Best Things to do in the Florida Keys

Whether you are going on a road trip or flying overseas, planning for everything down to the smallest details can surely help. It might give you an idea of the required budget as well as make your trip go smooth and sound. Traveling to a place that has an overwhelming amount of activities might be confusing. This is where preparing a checklist consisting of the things you want to exploit, along with researching the best prices and details will come in handy. Having a solid plan before you reach your destination will save you time. This way, you can focus more on creating those everlasting memories.

This article will assist you in creating a travel itinerary to the Florida Keys.

About the Florida Keys

The Florida Keys is a strip of tropical islands located on the south of Miami, stretching about 113 miles between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. It is connected by old bridges on the overseas highway that was once used as a trading route in the old days. Many people say that these islands were called the home of the pirates. Several shipwrecks can be found beneath the deep oceans of Florida Keys.

The Florida Keys are a well-known tropical destination for breathtaking landscapes comprising of great beaches with sparkling topaz waters. This place has a wide diversity of both terrestrial and aquatic flora and fauna. The deep and lush mangroves are thrilling to explore. The Florida Keys also offers a huge range of watersports like snorkeling, scuba diving, and swimming, etc. The rich history, architecture, cuisine, and nightlife make it an outstanding tourism destination.

Here are some of the best things to do in the Florida Keys which ought to be on your to-do list if you are planning to visit,

Areas and Popular Destinations to Remember

Key West

A cruise ship docked at the Navy Mole pier in Key West

When in Key West, you can enjoy the Duval Street, Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, Mallory Square, and Southernmost Point along with Dry Tortugas National Park.

Key Largo

canal to the pier of Key Largo harbor in the Florida Keys

When in Key Large, you can travel to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and African Queen Canal Cruise.


One of a few beaches on the Atlantic side of Islamorada

In Islamorada, you can pay a visit to the Theater of the Sea and Keys History and Discovery Center.


In the city of Marathon, you can check out the Dolphin Research Center, Turtle Hospital, and Aquarium Encounters.

Big Pine Key

Bahia Honda Florida Keys beach

In Big Pine Key, you can visit Bahia Honda State Park and National Key Deer Refuge.

Want to know more about these admired tourist spots in the Florida Keys? Check out our article on the Best Tourist Attractions in the Florida Keys.

Things to Do

Now that you have become familiar with the most popular areas, here are some paid as well as free things you can enjoy once you arrive at the Florida Keys. Considering the innumerable things you can do, here are just a few of those many things that will be worthwhile and able to achieve even on a short trip.


letters of the world Explore

The Florida Keys, undoubtedly, has an abundance of adventurous things to do. After you arrive, we recommend leaving your bags at the hotel and stepping out to explore the city you are in at the moment. The best way to explore is by starting from Key Largo to the Key West. Start by going to places near you and try to keep an open mind while trying new things.

After exploring the bits near you, step out to more popular places in the area and try to walk as much as you can. This way, you won’t miss out on any details and hidden gems.

Water Sports

a person kayaking

Comprising mostly of islands and beaches, there’s no surprise that the most common activity you can do in the Florida Keys is water sports. You can start by paddle boarding and kayaking your way through the lush mangroves located in Key Largo and then have a jetpack water fight in the ocean at Marathon. Try snorkeling or scuba diving to see the underwater wildlife and shipwrecks at Key West.

Other water sports that you can enjoy are parasailing, jet skiing, surfing, swimming, wakeboarding, etc. Fishing in Islamorada is also an in-demand water sport.

Bus and Bike Tours

a group of people on a bike tour

The easiest, most convenient and economical way to visit all the popular spots in a city is by using a tour bus. It can be a great model to learn more about the city as there are mostly tour guides present on these buses. The best bus tours that will help you explore the Key West area are Day Tours from Miami to Key West, Duval Loop Bus, and the Key West Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley Tour.

Other than buses, if you want to engage in a healthier and more active commute, the Key Lime Bike Tours can help you rent bikes, taking you around the city to probably every worthy destination that is on your checklist.

Boat Tours

a cruise ship docked

If you’re not riding a boat during your trip, you are definitely missing out on some good stuff. Being surrounded by water, it is pretty obvious that boats are very popular around the Florida Keys area. From boat sailing to the middle of the ocean to witness the glorious sunsets, you can hop on to the ferry rides along with cruises that are worth every penny.

Start your boat tour by going on the African Queen for a relaxing canal cruise in Key Largo. This can be followed by a ferry or seaplane ride to the Dry Tortugas National Park from where you can further rent boats to explore Fort Jefferson and nearby areas like the famous shipwreck and lighthouse. The Open Boat Tours are a great way to see the wildlife under the ocean if you are not much into snorkeling.

Park Visits and Wild Life

picture of a dolphin

There is a variety of wildlife, both aquatic and terrestrial, that can be discovered in the Florida Keys. This, in particular, is an enjoyable activity for kids as they can learn more about these animals as they interact with them. If you are interested in birds, the Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary and the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory is the place to visit. You can also feed a fish named tarpon at Robbie’s Marina in Islamorada.

Activities involving dolphins can be done at the Dolphin Research Center, from taking pictures to swimming with them, anything is possible. Pay a visit to the Turtle Hospital and National Key Deer Refuge afterward. It is a great illuminating and calming experience for both adults and children.


A float during the 2007 Fantasy Fest parade

Duval Street is also the home to festivals like Fantasy Fest, which includes different themes each year and a parade with huge floats and people dressed up in costumes. There are also a lot of other family-friendly events and activities like music festivals, seafood festivals, and children’s day celebrations, etc. that you can enjoy to the fullest.


sunset at Mallory Square

Every day at Mallory Square, people, along with food vendors, gather around to see the golden sunset. And as the sun fades into an orange-pink sky, street performers gather around to put up a show and create this extravagant atmosphere. It is a thing that should be on your bucket list because who doesn’t like to enjoy a beautiful evening with good food and a warm atmosphere?

Picnics and Camping

camping on the beach

Almost all the beaches have a separate camping and picnic site with many facilities. Little Duck Key in Lower Keys is the best picnic spot for families, and it also has a pet-friendly environment and facilities. The islands of Lower Keys are an excellent choice for camping and optimal for night sky viewing. And yes, don’t forget to bring your camping or picnic supplies to save up on money.


Seafood platter

Good food makes a good trip. Starting it straight with the drinks, there are many breweries in this area, so trying a local beer is integral. The beers come in many different flavors, so don’t be shy to try samples and find the one you like most. Try having a key lime pie for breakfast. Give the Hogfish a try if you see it on the menu along with the Lobster Reuben and Conch Fritters. In the end, don’t forget the 72-hour marinated short ribs at Spencer’s by the Sea.


Concrete marker near the “Southernmost Point in the continental United States”

The Southernmost Point in the Continental USA is a place where you need to take a picture. It represents your trip to the Key West. It is a colorful concrete buoy, which is quite popular among tourists.


Tourists visiting the Hemingway House in Key West

If you are into scuba diving, visiting the History of Diving Museum should be on the top of your bucket list. There, you can see beautiful diving equipment from all around the world. Another popular place is the Ernest Hemingway House, which has it all from architecture, history, a beautiful garden, and quite a few cats. This place is bound to spark your interest. Also, you should go on a walk-through tour of the historic Key West cemetery to see great sites and architecture.


female slippers and cap on a beach

Despite how many beaches you have visited in the past, walking on the white sand at the Bahia Honda State Park, next to the glistening turquoise water, will leave you amazeballs at the prepossessing sight and landscapes.


a theater with red seats

If you have some extra time or if you love to see artists performing, going to the Red Barn Theater to see a show can be a refreshing happening. You can also enjoy comedy shows and drag shows at different community theaters in different cities.

Exotic Things

A cigar with a cup of coffee

These are just some fun and sublime things that you should try. First is spending a night or day at the Jules Undersea Lodge. It is 21 feet below the surface, and you have to dive to get there. But it does have amenities and large windows so you’ll be able to stay there comfortably and see the fish go by. Second is visiting the Rain Barrel Artisans Village and buying some good souvenirs. Lastly, Key West is also popular for its hand-rolled cigars, and we recommend you to be adventurous and give it a try (if you don’t have a problem with smoking).

For more information, check out our article on A Travel Guide to the Florida Keys.

Final Verdict

The Florida Keys is an exceptional vacation spot with plenty of amusing activities. Planning earlier on and enjoying to the fullest in numerous activities will give you a positive experience. The best things to do in the Florida Keys have been summed up for you in this article. The only precaution you should take is checking the weather before you go.