Top 12 Things to Do in Key West: A Locals Guide

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Key West!

This United States island city is a part of the Florida Keys archipelago. Located 90 miles north of Cuba, Key West is also the southernmost point of Florida.

This place is famous for coral reefs. Also, tourists visit this beautiful city with conch-style, pastel-hued houses for snorkeling and diving. The cruise ship stolen from this place is accessible from the mainland.

Top 12 Things to Do in Key West: A Locals Guide

In case you are planning to visit Key West, the month between March and May will be the most suitable. The winter season is the busiest and priciest at Key West.

If you are planning to visit this place, it will always be best to get some basic idea about the things Key West has to offer you and make your to-do list ready before boarding. Here in this article, we are going to talk about the top things to do in Key West.

To-Do 1: Visit Notable Key West

This concrete buoy marks the southern point in the USA, which is one of the most visited landmarks in the country. Technically the beach area is located at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park in the KeyWest, which is 500 feet further south.

However, The National Historic Site, West Martello Tower, is located in the Key West Garden Club. The beautiful gardens along with the tower make the entire scenario photograph worthy. This is a perfect place for your next road trip.

To-Do 2: Dry Tortugas By Air Or Sea

Go 70 miles to the west of Key West, and there you will discover the Dry Tortugas National park. It is one of the most inaccessible national parks in North America. This place is popular for the pirate legends, abundant marine life, and pristine, unspoiled beauty.

The central attraction is the majestic Fort Jefferson, which is the largest brick building in the Western hemisphere. You can opt for a day trip with private charters, a ferry, or a seaplane. We will recommend you to go through the reviews before making the tour, as it will help you a lot.

To-Do 3: Taste Key Lime Pie

It is actually the limes that make the pie so delicious. Cocktails and fruit-infused water are the other ingredients. The key lime is seedier and also smaller than all those usual dark green thick-skinned Persian lime you usually find in the supermarkets.

With a thinner rind, the key lime has a stronger aroma and higher acidity. Compared to the other lime, it is popular for its unique flavor. The Key Lime Pie Company allows you to make your own pie classes, and the best part is that you can eat your class projects.

If you like a lot of whip cream on your Key Lime Pie don’t forget to try a slice from the Blue Heaven restaurant located on Thomas street just about a 3-minute walk from the Ernest Hemingway House. The Blue Heaven is usually very busy but they do offer a nice waiting area for the family with tables, games, musical instruments, and a bloody mary bar to boot.

Video outside of Blue Heaven restaurant in Key West, Florida – Families waiting to eat and children playing in the waiting area.

To-Do 4: Historical Home And Museums

Another main attraction of Key West is the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, which was built in 1851. In the year 1931, it became the home of the famous American writer Ernest Hemingway. The place is stuffed with much of the original furniture.

There are also 40 descendant cats in the gardens, which makes the place a little whimsy. At the door, you might need to buy tickets. Here are some other historical homes and museums you should visit.

  • The Harry Truman Little White House.
  • The Key West Shipwreck Museum.
  • Male Fisher Maritime Museum.

To-Do 5: Nature Preserves And Parks

Key West has a number of nature conservatories and parks. One of them is the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. Here, you will get to see 50 to 60 butterfly species across the world, along with more than 20 exotic bird species.

Key West Garden Club is another one that is completely free to the public. It is run by a non-profit organization of volunteers who damage and also maintain all of the plants. The mission behind it is to offer educational opportunities for the community relating to topical gardening and also to the West Martello Tower.

Here are some other natural parks in Key West;

  • Key West Aquarium.
  • Audubon House and Tropical garden.
  • Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park.
  • Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical garden.

To-Do 6: Land Tours

When you are visiting Key West, you just can not miss Conch Tour Train. The train has been taking you to the Island City of Key West since 1958. This Conch train provides a 90-minute round of the Old Town Key West.

Here riders also can hop off and enjoy the sites; once done, they can catch another train. With a hop-on hop-off trolley tour, you can explore over 100 interesting points of Key West. With the guidance of an expert, you will be able to reveal the history of this place.

Here are some other tours you can go for.

  • Ghosts and Gravestones Tour.
  • Old town Trolley tour.
  • Food tours.
  • Key West Food, Drink, and History tour.
  • Ripley’s Museum.
  • Historic Key West Walking Tour.
  • Pedi-Cab Sightseeing Ride.
Things to do in Key West - Picture of the Key West Conch Tour Train
Tourists in Key West, Florida boarding the Conch Tour Train.

To-Do 7: Water Activities And Adventures

When you are visiting Florida, especially Key West, you Must discover the Florida Keys Backcountry, which is one of the premier wildlife preserves in North America. Hundreds of islands are scattered here among the biologically rich waters of Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

We will advise you to explore trails downwind through the mangrove islands on a paddleboard tour or a guided kayak eco-tour. Around the mangrove islands, you also can take a full or half-day tailor tour with private small charter boats.

Some other water activities are as follows.

  • Reef snorkeling.
  • Scuba diving.
  • Ultimate jet ski tour of Key West.
  • Schooner adventures.
  • Parasailing.
  • Day and overnight deep sea fishing charters.
  • Full-day scaling and water sports.
  • Glass bottom boat cruise.
  • Sunset cruises.
  • Dolphin watch and snorkel cruise.
  • Inshore fishing charters or marathon tarpon fishing charters.
  • Private boat charters.

To-Do 8: At Mallory Square, Watch The Sunset

As they say, the best things in life come free of cost. Sunset at Mallory Square is something that you should opt for every night you are in Key West. You also can experience the nightly Key West Sunset celebration, which starts two hours prior to the sunset.

Visitors across the globe come together in order to take part in the juggler, artists, food vendors, local musicians, psychics, clowns, and magicians, which combine to create a memorable experience. You also can look for sunset cruises to watch the sunset and the moon rise.

You can explore some attractive options as well; they are as follows.

  • Glass bottom sunset cruise.
  • Commotion on the ocean cruise.
  • Snorkel and sunset combo.
  • Schooner Appledore sunset cruise.

To-Do 9: Go To The Best Bars In Key West

This place is also known for some of the most iconic drinking establishments in the nation. Whether you are looking for a formal Bar Crawl Tour or any DIY, you will get more than enough options for enjoying the night and quenching your thirst.

The famous saloon, Sloppy Joe’s, was opened in 1933, 5th of December. It is also the host of the annual Hemingway Look-Alike Contest. If you do not want to take any risk, go through the reviews of the nearby bars at your place and then decide.

To-Do 10: Visit The Best Beaches In Key West

You are obviously not going to spend the entire vacation sightseeing and shopping. Spare some time to visit the beautiful beaches and relax a little. At most of the Key West beaches, snorkeling, sunbathing, and swimming is ideal.

Here we would like to mention that at public beaches, you will not find any lifeguards, so swim at your own risk. Also, do not even think about topless or nude bathing, as you will get legal charges for that.

Here is the list of beaches that are worth a visit.

  • Fort Zachary Taylor.
  • Smathers beach.
  • Dog beach.
  • Rest beach.
  • Higg’s beach.
  • South beach.
Things to do in Key West like Higgs Memorial Beach
A picture of bikes and the beach at the entrance of Clarence S. Higgs Memorial Beach in Key West, Florida.

To-Do 11: Experience The Music Scene

Once the sun goes down into the sea of Key West, the nightlife kicks up. The eclectic music scene makes sure that people with different tastes are getting at least something. You will find classic rock, country tunes, jazz, and blues.

Some bars also embrace the sing-a-long covers, which echo the album “Songs You Know By heart” by Jimmy Buffett. Here are some of the top entertainment schedules of some hot spots.

  • Sloppy Joe’s.
  • Hogs Breath.
  • Green Parrot.
  • Smoking Tuna.
A picture of Sloppy Joes Bar at night
A picture of Sloppy Joe’s Bar at nighttime in Key West, Florida.

To-Do 12: End Up With People Watch

Add other things to do in Key West for free. The best part is that it does not have any particular set hours or location. In Key West, any time is a good time for people to watch. A bite to eat or grab a drink and get a pleasant perch on Duval Street and watch the crowd of Key West.

Here is a list of some great places to hang out, enjoy great eats, grab a drink and watch the people pass by.

  • Amigos Tortilla Bar Mexican Restaurant.
  • Cork and Stogie,
  • The Bull and Whistle Bar.
  • Caroline’s Cafe.
  • Hard Rock Cafe Key West.
  • Fogarty’s and Flying Monkey’s.
  • Dante’s.
  • Rum Bar at the Speakeasy Inn.
  • Rick’s Bar.
  • Sloppy Joe’s Bar.