What to do for Free in Northwest Florida

Families on a budget know finding what to do for free in Northwest Florida helps vacation dollars go farther.

Got Kids?

On a budget?

You may not be able to visit Florida for free but you can find free things to do while you’re here.

All across Northwest Florida you can find free stuff, from concerts on the beach to world-class museums. Check out the list below for some ideas.

As a young mother with three little girls and a tight family budget, I was always looking for ways to entertain the kids that didn’t cost a lot of money. An outing usually consisted of some snacks in the cooler and a place where the girls could explore and run off some energy without too much supervision. (Yes, moms do get tired of saying “no!”) We called it “fun, free and cheap things to do in your backyard” and the first travel guide I wrote took that theme to the max.

Click on a link below to find attractions and activities in a specific area.

Pensacola             Destin & Fort Walton Beach             South Walton
Panama City Beach Apalachicola

Free stuff to do can range from an attraction to an event. For instance one of the best museums in the world is in Northwest Florida and it’s free, but so are weekly outdoor concerts that can be found all across the region. There are even some major annual festivals that have free admission, so be sure and check the monthly events calendars.

Below is a list of what to do for free in Northwest Florida. As I find new things, I’ll add to it, but for now use it as a starting point for finding your own family fun, and remember …

…it’s all free!

(Note: smaller museums and attractions in particular appreciate a donation to help keep things running. If possible, drop a couple of bucks in the jar before you leave.)

Blue Angels jets at the National Naval Aviation Museum
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What to do for Free in South Walton

Timpoochee Trail - This 19-mile paved hiking and biking trail runs alongside Scenic Highway 30A, meandering over rare coastal dune lakes and offering glimpses of the gulf. Pack a snack or plan to stop at one of the many fun eateries along the way. Other free things to do here include art galleries and stopping at the beach.

Splash Pads - There are two splash pads in South Walton, one at The Village of South Walton in Seacrest Beach on Scenic Highway 30A and the other at Helen McCall Park located at the end of Moll Drive off U. S. Highway 98 in Santa Rosa Beach. There’s also a playground and picnic tables at Helen McCall.

Alaqua Unleashed - Need a place for Fido to run and play? Alaqua Unleashed (formerly the Bark Park) is a fenced dog park with separate areas for big dogs and little dogs, and water taps for a good cold drink after the run.

Seaside Summer Concert Series - Every Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. from June through the middle of August bring a blanket or lawn chair to the Amphitheater at Seaside and enjoy free outdoor musical performances by some of the region’s top touring musicians.

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What to do for Free in Panama City Beach

Frank Brown Park - This huge community recreational facility has ball fields, playgrounds, tennis courts, an aquatic center (there is a charge to swim), and 1.5 miles of greenways and trails. There’s also a freshwater lake where kids can fish and a fenced dog park to exercise Fido.

Captain Anderson’s Marina & Docks - Wondering what to do for free in Panama City Beach? Watching the fishing boats come in and unload the day’s catch is a fun experience. Don’t be surprised if you see pelicans and seagulls trying to steal a meal. The marina is located on Grand Lagoon at the corner of Thomas Drive and North Lagoon Drive.

Kritter Inc. Wildlife Sanctuary - The largest wildlife sanctuary in Bay County, this unique place to visit rescues, raises, rehabilitates and releases orphaned, injured, and displaced wildlife. They are open to the public for tours by appointment. Call 850-819-3354.

SeaBreeze Winery - If you want to know how wine is made visit this unique spot just steps from the beach at 13201 Hutchison Boulevard. They make their wines onsite, so you can tour the wine production facility and then enjoy a complimentary wine tasting. Lots of wine related items and gifts can be found in the gift shop.

Pier Park Summer Concert Series - Shop, stop, and drop into to the amphitheater at Pier Park June through August for live musical performances from some of the area’s top bands and vocalists. Concerts are every Thursday evening starting at 7 p.m. Bring a lawn chair or a blanket.

What to do for Free in Apalachicola

Raney House Museum - Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, this elegant Greek-revival structure was once the home of David Raney, cotton broker and twice mayor of Apalachicola. Enjoy a fascinating tour and learn about the rich history of the area.

Three Servicemen South Statue - Both outdoor art and a memorial to the veterans of the Vietnam War, the statue is part of The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., and is a bronze detail sculpture made from part of the original molds.

Chapman Botanical Gardens - A tribute to Dr. Alvin Chapman, a prominent 19th Century Botanist who discovered many rare plant species in the area, the park features period lighting, seating areas, a gazebo, and a boardwalk and paved path through various gardens. (There are also wide open spaces that are great for turning cartwheels.) The gardens are located at Market Street and Avenue J across from the Three Servicemen South statue.

National Estuarine Research Reserve - The Apalachicola Bay Reserve is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and protects one of the most productive estuarine systems in the Northern Hemisphere. The visitor center, located on State Road 300 at the foot of the St. George Island Bridge, houses exhibits including a hands-on, kid-friendly area.

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