What could be more fun than spending a weekend in Key West, Florida? This tropical island is the perfect place to enjoy some sun and relaxation.
Whether you’re looking to spend your time on the beach or explore the city, there’s plenty to do in Key West.
Table of Contents
This guide will discuss our top picks for things to do in this charming city. So put on your sunscreen and get ready to explore everything this amazing place has to offer!
Things To Do in Key West Florida
1. Ernest Hemingway’s House
The first entry on our list of the best things to do in Key West, Florida, is Ernest Hemingway’s house.
Ernest Hemingway’s house is one of Key West, Florida’s most popular tourist destinations. The house was built in 1851 and is now a museum dedicated to the life and work of the Nobel Prize-winning author.
Visitors can tour the rooms where Hemingway wrote some of his most famous works, including “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “The Snows of Kilimanjaro.” They can also see his personal effects, such as his hunting trophies and fishing gear.
The museum also offers a glimpse into Hemingway’s unconventional lifestyle, with six-toed cats roaming the grounds and Polydactyl kittens for sale in the gift shop.
2. Visit Mallory Square
One of the best things to do in Key West is to visit Mallory Square. Situated on the waterfront, Mallory Square is the perfect place to watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. As the sun dips below the horizon, the sky turns a deep red and orange, providing a breathtaking backdrop for the city. Every evening, locals and tourists alike gather to enjoy the spectacular show.
The atmosphere is electric, and there is always something going on, whether it’s street performers entertaining the crowd or vendors selling food and souvenirs. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget.
3. Discover Key West on a hop-on hop-off trolley bus tour
Stop at any of the ten available tour stops, and explore at your leisure with unlimited rides all day long. Discover the best that Key West offers on a boardwalk tour of this island paradise.
Relax on the beach, or stroll through the historic district to learn about the island’s rich culture and history. With so much to see and do, a hop-on hop-off trolley bus tour is the perfect way to explore Key West at your own pace.
4. Take in the View from the Key West Lighthouse
The Key West Lighthouse is one of the most iconic landmarks on the island, and it offers visitors stunning views of both the coast and the city. The lighthouse was built in 1848 and stood 85 feet tall, making it the tallest structure in Key West.
Visitors can climb to the top of the lighthouse for a small fee, and there is also a museum on-site that chronicles the history of the lighthouse and its importance to the island. In addition to its incredible views, the Key West Lighthouse is also a popular spot for sunset watching, as the sunsets here are some of the most beautiful in Florida.
5. Bar Hopping on Duval Street
Duval Street is the heart of Key West, and there is no better way to experience its vibrant nightlife than by bar hopping. Start your evening at the Rum Barrel, where you can sample over 150 different types of rum. Then head to Irish Kevin’s, a lively Irish pub where you can enjoy live music and dance the night away.
Whether you’re looking for a laid-back evening or a wild night out, bar hopping on Duval Street is an unforgettable experience. For a truly unique experience, stop by the Smokin’ Tuna Saloon, where you can enjoy local seafood while listening to live bluegrass. And no night out on Duval Street would be complete without a visit to Sloppy Joe’s, one of the most iconic bars in Key West.
As you can see, Duval Street is a top-rated attraction that you shouldn’t miss.
6. Visit the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory
The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory is a must-see for visitors to Key West, Florida. This unique attraction is home to hundreds of butterflies and a variety of other exotic birds and plants. The critical west wildlife center offers a rare chance to see these beautiful creatures up close and learn about their life cycle and habitats.
The Conservatory also features a gift shop, which sells butterfly-themed souvenirs and accessories. Visitors can even take a professional photographer with a live Key West butterfly perched on their shoulders.
7. How About a Ride on a Floating Tiki Bar?
Are you looking for a unique way to enjoy the sun and the water on your vacation? How about a ride on a floating tiki bar? The Tiki Bar Boat Company offers rides on their one-of-a-kind floating bar, complete with a thatched roof, Polynesian decorations, and a fully stocked bar.
You can sit back and relax with a drink in hand as you cruise around the azure waters of Key West. The boat can accommodate up to 20 passengers, perfect for group outings or parties. And if you get hungry, the Tiki Bar Boat Company also offers a menu of snacks and appetizers. So whether you’re looking to soak up some sun or party the night away, a ride on the Tiki Bar Boat is a memorable experience.
8. Lounge on the beach
Next on our list of the most popular things to do in Key West, Florida, are the beaches. You can’t go wrong with spending a day at the beach.
Smathers Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Key West. With its gentle waves and white sand, the beach is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing. And when you’re ready to take a break from the sand, there are plenty of restaurants and bars nearby.
Best of all, Smathers Beach is just a short walk from Old Town Key West, so you can easily explore all that the island offers.
Fort Zachary Taylor Beach
Visitors can enjoy plenty of fishing, snorkeling, and kayaking. Fort Zachary Taylor Beach is also a great place to lounge around and take in breathtaking views. The beach is located on the southernmost point of the continental United States and is only a few hundred yards from the famous Southernmost Point Buoy.
National Historic Landmark
There are also three fortifications on this national historic landmark dating back to the Civil & Spanish-American war. Fort Zachary Taylor Beach is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the stunning natural beauty of Key West.
Higgs Beach and Rest Beach
Higgs Beach is known for its stunning turquoise waters and white sand beaches, while Rest Beach is a great place to relax and soak up the sun. Higgs Beach has a playground and picnic area, making it an excellent choice for families.
Rest Beach is home to some restaurants and bars, making it the perfect place to watch the sunset. No matter your interests, Higgs Beach and Rest Beach are sure to have something for you.
9. Parasail above the Keys’ shimmering waters
Parasailing gives you a bird’s eye view of the Keys as you soar hundreds of feet in the air, and it’s an exhilarating way to take in the islands’ natural beauty. Several operators offer parasailing excursions in Key West, and they can customize your experience to suit your needs.
If you’re looking for a thrill, you can opt for a high-altitude flight that will take you up to 200 feet. For a more relaxed experience, you can choose a lower altitude flight that will give you ample time to take in the stunning views.
10. Dine at the legendary Hard Rock Cafe Key West
Hard Rock Cafe Key West is a must-visit destination for any music lover. This legendary restaurant has been serving great food and drinks since 1982, and it continues to be a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. The menu features your Hard Rock Cafe favorites, including burgers, ribs, and salads.
The cafe also has an extensive drinks menu, featuring a wide variety of beer, wine, and cocktails. And of course, the restaurant is also well-known for its incredible collection of memorabilia, which includes items from some of the biggest names in music history.
11. Tour the historic Harry S. Truman Little White House
A visit to the Harry S. Truman Little White House serves as a reminder of a bygone era of American politics. This historic site was once the winter retreat of President Truman. Today, it stands as a museum open to the public for tours.
Visitors to the Little White House can see original furnishings and artifacts, including the desk where President Truman worked on some of his most famous speeches.
They can also learn about the history of Key West and how it became a favorite retreat for American presidents. For anyone interested in American history, a visit to the Harry S. Truman Little White House is a must-do activity.
12. Have fun at Key West’s world-famous Fantasy Fest
Key West’s Fantasy Fest is a week-long party held every year at the end of October. It is the biggest event of the year in the Florida Keys and attracts thousands of people from all over the world who come to have a good time.
The festival includes parades, parties, concerts, and other events. Each year, there is a different theme, and people dress up in costumes to match the theme. It is a great time to visit Key West and enjoy the lively atmosphere.
13. The Southernmost Point
Key West’s Southernmost Point buoy is a must-see for any traveler to the island. The concrete marker, located at the corner of Whitehead and south street, denotes the southernmost point in the continental United States. Visitors often take photos with the marker, which has become an iconic symbol of Key West.
While the marker is not located on the island’s southernmost tip (that distinction goes to a nearby private residence), it is still a popular spot for tourists. If you find yourself in Key West, check out this famous landmark.
14. Stroll along the Key West Historic Seaport
Located at the end of Duval Street, this Seaport is a great place for any visitor to Key West. This vibrant and active hub is home to various shops, restaurants, bars, and some historical attractions.
The Seaport also houses the Key West Aquarium and the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum, making it the perfect place to learn about Key West’s rich maritime history.
15. Discover the wonder of the aquatic animal world at Key West Aquarium
One of the great things to do in Key West is to visit the Key West Aquarium. This unique aquarium allows visitors to get up close with various aquatic animals.
The Key West Aquarium is home to various creatures, from sharks and stingrays to barracudas and sea turtles. Tourists can view these animals in naturalistic exhibits and participate in hands-on activities such as feeding the animals or touching a stingray.
16. West Martello Tower
The West Martello Tower and Garden Center is a unique attraction in Key West, Florida. The garden center was constructed in the 1860s by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Key West Garden Club took possession of the fort in 1955 and began a cleanup and planting to beautify the dilapidated fort.
Today, the garden center is a beautiful oasis in the heart of Key West. Visitors can stroll through the gardens, visit the museum, and take in stunning ocean views from the top of the tower. The Tower and Garden Center is a must-see for anyone visiting Key West.
17. Day trip out to the Dry Tortugas national park
The Dry Tortugas are a chain of small islands located about 70 miles west of Key West. The islands are home to various wildlife, including brown pelicans, iguanas, and sea turtles.
The Dry Tortugas are accessible only by boat or seaplane. Tourists can also find Fort Jefferson, a 19th-century fort used as a prison during the civil war. Today, the civil war era fort is a popular spot for picnicking and camping.
18. Go kayaking through the Mangrove Swamps
For a truly unique experience, consider taking a kayak tour through the mangrove swamps of south Florida. These lush, coastal wetlands are home to various plants and animals, and they provide a fascinating glimpse into the area’s natural history.
The mangroves themselves are an essential part of the ecosystem, providing food and shelter for fish, birds, and other wildlife. And because the tides constantly filter them, the waters of the mangrove swamps are some of the clearest in the state.
As you paddle through the maze of mangrove roots, watch for dolphins, turtles, and other marine life. With its sheltered waters and abundant wildlife, kayaking through the mangrove swamps is an unforgettable way to explore south Florida’s natural wonders.
19. Explore the Key West Museum of Art & History
Key West is a place with a rich history, and there is no better way to learn about it than by visiting the Key West Museum of Art & History. The museum offers a wide variety of exhibits that cover everything from the island’s early days to the present day.
In addition to the exhibitions, the museum also offers many educational programs and events. Whether you’re interested in learning about the island’s history or want to explore its art and culture, the Key West Museum of Art & History is a great place to start.
20. Visit the famous U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ingham
The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ingham was first commissioned in 1936 and served until 1988, when it was decommissioned and turned into a museum. The Ingham is one of Key West, Florida’s most well-known tourist destinations. You can explore the ship, learn about its history, and see artifacts from its time in service.
The Ingham is best known for its role in World War II when it served as a convoy escort and helped to sink several German submarines. The ship is also famous for its involvement in the Cuban Missile Crisis when it helped to enforce the quarantine of Cuba. Today, Ingham is open to the public for tours and educational programs.
21. Wild About Dolphins
Key West is home to some of the most beautiful dolphins globally. Key West Harbour Marina is the perfect place to start your dolphin-watching adventure, and the staff at Wild About Dolphins will make sure you have an unforgettable experience.
In addition to dolphin-watching, Key West Marina also offers a variety of other activities, including kayaking, fishing, and stand-up paddleboarding.
22. Spice things up with a romantic dinner at Latitude’s
Last but not least on our list of the best things to do in Key West, Florida, is Latitude’s.
This award-winning restaurant offers stunning views of the sunset and an inventive menu that is sure to please. The talented chefs at Latitude’s use only the freshest ingredients, and they are always coming up with new dishes to tantalize your taste buds. Whether you’re in the mood for seafood, steak, or something in between, you’ll find it all at Latitude’s.
And don’t forget to save room for dessert! The chocolate lava cake is simply divine. So if you’re looking for a truly romantic dining experience, check out Latitude’s on your next trip to Key West.
How to Get to Key West?
The easiest way to get to Key West is to fly to the Key West International Airport. The airport is located just 2 miles from downtown Key West so you can be in the heart of the action in no time.
Direct flights to Key West from several major cities, including Miami, Atlanta, and Dallas. If you’re coming from another country, you may have to route your flight through one of these cities before making your final connection to Key West.
Once you arrive at the airport, you can take a taxi or rent a car to get around. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can hop on a bicycle or scooter and explore key west on two wheels!
Best Time to Go to Key West
The best time to visit Key West is from November to March. During this time, the weather is warm and dry, making it ideal for spending time outdoors. The average temperature during this period is around 75 degrees Fahrenheit, with highs often reaching into the low 80s.
Humidity levels are also relatively low, so you won’t worry about feeling too sweaty or uncomfortable. Plus, the rates for hotels and other accommodations are typically lower during these months.
So if you’re looking for the perfect time to escape the cold and enjoy some sunny weather, November to March is the ideal time to visit Key West.
There are plenty of things to do in Key West, Florida, no matter your interests. You can go kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, fishing, or hiking if you love the outdoors.
For a more relaxed experience, you can stroll through one of the many parks or gardens or even sit on the beach and soak up the sun.
And, of course, no visit to Key West would be complete without taking a tour of the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum.
Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or even a bachelorette party, the Key West attractions will provide what you’re looking for.