South Florida doesn’t exactly have the reputation as an affordable family destination. While Miami and Key West can be ultra expensive, there are other places to explore that are just as much if not more fun for your family!
In this post, I’ll share five South Florida activities for families that are budget-friendly. These fun things to do are affordable alternatives to pricey tourist activities!
For more details on our budget trip to South Florida including where we stayed and a cost breakdown, check out this post.
1) Crandon Park & Beach
South Beach is the main attraction in Miami, but it is crowded and parking can get VERY expensive. A great alternative is Crandon Park, just minutes from downtown.
You access it via the Rickenbacker Causeway which costs $3 to use roundtrip. All day parking at Crandon Park is $5 on weekdays and $7 on weekends.
For under $10 for the entire family, you get access to a gorgeous beach, playgrounds, nature trails, restrooms with changing areas, and more. This beach was the most perfect I’ve ever been to and straight out of my dreams! Pack a picnic lunch and spend the day here.
2) Everglades National Park
I was really excited to visit the Everglades on this trip. The entrance was only a 10-minute drive from our hotel.
It costs $25 per vehicle for up to a week to visit Everglades National Park. If you have a large family this is a great deal even if you are only visiting for a day!
We only visited a small portion of the southern part of the park. There is SO much more you could do here, but on our first visit we just got a taste of the unique ecosystem.
We made a quick stop at the small Ernest P. Coe Visitor’s Center, which had great interactive exhibits that my daughter loved.
Then we went to the Royal Palms area and did two short hikes – the Anhinga Trail and the Gumbo Limbo Trail. They were perfect for kids and we saw tons of wildlife, including the famous Anhinga birds and a huge alligator right off the boardwalk trail!
We also visited the Mahogany Hammock and the Pa-hay-okee Overlook, both of which we enjoyed. We had a fantastic day experiencing the Everglades and went back for a swim in the hotel pool before dinner. I can’t wait to go back to see more of the park.
3) Key Largo
I was really excited to take a glass bottom boat tour in Key Largo to see the world-famous coral reefs. I even got a great deal on Groupon for tickets – $36 total for one adult and one child!
Well, all of the tours were canceled for our entire visit due to poor visibility in the water. There were high winds and rip tides that made it impossible to visit the reefs (we visited the last week in January). Groupon refunded the full price of my tickets with one quick call to their customer service line.
Fortunately, I had a backup plan to visit John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. It costs $9 for two people to enter and only $0.50 more per person for more than 2 people.
The beaches here are tiny and nothing much to speak off, but we did catch this cool little crab at Cannon Beach.
The visitor’s center had a large saltwater aquarium and some nice exhibits. There is camping, fishing, kayak rentals (closed during our visit due to weather), snorkeling and scuba tours, and more offered at this park. The state park offers very affordable snorkeling tours – $30 per adult and $25 per child. I’d love to do this on our next trip!
Since I didn’t spend anything on our glass bottom boat tour I felt entitled to a visit to the next best thing – a glass-bottom bar! We had some appetizers (plus mama had a much-needed cocktail) and RC got to feed the fish right off the side of the deck.
And of course we couldn’t leave the Keys without some famous Key Lime Pie! We got this slice to-go for $5 from Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen II. We ate it back in our hotel room and it was totally incredible.
4) Frost Museum of Science
One of my top tips for finding affordable family activities when you travel is to take advantage of a local museum membership if you have one. We have a membership at our local Museum of Life & Science, which gives us free or half-price entry to thousands of museums all over the country thanks to the ASTC Travel Passport Program and the AZA Reciprocal Admissions Program.
We were able to get free admission to the incredible Frost Museum of Science in downtown Miami by showing my membership card and ID. It would have cost $49 for us both to get in out of pocket.
There were tons of hands-on activities that my daughter loved. And check out this view of downtown from the top of the museum! We spent 3 hours there and paid $12 for parking which was totally worth it.
5) Zoo Miami
The day we arrived we went straight to Zoo Miami, which is located between Miami and Homestead. We got in for half price (thanks to our home museum membership) which was $22 for both of us. It is the only sub-tropical zoo in the continental US and had great exhibits.
We split a $10 chicken basket for lunch along with some fruit I brought into the park. I find we are often able to share meals if I supplement it with something from my backpack.
We had a fantastic time checking out some budget-friendly South Florida activities for families.