Do you dream of soaking up the sun, exploring miles of pristine beaches, and enjoying cold drinks on a tropical island? Then the Florida Keys are just the place for you! This idyllic destination sits just south of Miami and offers a wealth of exciting activities. From gorgeous natural wonders to vibrant towns, there is something for everyone in the Florida Keys.
The Florida Keys are accessed by the Overseas Highway, US 1, which connects them to mainland Florida. If you find yourself there on your next vacation, there are some of the top experiences that you absolutely won’t want to miss.
Here are 33+ things to do in Florida Keys that we know you and your crew will adore!
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COOLEST PLACES TO STAY IN THE FLORIDA KEYS
- Best in Key West: Ideally located next to the island’s largest beach and just a short distance from historic Old Town, Margaritaville Beach House Key West is your perfect home base for adventure. It features a restaurant, outdoor swimming pool, a fitness center and a bar.
- Best in Marathon: Sail away from the everyday and relax into the Florida Keys’ most laid-back, family-friendly resort and marina, nestled in Marathon’s Boot Key Harbor — Skipjack Resort. This tropical oasis features a private, 54-slip marina, a classic poolside tiki bar and Blu Bistro, their casual restaurant serving the freshest local seafood.
- Best in Islamorada: Lime Tree Bay Resort is located in the heart of the Florida Keys between Islamorada and Marathon. A true island oasis that features a quarter-mile, white-sand sunning beach with tiki huts, hammocks, and barbecue grills; multiple heated swimming pools; a private fishing pier; and front-row seats to the most breathtaking sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico.
DRY TORTUGAS NATIONAL PARK
First on the list is Dry Tortugas National Park, located 70 miles from Key West. This stunning park is known for its beautiful natural scenery, including crystal-clear waters teeming with colorful fish. One popular activity is Fort Jefferson, an iconic Civil War-era fort that offers incredible views of the surrounding ocean.
Albeit unfinished, the fort is massive and has been used for many purposes throughout history. Learn all about it on a guided tour through the fort’s interior, or simply enjoy its impressive architecture from the outside. Note that the only way to get to the park is via boat or seaplane, so you can go for a day trip or make reservations at one of their campsites.
NOAA FLORIDA KEYS NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY
The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is another must-see spot in the Florida Key. This marine sanctuary spans over 3,800 square miles and is home to an incredible array of underwater wildlife. Whether using your snorkels or scuba diving, keep an eye out for whale sharks, colorful sea sponges, and vibrant coral reefs.
In fact, the sanctuary contains the world’s third-largest barrier reef. Boating and kayaking are also popular in the sanctuary, allowing you to explore some of the region’s stunning natural landscapes.
Read more: Beautiful Kayaking Spots in the Florida Keys to Add to Your Vacation
Looking for more fun in the Florida Keys? Try some of these fun activities!
- Take the Key West Conch Train Tour. Climb aboard the Conch Train in Key West and delight to sights and legendary stories of the tropical paradise. Pass Hemingway’s home, learn about Mel Fisher’s lifelong search for sunken treasure, see Harry Truman’s White House and more.
- See the Sunset on a Glass-Bottom Boat Tour. Cruise into Key West’s famous sunset aboard a climate-controlled glass-bottom boat, and explore dramatic underwater vistas. See North America’s only living coral reef.
- Swim with Dolphins. Make memories that will last a lifetime as you swim with dolphins in their natural lagoon habitat. Learn about these fascinating creatures and get up close and personal with them.
FORT ZACHARY TAYLOR HISTORIC STATE PARK
Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park is a historic location to visit during your time in the Florida Keys. This state park is known for its beautiful beaches and natural beauty, but it also boasts a rich history. The impressive construction has seen its fair share of action during various wars, including the Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II.
As the southernmost state park in the United States, it’s also a great place to catch some stunning sunset views. You’ll also have the opportunity to swim, birdwatch, and hike in the park.
Read More: FLORIDA KEYS STATE PARKS (+ A DREAMY NPS) THAT YOU CAN’T MISS
KEY WEST BUTTERFLY & NATURE CONSERVATORY
As we’ll explore below, Duval Street is the heart of Key West and home to many of its exciting attractions. One of the best is the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory, home to hundreds of beautiful butterflies and colorful birds. This tranquil oasis offers a welcome break from the bustling city and is perfect for travelers who enjoy spending time outdoors.
Two flamingos steal the show here with their bright pink plumage and quirky personalities. The conservatory is complete with a gift shop and cafe, so you can easily spend an entire afternoon there.
Read more: Towns of the Florida Keys
JOHN PENNEKAMP CORAL REEF STATE PARK
Key Largo is one of the first stops along the Overseas Highway and home to one of the most popular state parks in Florida. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park offers a range of outdoor activities, including snorkeling, kayaking, and fishing.
But what really makes this park so special is its coral reef ecosystem. More than 200 species of fish call this 70-nautical-mile stretch home, along with a wide variety of hard and soft coral. Glass bottom boat tours, which give you a chance to view the reef without getting wet, are also popular in Pennekamp.
No trip to Key West would be complete without a visit to Mallory Square. Located at the end of bustling Duval Street in Key West, this famous square has been an iconic part of the city’s landscape for decades. Plenty of street performers, artists, and vendors gather here daily to offer visitors a taste of local life.
Visitors can also catch incredible sunsets at Mallory Square, making it ideal for an evening stroll. You’ll also find plenty of bars and restaurants nearby, so you can easily spend a few hours enjoying the area’s lively atmosphere.
Read More: 29+ PERFECT THINGS TO DO IN KEY WEST FOR EVERY TYPE OF TRAVELER
THE SOUTHERNMOST POINT
Take a selfie at the Southernmost Point. You guessed it! This anchored concrete buoy is the southernmost point in the continental United States. A scenic view accompanies this noteworthy landmark, with endless blue waters and the horizon in the distance.
The Southernmost Point is a very popular spot, and with only one buoy to snap a pic with, it can get crowded during the day. You can roam the area, where you’ll find restaurants, shops, and other attractions at your disposal.
HARRY S TRUMAN LITTLE WHITE HOUSE
If politics are more your thing, you can’t miss the Harry S Truman Little White House. This historic complex served as a Key West retreat for the US president several times throughout his presidency. During these visits, he held Cabinet meetings, entertained guests, and hosted dignitaries from around the world.
The organization now offers VIP tours of the Little White House, making you feel like an honored guest in the president’s private quarters. A museum is also housed within the complex and features exhibits commemorating Truman’s presidency.
BAHIA HONDA STATE PARK
Bahia Honda State Park in Big Pine Key is considered a hidden gem in the Keys. This pristine park is located on the island of Bahia Honda Key and offers various outdoor activities.
You can go swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, hiking, and biking here to explore its natural beauty. This stunning state park is complete with a concession stand, campgrounds, and a marina.
MARATHON TURTLE HOSPITAL
Although the American alligator is Florida’s official state reptile, the sea turtle might be its unofficial mascot. Much more lovable, these majestic creatures are in need of our help. The Marathon Turtle Hospital works to rehabilitate injured sea turtles and nurse them back to health.
Visitors can meet the hospital’s hard-working staff and learn more about the facility’s work on a daily tour. You’ll also have the opportunity to visit with a few patients in their tanks, which is a truly incredible experience.
Read More: 21+ SENSATIONAL THINGS TO DO IN MARATHON FL
OLD SEVEN MILE BRIDGE
When exiting Marathon with your car, you’ll come across the Old Seven Mile Bridge. This historic bridge was built in 1912 to connect the island of Pigeon Key to Knight’s Key. It served as a vital lifeline for communities in the Keys, connecting the Middle Keys with the Lower Keys for nearly 60 years.
Today, however, the bridge is mainly a popular attraction. Visitors can walk or bike along its length and soak up the gorgeous views of the turquoise waters below. Fun fact: it’s the longest of all the 42 bridges that make up the Florida Keys.
Spanning from the South of Key West all the way North to Mallory Square, Duval Street is the ultimate destination for visitors looking to explore local life. This charming street is lined with shops, restaurants, galleries, and bars — all offering a taste of what it’s like to live in Key West.
You’ll pass by Bahama Village, one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, and you can stop to admire its brightly colored homes. As the party hub of Key West, you’ll also find plenty of music and entertainment on Duval Street.
ERNEST HEMINGWAY HOME AND MUSEUM
In the same vicinity lies the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, a writer’s haven that’s become a must-see attraction in the Keys. This historic compound was once home to the famous author and his six-toed cats, whose descendants continue to roam its grounds today. The architecture is reminiscent of the French-colonial style, and the lush gardens are an oasis in the Florida sunshine.
If you’re a literary buff, you won’t want to miss this real-life masterpiece. Not only will you admire its charm, but you will also take part in a guided tour of Hemingway’s home — which includes memorabilia, photographs, and manuscripts.
NATIONAL KEY DEER REFUGE
The Florida Keys are home to some of the most diverse wildlife in North America, and the National Key Deer Refuge is at the center of it all.
This protected area encompasses more than 30,000 acres of lowland forest, marshy wetlands, and mangrove forests. It’s a critical habitat for many threatened or endangered species, including the Key deer.
DOLPHIN RESEARCH CENTER
Next up on our list of things to do in the Florida Keys is the amazing Dolphin Research Center. This unique facility was founded with one purpose: to research and rescue marine mammals, particularly dolphins. It has since become a beloved educational center, offering visitors hands-on encounters with these fascinating creatures.
Guests can watch the resident dolphins perform tricks at various shows and demonstrations and even swim with the dolphins in specially designated areas.
DAGNY JOHNSON KEY LARGO HAMMOCK BOTANICAL STATE PARK
For those looking to get closer to nature, head to Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park. This lush park is home to one of the most biodiverse areas in North America — making it an ideal place for bird-watching and hiking.
The trails here lead through a dense tropical forest brimming with unique flora and fauna. You’ll spot colorful butterflies and tropical birds as you weave between the ancient mahogany trees that tower overhead.
AFRICAN QUEEN CANAL CRUISE
Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn’s classic film is based on a novel by the same name. In the movie, the characters break free from the German military by taking a romantic cruise through East Africa. And which boat do they travel in? The African Queen, of course.
Now you can experience the same adventure that inspired the film with a cruise in Key Largo aboard this charming canal boat. On the African Queen Canal Cruise, you’ll weave through narrow waterways and stop along tropical islands, all while enjoying delicious snacks and drinks.
Read More: 15 FUN THINGS TO DO IN KEY LARGO ADVENTURERS WILL LOVE
One of the more popular beaches in the Keys, Sombrero Beach is the place to go for any sun-worshipper. Set along the Atlantic Ocean, this sandy stretch offers sparkling turquoise waters and plenty of beach loungers and umbrellas to protect you from the sun while you relax.
There is also a playground and volleyball court for the kids. A rocky peninsula juts out from the beach, where many enjoy fishing and bird-watching.
Read More: 9 SENSATIONAL KEY WEST BEACHES (+ 3 WORTH THE SHORT DRIVE) | Don’t Miss The Wonderful Sombrero Beach In The Florida Keys
KEY WEST LIGHTHOUSE
The Key West Lighthouse is a quick activity that won’t take up much of your day, but it’s nonetheless worth visiting. Perched atop a tall spiral staircase, this historic landmark offers unbeatable views of the Key West skyline and the beautiful ocean below.
Visitors can also explore the lighthouse museum, which features exhibits about its maritime history and local ecology.
THE STONED CRAB
If you want to enjoy some delicious local seafood, The Stoned Crab is where it’s at. This casual restaurant serves up expertly prepared fresh fish and shellfish in a laid-back atmosphere. Whether you’re in the mood for crab cakes, shrimp scampi, or raw oysters, this is the place to go for your fix.
But what makes this place stand out is the unique shark-feeding tradition. Every afternoon, The Stoned Crab hosts a feeding frenzy that’s not to be missed. You can even participate if you dare! This up-close encounter with these incredible animals is an experience you’ll never forget.
NANCY FORRESTER’S SECRET GARDEN
You’ve seen rescued turtles and dolphins. What if you could meet some rescued parrots instead? At Nancy Forrester’s Secret Garden, you can do just that. This exotic botanical garden is home to an impressive collection of rescued parrots, each one with its own unique personality.
Nancy, the woman behind the garden, is one of the main reasons this place has such a special atmosphere. She’s a joy to talk to, and she’ll happily share the stories of her feathered friends with you.
HISTORY OF DIVING MUSEUM
It’s no wonder that Florida is known as the “Dive Capital of the World.”
All divers should pay a visit to the History of Diving Museum in Islamorada, where they’ll find a collection of diving equipment — from ancient breathing devices to futuristic rebreathers.
Read More: 17 THINGS TO DO IN ISLAMORADA FOR FUN IN THE SUN
MORADA WAY ARTS AND CULTURAL DISTRICT
Support the local arts scene by visiting the Morada Way Arts and Cultural District, a lively neighborhood filled with art galleries, shops, restaurants, and more. You’ll find all sorts of unique artwork on display here — from paintings to sculptures to ceramic pieces.
It’s a relaxing place to grab a beer and wander around. You can also attend one of the many special events, like wine tastings or live music performances.
Robbie’s Marina is one of the most popular spots for fishing and eco-tours. This family-friendly location offers all sorts of activities — from guided kayak tours to snorkeling trips to tarpon feedings.
The “Silver King” of the Keys, the tarpon, is a large fish that can grow to over 200 pounds. Watching these majestic creatures feed is an incredible experience you won’t want to miss. For adrenaline seekers, consider a parasailing tour for a high-flying adventure.
LONG KEY STATE PARK
Long Key State Park is a true gem located on one of the most remote islands in the Florida Keys.
You’ll find easy hikes, gorgeous beaches, and plenty of opportunities for kayaking and snorkeling. There’s even a visitor center where you can learn about the park’s fascinating history. There’s also a campsite for those who want to spend the night under the stars.
WILD BIRD SANCTUARY
As you can imagine by now, rehabilitating injured wildlife is a big part of living in the Keys. A great place to see this work in action is at Wild Bird Sanctuary, where rehabilitated birds are released back into their natural habitat.
Here you’ll find an impressive collection of all sorts of feathered friends — majestic owls, hawks, vultures, and pelicans, to name a few. Their “adopt a bird” program is a great way to support their important work and get some one-of-a-kind souvenirs.
FLORIDA KEYS BREWING COMPANY
Looking for a fun way to unwind after all that exploring? Stop by the Florida Keys Brewing Company, where you can sample some of the best local beers and play your favorite arcade games.
Craft beer enthusiasts will love their extensive collection of small-batch brews. They also redefine the garden bar experience, offering a rustic outdoor patio perfect for watching the sunset with a cold drink in hand.
GREEN PARROT BAR
A visit to the Florida Keys wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the Green Parrot Bar, one of the most iconic watering holes in Key West. This no-frills dive bar has been around since 1890 and is known for its quirky atmosphere and eclectic crowd.
Here you’ll find live music most nights of the week, as well as a variety of local beers on tap. Come early to get a good seat, or try your luck at the bar. The decor and vibe will transport you back in time to a simpler, wilder era.
Another Key West institution, Sloppy Joe’s, is an unpretentious dive bar that’s been around since Ernest Hemingway frequented the establishment in the 1930s. Today, it’s a popular hangout for tourists and locals alike. This local hotspot is best known for its cheap drinks, karaoke sessions, and otherwise friendly atmosphere.
Of course, they serve up some of the best sloppy joes in all of Key West, so be sure to grab a bite while you’re there.
KEY WEST FIRST LEGAL RUM DISTILLERY
Just three minutes from Sloppy Joes by foot is Key West First Legal Rum Distillery, where you can learn all about the history and production of this classic Caribbean spirit. Here you’ll find a wide range of rum-based cocktails. Their famous Mojito is delicious, and they even offer a class on how to make it.
There is a free tour of the distillery and tasting room, so stop by and experience this unique Key West attraction.
For an all-inclusive tour of the Florida Keys, Fury Tours has some amazing ones. Here you can choose from various narrated boat tours that will bring you close to dolphins and manatees, get up close to tropical fish and coral at the National Key Deer Refuge, or take your pick of other exciting activities.
Their sunset sailing tour is just as beautiful as it sounds. Jet ski rentals and private charters are also available, so you can truly customize your island adventure.
You must stop by Alabama Jack’s if you dream of eating fresh catch from the nearby waters. This rustic outdoor restaurant is known for its seafood boils and live music performances, making it one of the best places in Key Largo to relax and unwind. The conch fritters are the signature dish made with local Key West conch.
The seaside atmosphere may be rough around the edges, but that only adds to the charm. Alabama Jack’s is the perfect place to find an authentic taste of island life.
BOCA CHITA KEY IN BISCAYNE BAY
Boca Chita Key is a small island in Biscayne Bay, just a short ferry ride from the mainland. This island offers beautiful views and unique wildlife, so it’s perfect for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.
You’ll recognize the island by its towering lighthouse, built in the 1930s. Other attractions on the island include swimming areas and hiking trails.
Read More: 23 AMAZING ISLANDS IN FLORIDA YOU’VE GOT TO VISIT
MILE MARKER O SIGN
As we mentioned at the start of this article, US Highway 1 (or “the Overseas Highway”) is the iconic route that connects the Florida Keys to the mainland. It’s marked by a series of mile markers, with “0” signaling the end of US 1 in Key West.
Here you’ll find a sign marking Mile Marker 0, a popular tourist spot. Take a photo of this iconic landmark as you finish your journey along the Overseas Highway!
CAPTAIN TONY’S SALOON
Drink in the history of Key West at Captain Tony’s Saloon, a local dive bar frequented by legends like Ernest Hemingway and Jimmy Buffet. Set in a charming old building with an open-air courtyard, this bar is the perfect place to enjoy some cold drinks and island vibes.
They’re known for thematic nights like the crowd-favorite Fantasy Fest. This clothing-optional affair sees patrons participating in a debauchery night with costumes, dancing, and drinking. You might also be surprised to know that this establishment is, in fact, the oldest bar in Florida!
GEN. HOYT S. VANDENBERG SHIPWRECK
Last but not least, we have a diving spot that will thrill any underwater adventurer. The Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg Shipwreck was intentionally sunk in 2009 to create an artificial reef. Today, the shipwreck is home to all kinds of aquatic life, including fish and eels that can be seen circling the vessel.
As you may know, heavy human traffic in natural reefs can damage sea creatures and coral, so the Vandenberg Shipwreck is a welcome addition to the Florida Keys. It accomplished its final mission of relieving the pressure on natural reefs and providing a new home to underwater wildlife.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO FLORIDA
- YOUR FLORIDA VACATION
- HAWKS CAY: A Truly Amazing Resort In The Florida Keys
- ISLA BELLA RESORT: 5 Reasons To Stay At Isla Bella Beach Resort In The Florida Keys
- RV PARKS FLORIDA: 19+ RV Parks In Florida That You Should Totally Visit
- FL RESORTS: 19 Best Resorts In Florida: Serene Escapes That Should Not Be Missed
WHERE TO STAY IN FLORIDA
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