Key West, at the southernmost tip of the United States below Florida (and only 90 miles from Cuba), can leave you getting sucked into one attraction or tourist kitsch shop after another. And that can leave a dent in your wallet. How about four free things to do in Key West that are totally cool and fun? (Plus, we’ll toss in 2 bonus things to do).

HITT Tip: Old Town is in fact easy to maneuver and quite walkable. But if you need a lift, try some of the various options. Either hop one of the city’s color-coded buses, rent a bike or motorbike, or hail a pedicab taxi.

Key West Sunset Sailboats one of 4 free things to do
All of these four free things to do in Key West are a pretty easy walk around old town – assuming no tiny kids or other limitations in your party. After driving 106 miles down the chain, usually fighting some traffic, you’ll likely want to dump the wheels and put your feet into action anyway.

Our 4 free things to do in Key West:

Eco Discovery Center one of 4 free things to do in Key West

The Eco-Discovery Center

  • Eco-Discovery Center – The Keys are all about water and marine life, so why not start here? At the end of Southard Street at the Truman Waterfront (across the street from Fort Zachery Taylor Historic State Park), this center is simply amazing for adults and kids alike. Do NOT miss the short HD movie about seeing the underwater life in the Keys – through the eyes of a child as she grows up. Enjoy the interactive exhibits, take the time to talk to the naturalists and biologists onsite who are eager to help and ready to answer any question.

Oldest House is one of 4 free things to do in Key West

The Oldest House in South Florida

  • Key West’s Oldest House – Take a step back in time at this house, lovingly staffed by volunteers who are also eager to tell stories about this circa-1828 house now at 322 Duval Street. Parlin showed us around, showing us maps and pointing out city history and development. It’s a bit hidden – don’t walk past the white picket gate on Duvall among the tourist bars and hubbub. Hours can be limited so check in advance.

Watch a 360-degree video of grounds and front of the Oldest House

Historic Womens Club one of 4 Free Things to do in Key West

Historic Hellings House — Key West Women’s Club

  • Historic Hellings House Nearly across the street at 319 Duvall is another old home, set back from the bustling tourist street with shade trees and benches. It seems quiet but don’t let that deceive. Stop in for a short tour of the rooms and hear history stories from volunteer members of the Key West Women’s Club who call this circa-1892 house their club home. Again, hours are somewhat limited so plan your stop here.

Key West Garden Club one of 4 free things to do

West Martello Tower — Key West Garden Club

  • West Martello Tower Dating back to 1862, this Civil War-era fort now houses the Key West Garden Club. It never was totally finished as a fort. You find lovely cooling gardens filled with hideaways, and native and tropical plants, some one of a kind. When the Garden Club moved in in the 1960s, there was no soil, so admire all the hills and plants for the hard labor they demanded! Take time at the small orchid pavilion, and don’t miss the peace bell on a small knoll or the great (peaceful) views or the Atlantic Ocean.

Watch a 360-degree video of white ibis feeding at the Key West Garden Club

Bonus free things to do in Key West

Of course you can wander streets, watch street musicians, grab samples of Key Lime this or that, people watch (lots there!), breathe in the ocean air, or lounge by a pool, but two other free things to do in Key West are musts.

Free Things to do in Key West - Sunset at Mallory Square

Sunset celebration at Mallory Square

  • Mallory Square Sunset Celebration – Honestly, this is Key West kitsch at its best with a boisterous street fair atmosphere, people hawking crafts and food, and enough alcohol floating around to sink you. But watching the sun settle down over the endless ocean, painting different colors every night for one of the most spectacular sunsets anywhere, is the reason you come. And the beauty is, the scene changes every night. So go once, go twice, go again. Just don’t stand on the tall concrete planters (as we did!) since you’ll get politely told to get down. Hey, we were just trying to get even better photographs! (Yes, don’t forget your camera!)

Watch a 360-degree video of the sunset celebration vibe on Mallory Square

Sunrise at Key West one of Four Free Things to do in Key West

Key West sunrise on a pier just east of the Southernmost Point

  • Sunrise – Although not talked about by anyone, HI Travel Tales decided if sunset was great, then sunrise had to be great too. Meaning you have to get up early. But in contrast to the raucous sunset bash, this is a peaceful gathering of early birds who silently watch the sun rise, speaking in whispers — if they must. A real treat! Head to one of the piers just east of the Southernmost Point for an unobstructed view. For example, at the end of Duval Street at South Beach or a block farther near Dog Beach.
HITT Tip: There are a lot of tourists in Key West and, thus, a lot of events so be sure to peruse one of the (many) tourist information sites to plan for (or avoid!) one event or another. Two official sites, the Key West Chamber of Commerce can be found at, while Monroe County’s information site is here

Read More Travel Tips For Florida

Mallory Square sunset celebration captured in bright colors

Key West can leave a dent in your wallet. But there are a few things to do in Key West that are both free and amazing. The Mallory Square sunset is one.

Florida’s hidden gems: 10 more reasons to visit

There are plenty quiet and magical places sans crowds in Florida if you know where to look — places we like to refer to as Florida’s hidden gems. Rest assured that when Ponce de León first arrived in Florida in 1513 he wasn’t greeted by Walt Disney or Mickey Mouse. You too can get to Florida and not just find theme parks or senior citizens’ specials. The Sunshine State has hidden gems that whisk you way beyond the expected.

Florida’s Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park is most certainly one of the most isolated parks in the national park system. It lies 70 miles west of Key West, Florida, and is accessible only by boat or seaplane.

Dry Tortugas National Park – Fort Jefferson 360 view

Almost 70 miles west of Key West, Florida, lies a cluster of seven islands, composed of coral reefs and sand, called the Dry Tortugas. With the surrounding shoals and water, they make up the Dry Tortugas National Park, an area noted for bird and marine life and shipwrecks. Fort Jefferson, its central cultural feature, is one of the nation’s largest 1800s masonry fort. Video shot in 360 with a Kodak Pixpro SP360 camera.

4 Fun Free Things to Do in Key West (+ 2 )

Key West, at the southernmost tip of the United States below Florida (and only 90 miles from Cuba), can leave you getting sucked into one attraction or tourist kitsch shop after another. And that can leave a dent in your wallet. How about four free things to do in Key West that are totally cool and fun? (Plus, we’ll toss in 2 bonus things to do).

Running at Disney World turned me into an outlaw

During a trip to Orlando, Fla., in 2015, I was reminded of a previous vacation my husband and I took to Orlando’s Disney World – one where I actually tried running at Disney World. For runners, the city can be so aggravating: I call it the home of “sidewalks to nowhere.” That’s assuming there are any. Usually there are not. The moniker “sidewalks to nowhere” came up a long time ago when I would find that sidewalks just ended – wheelchair ramp and all – leaving any unlucky pedestrian in the middle of a busy street or slogging through rough grass and mud beside an endless stream of cars and trucks. Basically, this city ain’t designed for anything but automobiles.

Walt Disney World Travel Tips: 17 insights for a not-to-forget visit

Walt Disney World is an amazing destination adults pass by, assuming it is only for kids. Really, it’s for the kids in all of us. Enjoy our Disney World travel tips.

Disney World Tips: Planning before booking & traveling

Walt Disney World is a wonderful adult getaway – one that HI Travel Tales highly recommends. But as (alleged) grown-ups, going toe-to-toe jostling for space with battalions of 6-year-old pirates and princesses and their weary parents is not high on our “favorite things about Disney” list. You need some Disney World tips.

Map of Florida

In the map below, pins mark the exact location of all the sites mentioned in our articles on Florida. Zoom in or out on the map using the controls. Switch easily from map to satellite view. Click on each pin to pull up a tooltip with the name and any additional information.

Disney World

Epcot Center

Castillo de San Marcos

Blowing Rocks Beach

Coral Castle Museum

Monkey Jungle

Christmas - Orange County

Daytona Beach Drive-In Christian Church

The Presidents Hall of Fame

Gasparilla Pirate Fest

Azucar - Little Havana

The World's Smallest Police Station

Heads up! This information on free things to do in Key West was accurate when we published it on HI Travel Tales, but, as we know, traveling is all about changes (and inflation, sadly). Please be sure to confirm prices, transportation schedules, hours of operation, safety and health considerations, request for perfect weather during your entire visit, and any other important details before your adventure.