The 15 best free things to do in Florida
While Florida seems to have all the expensive theme parks or classy South Beach restaurants, the Sunshine State has plenty of fun and amazing activities that won’t cost you a dime. Whether you want to sightsee, relax on the beach or get a history lesson, Florida has seemingly endless free activities. Take a boat ride, visit a secluded state park, or choose one of 15 other activities, among our favorite free activities in the state.
01 of 15.
Enjoy a sunset feast
Florida sunsets are spectacular, and people in two Florida communities – Key West and Clearwater Beach – think it’s enough to celebrate! Night after night, the crowd gathers a couple of hours before sunset. The atmosphere is festive with live bands playing, artisans selling their wares, talented artists painting portraits, and performers cheering the crowds on. As dusk approaches, everyone seems to stop to enjoy the breathtaking spectacle of Mother Nature. Then, as if on cue, the party continues. You can find sunset celebrations at Mallory Dock in Key West or at Pier 60 in Clearwater.
Visit one of America’s best beaches, Siesta Key
Just off the coast of Sarasota is one of the best beaches in Siesta Key Beach County. The eight-mile stretch of beach has been voted one of the “best, whitest sands in the world” on several top-rated lists, including Dr. Beach and The Travel Channel. Known for its wide expanse and stunning quartz sand, it’s one of Florida’s great wonders. Whether you plan to stay overnight or for just a few hours, Siesta Key offers plenty of amenities, including a full-service concession, showers, restrooms, locker rooms, picnic tables and a children’s playground. Parking is also free.
03 of 15
Amelia Island Fernandina Beach Walk
Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island is the perfect postcard destination that doesn’t have to break your budget. Spend a day on the island’s pristine beaches filled with incredible wildlife, then explore the sights, store in the unique town center or stroll through the historic district on a self-guided walking tour. None of this will cost you a penny.
04 of 15.
Take a free wine tasting and vineyard tour
Free tours and wine tastings are offered seven days a week at Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards in Clermont. Tours are offered every half hour, starting with a 15-minute video presentation showing the growth of Florida’s grapes all the way through the winemaking process. The tour includes a production area and a spectacular view of the vineyards where the grapes are grown and harvested. Tastings are held at a large tasting rack with a wide variety of wines. The tour and wine tasting last about 30 minutes. During the month of July, the vineyard hosts a free summer music series with live bands.
Continue to 5 of 15 below. 05 of 15.
Visit the National Museum of Naval Aviation
Located on Naval Aviation in Pensacola, the National Naval Aviation Museum offers hours of hands-on history with countless items to touch, see and experience. The museum features more than 150 beautifully restored aircraft and more than 4,000 exhibits representing the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard aviation. In addition to free parking and admission, you can watch the fantastic Blue Angels practice Tuesday through Wednesday from March through November. Wednesdays also include an autograph session with the pilots at the museum. If you don’t have time in your travel schedule to visit the museum, make a quick stop in Florida at the Welcome Center in Pensacola to see a life-size Blue Angel jet fighter.
06 of 15
Mural City Walk
In Lake Placid, affectionately known as Mural City, you’ll find more than 40 murals adorning buildings downtown. That’s just the beginning, as there are surprises around every corner in this small town. Small parks and green spaces abound with plenty of benches, perfect for enjoying the beautiful surroundings. In addition, there are unique sculptural trash bins in the center of town: a steam locomotive sitting on a rail, a larger turpentine bottle, a jail and beautiful butterflies are just a few of the creative bins ready to take on your trash.
07 of 15
Tour Florida Capitol Complex
Tallahassee is Florida’s capital, where state legislators meet to conduct official Sunshine State business. The old and new Capitol buildings are on the same block with free guided tours and guided tours. Hours of tours of the old Capitol building are offered daily except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Reservations at least two weeks in advance for tours are recommended. All tours of the new capitol require reservations, and visits during the legislative session, March through April, require reservations at least two months in advance. Tours are daily except for New Year’s Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
08 of 15
Splash and Play in Daytona Beach
So often county parks are in the middle of nowhere, but that’s not the case with Sun Splash Park in Volusia County, located right on Daytona Beach. While you have to pay for a ride at the famous beach, the four-acre park includes 95 parking spaces. The park features an interactive “zero-depth” water play fountain, a shaded playground, volleyball courts, picnic areas, restrooms, outdoor showers, a “cool zone” sponsored by Coca-Cola, and two ramps to the beach. Sun Splash Park is open daily from dawn to dusk.
Continue to 9 of 15 below. 09 of 15.
Visit the Miami Beach Holocaust Memorial
The Holocaust Memorial, dedicated to the memory of the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust, is located in Miami Beach. The memorial, built of glowing Jerusalem stone and black granite, speaks beautifully to the tragic history. Groups of 10 or more must make reservations before visiting.
10 of 15.
Spend a day at Lake Mirror Day in the Park
Lakeland’s Mirror Lake is beautiful enough, but take a stroll along the waterfront around the lake and you’ll find a treasure trove of surprises: the multi-tiered Hollis Garden and the entertaining Barnett Family Park. There’s something to please everyone in the whole family. Hollis Garden is a 1.2-acre, multi-level botanical garden overlooking the Mirror Lake waterfront. The garden features thousands of flowering plants, ornamental shrubs and water features. Barnett Family Park is adorned with exquisite Florida native animal sculptures and beautiful handmade glass Byzantine tiles. A unique themed playground, an interactive “zero-depth” playground and a large picnic and party pavilion complete the family fun. The water playground is closed on Wednesdays.
11 of 15.
Swim with the fish in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary stretches 2,800 square miles across the Florida Keys, from Miami to Tortugas. This diverse ecosystem includes coral reefs, algae and underwater archaeological sites. Fortunately, there is no admission fee for visitors, so pack up your canoe or kayak and start paddling. You never know what kinds of wildlife you might encounter!
12 of 15.
Check out the vintage car parade in Kissimmee
Every Friday night, more than 300 vintage rides parade through the streets of Kissimmee. From classic hot dogs to antiques, the Old Town Parade is one of the most popular attractions. A concert of ’50s and ’60s tunes will follow. Plus, there are restaurants, stores and even amusement rides that guarantee a free night out for the whole family!
Continue to 13 of 15 below. 13 of 15.
Tour Coral Gables ‘Biltmore’ Hotel.
Head to this Coral Gables landmark every Sunday afternoon for a free tour of the impressive hotel and grounds. This luxurious Spanish Renaissance-style hotel has hosted some of Hollywood’s most famous stars, including Ginger Rogers and Judy Garland, as well as European royalty such as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Today the Biltmore is the only hotel in South Florida recognized as a National Historic Landmark.
14 of 15
Cedar Key Climbing.
Save some money and catch your own dinner at Cedar Key! Scalloping is one of the most popular summer activities on this island, as kids and adults alike will dive to the bottom to grab some giant shells. Many area restaurants will prepare your catch for you for a small fee.
15 of 15
Canoe Coldwater Creek.
This northwest Florida bay is called “Florida’s canoe capital.” The stream is shallow and cold even on the hottest summer days, but has the fastest water in the state, making it an exciting trip. The Sandy River is part of the Blackwater River State Forest, a popular place for swimming, fishing and camping.