10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Key West

1. Completely FREE museum about the Florida Keys ecosystems, it holds a 2,400 gallon reef aquarium, and has free parking which is rare in Key West.  Unfortunately is was closed Sunday and Monday, the days we were in Key West, as it was going to be our first stop. We’ll just have to visit it next time!

2. Key West Cemetery

This has lots of different sections to explore, such as Jewish section, Armed Forces, Cuban Refugees, etc. Great way to see the cultural history of Key West through the years. Pick up a free map to get the most out of your visit.

3. Historic Marker Free Walking Tour

There are 77 historic points in Key West; you can use your cell phone to hear more detailed narration of each site using the historic marker number. Many of these we stopped and explored without knowing about the phone narration, another thing we want to do on our return trip.  For more info click here

4. The Southernmost Point

This is the classic Key West photo op, I’d suggest going early in the morning to avoid crowds, as you will have to stand in line to get a picture next to this historic marker with the caption “90 miles to Cuba”.

5. Sunset at Mallory Square

Held nightly, with free entertainment such as magic shows, live music, fire jugglers, etc. Even thought it’s free the acts often do ask for donations at the end of their shows. On clear evenings the Sunsets are amazing!

6. Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park

Entrance fee $6 per vehicle and $2 to walk or bike in. Since free parking is included in the entrance fee this is a steal in Key West! Tours of historic fort led by ranger daily at 11:30 AM, check before you go as times may change. Self-tour brochures available also. There is a sand beach area with chair/umbrella rentals, snorkeling, outdoor cafe, picnic tables, barbecue pits, and a fishing area. There is also a nature trail and birding trail in the park. Remember, you’re admission receipt is good all day if you want to come back for a great view of the sunset.

7. Bike Ride & Explore

Biking is big in Key West, as parking is expensive and limited. We rented bikes for $9 a day each, which included a basket, bike lock and key, and delivery/pickup to our campsite. Bike racks are abundant,  which makes stopping often to explore the sights much easier than walking or driving. They are bike paths and large sidewalks to make bikers feel safe throughout the area. Biking helped us explore the different neighborhoods and see the real Key West outside of Duval Street. We would seriously recommend renting bikes and leaving the car parked at your hotel or campground.

8. West Martello Tower and Gardens

Adjacent to Higgs Beach, we found this free tourist attraction while exploring on our bikes. They are open seven days a week and have beautiful gardens which include hanging orchids, succulents, local species, tropical and exotic trees and plants, gazebos, etc. They do ask for donations if you enjoyed your visit and have free clean bathrooms. There was a lovely breeze from the water and lots of shady areas due to the large trees, which would be nice during the summer months.

9. Smathers & Higgs Beaches

Fee large sandy swimming beaches with chair/umbrella rentals as well as water sport rentals. There are covered picnic tables and a beach volleyball area. When we visited, there were food trucks lining the street near Smathers which offered a delicious, cheap picnic lunch we enjoyed on the beach! Higgs Beach has a dog friendly swimming area, as well as a fishing pier. More historic markers such as the AIDs memorial and African Cemetery are along the beachfront sidewalk also. The Key West Wildlife Center is another free attraction across from Higgs Beach, we didn’t get to go on our visit though. We recommend you bring a book, towel and enjoy the turquoise water along either of these beaches.

10. Key West Distilling

Another spot we found while biking, they offered a free tasting with purchase (cheapest item was $3-$4) or $5 with no purchase. We bought some miniature rum bottles for Christmas gifts and enjoyed a free tasting. The server gave us four types of rum, one vodka, and explained the process of distilling and tastes of each. They also have a whiskey but it is so popular it is rarely available, my husband was so sad not to get to try it. This business is not to be confused with the First Legal Rum Distillery, another place we didn’t get to try out on our visit.

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