10 Free and Cheap Date Ideas to Try in Tampa, FL

Couple on beach at sunset.
Couple on beach at sunset. | © Pexels / Pixabay
Photo of Diann Johnson
18 April 2018

Think it takes a lot of money to plan a great date in Tampa? While there are certainly many high-priced VIP options, you can still arrange an amazing experience on a beer budget. We show you how.

Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg

Museum, Building
Map View
The Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg houses one of the largest collections of the famous surrealist painter’s work, including 96 oil paintings, drawings, fine prints, and objects. From 5–8 p.m. on Thursdays, the museum only costs $10 for adults, a discount from the usual $24 charge. St. Pete is a 30-minute drive from Tampa.

3rd Thursday Tampa

Food Truck, American, Street Food
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Food from a food truck
Food from a food truck | © kendallpools / Pixabay

Every 3rd Thursday, food trucks descend on The Grand Central at Kennedy, and there are cocktails (provided by the Pourhouse) and live music. The Grand Central at Kennedy lies on Madison Street in downtown’s Channel District. This event is free, runs from 6–10 p.m. and has free two-hour parking.

Yuengling Brewery Tour

Craft Ale Bar, American
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Tour the Yuengling Brewery
Tour the Yuengling Brewery | © RACHEL ANTOSH / Flickr

Tour the Yuengling Brewery, and try the free samples afterward. Tours are free and last one hour and 15 minutes; also, closed-toe shoes are required. Those 21 and over may sample the beer at the brewery’s biergarten, but all ages are welcome on the tour. There is also a gift shop to explore.

Weeki Wachee Springs

Park, Theater
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Weeki Wachee is where mermaids come to life. The performers are trained divers who work their magic with an air hose nearby. This quirky old Florida tradition has been around since 1947, and the park has waterslides and wildlife shows as well. The mermaid show is covered with the cost of admission, which is $13 per person. Weeki Wachee is a one-hour drive from Tampa.

Honeymoon Island State Park

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Pack a picnic at the market and head to the park | © Marco Verch / Flickr | © Marco Verch / Flickr
Pack a picnic and head to Honeymoon Island. This park is known for its peace and quiet and offers snorkeling, kayaking, and fishing. You can also wander nature trails and see the usual variety of Florida birds. Admission is $8 per vehicle, and there is the cost of the food and wine. Dunedin is a 30-minute drive from Tampa.

Tampa Riverwalk

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Downtown Tampa buildings on the Riverwalk
Downtown Tampa buildings on the Riverwalk | © 12019 / Pixabay

Take a walk downtown along the Riverwalk and experience some of Tampa’s best places, events, and views. The Riverwalk links five museums, seven parks, and many downtown restaurants and hotels. The Riverwalk starts at South Plaza and continues miles along Garrison Channel and the Hillsborough River, ending at Heights Riverfront Development. Views, people-watching, and window-shopping are free; restaurant and bar tabs are additional.

Fourth Friday Tampa

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Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, Tampa
Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, Tampa | © Fmopa / WikiCommons

The founders of Fourth Friday Tampa describe the event as an “evening of discounts to celebrate the arts.” Discounts vary by month but include free admission to downtown museums, live music, discounted food and drink items from participating restaurants, and the ability to “sip & stroll” along the Riverwalk—allowing you to drink as you walk along as long as you have purchased the plastic cup to do so. Event-goers get free wristbands from the participating arts venues, giving guests access to everything on offer. The address listed below goes to the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, but check the event’s webpage for a list of the many different cultural venues where wristbands are available.

The Hangar Restaurant and Flight Lounge

Bar, Restaurant, American, $$$
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Pilots in plane on runway
Pilots in a plane on a runway | © Mbragion / Pixabay

For a different kind of show, head to the Hangar Restaurant and Flight Lounge at the Albert Whitted Airport in St. Petersburg. The large windows or outdoor patio both provide great views of small planes taking off and landing at the airport. The restaurant has live music Wednesday–Saturday, offers $6 hamburgers on Wednesday, and does a happy hour with $4 drinks Monday–Friday.

Tampa Theatre

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Tampa Theatre | © Tampa Theatre
Take in a movie at the historic Tampa Theatre. Built in 1926, CNN has rated it one of the world’s most spectacular theaters. Its ornate décor, velvet seating and the Mighty Wurlitzer that is played before every film screening add to its persistent allure. The unique ambiance instantly elevates even a humble movie screening into a memorable artistic event. See the website for individual showtimes. Tickets cost between $8 and $11.

Urban Kai Stand-up Paddle Boarding

Natural Feature
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Stand Up Paddle Boarder at Sunset
Stand-Up Paddle Boarder at Sunset | © RamaRaju Penumatsa / Flickr
Urban Kai offers a Sunset paddle for just $25 each or a SUP 101 class including everything you need for $30. You can also choose a kayak instead of a paddle board. This activity is a great way to enjoy nature and be active. Trips still go on in mist, but heavy rain or thunderstorms will cause them to reschedule. Group or private lessons are available.