The Florida Keys is full of history, wildlife, breathtaking views, interesting people and good times. Here are 12 free and cheap things to do in the Florida Keys that will make your trip memorable.
1. Florida Keys Wild Bird Center
Visit the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center, founded by Laura Quinn, where you can learn about the native and migratory bird population in the Florida Keys. See firsthand how and where the staff at Florida Keys Wild Bird Center rescues and rehabilitates injured and orphaned birds. These birds are released once they’re able to survive in the wild. The center is located on mile marker 93.6 and there is no entry fee to visit, donations are accepted though. For more information call 305-852-4486
2. Feed The Tarpon at Robbie’s Marina
Amazing, breathtaking and impressive are some of the words used to describe feeding the tarpons at Robbie’s Marina, located at mile marker 77.5. From 50 to 100 tarpon come daily to Robbie’s Marina and dawdle for hours, probably hoping to get fed. Admission to the dock is a $1 per person and if you have the courage to feed the tarpon, which jump quickly and powerfully to grab the fish from your hand, a bucket of fish is $3. Even if you don’t want to feed the tarpon yourself, it’s a must-see.
3. Long Key Bridge Fishing
If you have a fishing license and looking for a free dinner, feel free to cast off between mile markers 63 and 65 without any charge. If you don’t own a rod, for $15 you can rent one at Bud n’ Mary’s Marina for the day. You can also purchase tackle, frozen or live bait if needed. Besides fishing, the bridge offers beautiful views of wildlife, boats cruising, the sunrise, and the sunset, making a morning walk or afternoon jog delightful. For more information call 305-664-2461
4. Florida Keys History of Diving Museum
Located on Mile Marker 83, the History of Diving Museum tells an international story of a man’s attempt to explore and understand the ocean beneath. The museum dedicates itself to collecting, preserving, displaying and interpreting artifacts, antiques, books, documents, photographs, and oral history. Admission for adults is $12, $11 for Senior Citizens, $6 for children between the ages five and 11, and free for children under 5-years-old and active duty US military. There is a coupon available on the museums website to get $2 off adult admission. A free public program is offered on the third Wednesday of every month on special topics. For more information call 305-664-9737.
5. The Old Seven Mile Bridge
Experience a piece of history and visit the Old Seven Mile Bridge. You can take a free and scenic walk or bike ride over the bride and to Pigeon Key, a small island with lots of history. This bridge was once Henry Flagler’s railroad, which ran from 1912-1935. A highway, narrow and dangerous, was then built on the tracks for cars. In 1982, parallel to the Old Seven Mile Bridge, a new and safer Seven Mile Bridge was built. Today, the Old Seven Mile Bridge is only used by bikers, hikers and fishermen. This impressive landmark offers incredible ocean views.
6. Sombrero Beach
If you’re looking for a beautiful park and beach with free admission, visit Sombrero Beach. Sombrero Beach offers sandy beaches and a park with pavilions, volleyball courts, playgrounds, restrooms and showers. Don’t be surprised to find turtle nests during your visit. Between April and October, Sombrero Beach is a turtle nesting beach. At night, Loggerhead Turtles come on to the beach to lay their eggs. The beach is located at Sombrero Beach Road, Marathon, FL 33050. For more information call 305-743-0033.
Big Pine Key
7. Bahia Honda State Park
With an award-winning beach and historic bridge, Bahia Honda State Park, located at mile marker 37, is worth a visit. With two amazing beaches, it’s a great place for snorkeling big live rocks, kayaking and sunbathing. Take your camera and walk the small trail that leads you to the historic bridge with gorgeous views. If you get hungry, the park’s shop offers inexpensive food. The park also provides BBQs. The entrance fee is $8 per vehicle, $2 for pedestrians and bicyclists, and $4 for motorcycles. For more information call 305-872-2353.
8. Southernmost Point
Grab your camera and check out one of the most popular spots in Key West, the Southernmost Point buoy. The buoy marks the southernmost point and 90 miles to Cuba. Tourists stand in a line to take photos with the colorful landmark and beautiful ocean behind it. A plaque dedicated to Cubans who have lost their lives trying to make it to the United States can be found next to the buoy. The buoy is located at Whitehead Street, Key West, FL 33040.
9. Mallory Square
It’s always a party, at Mallory Square, when the sun it setting. The sunset celebration began in the late 1960s and still goes on today. Two hours before sunset, a festival begins with magicians, clowns, jugglers, psychics, artists, local musicians and food vendors. At no cost, you and your family can enjoy the entertainment and an amazing view of the sunset. Mallory Square is located at 400 Wall Street, Key West, FL 33040.
10. Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park
Known as Florida’s southernmost state park, Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park is a great place for snorkeling and offers the best beach in Key West. You will also find a historic Civil War fort and seacoast cannons. You can give yourself a free tour with the brochure the park provides. Entry admission is $6 per vehicle, $2 for pedestrians and bicyclists. The State Park is located at 300 Truman Anx, Key West, FL 33040. For more information call 305-295-0037.
11. The Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center
Gain an appreciation and awareness of the importance in protecting and conserving South Florida’s ecosystem. At the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center, you will learn about native animals and plants that are on land and underwater in the Florida Keys. Admission and parking is free and the center is located at 35 East Quay Road, Key West, FL 33040. For more information call 305-809-4750.
12. The Historic Key West Cemetery
You can find the Historic Key West Cemetery, in Old Town, located in the center of the island. The cemetery was founded in 1847 and is free for anyone to walk through. Visit the small office on the northwest corner of the cemetery to pick up a walking tour guide. Get to know Key West and its people through interesting stories written in the guide. Make sure to look for the monument to the U.S.S. Maine, the grave of the real Sloppy Joe, and quirky epitaphs like “I told you I was sick.” For more information call 305-292-6718.