You don’t need to spend money to have fun - especially in Key West. Luckily for us, the island city offers a prime list of museums, walking tours, live entertainment, landmarks and more. Here’s a list of free things to do in Key West.
1. Stand at the Southernmost Point of the Continental U.S.
A trip to the Southernmost Point Buoy is a must for visitors. The point marks the southernmost point of the continental United States - and it’s just 103 miles from Cuba. Find the 12-ft buoy on the corner of Whitehead and South Streets, but expect a long wait to snap a picture next to the four tons of concrete. It’s one of the most photographed attractions in the country.
2. Check out Humorous Headstones in the Key West Cemetery
Even the dearly departed say something about the Conch Republic - from its varied past to its morbid sense of humor. Look for B.P. “Pearl” Roberts’ notorious epitaph: “I told you I was sick”, as well as island notables such as “Sloppy” Joe Russell. Make sure to read our guide to the historic Key West Cemetery. The cemetery is located at the foot of Solares Hill in Old Town.
3. Listen to Live Music
There are a number of places around the island known for their live music, but 24 North Hotel puts on a nightly show of its own. Catch live music from local talent seven nights a week at Republica Bar & Lounge. Our Cuban-inspired craft cocktail lounge features an exciting drink menu, friendly staff, unique charcuterie boards, and a comfortable place to unwind and listen to live music with a cocktail in hand after a full day in Key West.
4. Feed Tarpon at the Harbor Walk
Take in the scene with a stroll along the Harbor Walk at the Key West Historic Seaport. You may catch a tarpon feeding frenzy in the seaport, as many folks and fishermen regularly feed the massive fish across from A&B Lobster House. Some fish are as big as 5-feet long! Capture the scene on video.
5. See a Scale Model of Fort Jefferson at the Dry Tortugas Museum
The ferry to Dry Tortugas isn’t cheap, but you can see the (large) small-scale replica of the former U.S. military coastal fortress at the Dry Tortugas Museum. The free exhibit is located in the Key West Bight inside the Sails to Rails Museums at Flagler Station.
6. Be Intrigued by the West Martello Tower and Botanical Gardens
The former Civil War-era fort and National Historic site is picturesque, the ruins and vaulted ceilings are quite stunning against the backdrop of a tropical garden paradise. The gardens feature a rare collection of native and exotic trees and plants, gazebos, a butterfly and “perfume” garden, and water features that can be seen along the brick pathways. The West Martello Tower is open daily from 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. and admission is free.
7. Have a Family Outing at Higgs Beach
Higgs Beach is a great place for kids because of its awesome playground on the sand, beach access, and the nearly quarter mile-long Edward B. Knight Pier, dubbed the “unfinished road to Havana.” Turquoise waters and palm trees make for a totally relaxing setting. Plus, there are great bathroom facilities and showers to rinse off salty water after a dip in the ocean.
Another excellent option for kids is the Truman Waterfront Park’s splash pad. The free spray pool and playground is outfitted with features that shoot streams of water for kids to enjoy cooling off on warm days. It’s a picturesque setting for adults as well. The play area is surrounded by palms, overlooks the historic USCGC Ingham, and is only steps from the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center (more on that below).
8. Stop by the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center
The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary's Eco-Discovery Center is an excellent way to learn about the natural ecosystem of Key West. The center has 6,000 square feet of exhibit space which includes an interactive mangrove exhibit, hands-on experiences, a theater, a replica of the Aquarius undersea research lab, and an exhibit exploring the thousands of shipwrecks that happened inside sanctuary waters. Best of all - it’s one of our favorite free things to do in Key West. The center is located along the Truman waterfront on the way to Ft. Zachary Taylor Historic State Park and Beach.
9. Check the Key West Calendar for Upcoming Street Fairs & Parades
Street fairs and parades for events like Fantasy Fest, Hemingway Days, the Key Lime Festival, and more are regularly programmed throughout the year. Check the Key West Events Calendar to see what festival coincides with your stay. Parades through town are always a blast, and the entire island community always shows up to celebrate.
10. Take a Photo at Mile Marker Zero
11. Look for the ‘Green Flash’ during Mallory Square's Sunset Celebration
The breathtaking sunsets in Key West are celebrated every evening at Mallory Square, which is a spectacle in itself. Go with friends to see if you can spot the green flash, a phenomena we named our event lawn – the Sunset Green – after. Read more about the elusive green flash here.
12. Go on a Self-Guided Walking Tour of Key West’s Neighborhoods
“Not all those who wander are lost,” especially when you’re on an island that’s only four miles long and about two miles wide. So put on a pair of walking shoes and get lost in Key West’s diverse neighborhoods like New Town, Bahama Village, and Casa Marina. Our Key West neighborhood guide will get you started.
13. Tour the Oldest House in Key West
Built in 1829 on Duval Street, the Oldest House in Key West is now a museum and garden. Stop by for a short visit to see period pieces, family portraits, and small exhibits related to Key West history. Open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The museum and garden are free to visit.
14. Scout Key West’s Famous Film Locations
Visit the filming locations of your favorite flicks with our guide to Key West Movie Locations. Movies like License to Kill, Office Space, and The Beach Bum were shot on the island, at places like The Ernest Hemingway House, Mallory Square, Sloppy Joe’s, and the White Street Gallery District.
15. Visit the Key West Wildlife Center
The Key West Wildlife Center rescues and treats injured wildlife, especially birds and the island’s feral chickens, but it’s also free and open to the public every day (except Wednesday) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Walk through aviaries and along a short nature trail that meanders past native plants and a freshwater pond. The center is located inside Indigenous Park at 1801 White St.
If you enjoyed these free things to do in Key West, 24 North Hotel has excellent amenities that will help you save in the long-run. Our shuttle service to Old Town, on-site food truck, lively poolside bar, and comfortable and stylish rooms go a long way. See our special offers - and if you’re a Florida resident, enjoy big savings.