Free or Almost Free* things to do in the Upper Florida Keys
The Florida Keys can be an expensive place to live and visit. This page will try to bring you some of the best, less expensive (* Free or $10 or less for a family of 4), things to do. There are always cheap or free things to do such as window shopping, walking around the block, singing in the shower. That is not what this page will bring you. These Things To Do will have you telling everybody what a good time you had and many of you will never reveal the costs.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park Key Largo MM 102
Fees: $8.00* per vehicle. Limit 2-8 people per vehicle. $2.00* Pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass. $4.00* Single-occupant vehicle or motorcycle. *Plus $.50 per person Monroe County Surcharge.
While most of the actual park is offshore there is quite a lot to do at the parks landside headquarters.
There are two man made beaches. Cannon beach is the parks primary snorkeling beach, where you will find the remnants of an early Spanish shipwreck approximately 100 feet offshore. Far beach, with it’s palm trees is a relaxing place to swim, or just sit and enjoy the sun.
Fishing is permitted in designated areas in accordance with Florida State Law. Saltwater fishing licenses are required for out of state visitors. Spearfishing, possession of spearfishing equipment, and collection of tropical fish [by any method] is prohibited inside the park.
Nature Trails The Wild Tamarind Trail winds through the parks beautiful tropical hardwood hammocks. You will see native hardwoods and have an opportunity to birdwatch. The Mangrove Trail winds peacefully through the mangroves and over the mangrove estuaries allowing visitors to view this unique environment up close and personal.
Nature walks for organized groups need to be requested in advance, if possible to ensure that a Park Ranger is on duty for the walk.
Picnicking areas are located throughout the park. Barbecue grills are provided, no ground fires are permitted. The park has 12 pavilions for use on a first-come, first-served basis. None of the pavilions are equipped with electric or water.
The highlight of the parks visitor center is its 30,000 gallon saltwater aquarium, the staff conducts a fish feeding for park visitors at 11:00 A.M. daily. There are also Six additional 100-200 gallon aquariums which offer the visitor different looks at the parks marine inhabitants. The visitors center also features natural history exhibits, which interpret the parks unique marine environment. The park has a theater where visitors may view nature videos relating to the park and its surrounding area. The hours of operation are 8:00 A.M.- 5:00 P.M., daily.
That should be enough to keep your family busy for the whole day and you can rent or bring your own Kayaks or Canoes and spend the day exploring the surrounding waters.
Florida Keys Wild Bird Center Tavernier MM 92
Fees: There is no entrance fee but donations are encouraged. $10 for a family selfguided tour seems more than reasonable and helps support all the work done here. Remember the pictures you take home will be priceless.
The Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center began quite by accident in 1984, when a veterinarian asked a woodcarver to help with some injured birds. Its primary purpose is to provide emergency and recuperative care for injured birds, but it is slowly evolving into a significant collection and distribution point for information about our environment.
The Center is located in a natural setting alongside the Bay. When you visit, bring your camera! You’ll find plenty of healthy, wild, and beautiful birds, both residents and visitors, along the boardwalk as well as those rehabbing and some permanent residents that, due to injuries, can’t be released back into nature. But the Center isn’t just for the birds!! You will see hardwood hammocks (Bromeliads are abundant along the nature trail), mangrove communities as well as nearshore activities. Minnows, crabs, and sunsets appear regularly along the bay.
Fees:Admission to the dock is $1 per person, and each bucket of fish is $3 (tax not included).
The tarpon-feeding at the marina started nearly three decades ago, when a lone injured tarpon was rescued by a kindly business owner who had recently set up his bayside business. Today there may be 50 to 100 tarpon that come here daily and linger for hours. You can toss a baitfish among them and the water churns. Occasionally, a tarpon performs one of their well know leaps from the water in a powerful flash of silver and green to meet the fish as it leaves your hand.
Don’t forget your camera otherwise your friends won’t believe you were actually hand feeding Wild 100+ pound fish.