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Cheap and Free Things to do in Key West - Real Life Recess

Cheap and Free things to do in Key West

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.

Cruise ship port Key West- Real Life Recess

At the cruise ship port

Key West sunset

Parents checking out 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.

Lion fish Key West- Real Life Recess

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.

Key West Garden Club- Real Life Recess

Garden Club trees in Key West- Real Life Recess

some cool trees and plants


Key West Garden Club- Real Life Recess

a nice little path to wander through…and a view of the water


Key West Garden Club plant- Real Life Recess

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.

Feed turtles on Key West- Real Life Recess

Throwing cat food at the turtles

Turtles in Key West- Real Life Recess

At least 5 turtles in this photo!

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).

Fort Jefferson in Dry tortugas- Real Life Recess


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!

Tarpon feeding in Key West- Real Life Recess

tarpon feeding!


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.

Phil eating key lime ice cream and pie at Kermits Key Lime Shoppe- Real Life Recess

Phil eating key lime ice cream and pie

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!

Key West Bar- Real Life Recess

About the author

Megan Rodden

never met a vacation she didn't like. Megan is a self-centered, snarky, unambitious derelict... like most of her peers.

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© 2014 Megan Rodden and Phil Nagengast.