Are you heading on a Key West trip soon? Looking for things to do in Key West Florida? We have put together a Key West guide so you can learn everything you will want to know before heading to Florida. Driving from Miami? Read this driving from Miami to Key West Florida guide.
Key West-Florida is an island city that lies on the southernmost end of the Straits of Florida in between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Actually, geographically speaking, Key West is closer to Havana, Cuba than it is to Miami.
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It is known as a retiree and vacation destination but, still, there are many Floridians who call the Keys home; over 25,000 of them to be exact. Although the island measures only 4 miles long by 2 miles wide, it still packs a punch in terms of things to do.
Being the furthest city south in the continental United States, there aren’t many places you can go to in the USA to get a more exotic appeal than Florida Key West. Key West is one of the top places to visit in Florida. If you are planning your next vacation to Key West. Florida, you will want to take a few minutes to read this Key West guide and learn about everything you need to know for your trip to Florida!
Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting Key West
- ✈️ Find the best flights to Key West with Sky Scanner
- 💸 Get reliable travel insurance from World Nomads
- 🏨 Find the best accommodations on Booking.com
- 🐠 If you’d like a tour guide, here’s an awesome Snorkeling Tour
- ⛵ If you love the Sunsets, join this Key West Sunset Sail
- 🐬 If you love adventure, book your Key West Dolphin Experience
- 🚗 To rent a car to visit places around Florida, get great deals on Auto Europe
- 🏖️ Read more about Drive From Miami to Key West
We travel to Florida every year and visit Key West often. We visited last year after the hurricane hit. It was devastating to see the destruction the hurricane left behind. Key West bounced back and was quickly cleaned up in time for the tourist season.
Whether it is what to do on your next Key West Fl vacations’, Key West travel tips, where to stay on your trip, what to eat, the best time to visit, the Key West weather, or even the Key West bars it is known for, we have covered it all in the information below!
How to Get to Key West Florida
To get to Key West, visitors have a multitude of ways of getting there be it by land, sea, or air. When you see a Key West, Florida map you will see how easy it is to get around.
Get to Key West By plane
Currently, there are four airlines that service daily flights to Key West, Florida Airport:
- Delta — services flight to/from Atlanta
- American — direct flights from Miami, Dallas, Charlotte, and Washington, D.C.
- United — flights from Chicago and Newark (return)
- Silver Airways — only operates flights from Florida (Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Tampa, and Orlando)
For flights, I like to use Google Flights or Skyscanner to find the best deals on flights. These search engines compare millions of options from airlines and travel agents.
How to Get to Key West Florida By land
It surprises many people you can drive to Key West. A series of bridges connect the Straits of Florida to create one of the most scenic drives in the United States.
The drive will take you through all the Keys but it is the bridges spanning over the turquoise waters that most people love.
From Miami, the drive will take approximately three hours if there is no traffic. From there, you can calculate your drive from any other part of Florida. Not a bad way to travel for those who have the time!
Parking is limited. So if you are driving down I would leave the car at the hotel and walk or bike everywhere. If you don’t feel like walking then Uber may be an option for you. To get around while in a city, I recommend walking, using public transit, or Uber if it’s available. If you are new to Uber, use code “dianab1442ue” to get your first ride for free. You can also use it on Uber Eats!
To get around we always rent a car when we travel to the United States. It is the easiest and most affordable way to get around. We love booking our cars with Auto Europe as we find they always have the best rates.
The only city which operates a ferry to Key West is Fort Myers which leaves daily. There are also options to leave from Marco Island, but less frequently. There are also overnight options, however, no other city in Florida operates a passenger ferry to Key West — this includes Miami!
Tip: If this is your first time visiting Key West, I would highly recommend driving through the Keys at least once. You can do a one-way car rental if you don’t feel like driving back.
How to Get to Key West Florida By sea
You can also take a multitude of cruises to Key West, but you won’t be in control of the length of your stay in that case.
Key West, Florida Hotels
You have a wide range of accommodation options in Key West Florida. Whether you are looking to stay in a luxury resort or a budget-friendly option, most people will find it is easy to find a bed that will fit their budget. If you are looking for a unique stay then a smaller conch house or Airbnb may be ideal.
For hotels, I always use Booking.com, as you will notice in my recommendations below. I love them as they always have the best prices on hotels. Click here to search Booking.com for the best deals.
Here are some of our favorite places to stay in Key West:
- Havana Cabana at Key West – This hotel is located 15 minutes away from Duval Street. A great escape if you want to be away from the hustle and bustle. We have stayed here twice before and love the large tropical pool. Check for rates and more details.
- Simonton Court Historic Inn -is a cute Victorian House with a tropical pool. Check rates and more details.
- Oceans Edge Key West Hotel & Marina – This hotel offers beautiful panoramic water views and six pools! Check for rates and more details.
- Southernmost Point Guest House – this guest house is located in the heart of all the action, right on Duval Street. Check for rates and more details.
- Margaritaville Key West Resort & Marina – This waterfront resort is centrally located in Old Town and is within walking distance of everything. Check for rates and more details.
- The Marker Resort – we loved staying at the Marker Resort, one of our favourite Key West, Florida resorts. It is tucked away from all the nightlife but close enough to all the main attractions. Check for rates and more details.
- Airbnb Key West -When I’m not staying at a hotel, I love booking our stays through Airbnb. An Airbnb can provide an authentic local experience. If you are traveling with a family, Airbnb is great as you can often get more space by renting an entire house for less money than a hotel stay. Click here to get $40 USD off your first stay. and you can also get $15 off an experience.
There are so many different options that will fit every budget so you can enjoy Key West. Find the best option for your visit. If you love nightlife then consider staying close to Duval Street. If you want a more laid-back getaway, then a stay closer to the beach or a resort with a tropical pool may be your best bet. If you are looking to save some money then traveling during the off-season you will see great savings.
What to do in Key West Florida
Visit Ernest Hemingway’s House
One of the greatest and most well-respected writers in American history called Key West Florida home for many years. Now, his former home where he wrote some of the top novels and short stories in American history is preserved as a museum where you can check out where Hemingway pulled his inspiration from.
The house is used to educate Florida vacationers about the life and times of Ernest Hemingway and is one of the top things to do in Key West. Florida!
Visit Mallory Square
Mallory Square is the historic waterfront area where all the action happens. It is said that Mallory Square is where the sun always sets and the fun begins. They use that as a sort of motto for the area.
Each evening, you can catch the sunset with dozens — if not hundreds — of other tourists. It is the best place to see the glowing colors from the horizon light up the Key West. FLA sky!
Check out all the best stores, restaurants, street performances, museums, and even the cruise port of Keywest FL all at Mallory Square. Head back here at night to catch some of the most beautiful sunsets you will see in Florida.
Another great way to see the gorgeous sunset is on the Key West Champagne Sunset Cruise. One of the best ways to see the beautiful Key West sunset. A perfect way to end the night.
Dry Tortugas National Park
Situated less than 75 miles west of Key West right in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico is Dry Tortugas National Park. The seven Dry Tortugas islands are the westernmost territories of Key West and Florida.
Inside the park, you can find a well-preserved Fort Jefferson leftover from the Civil War days. You can also find pristine white sand beaches, turquoise blue waters, and the most vibrant and lively coral reefs to be found in Florida.
Not many people visit the Tortugas as part of their Key West-Florida vacation because the islands are only accessible via boat or seaplane and the trip usually consumes an entire day on the itinerary. However, if you have the time, Dry Tortugas National Park is completely worth it!
Visiting the Southernmost Point in Key West is more so for bragging rights than anything else. Many tourists visit this large, painted concrete buoy at the furthest point south in Key West so they can capture a photo at the lowest land latitude point in the continental United States.
There is nothing particularly exciting here and there are more beautiful waters in other parts of Key West, however, if you are into bragging rights, this is a great quick attraction to check out. I have been to Key West several times and I always want to get this famous shot. Prepare yourself for lineups in the high season to get this famous shot.
Little White House
This seems unheard of now, but over the course of his presidency, Harry S. Truman used the Little White House in Key West as his winter home. His doctor ordered a little bit of rest and recovery when his health was on the decline. So, Truman moved, with his wife, to the Florida Keys during the winters.
He ended up staying in this house for 175 days on his 11 vacations over the course of his time as President of the United States. Now, the house is closed to guests and is used as a museum to document and educate on the period Truman lived there. After his presidency, he and his family visited Key West several times but always stayed in other locations.
You can tour the Little White House 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The entrance fee is $21.45 for adults and $10.75 for youth. Save some money by booking your tickets in advance. Check here for details.
Duval Street is at the height of all the action in Key West. No matter who you are or what you are doing in Key West, you will end up traversing this road at least once or twice over the course of your vacation.
Whether you are a shopper, a foodie, a diver, a party-goer, or fancy live music on a night out, Duval Street is the place for you. Just as Mallory Square is a heavily trafficked spot in the city, so is Duval.
Most tourist accommodation in Key West (resorts, hotels, guest houses, etc) is located on Duval Street or not far away so you can bet you will become well-acquainted with this area. You can find some of the most frequented Key West bar and party spots as well.
The most unique part of this street is the fact that it runs east-west stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. And you could walk the distance between them!
Old Town Trolley Tour
Take a ride on the Old Town Trolley Tour and see Key West from a different perspective. It is a great way to get around. This is a guided 12 stop hop-on hop-off trolley tour. Check for the best rates and further details.
Watersports in Key West Fl
If you love watersports then you are going to love being in Key West Fl. There are so many fun activities to choose from that you may want to try them all. You can get a birds-eye view Parasailing over Key West. The Keys are known for their snorkeling.
You must try reef snorkeling or a Key West Sunset Catamaran Cruise. Key West has some of the best sunsets. I would recommend booking your tours and excursions prior to your arrival as they tend to book up quickly.
Fort Zachary Taylor Historic Park
Situated at the southern tip of Florida is Fort Zachary Taylor Historic Park — or Fort Taylor for short. It is a Florida State Park and National Historic Landmark which is focused on the history of the Civil War fort which it is named after.
It hosts the widest collection of U.S. Civil War artifacts in the world and many history buffs find great interest in what the museum has to offer. Other people visit for the great swim spots, birdwatching, and to take a stroll around the trail which you can bike around the whole park.
Most of Florida’s parks are open from 8 am until sunset. Check here for the most up-to-date entrance fees.
Visit Wyland’s Whaling Wall
Visit the famous Whaling Wall mural painted by Marine life artist Wyland, to promote ocean conservation around the world. The most colorful artwork in the Keys.
For tours, museum tickets, and other activities, I recommend GetYourGuide. We always book all of our tours with GetYourGuide as they are a trusted site and have lots of unique things to do. It also helps to keep track of tours booked as you can manage your bookings and tickets in one location by creating an account. Click here to search GetYourGuide.
Where to Eat in Key West FLA
Seafood in Key West is the big pick for obvious reasons. We’ve highlighted a few waterfront restaurants (some with spectacular sunset views) which you should definitely check out while in Key West. You will find many Cuban influences on the island as well as a great selection of fresh-caught seafood. You can’t leave without trying the famous Key Lime pie. You can even get a frozen slice of Key Lime pie on a stick, dipped in chocolate! Need I say more.
- Turtle Kraals
- Commodore Waterfront Restaurant
- Shor American Seafood Grill
- Latitude’s Restaurant
- Hot Tin Roof
- Southernmost Beach Cafe
- Sunset Pier
- Louie’s Backyard
- Half Shell Raw Bar
- Key West Key Lime Pie Co.
- Cuban Coffee Queen
Tip: Forgo the slice of Key Lime pie and buy the entire pie. It is cheaper and you will want more than one slice.
Key West, Florida Beach
Who doesn’t like a day at the beach? Enjoy a day at Smathers Beach or Higgs Beach, the most popular beach in Key West’s southernmost point of the island. Most of the beaches in the Florida Keys are not natural beaches. Sand is brought in to make the beaches more enjoyable and beautiful. You will also find a number of food trucks lining the streets by the beaches.
Tip: Make sure to pack sunscreen, a sunhat, and sunglasses. Stay hydrated and drink lots of water.
Key West Florida Shopping
There will be plenty of opportunities for shopping in Keywest. Duval Street is lined with several different small shops to pick up t-shirts, souvenirs, and artisan items. There are many shops along the streets and around Mallory Square. We always end up in the Alan S. Maltz Gallery as they have the most beautiful pieces of art.
Best time to Visit Key West in Florida
There is never a bad time to visit Key West. Florida. It is a tropical paradise where the sun is (mostly) always shining and the climate cannot be beaten. With that being said, however, there are times when it is better to visit than others.
During the winter, you will see the most visitors to Key West-Florida. People who move to the tropics for the wintertime also occupy a lot of the real estate which means costs for accommodation and other parts of vacationing become inflated.
The other time you might want to reconsider visiting (especially if you are not a party person) is the month of March until about mid-April. This is Spring Break for most of the United States’ school system. You will experience many youths in their most rowdy and unruly behaviors. Though, if that doesn’t bother you, Spring is a great time to visit.
Key West Florida Weather
Wondering what the weather Key West experiences during your vacation time is?
Most people who visit Key West. Florida visits during the wintertime to escape the cold climates where they live. The tropics stay warm and full of sunshine over the course of the winter.
Hurricane season in Key West runs from June to November. This isn’t to say you will constantly be in immediate danger, but with the season, also, comes the rain and humidity. The weather is never actually that bad, but springtime sees the best climate.
Spring in Key West runs between the months of March and May when there is little rain and most days of island sunshine you have been craving. However, as mentioned earlier, look out for those Spring Breakers.
If you are visiting in the summer months then get prepared for the intense Florida heat. Key West weather in the summer is sweltering hot as it is in most of Southern Florida during the summer months. Make sure to pack your sunscreen and wear a sun hat. This is one of the most affordable times to visit Keywest.
Unique Things in the Keys
Key West is a fantastic vacation spot filled with daytime adventures and a relaxed nightlife that most people can enjoy. The white-sand beaches and clear waters combined with the dreamy climate are what attract most visitors to the Florida Keys, however, there is so much more to do in Key West than what first attracts people.
- See the sunset at Mallory Square
- Feed sharks at the Stoned Crab
- Explore Bight Marina
- Climb the stairs of the Key West Lighthouse
- Walk along Smathers Beach
- Visit the Key West Butterfly Conservancy
- Visit Mel Fisher Museum
- Visit the Key West Shipwreck Treasures Museum Buy your Shipwreck Museum Tickets here!
- Visit the Key West cemetery
- Bahama Village
Packing Tips for the Keys
The number one thing to pack for your Key West vacation is sunblock. I like an organic brand that is also reef-friendly. It is extremely sunny in Key West and the sun is intense. I would also recommend sunglasses unless you enjoy squinting.
A sunhat can be helpful in sheltering your head from the intense sunshine. I like this foldable brim sunhat as it doesn’t get out of shape when packing it. Pack a bathing suit so you can enjoy the beaches. Since Key West is a walkable city, I would recommend a great pair of walking shoes. Either comfortable sneakers or a comfortable pair of flats like Tieks or other foldable flats that are easy to pack. They are comfortable and are foldable shoes you can keep in your purse.
A reusable water bottle is recommended since you will need to hydrate often. I stopped buying water bottles, as we all know, all that plastic is not great for this beautiful earth we live on. I personally like S’well Water bottles as they are insulated and keep my water cold.
Final Thoughts for Top Things to Do in Key West Florida
Now that you know all that the Keys have to offer, hopefully, you will enjoy your time more thoroughly. If you have any questions about Key West which weren’t covered in the Florida Key West blog above, don’t be afraid to reach out with questions.
Monday 19th of August 2019
I've literally always wanted to go here! It just looks like a little Paradise! :)
Monday 19th of August 2019
I hope you get a chance to visit one day.
Saturday 17th of August 2019
I was lucky enough to spend 2 weeks in this area (plus a previous trip to Key West standalone) and I have to say it is a pretty special area - LOVE the sunsets and the color of the water!
Monday 19th of August 2019
Key West truly is magical. The sunsets are the best.
Saturday 17th of August 2019
This looks like such a fun place to visit! So many beaches and shops and things to do! I love that it has a more Caribbean vibe, that is so cool! So many great tips here! :)
Monday 19th of August 2019
Key West feels more like you are in the Caribbean than in Florida.
Catherine @ To & Fro Fam
Saturday 17th of August 2019
Wow, your photos are stunning! I would LOVE to take my kids to Key West.
Saturday 17th of August 2019
Your kids would love it. Such a different experience.
Roy A Ackerman, PhD, EA
Monday 12th of August 2019
I have not been to Key West in almost two decades. Maybe it's time to plan your recommended drive.
Saturday 17th of August 2019
It's time for a return trip!