In the state of Florida, there are plenty of things to do, but most of them require some substantial funds to experience. However, not all of Florida's unique wonders are locked away behind a lofty admission fee. For the frugal traveller looking to enjoy Florida, here are some of our favourite cheap or free things to do.
Explore the Beaches
The beach – it is an obvious choice for entertainment while in the sunshine state. Most of the money that travellers use on the beach comes from all the other attractions around there. However, if visitors stick to the basics of sand and surf they are sure to have a wonderful time, completely free of charge. So whether visitors to Florida decide to envy the hot bodies on South Beach or opt to have a day of fun on the less visited, but still beautiful, beaches in Pinellas County, they are sure to have a day to remember.
Complimentary Wine Tastings
Florida's wineries are drastically underestimated and not nearly as popular as they should be. In fact, more people know Florida for its orange juice than their wine. However, this hidden secret has its benefits for the penny pinching wine aficionado. In order to attract attention and hopefully future business to their vineyards, many wineries offer tours of their establishment complete with complimentary wine tastings at the end. Lakeridge Winery is one such establishment that offers free tastings. They host a small presentation on Floridian wine as well as a brief tour before visitors get to sample some of their wonderful wine.
Walking Tour through the Town of Murals
Florida’s Lake Placid is also known as the Town of Murals – and it is not hard to see why. There are over 40 different detailed murals adorning the buildings throughout the downtown area. The town is also dotted with small parks and gardens, hosts a steam locomotive, a whole slew of beautiful butterflies and even a unique sculpture for its trash cans. A day spent walking around this Florida city is a day well spent. To further increase tourism, the town offers free walking tours so visitors can get their best possible glimpse of the city.
Explore Florida's Natural Swampland
Creativecommons.org/ Miguel Vieira
Florida is renowned for its natural swamps and there is no finer place to experience them than in their Everglades National Park. Due to the dangerous nature of the land and the creatures within, it's not advisable to go exploring the area alone. However, the park offers both tram tours and ranger-led tours of the park. The ranger-led tours that embark on foot are completely free. There is also a small admission free to the park, but pedestrians and cyclists can get in for even cheaper.
Enjoy the Sunset Celebration in Key West
The sunsets over Key West are truly something special. As Mother Nature dazzles those in attendance with her beautiful feast of colours in the sky, the event organizers set up music, dancing and food stalls on the beach. While the food stalls do charge a meager price, the rest of the festivities, especially the sunset, still remain free.
Visit the Mission San Luis
The Mission San Luis in Tallahassee was one of the first Spanish missions to be founded in America during the 1600s. This particular mission was created by Spanish friars at the request of the local Apalachee residents. Aside from a mission, this site has served as many things, from religious outpost to plantation to regional capital. However, today it is mostly in ruins. The main Franciscan church has been rebuilt, but the rest has fallen prey to time. Providing there are not any archeologists working here, the mission offers free guided tours to curious visitors.
Tour the National Naval Aviation Museum
Creativecommons.org/ Andrea Wright
Visitors to Pensacola, Florida can get up close and personal with the Blue Angels at the National Naval Aviation Museum. Normally there is an admission fee, however on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings during March through to November both parking and admission to the museum are completely free. Visitors can escape the balmy Florida summer heat to see over 150 beautifully restored aircraft and 4,000 Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard artifacts. You may even get to see the Blue Angels practice if you go from 11am to 1pm – although make sure you take some hearing protection with you.
Visit the Harry P Leu Gardens
Creativecommons.org/ Tilly C.
Harry P Leu Gardens is a massive botanical garden just five minutes away from the heart of Orlando. The gardens have free admission during working hours every day. Visitors can enjoy the butterfly garden, tropical steam garden, bamboo and palm gardens and the house museum that traces the area’s history back to the 1800s. It is a wonderful way to get more familiar with plants not only native to Florida, but some of the more interesting tropical plants from around the world.