You’ve made it to Key West, but now what? They say the best things in life are free, and in Key West, they’re also fun! In this article I’ll share all the best activities and places to visit that are completely free, fun and family-friendly. Save this list for your next visit so you can spend your time (not money) creating a memorable trip to Key West that the whole family will enjoy!
Free things to do in Key West
As always, check the websites ahead of time to confirm hours and availability as some venues may have limited visitation during COVID. Click the titles for more info!
The oldest house in South Florida is located right on Duval Street! It’s open to the public every day from 10am to 4pm except on Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s. You’ll find original family portraits and furnishings, along with periodic pieces, clothing and documents. Step into the backyard to to relax and soak up the sun!
The center features over 6,000 square feet of interactive exhibits, including a mock-up of the world’s only underwater ocean laboratory, Aquarius. The Living Reef exhibit houses a 2,500 gallon aquatic tank with living coral and fish. *Family Fun bonus: Discovery Saturday is held on the 3rd Saturday of each month. K-5th grade children may participate in a free learning workshop from 10-11am.
Head to Mallory Square at least an hour before sunset for live entertainment ranging from fire breathers and tight rope walking dogs, to local artisans and musicians. Need a snack? Street vendors sell yummy popcorn, churros and fresh coconuts to munch on. Afterwards head to dinner at a nearby restaurant. Duval Street is only about a block away and has plenty of options!
Quite possibly the most famous street in all of Florida! This is considered the “center” of Key West. Here you’ll find a seemingly endless row of restaurants, bars, boutiques and gift shops. If you prefer to avoid touristy areas then Duval Street may not be for you, however it’s definitely worth a stroll.
Truman Waterfront Park
The kids are guaranteed to love this park! Bring your bathing suits and get ready for a completely free & fun experience the whole family will love. The park features a water feature playground as well as a dry playground. Truman Waterfront Park sits right across from the big Coast Guard ship and is a great place to watch the boats go by or stroll the marina.
A beautiful garden by the sea featuring a rare collection of native and exotic plant life. The garden provides a beautiful backdrop for weddings and events but is free and open daily for the public to enjoy.
Historic Key West Cemetery
Here you’ll find gravestones dating all the way back to 1829, kept company by the local chickens and iguanas. You may even find yourself having a good chuckle at the quirky headstones which read “I’m just resting my eyes” or “I told you I was sick”. Be sure to enter the cemetery via the northwest corner at Passover Lane and Angela Street where you’ll find a small office with free guides.
Despite being an island, you won’t find many sandy beaches in Key West. However, Higgs Beach is the perfect spot to pack a picnic and relax with the family or your furry friends. The beach features a playground, dog park and volleyball nets that are free to use. Save your leftovers and feed the fish at the end of the pier!
It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, but the Key West First Legal Rum Distillery hosts free tours every 20 minutes from 12-5pm daily! Yes, the samples are free, too, plus kids and pets are also warmly welcomed. The building was the original location of Jack’s Saloon in 1900 & Key West’s original Coca-Cola bottling facility in 1903. Anyone else suddenly craving a rum & coke?
This 7-acre indigenous park includes a nature trail featuring a freshwater pond and two aviaries. Great for observing wildlife and learning more about the wonderful service The Key West Wildlife Center provides. Free to visit and open to the public every day from 11am – 2pm except Wednesday’s.
The Southernmost Buoy
This isn’t so much an activity as it is an obligatory mission when in Key West. The iconic Southernmost Buoy landmark is recognized as the southernmost point in the continental U.S. What most people don’t know is that an area about 100 feet away called Whitehead Spit is technically the furthest point in the U.S., but is inaccessible to the public. Nonetheless, it makes for a good photo if you’re willing to beat the crowds by going either early morning or just before sunset. See below for a pro tip.
This safe haven for animals is home to an array of goats, pigs, horses, sloths, turtles, lemurs, emus and more! Despite it’s popularity, entry remains free although donations are certainly welcome.
Prefer to explore at your own pace? Well, you’re in luck! The Pelican Path Self Guided Tour allows you to discover 51 historic buildings in Key West like a true historian. Before you head out, download the “Explore Historic Key West” app for more detailed descriptions of each stop.
White Street Pier
Close to the West Martello Tower and Garden lies a concrete pier that stretches 1,000 feet into the Atlantic Ocean. Dubbed “The Unfinished Road to Havana”, it’s somewhat of an unknown spot to see marine life or watch the sunset.
Catch a glimpse of real life dinosaurs at the seaport. As you stroll the port, you’ll likely notice the giant tarpon hanging out by the boats in search of their next meal. Believe it or not, tarpon (aka Megalops) date back over 100 millions years! These ancient sea creatures can grow to be upwards of 300 lbs, 6ft long and live to be 30-50 years old. Aside from the fish, the seaport hosts live music events, shopping, dining and water sport rentals.
Full disclosure, this one isn’t free but the cost is so nominal and the experience is totally worth it! At $4 per vehicle or $2.50 per pedestrian, you can spend the entire day roaming the old fort, lounging on the beach, fishing, snorkeling, walking/biking the nature trails or grilling out at one of their public picnic bench and grill stations. Not to mention, these postcard worth sunsets to top off an amazing day at the sea!
Did I forget to add something to the list?
Comment below with your favorite tips or free things to do in Key West!