Key West in South Florida is an awesome beach town for those that love snorkeling, amazing weather, great seafood, and friendly locals! It is also a perfect place for those looking to escape from the cold in winter. In this post, you will find 15 awesome things to do in Key West, Florida. The island offers endless options of things to do and a very vibrant lifestyle.
The drive to Key West
For starters, the drive from Miami to Key West through the Florida Keys is one of the most classic in the United States. Driving across the Overseas Highway will be for sure a memory you will never forget.
The legendary drive is about 159 miles and there are many fun stops to do along the way, such as the islands of Islamorada and Key Largo. In case you plan on staying a while here is a 3-Day Key West Itinerary.
Once you get to Key West, you will be mesmerized by the beautiful palm trees, great weather, and easy-going atmosphere.
15 Awesome places to visit in key west
1. Dry Tortugas National Park
When you visit Key West, going on a day trip to Dry Tortugas National Park is an absolute must!
It is not only one of the most remote and unique national parks in the US but also a prime location for snorkeling and home to Fort Jefferson, a massive but unfinished coastal fortress that was built to protect the nation’s gateway to the Gulf of Mexico.
Apart from touring Fort Jefferson, some of the best things to do in the park include swimming, camping, fishing, star-gazing, and of course, snorkeling.
To get there, you can either take the ferry from Key West or hop on a seaplane – being the seaplane the most expensive option – and lunch and snorkeling wear are included within the day trip.
2. Mallory Square
Mallory Square is a very special place in Key West. It is where every single day, around 5-6 pm, hundreds of locals and tourists gather to watch the sunset.
When the sun finally goes down, everybody starts clapping to celebrate and it is truly a magical experience.
In the square, there are also many good restaurants and fun street performers to watch.
Some of the best restaurants in Mallory Square are El Meson de Pepe, The Commodore, and Bistro 245.
3. Ernest Hemingway House
If you are a fan of the works of the famous writer Ernest Hemingway, you will be excited to know that you can actually visit the house where he and his wife lived in the 1930s.
A cute fact about this place is that it is now home to a large population of the so-called Hemingway six-toed cats, which are supposedly direct descendants of Hemingway’s cats.
Hemingway’s house is open daily for walk-in visits but guided tours must be booked in advance.
4. Fort Zachary Taylor State Park
Fort Zachary Taylor is a lovely state park located on the southern edge of Key West.
The park’s main attraction is, of course, the fort that gives it its name. The Zachary Taylor fort was built in 1971 and is one of the most history-filled places in South Florida. Today, it is considered a National Landmark and hosts yearly historic reenactments.
Other than that, Fort Zachary Taylor also has a great beach, and some of the best things to do in the park include snorkeling, bird watching, swimming, and hiking. There are also picnic tables and grills you can use for a barbeque or a picnic.
5. Duval Street
Duval Street is the most iconic street in Key West.
There you will find all of the best bars, restaurants, and shops in the city. It is where the island’s magic really takes over!
Strolling through it is an activity on its own, but if you can do a pub-crawl, that is even better!
Some of the best places to visit in Duval Street are Sloppy Joes, Irish Kevin’s, and The Red Barn Theatre.
Another great place is Willie T’s, a unique restaurant that is completely covered by dollar bills and has live music every day.
6. Smathers Beach
Smathers Beach is one of the best beaches you will find on the island. It was white sand, crystal clear water. and lots of options of fun watersports.
To get there, I highly recommend riding a bike. There are many secure places to park bikes and the views on the way to Smathers are breathtaking!
7. Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory
The Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory is such a magical place! This beautiful greenhouse feels just like the rainforest and is home to more than 60 different species of butterflies and 20 species of birds.
The conservatory also has one of the most tasteful souvenir shops in the city.
8. Harry S. Truman Little White House
A lot of people don’t know this, but the Harry S Truman Little White House, located in the Old Town neighborhood, used to be the winter White House for President Harry S Truman.
Today, it has become a museum and is open for visitation. There is even a presidential tour available that costs more than 500 dollars.
9. Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center
The Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center is a world-class visitor center that showcases exhibits about the Florida Keys’ ocean and ecosystems. The best part about this visit is that it is completely free and great for kids!
Inside, there is also a 74-seat movie theater that shows wonderful high-definition documentaries.
10. Key West Lighthouse
The city’s lighthouse has one of the best views of Key West. It was built in 1825 to help the ships entering the port to avoid crashing into the coral reefs.
Rumor has it that on a clear day you can spot Havana from the top of the lighthouse. After all, Cuba is only 90 miles away!
11. Key West Historic Seaport
The Key West Marina is from where most charter tours leave and also where some of the best seafood restaurants are located.
Some great restaurants at the Marina include Waterfront Brewery, Fisherman’s Cafe, and Pepe’s.
12. Key West Aquarium
The Key West Aquarium is one of the oldest in the country and is said to have been the first-ever attraction in Key West.
The 50,000-gallon Atlantic Shore Exhibit mimics the Florida Keys ecosystem and the aquarium also features alligators, jellyfish, and sea turtles. This is a great attraction for families.
13. Southernmost Point Buoy
Key West is considered the southernmost city in the United States and to mark its most southern point, at 24 degrees 33 minutes north latitude and 81 degrees 45 minutes is the Southernmost Point Buoy.
Every day, hundreds of tourists line to take a picture with this iconic concrete buoy that is located right by South Beach.
To save some time and flee the crowds, make sure to arrive super early.
14. Mel Fisher Maritime Museum
The Mel Fisher Maritime Museum contains artifacts from 17th-century shipwrecks, such as the Henrietta Marie, Nuestra Señora de Atocha, and Santa Margarita.
For those who don’t know, the museum was named after Mel Fisher, a true Key West icon. He was a famous treasure hunter that became a millionaire by finding gold and silver coins, jewelry, and bars from old-time Spanish shipwrecks underwater.
15. US 1 Mile Marker 0
The world-famous US Route stretches from Key West all the way to Maine, near the Canadian Border.
Located on a corner of Whitehead Street, the US Route starting point is a beloved attraction in Key West and a very popular spot for photos.
It doesn’t get super crowded so you can go there at any time of day. Right next to the sign, there is a small souvenir store that sells all sorts of Mile Marker 0 souvenirs and is quite fun to visit.
That’s a wrap! I really hope you loved all these awesome places to visit in Key West.
This island really is one of a kind and is very close to my heart. I am sure you will fall in love with it as much as I did! Let me know which place was your favorite in the comments :)
Guest author: Camila from Travel Cami.