Things to do in Key West

The southernmost point of the Florida Keys combines sun, sea, scenic nature, and even some Ernest Hemingway.

Our most recommended things to do in Key West

Key West: Sunset Sailing Trip with Open Bar, Food and Music

1. Key West: Sunset Sailing Trip with Open Bar, Food and Music

Join a sailing experience to get you closer to the sunset than ever before. Set sail from the historic sea port of Key West and head straight out to sea for a cruise with unobstructed views of the sunset on the horizon. During the cruise, enjoy an unlimited open bar, with a wide variety of drinks on offer including rum runners, Champagne, margaritas, and draft beer. Taste a selection of finger foods, ranging from Swedish meatballs, veggie treats, cheese and crackers, pita and hummus, and meat and veggie platters. You will be sailing on one of Key West's newest sailing catamarans, the Sandie Cat. This vessel has capacity for up to 149 passengers across 3 decks, so there will always be plenty of room onboard. Grab a drink, head to the upper deck, and dance to live music as you watch the sun go down. The captain and crew will even let you help raise the sails and you can ask to have a picture taken driving the boat.

Key West: Dolphin Watching and Snorkeling Eco Cruise Tour

2. Key West: Dolphin Watching and Snorkeling Eco Cruise Tour

Enjoy a dolphin-watching cruise in Key West. Snorkel in the Key West Wildlife Refuge, see playful bottlenose dolphins, and enjoy a cold beer or wine as you cruise. Climb aboard a fast catamaran and head out into the Gulf. As you cruise, see the grace and beauty of the resident Key West dolphins in the shimmering turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Look for bottlenose dolphins as they swim, play, and feed. Then, head to the Key West Wildlife Refuge to snorkel in the shallow backcountry waters. Relax in the knowledge that your tour has the prestigious “Dolphin SMART” certification, a national program created by conservation agencies, that protects and promotes the responsible observance of dolphins. Begin your ride back to the dock, and enjoy a complimentary cold beer and chilled wine. Opt for the sunset tour and experience the world-famous Key West sunset as a bonus.

Miami: Day Trip to Key West with Optional Activities

3. Miami: Day Trip to Key West with Optional Activities

Get ready for fun in the sun on a day trip from Miami to Key West. Choose to take a glass bottom boat cruise through a maze of mangrove-canopied canals and streams, parasail on the coast, ride a conch train, or jump into the water for a snorkeling session above a coral reef with diverse marine life. Start your day on an air-conditioned bus from Miami Beach to Key West with a 4-hour drive. Watch as your tour guide points out the famous 31 Caribbean Islands along the drive known as the Florida Keys. Cross 43 bridges as you travel through the Keys to Key West. See the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico while driving by the coastline. Key West is the most southern point of the USA and only 90 miles from Cuba. Once you arrive in Key West, get 6 hours to explore the island at a leisurely pace, stroll the artistic streets, or relax at outdoor cafes and restaurants. Upgrade your day trip by choosing an option that includes one of the following inclusions: - Hop-on Hop-off Conch Train All-Day Ticket. This 70-minute narrated tour around Key West is one of Florida’s Top attractions, covers over 100 points of interest, and includes 4 Hop-on Hop-off stops around town. - A 3-hour snorkeling adventure at North America’s only living coral reef. Travel on a state-of-the-art Catamaran, receive professional instruction, use top-of-the-line snorkel gear, and enjoy an open bar on the way back (including sodas beer, wine, champagne, margaritas, well-mixed drinks)  - A 2-hour cruise on a glass-bottom boat where you can witness the wonders of North America’s only living coral reef, maybe spotting sea turtles and rays. Fun for all the family, you also get great views of Key West from the sea. - A 12-15 minute parasail off the coast of Key West on a 1-hour parasailing adventure. Enjoy the tropical vibe of the Keys as you are helped into your parasail harness, before being slowly raised in the air, until you are flying high above Key West. Make your way back from Key West to Miami Beach at 5:00 PM.

Key West: 3-Hour Coral Reef Snorkeling

4. Key West: 3-Hour Coral Reef Snorkeling

Spend your morning or afternoon snorkeling in warm tropical seas surrounded by colorful fish. Enjoy expert instruction and learn about the reef’s marine wildlife from the professional crew. Your captain will select the exact location based on water and wind conditions, to give you best snorkeling in Key West. Dive into the calm waters, and see how many species of fish and coral you can find. Afterwards, grab a complimentary drink and lay on the sun deck, or cool off in the shade as you sail back to Key West. Feel the breeze in your hair and watch for dolphins playing in the ship’s wake.

Key West: Sunset Party Cruise by Catamaran

5. Key West: Sunset Party Cruise by Catamaran

Climb aboard a party catamaran and sail across the ocean waves on a sunset cruise from Key West. Get ready to dance the night away and cause a commotion on the ocean! Enjoy free hot an cold snacks, including a fresh vegetable platter with hummus and a smoked fish dip with pita chips. Listen to live music as you sip margaritas and wine. Quench your thirst with a cold beer and leave your worries behind as you sail into the sunset. Relax aboard the spacious state-of-the-art catamaran as you cruise the tropical waters. Feel the warm ocean breeze on your face and toast the night with a glass of champagne. Dance to the sounds of your favorite musicians as the sun slowly sets across the sea.

Key West: 2-Hour Sunset Sail on Schooner America 2.0

6. Key West: 2-Hour Sunset Sail on Schooner America 2.0

Take in the vibrant colors of Key West's fabulous sunset as you glide through the waters on one of the finest boats in the Key West Schooner Fleet. Watch the sun fade into the horizon and the stars emerge into the deep blue sky. America 2.0 features teak decks, mahogany-trimmings, and 3,600 square feet of canvas! Sit back and relax while she plies effortlessly through the crystal-clear waters off Key West, heading towards the horizon for the quintessential Florida sunset experience! Some of the sights on this sailing adventure include a view of Fort Zachary Taylor from the water, and views of the famed Sand Key Reef, Mallory Square, and Sunset Pier. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife such as dolphins, sea turtles, and water birds – and for the famous Key West "Green Flash" at sunset. Bring your family or friends and join the courteous and professional crew for this sunset sail that completes the Key West experience in comfort and elegance.

Florida Keys: Dockside Dolphin Experience

7. Florida Keys: Dockside Dolphin Experience

Feed, play and interact with real-life dolphins. This program is perfect for families with young children that don’t mind getting splashed but aren’t ready to be in the water with these friendly faces. The dolphins will be ready to greet you dockside. Prior to meeting the beloved mammals, you’ll get a brief educational session on the world of dolphins, conservation, and a mini demonstration on proper hand placements for each kind of dolphin behavior. Next, feed and play with dolphins from the dry training docks. Guests will also get the opportunity to have some fun playtime interaction, which can be semi-customized to better enhance each guest or group. You’ll even have your own talented photographers capturing your experience throughout the program.

Key West: Sandbar Excursion & Kayak Tour with Lunch & Drinks

8. Key West: Sandbar Excursion & Kayak Tour with Lunch & Drinks

Explore Key West’s Florida Marine Sanctuary on a sandbar and kayak eco-adventure. Hop on a boat and cruise through the crystalline waters of the Atlantic Ocean as you head toward the marine sanctuary. Be on the lookout for dolphins and sea turtles, participate in water activities, and savor lunch with unlimited drinks. Start with a guided kayak tour through the mangrove islands, exploring the local marine wildlife and mangroves. See as much local wildlife as possible with 500 marine species in the area. Next, venture further into the wildlife sanctuary to a secluded sandbar. Select your lunch with options such as fresh local Cuban sandwiches, fried chicken tenders, veggie wraps, fruit and veggie trays, cheese and cracker platters, and pita and hummus platters. Take advantage of unlimited draft beer, wine, and soft drinks that will be available after lunch. At the sandbar, you'll have the chance to either explore with a paddleboard or kayak, go snorkeling, or just sit back and relax while you grab a drink in the secluded oasis.

Key West: Glass-Bottom Boat Reef Eco-Tour

9. Key West: Glass-Bottom Boat Reef Eco-Tour

Explore dramatic underwater vistas generally reserved for scuba divers from a glass-bottom boat. You will have the opportunity to see North America’s only living coral reef, one of the most biologically diverse marine ecosystems in the world. Along the trip, an experienced captain and crew will provide a unique and informative eco-tour and point out some of the most interesting marine life that inhabit the waters of this incredible island. The special glass, a “window to the reef”, provides continuous viewing for all passengers. The Glass Bottom Boat offers a seated sun deck and air-conditioned, enclosed viewing area as well as restrooms and a snack bar. The catamaran’s twin hull design allows for maximum stability. The boat is designed to allow maximum viewing with minimum stress to the delicate reef.

From Miami: Key West Tour with Water Sports Activities

10. From Miami: Key West Tour with Water Sports Activities

Join this exciting and varied excursion to the southernmost point of Florida. Travel to amazing landmarks like the Overseas Highway 1 and unwind on the warm shores of Key West. After pickup at your hotel in Miami Beach, head to Key Largo, Key West, and then to the magnificent Overseas Highway 1. Cross famous bridges, including the Seven Mile Bridge. If you don't wish to have hotel pickup, start your adventure in Key West. Arrive at Key West before noon and enjoy free time to explore the city on your own. See the Caribbean town that was once the adopted home of writer Ernest Hemingway. Visit his favorite bar, “Sloppy Joes,” or the old Victorian house where he once lived. Travel to the buoy marking the southernmost point of the USA, just 145 kilometers from Cuba. On your way back to Miami Beach, experience the unique atmosphere of the Overseas Highway 1. Choose to take a glass-bottom boat trip where you'll see the reef and observe the diverse underwater world of the Florida Keys. Alternatively, take a dolphin-watching boat trip and admire the playful animals up close in their natural habitat. Then, put on your diving equipment and snorkel in the vibrant coral reef.

Frequently asked questions about Key West

What top attractions are a must-see in Key West?

What are the most popular museums and exhibitions in Key West?

Insider tips: Planning a trip to Key West

Former home to Ernest Hemingway and forever home to some of the most beautiful sunsets in Florida, visiting Key West is a real treat. Getting to the southern-most point in the United States can take some time, so we've enlisted the help of travel experts The Planet D to help you make the most of your time. Read our tips below for your next trip to Key West.

What should I do on my first trip to Key West?

First-time visitors to Key West should head down to Mallory Square for sunset. It really sets the tone and vibe for a Key West vacation. Mallory Square is filled with street performers, views of the Harbour, and a lot of energy and excitement. There are many top Key West attractions near Mallory Square, so go early to see the Maritime Museum, Key West Shipwreck, and Treasure Museum and see the sculpture garden showcasing historical figures from the area.

What are some hidden gems to see in Key West?

When in Key West, take a trip to the Dry Tortugas National Park. Located 70 miles (113 km) away, Fort Jefferson was a military fort used to defend during the Spanish American War from 1846 to 1876. You can stay over and camp on Garden Key and it has beautiful white-sand beaches. Make sure to go kayaking to the Key West Wildlife Refuge. It is one of the oldest wildlife refuges in the United States, where you will paddle through mangrove forests in search of wildlife.

How much time should I spend in Key West?

When planning a trip to Key West, we suggest spending at least three nights. Five days in Key West is ideal giving enough time to spend a day or two on the water to see the Dry Tortugas and Wildlife Refuge. Two days are good to see the historic monuments and top attractions and then you will want to spend a day at the beach or enjoying your hotel.

What food is Key West known for?

Key West is famous for its Key Lime Pie. You cannot miss eating this refreshing dessert. Made with Florida Key Limes and condensed milk on a graham cracker crust, this treat is served all over Key West. One of the most famous places to grab a slice is at Kermits. Key West is also known for Conch. (pronounced Conk) Conch is the meat that comes from those large beautiful seashells. You can order conch fritter, conch chowder, cracked conch, and conch sandwiches. No trip to Key West would be complete without enjoying these two staples.

What neighborhood should I stay in when I visit Key West?

We’ve stayed both downtown on Duval Street at the Crown Plaza in the heart of the action and out farther out on a quiet resort. It depends on what experience you want in Key West. Duval Street keeps you close to the party and within walking distance to many of the top attractions in Key West. If you want a quieter place to stay on the outskirts of town.

What is the best way to get around Key West?

It’s easy to walk to many of the sites in Key West around Mallory Square and Duval Street. To see some of the other sites, hop on a trolley tour or take the hop on hop off bus. The Conch Train is also one of the most popular attractions and it takes you around to all of the top places to visit. Another great way to get around is to rent a bike and have the freedom to cover a lot of ground independently.

What are the best months to visit Key West?

The high season in Key West is from the end of November to the end of February. This is when you’ll find the most crowds and the highest prices. A good time to visit is from March to May for more affordable hotel rates but the weather is comfortable and not too hot. October is a fun time to visit as well when Key West is gearing up for Fantasy Fest at the end of the month.

What are the best neighborhoods for shopping?

The Key West streets are filled with shops and you’ll find some of the best shops in Old Town, Duval Street, and the Shops at Mallory Square.

What is the best family-friendly thing to do in Key West?

Everyone will love riding the Conch Train around the island showcasing the top sites in Key West. With an engineer telling tales about the history and culture of the island, it’s a fun and informative tour. The Key West Butterfly Conservatory is a good choice for families to walk among hundreds of butterflies and birds in a tropical rainforest environment.

What is the best thing to do for solo travelers in Key West?

The best thing for solo travelers in Key West is to join a Duval Street pub crawl. This is a great way to meet people and go out on the town in a safe environment. Another great way to meet people is to join a party cruise or waterspouts adventure tour where you can spend the day on the water going kayaking, jet skiing, and parasailing. Or try one of the popular tours like the Rum and Reggae snorkeling tour. You’ll have the opportunity to get in the water on a tour, make new friends and enjoy a cocktail or two.

What is the best thing to do in Key West for couples?

The best thing for couples to do in Key West is to join a sunset cruise on a schooner or catamaran. What could be more romantic? Well, a romantic candlelit dinner at Sunset Key could be more romantic. Make a reservation and take the shuttle boat from Key West to Sunset Key for the best view in town.

What are the best annual events in Key West?

Fantasy Fest is by far the most original annual event that happens in Key West. Taking place at the end of October each year, it is a 10 day festival for adults with parades, partying, and elaborate costumes. Hemingway Days is an annual event in July that celebrates the life of Ernest Hemingway who called Key West home for eight years.

What are the best areas for outdoor activities?

The best places to enjoy outdoor activities in Key West is the Key West Wildlife Refuge for snorkeling, dolphin spotting, and birdwatching. John Pennekamp State Park is the only living reef in the United States and is popular for snorkeling and scuba diving. And Dry Tortugas National Park is good for camping, swimming, and snorkeling.

What are the best beaches in Key West?

Fort Zachary Taylor Beach is one of the best beaches in Key West. Located in the State Park there is an entrance fee, but it is a great combination of beach life and a walk-through history at Fort Zachary Taylor. Smather’s Beach is the longest beach in Key West with 2 miles of white sandy beaches where you can rent beach chairs. Dry Tortugas has a picture-perfect white sandy beach that is completely deserted. And Higgs Beach is another great beach in Old Town that has a long wooden pier.

Other Sightseeing Options in Key West

Want to discover all there is to do in Key West? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Key West

Overall rating

4.3 / 5

based on 3,799 reviews

Fantastic day out on the water with an opportunity to explore mangroves on kayaks (2 person) or just chill on the boat. Crew was extremely helpful in assisting us with a wheelchair user and an older family member allowing them to experience the water as well (not kayaks) One thing to note is water was a bit deeper than we were expecting (ranging from thigh high to waist high approximately) and also with a current. Not problematic, just something to be aware of, likely tide related. A bit of a challenge to get back up boat stairs as water level got higher, if you have physical limitations you may need an assist. Not intended for snorkeling, just a fun spot to swim and hang out. It was a very clean and well equipped boat, great food (vegetarian options provided) and plentiful drinks and an excellent crew. Bring $ for tips or use Venmo/cash app, they all worked very hard to make it a great inclusive experience for everyone regardless of age or abilities. Definitely will do this again!

Very personable and knowledgeable guide - Chris. Excellent choice of restaurants; delicious food. Great hospitality and service. Only suggestion: End the tour in an air conditioned location that participants can cool off and chill out after the tour is over.

Jim was our Guide for the night. Very knowledgeable of the area. Doll was named after me, thought that was coincidental. Stay off the elevator at one hotel, don't drink too much wine, are safe recommendations for all. Enjoyed!

America 2.0 is beautifully kept and the crew was fantastic. We met some great people, enjoyed the snacks and beverages, and captured an amazing sunset.

Amazing day, everything was so wonderful from start to finish