit out of place. However, at night, the Bending Arc lights up and transforms into such a dramatic yet calming sculpture.
Whenever I stand underneath it or sit in the chair circle below I am mesmerized as I look up and see the changing colors and shadows as it effortlessly sways changing its shape in the night breeze. It’s a great place to talk with a friend or significant other.
18. Crescent Lake
A wide-open park off of 4th Street N, with just over a mile of sidewalk around the lake perfect for dog walks or jogging. There’s also a tennis court, a baseball field, playgrounds, and a dog park. Since everything is spaced out it’s unlikely that it’ll feel crowded! The only con is there are no bathrooms.
19. North & South Straub Park
If you’re ever hanging out in downtown St. Pete on Bayshore or Beach Drive these are the two main waterfront parks sandwiched in between the restaurants and the pier/marina. It doesn’t matter what time or day of the week, it’s always a lively area with stuff to see in every direction!
During Christmas and New Year’s they decorate these parks with lights, garlands, and decorations on the lawn. It adds another element to this area–it’s just the best!
20. Mirror Lake
If you’re wandering downtown St. Pete and looking to relax, stop by Mirror Lake. It’s right behind 1st Street N on Mirror Lake Drive. It tends to draw a lot of joggers and you will also see a homeless crowd from time to time, but the park is big enough that it has never been an issue for me, yet, I know it may bother some people.
21. Book & Bottle wine tasting
Book & Bottle offers one of the best free activities in St. Pete, they offer free wine tasting every Friday from 5-7 pm! This is a great chance to discover how charming and intimate this bookshop is! Here you can find all of their weekly events and deals, they have specials almost daily!!
22. Correy Ave Sunday Market
Since 2007 this market on St. Pete Beach has taken place every Sunday. They have a lot of vendors selling a variety of different things and you’ll also find entertainment and food trucks along the way. Being that the Correy Ave Market is right near St. Pete Beach you can easily walk into the permanent shops, restaurants, and of course the beach!
Market Hours: October – May: Sunday 10 a.m – 2 p.m. June – September: Sunday 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
23. Rotating free activities in St Pete
HERE you will find all of the current upcoming events happening in St. Pete! I love this city <3
If you are also heading to Tampa my friend Destiny has an amazing post covering all the free things to do in Tampa, you don’t want to miss it!
Final Word on Free Activities in St Pete
Thanks for reading this guide! As a local, I love sharing my free finds with you and hope this post was of use!
How many of these things to do for free in Saint Petersburg have you locals or visitors checked out? Which free activity in St. Pete do you want to check out next? I’d love to know!
Here are some other related St Pete posts you may like:
Plan a bachelorette party in St Pete
Pin this list of free activities in St. Pete to help plan your next adventure!
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