30 BEST Things To Do In Key West

Key West is easily the most visited destination in the Florida Keys and one of America’s most popular vacation destinations. The secret to Key West is its amazingly warm weather all year round and some gorgeous beaches. Add in the abundance of fantastic restaurants, Duvall Street, and a relaxed vibe since popularized by Jimmy Buffet, a longtime resident it makes for a great vacation.

Natasha Walks Outside The Tropic Cinema In Key Largo

The Best Things To Do in Key West

Key West Lighthouse Museum

Key West Lighthouse Museum
  • Location: 938 Whitehead Street
  • Tip: Climb the 88 steps to the top of the lighthouse where you’ll enjoy spectacular views. 
  • Price: $17.00 per adult

Constructed in 1847, The Key West Lighthouse is an iconic fixture on Key West’s coast and is one of the top 25 things to do in Key West. While it’s no longer a working lighthouse, it’s open to visitors who wish to learn about what it was like to be a lighthouse keeper. Inside, you’ll find photos and exhibits showcasing items that belonged to former lighthouse keepers and their families. 

Ernest Hemingway Home 

Ernest Hemingway Home
  • Location: 907 Whitehead Street 
  • Tip: Take the 30-minute guided tour that’s included in the admission price and learn more about the property and Hemingway himself. 
  • Price: $13.00 per adult

When Ernest Hemingway arrived in Key West, it was love at first sight and in 1851, he built this home.  This striking Spanish Colonial mansion, which is now a National Historic Landmark, features a 60-foot swimming pool, beautiful gardens, a collection of Hemingway’s personal items and a colony of six-toed cats. 

Take a Conch Tour Train

Conch Tour Train In Key West
  • Location: 201 Front Street
  • Tip: Listen closely to the commentary that includes fascinating tales of pirates, hauntings, treasure and artists. 
  • Price: $50.60 for a 90-minute tour. 

It’s not very hard to get around Key West but one of the best ways to get familiar with it is with a ride on the Conch Tour Train. Operating since 1958, this tour is rated one of the best things to do in Key West. Along the way, you’ll see stunning views, learn about the history of the region and pass by more than 100 of the island’s attractions. 

Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center

Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center
photo courtesy of Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center
  • Location: 35 East Quay Road
  • Tip: Don’t miss the incredible Living Reef exhibit which features a huge tank with living corals and tropical fish. 
  • Price: Free

Within this facility’s 6,000 square feet of exhibits, you’ll find an array of interactive features that offer a personal look into the unique ecosystems of the region. As you explore this fascinating place, you’ll see a satellite map of the Florida Keys, a model of the only underwater ocean laboratory and a camera that monitors the condition of coral reefs.

You’ll learn about various marine habitats such as mangroves, beach dunes and sea grass flats and you can also watch a film about these ecosystems. 

Wild About Dolphins

Captain Sheri Sullenger is passionate about dolphins, and she loves sharing everything she knows about these incredible creatures with visitors. The Wild About Dolphins experience is one of the top things to do in Key West.

Board the Amazing Grace and head out to a known dolphin habitat where you can go swimming, snorkeling, reef exploring and interacting with friendly dolphins. Along the way, you’ll also explore deserted beaches and shallow sandbars. 

Mallory Square Sunset Celebration 

Mallory Square At Sunset

You have to attend the Mallory Square Sunset celebration at least once during your visit to Key West. This nightly event draws locals and visitors alike who gather to watch various entertainers, such as tight-rope walkers and musicians.  Many vendors hang around the square, so grab a margarita and enjoy the tunes as the sun goes down.

Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory 

The Flamingos In the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory 
Seeing Rhett and Scarlett at the Butterfly and Nature Conservatory
  • Location: 1316 Duval Street
  • Tip: At the on-site gift shop, you’ll find many unique items including beautiful butterfly artworks. 
  • Price: $14.00 per adult

Escape into a peaceful world surrounded by nature where you can relax and escape the crowds for a while. At the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory, you’ll explore a beautiful sanctuary for many species of butterflies and birds who prosper in the conservatory’s tropical environment. 

Along the way, you’ll find fountains, benches, gardens and a glass-enclosed exhibit featuring cocoons. 

The highlight of the conservatory is its two resident flamingos, Rhett and Scarlett. This famous Key West couple charms all visitors with their mating calls, foot patting dance, and mesmerizing pink color.

Fort Zachary Taylor State Park

Fort Zachary Taylor State Park
  • Location: 601 Howard England Way
  • Tip: Tours of the National Historic Landmark take place daily at 11:00 AM
  • Price: $7.00 per car

At this lovely park, you get a taste of two worlds; nature and history. The beach is clean, large and sandy and is one of the best beaches in Key West. Beach equipment, including chairs and water sports equipment, are available to rent and snorkelers enjoy exploring the coral reef. Nature trails and a picnic area are also on-site. Fort Zachary, which was built in 1866, is a fascinating place to explore with a long and interesting history. 

Stroll Duval Street

  • Location: Old Town, Key West
  • Tip: On Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday evenings, you can join the Duval Pub Crawl.
  • Price: The pub crawl costs $34.95 per person. Strolling Duval Street is free!

If you’re wondering where the party is in Key West, look no further than Duval Street.  As the island’s main street and town center, this is where you’ll find all the best Key West restaurants, bars, pubs, and cafes. By day, browse the little galleries and shops and admire the Victorian mansions.  By night, party until the wee hours in the area’s best bars, including Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, The Flying Monkeys Bar, The Bull and Whistle, and Bourbon Street Pub. 

Harry S. Truman Little White House 

Harry S. Truman Little White House

Since the late 1800s, Key West has been a favorite presidential retreat and Harry S. Truman was one of those presidents who cherished his time on the island.

This once belonged to him and his wife Bess and he even presided over important events from the location. The beautifully restored property is now a living museum and during a guided tour, you’ll see how the president lived during his time there. 

Key West First Legal Rum Distillery

Key West First Legal Rum
Key West First Legal Rum Distillery
  • Location: 105 Simonton Street
  • Tip: Participate in one of the Mojito-making classes that are offered on site. 
  • Price: Tours and samples are free

An intriguing story and fabulous rum.  That’s what Key West First Legal Rum Distillery is known for. As a thank you to the Cuban people who ran rum to Key West during prohibition, the owners were the first Americans to do the same for Cuba and became trained Mojito masters in the process!

Taste prize-winning rum aged in salt-cured barrels and using only local and natural ingredients. Key West First Legal Rum, Key West Devil’s Rum and Cuban Coffee Rum are some of the rums available.

Take a Tiki Cruise

Tiki Cruise
Cruisin’ Tikis
  • Location: Cruises depart Mellow Ventures dock at 1605 N Roosevelt Blvd, The Hurricane Hole Marina at 5110 Overseas Hwy and Schooner Wharf Bar docks 202 William Street.
  • Tip: There are iced coolers on board so bring your own snacks and drinks.
  • Price: Prices vary depending on the tour but average between $59.00 and $80.00

Cruisin’ Tikis offers a fun and unique experience where you can embark on a seafaring journey in a Tiki-inspired watercraft. Enjoying one of these watercraft is one of the most unique things to do in Key West. There are several different cruises available, including a sunset cruise, swim stop cruise, and Garrison Bite Cruise. Tours last from 90 to 180 minutes. 

Edward B. Knight Pier

Edward B. Knight Pier Key west
  • Location: White Street
  • Tip: Dogs are allowed on the pier so it’s a great place to take your furry friend for a walk. 
  • Price: Free

If fishing is something you look forward to doing during your visit to Key West, the Edward B. Knight Pier is one of the best spots. This 200-meter-long pier is also a popular place to take a stroll at sunrise or sunset.

Shipwreck Museum

  • Location: 1 Whitehead Street
  • Tip: Climb the 65-foot Observation Tower where you’ll enjoy views of the surrounding area. 
  • Price: $18.26 per adult.

Key West is known for its maritime history which includes many shipwrecks. At the Shipwreck Museum, you’ll learn about this fascinating history and the unique livelihoods of the people who recover artifacts from these shipwrecks. Along the way, see many amazing treasures that were recovered from various wrecks.

Dine at Blue Heaven 

Blue Heaven Key West
Blue Heaven
  • Location: 729 Thomas Street
  • Tip: The renowned key lime pie is said to be the best on the island.
  • Price: Prices range from $22 – $42

Blue Heaven has the best brunch in Key West but anytime is a good time to visit this fabulous eatery! Upon arrival, you can choose to take a seat in the courtyard with the free-roaming cats and chickens or inside the treehouse dining room.

Dine on Florida-Caribbean dishes such as Jerk chicken sandwiches, snapper in citrus sauce, lobster Benedict, carrot and curry soup and scallops provençale.

The Southernmost Point

Natasha Stands Next To The Southernmost Point Of The Continental US
Visiting the Southernmost Point of the Continental US!
  • Location: Whitehead Street
  • Tip: Venture to this spot just before the sun goes down to enjoy a spectacular sunset. 
  • Price: Free

Key West is home to the southernmost point in the Continental United States and it’s famously marked by a colorful concrete buoy that’s one of the most photographed attractions in the country. People start lining up at sunrise to be photographed with this iconic buoy, so be patient while trying to get a photo!

Kayak through Mangrove Swamps 

Kayaker In Mangrove

Kayak Kings offers one-of-kind eco-tours through unspoiled mangrove swamps. Navigate your kayak through the narrow river tunnels and along the way, see a variety of plant and animal life. Groups are small so you’ll get a personalized experience with knowledgeable guides. 

Take a Boat Tour

Key West Boat tour
Fun in the Sun Charters
  • Location: 6000 Peninsular Avenue
  • Tip: If you know how to operate a boat, you can also rent one and go on an independent adventure. 
  • Price: Between $495.00 and $895.00, depending on your chosen adventure. 

Whether you want to view dolphins, explore sandbars, do some snorkelling, go island-hopping or chase a sunset while sipping your favorite boozy cocktail, Fun in the Sun Charters has just the adventure for you! Tours last from 2.5 to six hours. 

Audubon House 

Audubon House
Audubon House
  • Location: 205 Whitehead Street
  • Tip: Check out the beautiful tropical gardens that are on site. 
  • Price: $15.00 per adult

This stunning mansion was constructed in the mid-1800s for Captain John Huling. When the house was about to be demolished in 1958, a local foundation stepped in and beautifully restored it. Today, it’s a museum depicting a way of life that was enjoyed by wealthy residents in the 1800s. Inside, you’ll see period furnishings and a collection of lithographs. 

Key West Garden Club

Key West Garden Club
  • Location: 1100 Atlantic Boulevard
  • Tip: Check out the West Martello Tower which is a Civil War citadel that was built in 1862. 
  • Price: Free. Guided tours are available on certain days for $25 per person

The Key West Garden Club is a beautiful place overlooking the ocean is run by volunteers with the goal of teaching visitors about tropical gardening. Bromeliads, orchids, a water lily pond and a waterfall are some of the features you’ll see as you explore the gardens. 

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ingham Maritime Museum

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ingham Maritime Museum
Image via Flickr
  • Location: On the Truman Waterfront on Southard Street
  • Tip: Browse the on-site gift shop. On some nights, museum staff host a sunset happy hour with cocktails. 
  • Price: $15.00 per adult

At this unique attraction, you’ll explore a historic, well-preserved Coast Guard Cutter that was used in many wars and life-saving missions between 1936 and 1988. 

Key West Aquarium

Key West Aquarium
Key West Aquarium
  • Location: 1 Whitehead Street
  • Tip: Guided tours are available throughout the day. 
  • Price: $22.56 per adult

This aquarium is one of the oldest in Florida and it features a range of fascinating exhibits and experiences. American Alligator Exhibit, Jellyfish Exhibit and Atlantic Shores Exhibit are some of the interactive displays you’ll see as you explore the site. You can also participate in a variety of experiences including touch tanks and feedings. 

Mel Fisher Maritime Museum  

Mel Fisher Maritime Museum
Mel Fisher Maritime Museum
  • Location: 200 Greene Street
  • Tip: Behind-the-scenes lab tours are offered on weekdays at 11:30 AM and 2:00 PM.
  • Price: 17.50 per adult

If you haven’t had enough sunken treasure, you can see more incredible finds, including silver and gold bars and centuries-old artifacts, at this museum. Many of the items on display are from ships that were wrecked in the 1600s. Some of the exhibitions include The Treasure Gallery, The Search for the Atocha, the Science of Shipwrecks and Piracy in the New World. This must-see attraction is another one of the top things to do in Key West.

Key West Cemetery

Key West Cemetery
  • Location: 701 Passover Lane
  • Tip: Be sure to check out the map at the entrance so you can easily find the most interesting plots. 
  • Price: It’s free to enter but a guided tour costs $15.00. 

While a cemetery may not sound like a place you would usually visit on vacation, the Key West Cemetery is no ordinary cemetery! Some have estimated that up to 100,000 people are buried across its 19 acres.  Some of the headstones date back to the 1800s but the most interesting thing about many of them is their humorous, and sometimes even mischievous, inscriptions.

Smathers Beach

Cameron And Natasha On Smathers Beach
  • Location: 2601 S Roosevelt Boulevard
  • Tip: Food trucks are usually on site so you can grab something to eat without leaving. 
  • Price: Free, but parking is $5.00 per hour. 

Smathers Beach is the other popular sandy beach in Key West and heading here for a day at the beach is one of the best things to do in Key West. It tends to get less crowded and at this public beach, you’ll find calm, shallow waters that are safe for swimming, picnic areas, volleyball courts and Jet Ski rentals. 

Enjoy Coffee from Cuban Coffee Queen

Natasha In Front Of Cuban Coffee Queen
Morning coffee at Cuban Coffee Queen!

An iconic thing to do in Key West is grab a quick cafe con leche from Cuban Coffee Queen near the harbor. They are quick and easy, so if you are running short on time rest assured you can grab a quick bite and coffee here. And snap a “Key West photo” while you’re waiting.

Paddleboard Yoga with Lazy Dog Charters

Downward Dog On A SUP At Sunset

For a leisurely morning out why not try some yoga, except make it Florida Keys style and practice your down dog on the water. Lazy Dog Tours runs paddleboard yoga tours right on Stock Island. Tours typically last about two hours, one hour of yoga and one-hour of paddling. If you are lucky you’ll get to see some manatees beneath your board! Make sure to put on lots of sunscreen and cover up with an outdoor hat as there is little shade.

Enjoy Key Lime Pie on a Stick at Kermit’s Key Lime Café

Key Lime Pie On A Stick From Kermits

You can’t visit the Florida Keys and not have a taste of the famous Key Lime Pie! There are plenty of places selling Key Lime Pie in Key West! However, none stand out as much as our FROZEN key lime at Kermits. Kermits is well known in the Key Lime world. Kermit Carpenter himself still bakes some of the pies himself, even after 28 years in business.

To say this place is an institution is an understatement, and even if you’ve already had Key Lime Pie in the keys, it’s well worth popping in here. There are now two locations, the original at 200 Elizabeth Street and one right off Duval Street.

Land’s End Sunset Sail with Sebago Key West

I didn’t know what to expect when we boarded the Sebago Catamaran, but their sunset boat tour ended up being a highlight of our time in Key West. The Sebago sunset sail is truly for those that want to let loose and listen to island music while drinking rum punch as the sun sets on the water. Booking an evening with Sebago starts at 6:30 and ends after sunset; a ticket includes all-you-can-drink, appetizers, and plenty of entertainment. Oh yea – and epic views as the sun sets in the beautiful Florida Keys.

Scarf Down Tacos at Fisherman’s Café

Fisherman’s Café In Key West

A great lunch spot is Fisherman’s Cafe, right on Lazy Way Ave. It’s a fun takeaway spot with delicious lobster tacos!

Key West Map

Best Restaurants in Key West

Food At El Siboney
Enjoying Cuban cuisine at El Siboney

Key West has some of the best seafood in the US, so it would be a crime not to eat at some of the best restaurants in the city. No trip here is complete without finding some deliciously locally-made fare, mostly pertaining to fresh and fantastic seafood dishes cooked up in the traditional styles of the area.

A few of our favorites are:

21 BEST Key West Restaurants to Try

How to Get to Key West

A Boat At Sunset Outside Key West

By Air: Key West International Airport is served by several airlines, and is not far from the core area of Key West. There are direct flights to most cities in Florida, Atlanta, and Charlotte, as well to a few destinations in the Bahamas. Flying into Key West is a good option if it’s your only destination, though fares are often higher than flying into Miami or Fort Lauderdale and driving to Key West.

By Car: The Overseas Highway links all the towns in the Keys with mainland Florida, it’s one of the best road trips in the world, and driving from Key Largo to Key West was a particular highlight for us. A popular option is to fly into Miami or Fort Lauderdale, rent a vehicle and drive down to Key West. You can either fly out of Key West or return to the airport you came from on the mainland!

Shuttle/Bus: There aren’t many shuttle or bus options, but the Greyhound Bus Service does operate a route between Miami, Key Largo, and Key West. It only serves those few stops, so it’s not ideal for most travelers. However, it is an option for those that can not drive. If you want private transportation, you can hire a company like Florida Keys Express Shuttle. You can also check out Miami to Key West Bus which operates one way buses and tours.

By Sea: Check out Key West Express which connects Fort Myers and Marco Island to Key West via their jet-powered catamarans.

How to Get Around Key West

Bikes In Key West

We traveled from Key Largo to Key West in a rental car, and although the car was extremely helpful for the road trip, once we got to Key West, we found it to be a bit of a hindrance and left it parked at our hotel most of the time.

Parking is expensive in Key West, and the roads are quite busy. Most of Key West is so compact you can easily get around by walking or biking. It’s also possible to rent a scooter or golf cart (though this option still requires parking).

Biking is easily the most popular option, and bike rentals can be had for $10 a day (Check Eaton Bikes). Many hotels also offer bike rentals to guests so make sure to check beforehand.

Uber and Lyft also work well in Key West and is a great way to get around. Uber is never too expensive since any destination you’ll be going to will be relatively close.

There is also a Free Duval Loop Bus that runs every 15 minutes, 7 days a week in the core downtown area. You can see more here!

Where to Stay in Key West

Ocean's Edge Resort Pool In Key West
We Loved Our Stay At Ocean’s Edge

If you don’t mind not being in the center of all the Key West action and near the best things to do in Key West, Oceans Edge Resort is a great place to stay on Stock Island. This secluded resort allows guests to enjoy peace and tranquility in Key West, all in a beautiful setting.

All rooms at Oceans Edge have ocean views and access to the marina. There are six swimming pools to enjoy with bar service to all! Oceans Edge also has kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and bicycles for free on-site. When you are ready to head into Key West, there is a free shuttle that runs hourly downtown, so you don’t have to deal with the hectic parking situation in Key West.

The oceanfront rooms all have a balcony, high-speed WiFi, and large flat-screen television. The rooms are larger than average and decorated with modern beach decor. We stayed three nights here and never wanted to leave!

Other Great Options for Key West Accommodation

Key West Weather

Natasha At Sunset In Florida Keys

The best time to visit Key West is between the months of December and April. This is when the Florida Keys are the dryest and temperatures are bearable. Don’t worry – they will still be plenty pleasant enough for your vacation.

May through October is normally the wet season, and if you visit around this time you will likely experience a bit of rain. We visited Key West in early May and had fantastic weather, though it was often hotter during the middle of the day than we are used to.

The worst time to visit Key West is during the Atlantic hurricane season, which begins in June and runs through November, with the highest chance of a hurricane being during August and September. Key West is said to be the driest city in Florida.

Plan For Your Trip

About Natasha Alden

Natasha is the co-founder of The World Pursuit. She is an expert in travel, budgeting, and finding unique experiences. She loves to be outside, hiking in the mountains, playing in the snow on her snowboard, and biking. She has been traveling for over 10 years, across 7 continents, experiencing unique cultures, new food, and meeting fantastic people. She strives to make travel planning and traveling easier for all. Her advice about international travel, outdoor sports, and African safari has been featured on Lonely Planet, Business Insider, and Reader’s Digest.

Learn more about Natasha Alden on The World Pursuit About Us Page.