15 Free Fun Things to Do in Florida Now
It’s no secret that Florida is a firm favourite amongst British and Irish holiday makers. With world-class theme parks, pristine beaches, and stunning national parks it’s clear to see why. Florida is the ultimate holiday destination for families, couples, and solo travellers alike – and for those looking to keep costs down – look no further.
VISIT FLORIDA has rounded up 15 of the best free and fun things to do in Florida right now. From historic tours, boat rides, secluded state parks and more, you’ll find a wide variety of free activities to choose from.
1) The Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail Loop – St. Pete/Clearwater
The opening of the 6.7-mile North Gap completes Pinellas Trail’s 75-mile loop and is highly anticipated. Stretching from Tarpon Springs in the north to St. Pete in the south, the trail has been created along an abandoned railroad corridor and provides a unique, protected greenspace for walking, jogging, skating, and biking, allowing both locals and visitors to get out in nature and explore the coast and all of its distinctive towns.
2) Miami Beach Pride – Greater Miami
From 1-16 April, Miami will celebrate the 15-year anniversary of the destination’s largest LGBTQ+ event with expanded programming that includes a Pride pool event, an LGBTQ Family picnic, Queer Art Showcase, and the Pride March and Parade on Ocean Drive.
3) Riverfront Esplanade – Daytona Beach
After a $30 million investment, spanning a mile of Intracoastal waterway, the Riverfront Esplanade is a premier gathering space and botanical garden in the heart of Daytona Beach. Composed of more than a mile of waterfront running trail with comfortable benches and swings overlooking the Halifax River, the Riverfront Esplanade also features a dog park with an agility course and a state-of-the-art splash pad. The north end of the Riverfront Esplanade recently opened with the south end scheduled for completion by the end of the year.
4) Bonnet Springs Park and Florida Children’s Museum – Lakeland
Bonnet Springs Park in Lakeland is a new 168-acre urban oasis bringing Central Florida’s natural beauty to life. It will be a place where art, recreation and fun intersect by design, featuring a vast array of wonderful amenities. Highlights include the Hollis Family Welcome Centre, the Ag American Heritage Garden, The Florida Children’s Museum, Kid’s Treehouse and open-air concerts and events.
5) St George Street – St Augustine
As the nation’s oldest continuously settled city, St. Augustine has centuries of adventure and romance for visitors to experience. Beautiful architecture inspired by early Spanish settlers characterises downtown alongside shops, boutiques, lighthouses, and historic buildings. Explore the quaint St George Street afoot – once the town’s main thoroughfare now only open to pedestrians – and enjoy learning about Florida’s history in this celebrated coastal city.
6) Egmont Key State Park – St Petersburg
The unique cultural and historical significance of Egmont Key State Park makes this pristine island a free must-see. A lighthouse stands on the shore as it has for 150 years and Fort Dade, built during the Spanish-American War is still holding its ground. After touring the historic sites and trails, explorers are beckoned to the beach for swimming, shelling, picnicking, and fishing.
7) Tours and tastings – Orlando
Every day, Orlando’s largest premium winery offers free tours with tastings. Lasting about 45 minutes, including a 15-minute video presentation, the tours take you through the production area and provide a view of the 80-acre vineyards. Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards also hosts free summer and winter music series, as well as a free open house during the holidays. They’re in Clermont, about 35 minutes west of the Orlando tourism districts.
8) St Mary’s River – Hilliard (near Jacksonville)
Launch a canoe on the St. Mary’s River that separates Florida and Georgia on the east coast for free from the Canoe Country Outpost. Observe Florida’s wildlife such as osprey, bald eagles, deer, beavers, and otters. Pitch a tent on the shore for a weekend of free family fun or just make a day trip and canoe.
9) Hollywood Beach Boardwalk (near Fort Lauderdale)
Spend the day unwinding at Hollywood Beach, known for its casual atmosphere and international flair. Walk or bike along Hollywood’s scenic oceanfront boardwalk or treat yourself to an afternoon of exploring historic downtown, which is on the National Register of Historic Places and hosts a variety of free street markets and festivals unique to South Florida.
10) Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail – Key Largo
Adventurous visitors can kick into high gear on the developing 106-mile Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail following the railroad route completed by Henry Flagler in 1912. Bikers can enjoy 70 miles of trail currently paved in segments that run through colourful Keys communities and incorporate Flagler’s historic railroad bridges. With stunning views of the glittery Gulf and light salty gusts, this trail is a breeze.
11) Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium – Key West
Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium’s third land-based Keys coral nursery has opened at Reefhouse Resort & Marina, expanding the Upper Keys’ resilience-focused coral restoration efforts. Tours are scheduled on Fridays at 10 a.m. at Reefhouse Resort & Marina. Mote – raising brain, star, and branching corals both onshore and offshore – outplants coral along the entirety of the Florida Keys reef tract. A separate Mote satellite land-based coral nursery is at Bud ‘N Mary’s Marina in Islamorada and free public tours are available each Tuesday at 2 p.m. At the Keys’ Mote Marine Laboratory base on Summerland Key, Mote offers free public tours on Tuesdays at 10 a.m. with reservations.
12) Summer Concert Series – Panama City Beach
Hot summer nights are made for music, and the Summer Concert Series has become a beloved summertime tradition in PCB. Enjoy a FREE concert in the park every Tuesday (from June – August) at Aaron Bessant Park Amphitheatre — bring your own chairs and blankets and enjoy the sounds of summer with good food and music.
13) The Village of the Arts – Bradenton
The Village of the Arts is an eclectic live-work community, home to galleries, studios, restaurants, bakeries, specialty shops and healing art centres housed in colourfully restored 1920s and 1930s historic cottages. The Village is known for its free vibrant night-time Art Walks on the first Friday and Saturday of every month.
14) Build a sandcastle – Gulf Coast of Florida
If you’ve ever been to 30A, Florida, you’ve probably spotted a beautifully crafted, towering sandcastle. The Gulf Coast of Florida is often pegged “The Sandcastle Coast” because of the ideal crafting conditions here! If you’ve seen one of these next-level seaside sculptures, you might be wondering how to make the best sandcastle yourself. Grab a bucket and why not give it a go?
15) Scenic highway drive – Pensacola
You could say Pensacola Scenic Bluffs Highway comes in first place, both in terms of geography (it’s the first scenic highway you’ll encounter as you cross the Alabama-Florida border) and because it was the first scenic highway designated in Florida, back in 1998. It might also top your list of scenic drives for more qualitative reasons: As the name implies, this highway’s vistas put on quite a show. On your way, make sure you stop off at The National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola which offers free admission daily. Or just look up to see the Blue Angels practicing.