Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in St. Petersburg, FL

  • Published 2022/12/02

St. Petersburg in Florida is tagged “The Sunshine City” due to its vibrant tropical weather and exciting culture and arts.

It is within Pinellas County and is the largest city despite not being a county seat.

The population in this city reached 258,308 as of the 2020 census.

Its total land area comprises 61.87 square miles and 73.63 square miles of water.

Early settlers started to flock to St. Petersburg during the 1830s and 1840s.

In 1903, the area was incorporated into a city.

St. Petersburg is famous not just in the country but also globally for its stunning shoreline and seemingly endless fun and recreational activities.

From resorts, restaurants, sports bars, and more, St. Petersburg indeed has it.

Moreover, you could also have a marvelous and unforgettable time in this city without spending a penny.

Here are some free things to do in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Spot Migratory Birds at Sawgrass Lake Park

Observation point at Sawgrass Lake Park

Michael Gordon /

Sawgrass Lake Park is a 400-acre park on Street North St.

This park was established through an agreement between Pinellas County Parks & Conservation Resources and the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

It is home to one of the most extensive maple swamps on the Gulf Coast.

Alligator at Sawgrass Lake Park

Anthony_Fla /

Sawgrass Lake Park is a good spot for migratory bird watching, especially during spring and fall.

You’ll also see some other wildlife here, like turtles and alligators.

Other amenities at Sawgrass Lake Park are its nature trail, observation tower, and picnic shelter.

Boardwalk at Sawgrass Lake Park

Ric Schafer /

Take a Quick Trip to Historic Round Lake Park

Historic Round Lake Park is a small community park on North 6th Ave.

This place is perfect for a quick break away from busy city life.

Historic Round Lake Park is an excellent short walk or run spot.

Its large trees will shade you if you visit this place during hot summer days.

Historic Round Lake Park is usually quiet, and you can bring a book or drink and relax on one of the benches.

See Palm Trees at Gizella Kopsick Arboretum

Palm trees at Gizella Kopsick Arboretum

Sunshower Shots /

Gizella Kopsick Arboretum is a tropical oasis on 11th Ave. NE.

The development of this two-acre park started in 1976 when a concerned citizen proposed transforming this then-small golf course into an arboretum.

Decades have passed, and Gizella Kopsick Arboretum is now home to over 500 palms and cycads.

These represent at least 150 species of their kind from all across the globe.

A visit to this park feels like stepping into a different world where lush trees surround you.

Likewise, you can breathe only fresh air.

Gizella Kopsick Arboretum also has drinking fountains, benches, and a gazebo if you ever want to sit down and take a break from walking.

Admire Glass Art at Duncan McClellan Gallery

Duncan McClellan Gallery is on South Emerson Ave.

The 7,800-square-foot space where the gallery sits was once a fish and tomato packing plant.

Duncan McClellan Gallery features contemporary works of glass artists from the country and abroad.

You’ll love its exhibits of glass artwork that vary in size, shape, and color.

Duncan McClellan Gallery also has a garden that serves as an exhibition area for more glass sculptures.

This garden is one of the favorite venues of locals for weddings, birthdays, and other special occasions.

Take an Afternoon Walk at Crescent Lake Park

Stunning sunset at Crescent Lake Park

Jon Bilous /

Crescent Lake Park is a scenic park on North 5th St.

The whole park is filled with towering banyan trees.

It is a popular destination for people who want to relax and do some exercise.

You can go to Crescent Lake Park for an afternoon walk.

You can even bring your furry friend along with you!

Otherwise, you can let them play with other dogs in the dog park while you join a free yoga class.

Crescent Lake Park also has a playground and recreational trails.

This is also where you can find the Huggins-Stengel Sports Complex.

Watch the Sunset at Vinoy Park and Mole

View of the city's skyline from Vinoy Park

Calmuziclover, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Vinoy Park and Mole is an 11.6-acre waterfront park on Bayshore Dr., NE.

It was named after Vinoy Park Hotel, which used to sit adjacent to this park.

You should bring your loved ones here and watch as the sun slowly sets into Tampa Bay.

Unique cars kept for display at the Festival of Speed in Vinoy Park

Nina Platonova /

Vinoy Park and Mole is also a famous venue for exciting events like concerts, festivals, and sports competitions.

You can also bring your bike and stroll along this scenic park.

There are not many areas in this open space; the best time to come here is in the early morning and afternoon when it’s not too hot.

Exhibit of vintage car at Vinoy Park

Nina Platonova /

See Native Plants and Animals at Weedon Island Preserve

Bird's eye view of Weedon Island Preserve

U.F.OProductions /

Weedon Island Preserve is a 3,190-acre natural facility on Weedon Dr., NE.

It is beautifully situated within Tampa Bay.

The indigenous peoples once occupied Weedon Island PreserveThe indigenous peoples occupied Weedon Island Preserve.

This island preserve is now composed of aquatic and upland ecosystems.

View of Weedon Island Preserve

Christopher P /

Moreover, you’ll see a wide variety of native plants and animals while visiting Weedon Island Preserve.

Besides traveling amid nature, Weedon Island Preserve is a perfect birdwatching and fishing spot.

You can also attend guided tours and hikes at this island preserve.

Also, explore its 4.7 miles of trails, boardwalks, and 45-foot ta observation tower.

Boardwalk at Weedon Island Preserve

Ken Schulze /

Visit the Indian Midden Site at Maximo Park

View of Maximo Park

Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Maximo Park is a 70-acre park on Pinellas Point Dr. South & Sunshine Skyway Ln. South.

It is the largest among the four archaeological sites in the city.

This Maximo Park is unique because it’s where Boca Ciega Bay meets Tampa Bay.

You can also find an Indian midden site, recreational trails, and a disc golf course.

There are also many educational signs posted throughout the park that describes the tribes who once inhabited this exact area.

You can also spend some time in Maximo Park’s seven boat ramps to closely examine the waters.

Fishing and picnicking are also allowed here.

Take a Selfie at St. Pete Pier

People strolling along the St. Pete Pier

Norm Lane /

St. Pete Pier, or St. Petersburg Pier, is on 2nd Ave. NE.

This 26-acre pier park is a favorite destination for locals and tourists because of its lively atmosphere.

High-quality restaurants surround St. Pete Pier, but you can also bring your food and drinks for a picnic with friends and family.

Restaurant at St. Pete Pier

Michael O’Keene /

It also boasts picture-perfect public artwork perfect for a selfie and even for photography enthusiasts.

Some of the works you’ll see here are the “Bending Arc” by Tampa Bay native and internationally renowned artist Janet Echelman.

You can also see the “Olnetopia” by Belgian artist Nick Ervinck.

St. Pete Pier’s festive yet relaxing vibes attract visitors to this area.

Beautiful sunset at St. Pete Pier

Jeff Kinsey /

Hang Out at Mirror Lake Park

Signage of Mirror Lake Park

Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Mirror Lake Park is a recreational park on North 5th St. and North 3rd Ave.

It has lake-facing benches perfect for some quiet time alone.

Mirror Lake Park also overlooks some of the tallest establishments in nearby areas.

Mirror Lake Park during sunset

glenrichardphoto /

The Sunshine Senior Center and Mirror Lake Complex are also located here.

Mirror Lake Park also features walking and jogging trails like most city parks.

You also can see some cute ducks and birds in its lake.

Check Out the Yachts at South Straub Park

Signage of South Straub Park

Felix Mizioznikov /

South Straub Park is a 7.3-acre green space on Bayshore Dr. NE.

Its famous landmark is a fountain that many city parks don’t have.

You’ll enjoy an afternoon stroll here at South Straub Park and catch a view of the yacht basin at Tampa Bay.

Its recreational trails are suited for a quick run or just for a peaceful nature walk.

South Straub Park’s scenic views and breathtaking landscape will relieve stress.

Say Hi to the Gators at Clam Bayou Nature Preserve

Scenic view of Clam Bayou Nature Preserve

Calmuziclover, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Clam Bayou Nature Preserve is a ten-acre nature reserve on South 34th Ave.

It offers majestic views of the bay and also features a kayak launch.

Clam Bayou Nature Preserve is a go-to destination for those who love kayaking and paddleboarding.

It also has nature trails suited to get a better look at the surrounding landscape.

The Blueways Trail System is also available at Clam Bayou Nature Preserve.

Spend some time in its observation deck, and you’ll get to say hi to some tortoises and alligators.

Dogs are welcome here at Clam Bayou Nature Preserve as long as they’re on a leash.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Admire the Tropical Flowers at Florida Botanical Gardens

Cactus garden at Florida Botanical Gardens

Peter Titmuss /

Florida Botanical Gardens is on Ulmerton Rd., Largo, just a 31-minute drive from St. Petersburg.

The Pinellas County Parks and Conservation Resources Department manages Florida Botanical Gardens.

This garden’s humble beginning started in the late 1990s when a group of garden lovers thought of creating an oasis amidst Pinellas County.

Florida Botanical Gardens opened a year after that idea started to blossom.

Pretty butterfly at Florida Botanical Gardens

Heather Mahaffey /

This 100-acre garden is where you can see different kinds of tropical flowers, cacti, and other plants.

Don’t miss out on its fantastic butterfly garden.

Florida Botanical Gardens also features a 60-acre natural area that serves as a habitat for some wildlife.

The chance of spotting bald eagles and gopher tortoises here is high!

Gazebo at Florida Botanical Gardens

Heather Mahaffey /

Take a Look at Rescued Birds at Seaside Seabird Sanctuary

You can visit the Seaside Seabird Sanctuary via a 34-minute drive from St. Petersburg.

Find the sanctuary once you reach Gulf Boulevard in Indian Shores, Florida.

Founded in 2016, Seaside Seabird Sanctuary is dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating injured and orphaned wild birds.

This three-acre sanctuary is open to everyone who wants a closer look at birds currently seeking shelter in this sanctuary.

Pelican at Seaside Seabird Sanctuary

Jill Schrock /

Seaside Seabird Sanctuary releases its rehabilitated birds back into their natural habitat.

The latest data shows that 1,347 birds receive treatment before being released yearly into the wild.

Bird watchers and wildlife photographers from different parts of the world also use this sanctuary’s real-life habitats for its rescues.

Moreover, you can learn interesting information about birds and avian medicine in an education center inside Seaside Seabird Sanctuary.

Stroll around Downtown Gulfport

Bar at Downtown Gulfport

Anastasiia Shadrina /

Downtown Gulfport is a small town famous for its eclectic, charming, artsy, and aesthetic atmosphere.

From here, you’ll experience the “Old Florida” charm through old and beautiful houses, colorful shops and establishments, and the welcoming feel of the locals.

You can do much at Downtown Gulfport, ten minutes from St. Petersburg.

Fountain infront of a house at Downtown Gulfport

Anastasiia Shadrina /

You can bring your dogs and take them along as you explore this town’s busy alleys and antique shops.

Downtown Gulfport also leads to a small public beach, perfect if you want a quick dip into the cold ocean.

Colorful buildings at Downtown Gulfport

Anastasiia Shadrina /

Final Thoughts

There are myriad activities and attractions in St. Petersburg, Florida.

It can be overwhelming and even exhausting if you don’t have enough time and information about the things you want to do.

Besides the most popular and busy destinations, dig a little deeper into the heart of this city which has a lot to offer.

Try these free things to do in St. Petersburg, Florida, for a guaranteed money-saving yet fun and memorable time.

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