Our 10 Best Local Experts' Free Things to Do in Key West

While many of Key West’s sailing experiences, snorkeling, city tours, and restaurant and bar hopping will put a nice dent in your wallet, there are a number of activities that are free of charge. Many are ideal for families with little ones in tow, such as the Children’s Animal Park (on Stock Island), which has been rescuing exotic animals since 1994. Several other educational attractions include the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center, and the Key West Wildlife Center.

There also are several shops that go above and beyond the usual browsing experience to include hands-on exhibits, shows, and tastings. Although Key West is not known for its beaches (the coral reef protects the island preventing sand from collecting), there are a handful picturesque locations for beach bums.

For evening entertainment, the Mallory Square Sunset Celebration is a highlight for all ages, and performers and vendors will be on the dock long before the sun goes down. Lastly, no trip would be complete without a photo at the Southernmost Point Marker. It’s the island’s signature (and slightly controversial) landmark that marks the end of the continental US. No matter what you choose to do, these budget-friendly options will help you get the most bang for your buck in this notoriously pricey paradise.

Airport - Eyw

Smathers has all the ingredients for a golden tan: picture-perfect stretch of sand, tiki huts, chair rentals, beach volleyball courts, and a calm breeze. The water itself isn't always clear, and not the best choice if you're looking to go...  Read More

Nowhere is Key West's lively spirit more evident than in the city's cemetery. Cheeky epitaphs like "I Told You I Was Sick" and "At Least I Know Where He's Sleeping Tonight" cover the gravestones.The tombs are stacked above ground since the rocky...  Read More

Key West Wildlife Center
Photo courtesy of Key West Wildlife Center

If you're planning on spending a day at Higgs Beach, pack a picnic lunch and stop by the Key West Wildlife Center. Located just across the street inside Sonny McCoy Indigenous Park (with free parking), it makes a quiet, shaded break when the...  Read More

Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center
Photo courtesy of michellenicolelowe.com

When the museum admissions and snorkeling tours start to add up, free options are always the way to go - especially when the kids can learn a thing or two. The Eco-Discovery Center provides a look into the ecosystems of the Florida Keys. On the...  Read More

Not far from Duval Street in Old Town Key West is Higgs Beach, a popular spot to soak in some rays and take a dip in the shallow water. Amenities include tennis courts, volleyball courts, children's playground and a dog park, and White Street...  Read More

Take home some flavors of the tropics at Peppers of Key West, which lets shoppers sample their spicy sauces at the hot sauce bar. The "tasting staff" entertains and makes helpful suggestions while visitors try everything from jerk sauce and...  Read More

Children's Animal Park (Petting Zoo)
Photo courtesy of keysso.net

It may seem a bit odd to have a children's petting zoo in a jail, but Key West is known for doing things a little differently. The detention center (on Stock Island) was made to withstand a category five hurricane, and since the evacuation area...  Read More

Key West Toy Factory
Photo courtesy of Shoestringweekends.wordpress

The entrance to this magical store is through the side of a "shipwreck" and the rest is teeming with imagination: banyan trees, ships, treasure chests, tree forts, a waterfall, sharks and monkeys in a rainforest-like setting. If it feels like a...  Read More

The Southernmost Point
Photo courtesy of Amber Nolan

Although it's technically not the furthest location in the US (the patch of land nearby is) the colorful, red and yellow cement buoy located on the corner of South Street and Whitehead Street marks the Southernmost point in the continental US....  Read More

Don't leave Key West without seeing the nightly Sunset Celebration on the Mallory Square Dock where the crowd is as colorful as the sky. Entertainers like jugglers, tight-rope walkers, psychics and musicians all compete for your attention and...  Read More


Meet Amber Nolan

Originally from upstate New York, this restless traveler has a knack for befriending interesting characters. You can usually find her just about anywhere that has a hammock. Amber's favorite...  More About Amber

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