Key West is mostly about eating, drinking and shopping but there are plenty of other amusements to be had- many of them for little or no money. First off, pick up a visitor’s guide or look online to see what events are happening during your stay. We saw the remnants of the Chalk Art Festival all along the sidewalk at the Truman Waterfront (along the harbor where the cruise ships come in but opposite side of Mallory Square); some pretty spectacular works and a good place to watch the sunset.
While you’re at the waterfront, pop in to the Eco-Discovery Center. This little museum/ aquarium center is free so go in and watch their short educational film, look at some ecological maps of the keys, and gaze in to their fish tanks.
Over at Higgs Beach there is a botanical garden with free admission where you can learn about Florida’s flora and fauna or just take some pretty pictures.
Close to the gardens there’s a wildlife center you can tour- you guessed it, for free- and look around their few enclosures at the wild birds they’re rehabilitating. If you’re lucky the volunteers that work there will give you a cup of cat food to feed to the turtles in the pond.
Across town at the Historic Seaport, walk along the docks and stop in to the one-room “museum” on the harbor walk (free!) to learn about Historic Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas (this looks like a wonderful day trip that I’d like to do next time we’re in the keys).
Walking along the docks, look for restaurants that have tarpon feeding times. Even if you don’t catch an official feeding you’re likely to spot a few of these behemoth fish patrolling the area. For someone who’s never seen a tarpon, this is a treat due to their sheer size (they aren’t particularly pretty, just very very large)- they can grow up to 150lbs and 6 feet long!
Then amble over to Kermit’s Key Lime Shoppe and get your key lime fix by sampling everything in the store- they encourage it! Buy a special treat to take home if you like.
Musicians flock to Key West like pelicans and you can catch tunes out on the streets or in any number of bars. For the price of a drink or too you can pull up a stool and take in a performance pretty much any night of the year at your choice of bar. I’d choose one on Duval street and position my stool for a street view because another favorite (and free) activity of mine is people watching and Key West delivers on the people watching!