From train rides to a fossil museum, here are some fun and affordable things to do in Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay, FL – Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by Sean Pavone

As we navigate increased prices from groceries to school supplies, the cost of entertainment has also risen. Scroll down to find some of the fun and affordable things happening around the Tampa Bay area.

USF Performances

The University of South Florida’s College of Arts has announced that its performances are now free to the public. This includes shows by the USF Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble, and the Jazztet which is the premier small group in the USF Jazz Studies Program. The Jazztet is extremely talented and has performed at numerous international jazz festivals. Just recently, the Jazztet performed in Barness Recital Hall on Oct. 26. There are several new art exhibits at the Wilson Gallery, as well as the college’s Fall Dance Concert and Steinway Piano Series with works by both faculty and students. Some of the performances require registration prior to the event to accommodate seating. The full descriptions of the free shows can be found at

Train Rides

On the first weekend of every month, train enthusiasts of all ages can board an exact replica locomotive for a mile-long loop through the lush landscape of Largo Central Park, which includes a tunnel and a waterfall pond. To ride, a child must be at least 1 year old. Weather permitting, the public is encouraged to ride on Nov. 5 and 6, as well as Dec. 4. The trips are free, but the all-volunteer group would appreciate donations to keep the trains running. 101 Central Park Drive, Largo Central Park;

Paleo Preserve Fossil Museum

The Paleo Preserve Fossil Museum is housed inside Camp Bayou Nature Preserve and is one of southern Hillsborough County’s best-kept secrets. Paleontologists were able to get a deeper insight into the organisms that lived more than 1.5 million years ago during the early ice age after a massive quantity of Pleistocene fossils was discovered in a shell mine close to Ruskin in 1983. The pit has been abandoned for a very long time, but the museum still holds many of the fossils that were found there, as well as images and documents from the time it was excavated. At the touch table, you may see a mammoth tooth and get your hands on genuine fossils.

Kids may sift through “fossils” close to the museum for $5 and can keep whatever they uncover. Lunch can be had in the preserve pavilion if you bring a picnic lunch. Camp Bayou, formerly an RV campground, is now a wildlife reserve. On its 160 acres, there are paths, a nature center, a camp for aboriginal people, picnic tables, and a museum of fossils. Thursday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., it is accessible to the public. The museum, which is open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., is located at 4140 24th Street SE in Ruskin.

Eco Tours

New eco tours taking visitors out on Tampa Bay with marine science lecturers are available through the Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center at the St. Pete Pier. New excursions include a 90-minute Discover Dolphins trip and a new Salty Science 90-minute tour to learn about estuarine environments, animal adaptations, and the fish of Tampa Bay, all of which depart from Gate 23 on the St. Pete Pier. Birding on the Bay and Sunset Tours are two other eco-vessel excursions.

Tickets are $16-$28 at

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