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Fascinating Things to do in Florida Keys

by Pankaj Upreti
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Best Things to do in Florida Keys

The Florida Keys is a coral archipelago that marks the southernmost point of Florida. Major portions of the Florida Keys are in Monroe County. There are many things to do in the Florida Keys and most of these things are related to the beach and the ocean. From scuba diving to fishing and state parks, Florida Keys has a lot to offer when it comes to taking a trip there. The Florida Keys are divided into three regions, upper, middle, and lower keys. All the 113 islands of Florida Keys are connected by a single road with will take you only three hours to drive from end to end.

This article will help you plan your trip to the Florida Keys by telling you all about the best things to do there. Keep reading below to find out about the best things to do in the keys of Florida

Bahia Honda State Park

One of the most beautiful beaches in Florida Key
Bahia Honda State Park | Photo Credit – karlnorling

One of the most beautiful beaches in Florida, the Bahia Honda State Park is home to one of the best beaches you can find in Florida. There are two separate beach areas in the Bahia Honda State Park, one is a large area facing the open ocean, and another one is a small beach area that looks across to the old railroad bridge.

The Bahia Honda State Park features great views and is over 400 acres in area. There are many things to do while you are here such as snorkeling and boat tours, camping, and picnics. You can find the Bahia Honda State Park at 36850 Overseas Highway, Big Pine Key, Florida

Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park | Photo Credit – Thomas

It lies in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and is around 70 miles from Key West. You can only access the Dry Tortugas National Park via a boat or a seaplane. Many people who visit the Dry Tortugas National Park do so as part of day trips and tours. You can take a Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip by Catamaran from Key West.

Seven beach-ringed islands make up the archipelago that is the Dry Tortugas National Park. While you are here, do take time to visit Fort Jefferson which is a massive 19th-century fortification that has its own island. One of the best things to do in the park is to snorkel and dive among the corals and seagrass. Another great attraction at the Dry Tortugas National park is the number of shipwrecks that can be easily spotted under the surface.

Popular snorkeling spots are the Historic Coaling Pier, Fort Jefferson’s moat wall, and Garden Key’s coral heads. If you have your own boat then you can explore around Loggerhead Key’s Little Africa Reef and the Windjammer Wreck and the entire of Dry Tortugas at your own pace.

Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, Key West

Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum in Key West | Photo Credit – faungg’s photos

Hemingway’s prized collection of 17th- and 18th-century Spanish furniture is the centerpiece attraction of the home and museum which also hosts a number of original pieces from his collection. This is a major attraction and many tourists come from all over the world to check out this museum.

The gardens surrounding the home are very beautiful and they are one of the main attractions in the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, Key West. The Ernest Hemingway Home’s gardens are famous not only for the many species of flora but also for the 40-plus cats that live here. These cats are all descendants of Hemingway’s original pet cats and make this garden their home. Be sure to make the best out of this Key West attraction while you are here.

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, are really great places to visit
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park | Photo Credit – faungg’s photos

The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, are really great places to visit and take day trips to. One of the best attractions in the entire state of Florida, there exists a very rich underwater life here and also a number of wrecks that attract many snorkelers and scuba divers. Complete with a small swimming area with a shell-covered beach, the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park offers many things to do but most people come here to snorkel or to engage in diving.

There are Picnic areas in the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park as well as an information center that has displays on the habitats and marine life. This can be a great educational experience that provides a fascinating insight into the ecology and life in a marine environment. You can opt for a variety of tours while you are at the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park such as the glass-bottom boat tours for a close-up look at the world beneath the ocean surface.

The longest of the Keys of Florida, Key Largo is a good introduction to the Keys lifestyle, with many marinas, tackle shops, and diving opportunities.

Mallory Square, Key West

Mallory Square | Photo Credit – Chun-Hung Eric Cheng

The Mallory Square in Old Town Key West is best known for its nightly sunset celebration. This attraction features an evening full of entertainment along with vendors that will let you party while enjoying the joyous sunsets of the Gulf of Mexico.

Performances include tightrope-walking cats and dogs on unicycles to sword swallowing and fire juggling. Enjoy hanging out at the Key West Sponge Market, a place with a museum dedicated to the sponge-harvesting industry. This industry has been an important part of the Key West locality and this museum celebrates that history that supported Key West in years past. There are several surf shops, a treasure-hunting store, and other specialty boutiques.

If you find yourself aboard the Conch Tour Train, which is a very well known attraction taking tourists on a 90-minute sightseeing tour of the Old Town. Stops include the Truval Village near Duval Street. You can deboard here and explore some of the other attractions in the area. Things to do include the Southernmost Point and the Key West Lighthouse.

Duval Street

Duval Street | Photo Credit – Dan

The Duval Street is an attraction that runs from Mallory Square to the Southernmost Point marker. You will be able to find museums, souvenir shops, galleries, and cafés on Duval Street. One of the best attractions in Florida, not only is Duval street a great place for sightseeing but known for hosting events and parades.

A great festival for you in the summer is the Hemingway Days festival. If you are here in October, then the Fantasy Fest is the party for you. Some of the most historic attractions of Key West include the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, the Southernmost House, and the former Strand Theater.

Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory | Photo Credit – Elizabeth Nicodemus

The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory is a great location and lets you observe butterflies of over 60 species swarm around in the uniquely created habitat. This attraction is housed within a glass conservatory and if you are here, then you must take time to visit the conservatory as it is one of the most educational and fun experiences you will have. This nature conservatory is also home to exotic birds of many species.

A place within the area is the Learning Center where you will be able to view a 15-minute film on the life cycle of the butterfly. You can learn a lot about butterflies while you are here using their exhibits and photographs.

Stop in at the Butterfly Gallery on your way out. View specimens and artwork, and buy yourself something from the gift shop.

National Key Deer Refuge

When you are in Big Pine Key, you will find an attraction known as the National Key Deer Refuge. The key deer is a miniature species of deer being about the size of a large dog.

The refuge has been operating since 1957 and is a sanctuary for the endangered Key deer. The Key Deer almost survived an extinction due to hunting and it was due to the efforts of this refuge that the species is still alive.

Find the Blue Water Hole, a freshwater pond located in a quarry at the Big Pine Key. Attractions to see here are turtles and alligators, so keep your camera ready.

The Turtle Hospital

Turtle Hospital | Photo Credit – amy32080

The main attraction offered in the Turtle Hospital is the turtle rehabilitation process in the form of 90 minute guided tours. You can learn a lot about turtle rehabilitation at the Turtle Hospital.

The Education Center is open daily. While taking the tour you will be able to see the sea turtle rehabilitation tanks, the hospital area, and even feed turtles that live here.

The center performs emergency rescue and medical treatment on sea turtles. The hospital has rehabilitated and released more than 1,500 turtles since 1986.

Marathon

If you are into sportfishing and find yourself in the Middle Keys, then the island of Marathon is the place for you. A commercial and sportfishing hub, you can easily arrange for trips for all sorts of sea activities such as deep-sea, reef, and flats fishing. Water sports are a major attraction here for tourists. Enjoy paddle boarding, kayaking, and jet skiing. Marathon is also home to really great beaches and offers the most delightful meals at its restaurants.

Marathon is the starting point for the seven-mile bridge that many joggers, cyclists, and walkers use for free. Some of the top Florida Keys attractions are in Marathon, like the Turtle Hospital, the Dolphin Research Center, and Aquarium Encounters. Marathon is also known to be home to some of the best resorts for couples and families

Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park

Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park | Photo Credit – rhyttinen

The Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park makes for a really great day trip. A place rife with nature, it offers protection to West Indian tropical hardwood hammock in one of the few remaining large tracts of the trees in the country. This is also a nature preserve, with lots of plants and animals here that number over 80 different species.

A famous attraction here is the endangered American crocodile. There are over 6 miles of trails that you can use for bicycles and buggies. As you hike along the trails, you will get great opportunities for bird watching and photos.

You can explore the park on your own by taking the self-guided nature trail, which is full of signs that will provide you with info on everything you come across. There is also a ranger-guided tour to learn about the park.

The Florida Keys Eco Discovery Center

Things to do in Florida Keys
Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center | Photo Credit – Art

One of the best and most enriching things to do in the Keys is to visit the Eco-Discovery Center. Being an island location, marine life and conservation play a very important role here. This place provides an educational experience that is great for family-friendly fun.

There are a lot of interactive exhibits and include tours to the only underwater research lab in the world: Aquarius. Find a reef tank filled with living corals and fishes from the tropics. The educational experience that the center provides is unmatched as it lets you learn more about the unique habitats of the surrounding areas.

This is one of the best attractions as it is completely free with no admission fee or parking charge. Make sure to make the best of it while you are here.

Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail

This Florida attraction is a 90-mile trail from Key Largo to Key West. If you are an outdoor travel enthusiast, then this is the attraction for you. You can enjoy the pleasures of walking, hiking, skateboarding, and cycling while you enjoy gorgeous views. You can even fish as there are several bridges and kayaking areas.

There are many attractions nearby such as the Everglades National Park, the Biscayne National Park, and the Crocodile Lakes National Park. Camping facilities are available when you visit this trail. Make sure to make the best use of them.

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park

Things to do in Florida Keys
Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park | Photo Credit – Matthew Dillon

The Fort Taylor was built in 1898 and remained on active duty till 1947. You can find the fort at the Southern Tip of Key West and it contains a marvelous collection of sea coast cannons from the Civil War. There are many things to do at Fort Zachary Taylor and the best among them is a beach nearby. This beach offers you the chance to swim, snorkel and use the site for a picnic.

One requirement to walk the beach is that you must have water shoes as you will be walking on coral sand. There is a tour available and you can learn more about the history of the fort and its importance in the Civil War. Find this tour at 11 each morning. There is also an aquarium on the site so do check it out before you leave.

What is Florida Keys known for?

A 120-mile long archipelago of islands that is the southernmost part of the United States.  There is a lot of stuff to do in the Florida Keys for people of all ages. The Florida Keys is an extremely popular vacation spot and people from all over the world come here for their holiday.

From fishing to scuba diving and all the main activities of an island vacation, Florida Keys is not going to disappoint you. Whatever you decide to do, from a vacation full of rest and relaxation to a full-fledged activity rife holiday, you will find that the Florida Keys will certainly have something or the other for you.

The best and most well-known islands in the Florida Keys are Key Largo, Islamorada, and Key West. Islamorada as an island is known to be the sports fishing capital of the world. People from all over come to the Keys to enjoy sports fishing. The Florida Keys is also known to be a location that offers the best opportunities in scuba diving, snorkeling, and deep-sea diving. The Florida Keys is known to offer you the chance to explore many shipwrecks.

Not only being rife with options at sea, Florida Keys is also known for a number of activities that you can do from the land. One of the most well-known activities that the Florida Keys will offer you is the chance to stargaze. The pollution-free air of Florida Keys makes it the ideal place to camp and stargaze. There are also many local art galleries and cafes in the Keys and one of the most famous places is the Sloppy Joe’s bar, known to be a favorite haunt of novelist Ernest Hemingway

What is the best Key in Florida?

Answering this question can be really problematic. All the islands in the Florida Keys have something unique to offer and while there are certain names that crop up more than others, such as Key Largo and Islamorada, it is hard to say which is the best of the Keys in Florida. However, we can list for you some of the islands we think are great for some things and some keys for others.

Key Largo

Things to do in Florida Keys
Key Largo | Photo Credit – ƝƖƇƠ ƬƖMΣ ™

When you enter the keys, just an hour away in Key Largo. There are many water activities to be enjoyed while in Key Largo. A famous location in Key Largo is John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the oldest underwater preserve in the US. With so much to do and see, Key Largo should be at the top of your list of the best things to do while touring the Keys of Florida.

Islamorada

Things to do in Florida Keys
Islamorada | Photo Credit – BLB07030

One of the most popular and famous of the Keys, Islamorada is known to be a veritable fishing spot. Sportsfishing is a major thing here and people and enthusiasts from around the world make their way to Islamorada in order to enjoy the plethora of activities it offers.

Islamorada is also a great alternative to Key West and is certainly one of, if not the most popular of the Keys. You can do a lot of stuff here from bike riding to sports fishing. The nearby Keys of Indian and Lignumvitae can be accessed from Islamorada. Find great hotels as well as a multitude of things to do at Islamorada.

Big Pine Key

Great for nature lovers, the Big Pine Key is home to a unique deer species called the whitetail deer. The island is located at the west end of the Seven Mile Bridge.

Bahia Honda

Bahia Honda is a key that is known to be a state park. If you want to stay outdoors while you are in the Keys, you should consider Bahia Honda, where you will be able to camp outside. A great spot, Bahia Honda is great for picnicking, swimming, boating, snorkeling, and more. A great location at Bahia Honda is the Sand and Sea Nature Center.

Little Torch Key

Located around 29 miles from Key West, the Little Torch Key is the best island to explore corals. Great for day trips and fishing expeditions, Little Torch Key is named for the torchwood tree. Little Torch Key is also great for couples. Go to Little Palm Island by taking a ferry and enjoy a retreat away from the grid.

Key West

Key West is one of the most famous Keys in Florida. It is known to be a party island and the southernmost city in the United States. Key West is the place where you can find Ernest Hemingway’s house as well as the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society Museum. The island of Key West is known to be a colorful place filled with lush tropical gardens and culture that drips through the multi-colored houses and classic architecture of Key West.

You can find a lot of things to do at Key West, from art galleries to restaurants, bars, and street performers such as musicians, jugglers, mimes, and food vendors. One of the best things about Key West is that the views of the sunset here are absolutely glorious. Don’t miss them while you are here at Key West.

Is Florida Keys worth visiting?

Definitely. The Florida Keys is one of the most sought after tourist destinations in the world. The weather is great and you can enjoy the warmth of Florida no matter the season. With many staying options such as hotels and inns, Florida Keys is well equipped for your vacation to Florida.

You can sightsee and enjoy watersports and fishing during the day and camp and stargaze during the night. Locals are welcoming as tourism is one of the most important industries on the Keys of Florida. A very well maintained tourist spot, the Keys of Florida are very well equipped for your Florida vacation.

What is the best island to stay on in the Florida Keys?

Key West is one of the best places to stay in the Keys of Florida. Key West is well suited for nightlife and has a number of options for you to stay at like hotels and inns. While you are staying in Key West then you must definitely enjoy the Key West sunset.

Sunset sail is a popular tourist attraction. From live music to things to see, day trip opportunities, and road trip start, Key West is one of the best islands to stay at in Florida.

How many days do you need in the Florida Keys?

The islands of Florida Keys are connected by a single road that takes around three hours to traverse. However, you can find a lot of things to while you are on the islands so you can spend a lot of time here.  A week-long vacation in the Florida Keys can be absolutely perfect as you can get enough time to get through all the activities such as snorkeling and scuba diving and more. You can also find a lot of time for sightseeing and to explore art galleries and the other attractions in the Florida Keys. At a minimum, you would need at least two to three days to visit the keys of Florida and do the best with the time you have.

We hope you enjoyed our article on the best things to do in the Keys of Florida. This vacation might be one of the best ones that you will take. There are a lot of things to do here and one of the best things about this island retreat would be the gorgeous views as well as the serene beaches. Catering to tourists from all over the world, the keys of Florida are well suited for a vacation and the locals will make you feel welcome as well as do their best for you to enjoy your stay.

In light of the COVID 19 pandemic, please be sure to take care of all the social distancing and personal hygiene norms. Keep hand sanitizers handy as you visit the keys of Florida. Be sure to plan thoroughly and take care of your belongings as well as the places you will stay at. If you take care of yourself then there is no reason for you to be that concerned about the COVID 19 pandemic and you can enjoy your vacation without any worries. Be safe and enjoy your vacation to Florida.

Please also read things to do in Florida.


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