Top Fun Things To Do in Key West Florida
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Surrounded by stunning clear blue water, Key West is a captivating island paradise. One of its appeals is that it is considered the southernmost point of the continental United States sitting at only a mere 90 miles to Cuba.
Key West is the ultimate destination of a Miami to Key West road trip and offers a plethora of things to do. From the adventurous water activities to the laid-back atmosphere of the town, Key West is the perfect destination for a romantic getaway or a family fun trip.
1. Sunset Cruise
There are few things more romantic than sailing into the sunset with the turquoise water sparkling all around. As the sun begins to set, setting sail on a catamaran is the perfect way to end a day in Key West. The cruise takes you to the best places to view the sunset out on the water.
Enjoy the breathtaking views with a drink in hand and feast on delicious appetizers provided by the cruise. In addition, the cruise features live music highlighting various local artists. There is plenty of space on the deck to stretch out and be sure to be on the lookout for Key West landmarks as you take off.
This is one of the most popular water activities to do in Key West so be sure to book ahead for your trip to Key West.
2. Southermost Point Buyo
This popular landmark is an anchored concrete buyo that marks the southernmost point of the continental United States, at least the public one. It is permanently anchored in Key West is one of the most photographed tourist places in the entire state.
The location is also the point where it is just about 90 miles to Cuba which is actually less than the miles from Key West to the Florida mainland at that point.
Most days there is a long line to get a picture with the buyo so be prepared to stand in line for a while in the heat if you want your turn. Alternatively, you can mark this off of your list earlier in the morning so that you don’t have to stand in a long line.
3. Fury Water Adventures
One of the top companies in Key West for all kinds of watersports is Fury Water Adventures. One of their most popular adventures is Fury’s ultimate adventure H2.0 where activities such as reef snorkeling, parasailing, jet skiing, a banana boat ride and the largest ocean water park in Key West are all included. Not only that but breakfast and lunch are also included with refreshments along the way to make it the ultimate exciting day out on the water.
Any of your water adventure needs can be done with Fury including a wide variety of snorkeling trips like the double dip snorkeling trip or the dolphin watch snorkeling tour where you will see tropical fish, colorful coral and dolphins.
They also do glass bottom boat tours, sunset tours, and Key West private charters for the really special occasions where you want to create unforgettable memories with a private boat excursion.
Not only do they have the ultimate water adventure options, but they also have golf cart and bike rentals to explore the island on your own time.
4. Duval Street
Duval is the main street of downtown Key West making it one of the most popular destinations on the island of Key West with many things to do. Lined with shops, restaurants, cafes, galleries and various other attractions, you can spend a long time meandering through the street.
Some of the best stops on Duval Street are the various shops where you can find the best and unique souvenirs, Art On Duval Key West or Peter Lik Gallery for some of the best galleries on the island, visit a historic icon the Oldest House Museum & Garden, get food at one of the many restaurants you pass by, or a pineapple drink at one of the cafes for a refreshment.
5. Private Tiki Boat Tour
This Tiki boat ride is a great option for those who are traveling with a group of six people or less. Get away from the crowds with your own little adventure just with your friends or family on this private tour.
As you head out, the tiki keep you covered from the sun while you fill up on the snacks and drinks provided. In the meantime look out for turtles, sting rays and dolphins while listening to the captain tell you more about the area and marine life. Once you arrive to the sandbar you are free to jump in the water and swim around to enjoy your own oasis. This tour is approximately four hours of personalized and relaxing boat experience.
6. Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park
Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park is one of our most favorite places on the island. Located at the end of the island it is home to one of the best beaches in Key West, a historic Civil War-era fort, and has the best sunset views.
Whether you stop by for a few hours or choose to spend the whole day here, it is fun for the whole family with over 50 acres to explore. Fort Taylor which started construction in 1845 and lasted for several years is one of the most intriguing parts of the park. It was named after the U.S. president at the time, Zachary Taylor.
Over the years, the fort played a role in the Civil War and the Spanish-American War after. Now, it is recognized as a National Historic Landmark and is open to explore on your own or take a guided tour.
The beach at Fort Zachary is one of the sandier beaches in Key West providing the perfect place to enjoy a beach day. While swimming in the clear water beach, there is an opportunity to snorkel by the rocks where you can see many fish.
There are great amenities at the park with restrooms, beach equipment for rent such as lounge chars, umbrellas, and snorkeling gear. The café is open from 10a.m. to 6p.m. serving snacks, sandwiches, hot dogs, pizza and ice cream.
The entrance fee to the park is $4.50 for one person, $6.50 for two people and every additional person being $.50 more. If you are walking or are on a bike the entrance is $2.50 per person. General park hours are from 8a.m. to sunset daily.
No trip to Key West is complete without snorkeling the stunning water in the Florida Keys. If you just want to do a snorkeling tour without any other addons that is possible with many of the tour operators in Key West.
While snorkeling, you will see so many different types of tropical fish, conch shells, beautiful corals, and possibly even larger marine life like turtles, dolphins and sting rays. Some of the top tour providers are Fury, Sunset Watersports, or Sebago Watersports for snorkeling adventures.
8. Mallory Square
If you’re not watching the sunset on a sunset cruise, then Mallory Square is the place to be at sunset time. Large crowds gather at the Mallory Square for the sunset celebration every evening to watch as the sun sets and the sky becomes lit up with beautiful colors.
During the sunset celebration, the square is filled with stalls selling locally made art and souvenirs while the performers juggle and do all kinds of fun tricks.
The square is situated in the Old Town area and lined with shops and restaurants which you can visit before watching the sun set. If you don’t know which places to choose, a guided food tour will take you to all of the local’s favorite places to sample delicious food and ending the tour with the sunset celebration.
What is more thrilling than gliding on the water on a jet ski? A jet ski tour in Key West takes you on an adventurous ride completely around the island in under two hours. There are a few stops along the way including viewing the southernmost point, submarine pits on Boca Chica Key, Key West harbor, and a sandbar where you can take a quick dip in the water. The tour provides a basic training and allows for a second free rider on the jet ski.
10. Enjoy The Beaches
The Keys aren’t known for the beaches, but there are still great beaches you can enjoy, especially in Key West. Here are the four top beaches in Key West so you can take all of your beach essentials and have a wonderful beach day soaking in the sun.
Fort Zachary Taylor Beach – This is one of the best beaches in Key West although it isn’t free. You have to pay a small admission to get into the park but after, you can spend the whole day at the beach if you want. This beach has great amenities and you can take a break from the beach by visiting the fort. It also has one of the best snorkeling spots in Key West by the rocks.
Smathers Beach – This beach has a nice long stretch of beach to enjoy making it the largest public beach in Key West. It is located on the southern part of the island and is quite popular with many people choosing this beach to hang out at. Its location makes it close to some of the most popular things to do in Key West.
Higgs Beach – This beach is also free to enjoy and is less crowded than the other ones. There are beach chairs and umbrellas available for rent and a playground area which makes it a great option for families. Nearby there is a restaurant and a historical fort that is free to explore.
South Beach – Located at the end of Duval Street, this beach is a small stretch of sand between restaurants and hotels. This beach is better for lounging than swimming and the amenities there being the best. With chair and umbrella rentals you can get access to the neighboring hotel pool and the rental attendants are very attentive with drinks and snacks.
11. Conch Tour Train
One of the best ways to see the town and learn all about it is to hop on the Key West Conch Tour Train. The tour goes past all of the top attractions while narrating about the history and famous residents of the island. Learn all about these historical figures like Ernest Hemingway, Henry Flagler, and Harry S. Truman, who shaped the history of Key West in a significant way.
The tour train starts at $40 per person depending on the day and runs an hour and a half. This tour is the best way to get a rundown of the historical Old Town Key West.
12. Wildlife Animal Viewing
Going on a dolphin cruise and seeing dolphins out in the open ocean is one of the most memorable things to do in Key west. However, it’s not the only marine life you can take a tour to see. On a Shark and Wildlife Viewing Adventure the boat tour takes you out a few miles off the coast of Key West and provides an opportunity to see several shark species.
The boat pilot drops bait into the water to draw a variety of sharks including lemon and nurse sharks. Other marine wildlife you have the chance of seeing are turtles, fish, and sting rays. The tour provides polarized sunglasses to be able to see the marine life better as well as refreshing drinks.
13. Butterfly Conservatory
Step into a world of butterflies at the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory. As you walk through the glass-domes habitat, there are hundreds of freely flying butterflies fluttering all about, exotic birds, and even two flamingos roaming.
The tropical paradise with lush greenery all around, is home to more than 50 varieties of butterfly species from around the world. One of these species is the beautiful Monarch butterfly that you can learn more about in the Learning Center. There, explore all aspects of the butterfly from the anatomy and origin to their life cycles and migration.
The entrance fee to see the butterflies is $17.50 for general admission and seeing all of the butterflies, bird and plants, you can stop by the gift shop to pick up your very own butterfly item to take home with you.
See the stunning blue water from up high as you soar up in the air on a parasailing adventure. The Key West Parasailing Adventure takes you on a one hour tour of an exhilarating adventure. You have the choice of goin up with up to three people and while you can stay dry the whole trip, you have the option of being dipped into the ocean.
From up in the sky, the view is worth seeing with the blue water surrounding the charming island. With a bird eye view of the sweeping scenery, this is sure to become one of the most memorable experiences in Key West. Once the tour is done, you will have the option to purchase photos taken during the tour.
15. Find Mile Marker 0
Mile Marker zero is one of the other most recognized photo opportunities in Key West. This sign marks the end or beginning of US 1 which means this is the furthest south you can drive to from the continental United States. This road stretches all the way from Maine to Key West so it crosses a large part of the east coast. The sign is located on Fleming and Whitehead Streets so be sure to take a picture when passing by.
16. Key West Aquarium
The Key West Aquarium has been an attraction on the island since 1946. Located in the Mallory Square, the aquarium is home to many marine animals including jellyfish, sharks, moray eels, turtles, barracuda, grouper, conch, sea cucumbers, and various tropical fish.
At the shark exhibit, guests can meet the sharks and go on a feeding and conservation tour. The touch tank allows the guests to get up close and actually touch the marine animals in the tank which houses the sea urchins, sea stars, conchs, and crabs.
This attraction is fun for the whole family and a great activity to do in Key West with kids. Plus, save money on the tickets when you buy the Aquarium, Trolley Tour, and Shipwreck Museum package if you want to do all three activities during your stay.
17. Audubon House & Tropical Gardens
The Audubon House was constructed between the years 1846 and 1849 which makes it one of the oldest homes still standing in Key West. The construction of the home was made by Captain John Huling Geiger, who was one of the wealthiest men in Key West at the time.
He used only the finest wood and the best carpenters to construct the beautiful home for his family. The quality and workmanship can be seen today as the home still stands although it has gone through restoration over the years.
Part of the home is also a gallery with beautiful pieces of artwork by John Audubon and the gardens which span an acre around the home. With many orchids, bromeliads, and rare tropical palms, the lush garden is a delight to walk through. The pathways lead throughout the tropical garden and past the cook house which depicts how the outdoor kitchen would have been used back then.
The home is open Monday through Sunday 9:30a.m.-4:15p.m. with adult tickets costing $15.
18. Eat Key Lime Pie
The Keys are known for the famous Key Lime Pie so if you are looking to indulge in a dessert, be sure to try this pie while on the island. There are many places serving this famed dessert but there are a few that stand out.
Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe is one of those places that specializes in key lime pie and now has two locations on the island so you know it’s going to be good. Their key lime pie is considered one of the best on the island which is no surprise since they have been in business for nearly 30 years.
Another key lime pie not to miss is the one at Blue Heaven. Although this restaurant serves breakfast and lunch, it’s the one place to have dessert for breakfast. Here, their delicious key lime pie is topped with several inches of meringue making it a favorite of visitors and locals alike.
19. Go Scuba Diving
There’s no better place to go scuba diving than in the Keys. Although Key Largo is known as one of the best places to snorkel in Florida, since it is home to the reef and John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, but scuba diving is just as incredible in Key West.
Key West is surrounded by stunning clear water, an abundance of coral and marine life. Divers will experience the wonders of seeing the beautiful underwater world in Key West.
If you don’t have your scuba certification, you can still experience Snuba diving in Key West which is a combination of snorkeling and scuba diving. This allows you to breathe underwater without any heavy scuba equipment or certification.
20. Key West Lighthouse
The lighthouse is another big part of Key West history. It first opened up in 1848 and was used for many years to assure safe travel of military and commercial vessels. In the 1969, the lighthouse was decommissioned and today it stands as a museum which tells the story of the past.
If you choose to climb 88 steps to the top of the lighthouse, you will be met with stunning views of this charming town and the bright blue water. After, tour the grounds where you can visit the Keeper’s Quarter and see the artifacts, belongings, and photographs of the families who lived there over the years.
Admission is $17 or $15.50 if you purchase your tickets online. The lighthouse is open Monday to Sunday 10am to 5pm.
21. Mel Fisher Maritime Museum
Learn all about the intriguing treasure discoveries from the ocean floor at the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum. Since the 1600’s there have been many sunken ships that were carrying substantial treasures.
Mel Fisher, who the museum is named after, was an American treasure hunter who spent his life looking for sunken treasure. He was known for finding the 1622 wreck of the ship Nuestra Senora de Atocha that had millions of gold, silver, and other valuables including Spanish silver coins.
At the museum, some of these valuables have been displayed, showcasing these treasures found on the ocean floor. The collection includes some gold and silver bars as well as tools and weaponry all of which dates back centuries.
22. Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum
The Hemingway Home & Museum was once home to the well-known American writer Ernest Hemingway. His published works were many ranging from poems to short stories and whole novels. Two of his most famous works are The Old Man and The Sea and The Sun Also Rises.
The beautiful home in which he once lived and spent his days writing in, is also home to unique creatures, the six-toed cats. Ernest Hemingway was given a six-toed cat by a ship captain, whose fury descendants now roam the grounds of the home. There are around sixty cats now with the trait and as you walk around the home and gardens, you sure sure to see quite a few.
One of the most prominent features of the magnificent gardens is the pool. Its construction and maintenance was an architectural feat during those years and was for a while, the only pool within one hundred miles.
The museum is open daily and offers 20-30 minute guided tours. There are no reservations required so you can just walk in anytime between 9am and 5pm.
23. Enjoy The Food
Indulging in some delicious food is one of the best things to do in Key West. From fresh seafood to tasty Cuban food, there are certain foods you must try while in Key West.
With water all around, this island is a seafood enthusiasts paradise. There are seafood options in almost every restaurant serving up deliciously fried or grilled seafood. Although the fish, lobster and shrimp are abundant, one of the more unique foods to try are the conch fritters. These are the conch meat mixed in a batter and fried to golden perfection.
The Conch Republic Seafood Company is one of the best places for seafood and its right on the water so you can dine with a view. Not to miss is also Blue Heaven for brunch, Cuban Coffee Queen for the best coffee, Cafe Marquesa for fine dining, and El Siboney for authentic Cuban food.
24. Harry Truman Little White House
The Harry Truman Little White House was first built for naval officers housing but it soon became an important home that has been used by six American presidents and other prominent names like Thomas Edison. However, president Harry Truman, who spent many of his days here during his presidency, had the little white house named after him.
The museum tour of this little home is one of best tours in Key West. It showcases Florida’s only presidential museum and tells stories of Harry S. Truman’s time on the island. The tour lasts about an hour and is available daily.
25. Rent A Bike
What better way to see Key West than to cruise on a bike while the salty breeze ruffles through your hair. Exploring the streets this charming town on a bike seamlessly blends adventure and appreciation of the island’s natural beauty. The flat terrain allows for leisurely bike rides while taking in the views.
Renting a bike from one of the bike rental shops is easy if you want to ride around on your own time. Alternatively, you can take a guided bike tour where a knowledgeable guide will take you to all of the best places as you learn more about the island’s history. If you are a first-time visitor and short on time, it’s the best way to see the island.
Another option is to go on a tiki bike experience where you can just relax and enjoy the Old Town and historic district with your guide. At the end, you will also be treated to a delicious slice of key lime pie.
26. Key West Postcard
Like many places around the states, Key West has its very own greetings postcard mural that you can check off of your Key West bucket list. Stop by the mural to see the work of art and to get a picture capturing your visit to Key West. It is located at 284 Margaret Street on the side of the Cuban Coffee Queen building.
27. Eco Discovery Center
If you’re looking for free things to do in Key West, then the Florida Keys Discovery Center is a great place to visit. This natural history museum displays exhibit and teaches all about the Florida Keys ecosystem. The immersive experience includes an interactive mangrove exhibit as well as many other displays and the replica of the Aquarius undersea research lab.
As you read all of the information and watch the film that plays in the theater, the goal of the center is to inspire everyone to protect and restore the fragile ecosystem of the Florida Keys.
28. Tropic Cinema
This old-fashioned movie theater with the statue of Marilyn Monroe is not only a fun photo opportunity in Key West, it is also a fully functioning movie theater that plays new releases and older classics.
With a retro-style and fun interiors, it makes for a fun film going experience. Popcorn and other refreshments are available for reasonable prices.
29. Old Town Trolley Tour
Another way to explore the town is to hop on a trolley tour. The tour is narrated while going to many points of interest. With this trolley you are able to explore all the top attractions at your own pace while being able to hop on and off at the places of your choosing.
While on the trolley tour, the guide tells all about the history and happenings around Key West. With options to purchase one or two day tickets, you can use the trolley to get to your picked out attractions and rest in between.
30. Kayaking & Paddleboarding
The open water and beautiful mangroves around the islands make for the perfect setting for kayaking and paddleboarding. Spend half a day on an ultimate kayaking adventure paddling around the Florida marine sanctuary.
There is an option to rent kayaks and go on your own adventure, or you can join a tour where an expert guide takes you to the best spots and points out many marine species and other wildlife. With the tour, you also get a lunch included and access to unlimited beverages while enjoying the beautiful sandbar.
31. Shipwreck Treasures Museum
Key West, due to its location, throughout the years was a city with a strong connection to the sea. At the Key West Shipwreck Treasures Museum you will step back in time to discover the island’s unique maritime heritage.
The treacherous reefs around the Florida Keys created a shipwrecking industry. Early settlers made fortunes from sunken commercial ships. They became known as “wreckers”, otherwise known as salvaging professionals who would race to lay claim on a sunken vessel, recovered the cargo, and after the cargo was auctioned off, collected the money.
At the museum, you are able to hear about the tales of the wrecks and recoveries, and see artifacts from shipwrecks dating years back.
32. Pick up Souvenirs At The Shops
There’s no way to visit and leave Key West without getting some kind of souvenir or item to remember your awesome trip by. With so many shops, there are many options from shirts and mugs, to totes and magnets. Spend some time roaming around all of the little shops many of which are located around Duval Street and Mallory Square.
33. St Paul’s Episcopal Church
Located right on Duval Street, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church is an architecturally beautiful building. The church was established all the way in the 1800’s and although it looked different from what it looks like today, it still was an important part of the community.
The building is beautiful inside as well with tall ceilings and stunning glass windows. It is a treat to see as you pass by and is a beautiful place to take some pictures. The church features annual concerts as well so if you are in town for one of them, be sure to stop by.
34. U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ingham
The ship was in service for over 50 years before it found its place in Key West. It played an important role in the U.S. history and received two Presidential Unit Citations for heroic actions. The museum is open to the public Monday to Saturday from 10am to 4pm.
35. Dry Tortugas
Visiting the Dry Tortugas National Park is one of the best day trips from Key West. This park is comprised of seven little islands and is one of the most beautiful national parks in the state.
The crown jewel is Fort Jefferson that is located on one of the larger islands. This masonry fort was first built in the 1800’s and served many roles throughout the years. The surrounding water offers the perfect opportunity for snorkeling the coral reefs and seeing all kinds of marine life.
However, the islands are located about 70 miles west of Key West and the only way to get there is by boat or plane. Taking a plane is the fastest way to get there and as you fly over the stunning water, it will be one of the highlights of the whole trip.