Top 15 Attractions and Things to Do in the Florida Keys

Top 15 Attractions and Things to Do in the Florida Keys

Top 15 Attractions and Things to Do in the Florida Keys

Attractions and Things to Do in the Florida Keys – South of Miami, the Florida Keys are a chain of coral islands stretching more than 110 miles between the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.

Until a devastating hurricane in 1935, they were connected by a rail line extending to Key West, with boats to Havana, Cuba.

Today, the Florida Keys can be boldly accessed by the Engineered Overseas Highway, US 1. This spectacular scenic route runs over 42 bridges and several artificial causeways, all leading to the southeastern tip of the continental United States.

Many people immediately think of Key West when considering the best places to visit in the Florida Keys, but there is much more to see along the way.

For example, the small islands of Sands Key, Elliott Key, Cotton Key, and Old Rhodes Key, located near Biscayne Bay, are now part of the Biscayne National Underwater Park, established in 1980.

And just a short drive from Key Largo, John Pennekamp Coral Hay Reef State Park, and Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary are two popular destinations for those who enjoy outdoor activities like snorkeling and wildlife spotting.

The Florida Keys are full of wildlife, scattered beaches, beautiful resorts, and water adventure opportunities, including diving and swimming with dolphins.

Tourists can also find a lot of fascinating history here, mainly thanks to the pirates and smugglers who called the Keys home.

Plan your trip to the islands with our list of the top attractions in the Florida Keys.

  • Stroll Down Duval Street, Key West

Duval Street, which extends from Mallory Square on the Gulf Coast for a one-and-a-half mile to the southernmost point on the Atlantic, should be at the top of your must-see list in Key West.

This charming, always bustling trail is home to many museums, souvenir shops, galleries, and cafes, and a stroll can take a few hours.

It all depends on your interests, whether shopping, dining, or sightseeing, and how often you want to stop and see the many unique sights along its length.

Duval Street hosts several annual events and parades that are well worth attending, an excellent place for people-watching while sightseeing.

The most famous is the Hemingway Days Festival held every summer and the fascinating Fantasy Fest, a 10-day costume party held here in October.

Duval Street is also home to some of Key West’s most historic attractions. These include Southernmost House, St Paul’s Episcopal Church, and the East Strand Theater.

  1. Enjoy the Beach at Bahia Honda State Park, Big Pine Key

Bahia Honda State Park is undoubtedly the best beach in the Keys and one of the most beautiful beaches in Florida.

The park has two distinct beach areas: a large section that faces the open ocean and a smaller beach area that overlooks the old railroad bridge. Whichever side you choose, you won’t be disappointed with the impressive views.

The park spans nearly 400 acres and offers snorkeling adventures, boat tours, beach equipment rental, and concessions. There is a campground area as well as picnic sites.

Address: 36850 Overseas Highway, Big Pine Key, Florida

Official Site:

  • Take the Ferry to Dry Tortugas National Park

Nestled in the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico 70 miles from Key West, Dry Tortugas National Park is accessible only by boat or seaplane.

Given its remoteness, which most travelers visit as part of the trip, the Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip by catamaran from Key West is the best.

This beautiful archipelago of seven beach-bound islands is also home to Fort Jefferson, a massive 19th-century fort that takes up an island in its entirety.

The park is a favorite among snorkelers and divers for its coral and sea grass and several shipwrecks that can easily be seen beneath the surface.

The historic Colling Pier, Fort Jefferson’s Trench Wall, and Garden Key’s Coral Head are popular snorkeling spots. Those with their boat can explore Loggerhead Key around Little Africa Reef and Windjammer Wreck. (Attractions and Things to Do in the Florida Keys)

  • Location: 70 miles west of Key West, Florida
  • Official Site:
  1. Visit the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum, Key West

Located in Key West, this former home of author Ernest Hemingway is an integral part of Florida’s cultural history.

Visitors can tour the house, furnished with many original pieces, including Hemingway’s prized collection of 17th- and 18th-century Spanish furniture.

The gardens surrounding the house are also the main attraction here, which is famous for the many species of flowers and the more than 60 cats that live here.

These are all descendants of Hemingway’s original domesticated cats and are renowned for their six toes.

Address: 907 Whitehead Street, Key West, Florida

Official Site:

  • Snorkel and Swim at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo

Located just off Key Largo, the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary are home to a rich abundance of marine life and many old shipwrecks. Together, these natural and artificial features attract many snorkelers and scuba divers.

Even though most people come here to snorkel or dive, the park also has a safe, shell-covered beach with a small swimming area perfect for families traveling with young children.

An information center with picnic areas and habitats and exhibits on marine life provides a fascinating insight into the marine environment.

Various tours are available, including glass-bottom boat tours, to get a closer look at the world beneath the ocean’s surface.

The longest in the Florida Keys, Key Largo is an excellent introduction to the Keys lifestyle, with several marinas, tackle shops, and diving opportunities.

It’s also only an hour away from Miami and is an excellent place for a stopover when traveling from Miami to Key West by car. (Attractions and Things to Do in the Florida Keys)

Address: 102601 Overseas Highway, Key Largo, Florida

Official Site:

  • Entertain at Mallory Square, Key West

Located at the north end of Duval Street, Mallory Square is a lively area in Old Town Key West known for its nightly sunset festivities.

Each evening, entertainers and vendors gather to create a festive atmosphere while tourists admire the iconic sunset over the Gulf of Mexico.

Suppose you’re lucky enough to witness this unforgettable spectacle. In that case, you’ll experience an exciting mix of performances, including tight-lipped cats and dogs riding bicycles to juggle sword swallows and set fires.

Mallory Square is also home to several shops, including the Key West Sponge Market, where you can enjoy the small museum dedicated to the sponge-harvesting industry that supported Key West in years past. You’ll also find several surf shops, a treasure hunt shop, and other specialty boutiques.

Mallory Square is also the final stop on the Conch Tour train route, which takes tourists on a 90-minute sightseeing tour of the Old Town.

It features stops at Truval Village near Duval Street, where you can drop off to explore some of the area’s attractions and popular things to do. (Attractions and Things to Do in the Florida Keys)

  • Address: 400 Wall Street, Key West, Florida
  • Official Site:
  1. Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory

The Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory offers you the unique opportunity to hang out in a glass-enclosed conservatory, where nearly 60 butterflies fly freely among plant-filled habitats. Apart from butterflies, more than 20 species of exotic birds are also kept here.

You can also learn about the butterfly’s life cycle at the Learning Center, where a 15-minute educational film plays continuously. Other exhibits display a variety of butterflies, and you can see live caterpillars at all life cycle stages.

On your way out, stop at the Butterfly Gallery. You can view samples and artwork here and walk around the gift shop. (Attractions and Things to Do in the Florida Keys)

  • Address: 1316 Duval Street, Key West, Florida
  • Official Site:
  1. National Key Deer Refuge, Big Pine Key

Located between Marathon and Key West (if driving, you’ll pass right through it), Big Pine Key is home to Key Deer and the National Key Deer Refuge.

This miniature species reaches the size of a large dog when fully grown. The refuge was established in 1957 and was created as a sanctuary for the endangered Key deer, which were virtually non-existent until the 1950s due to hunting.

Also, there is a blue water hole on Big Pine Key. This freshwater pond is located in an old mine which attracts turtles and crocodiles. (Attractions and Things to Do in the Florida Keys)

  • Address: 179 Key Deer Blvd, Big Pine Key, Florida
  • Official Site:
  1. Spend Time at the Dolphin Research Center, Grassi Key

The Dolphin Research Center allows visitors to learn about Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions.

Experience different “dolphinities” during narrated sessions and watch trainers interact with dolphins. You can also take part in interactive programs that include swimming with dolphins.

Dolphin-lovers will also enjoy a tour of Island Dolphin Care on Key Largo. This facility works closely with dolphins to provide unique therapy for people with various health conditions. Tours include observing programs, dolphin watching, and a touch tank. (Attractions and Things to Do in the Florida Keys)

  • Address: 58901 Overseas Highway, Grassy Key, Florida
  • Official Site:
  1. Visit Turtle Hospital, Marathon

A visit to Turtle Hospital in Marathon will give you the unique opportunity to learn about the process of rehabilitating injured sea turtles at one of the state’s top rescue facilities.

The Education Center is open daily. Your behind-the-scenes tour and learning experience includes a 90-minute guided tour, available hourly.

Terms allow you to see sea turtle rehabilitation tanks, the hospital area and even feed permanent residents who cannot be released back into the wild.

The center provides medical treatment for sea turtles. It provides emergency rescue for turtles trapped in tropical storms and has rehabilitated and released more than 1,500 since the hospital was established in 1986. Reservations are recommended for this must-visit Florida Keys attraction. (Attractions and Things to Do in the Florida Keys)

  • Address: 2396 Overseas Highway, Marathon, Florida
  • Official Site:
  1. Explore Marathon City

The city of Marathon is the commercial and sport fishing center of the Middle Keys, and charters for deep sea, reef, and flat fishing are easily arranged from here.

Tourists enjoy the many available water sports, including paddle boarding, kayaking, jet skiing, and excellent beaches and waterfront restaurants.

The marathon is the starting point if you want to run along the Old Seven Mile Bridge. This newly restored and reopened section of the bridge was abandoned after the rail line to Key West was dismantled, and the walkway is now available for walkers, joggers, and cyclists to enjoy for free.

Marathon is also where you’ll find top Florida Keys attractions like the Turtle Hospital and Aquarium Encounter. It is also home to several top resorts that are popular with couples and families. (Attractions and Things to Do in the Florida Keys)

  1. Island Dolphin Care, Key Largo

Located in Key Largo, Island Dolphin Care is another wildlife experience you don’t want to miss. This family-friendly attraction focuses not only on the rescue and rehabilitation of these remarkable creatures but also on educating us humans about them.

Admission includes the services of a personal guide with various program options depending on your preferences and budget.

Those looking to scratch the surface can sit dockside, watch the dolphins swim, and interact with their human guardians.

You can also opt for various interactive experiences, including full-day adventures involving feeding and caring for them.

Also available and worth seeing are the raft experiences, where you swim in the dolphin pool and a unique dockside yoga experience. (Attractions and Things to Do in the Florida Keys)

  • Address: 150 Lorraine Pl, Key Largo, Florida
  • Official site:
  1. Dagney Johnson’s Largo Hammock Botanical State Park

Covering an area of ​​84 acres, Dagney Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park is a perfect place to visit in the Keys for nature lovers.

Set amidst a protected stand of rare native plant species and West Indian hardwood hammock is a six-mile network of pleasant walking trails, most of them paved and easily accessible to people in wheelchairs.

In addition to the fauna, you will enjoy seeing wildlife such as crocodiles, rare snails, and butterflies, as well as bird-life, some full-time residents, and other migratory ones.

Bring a picnic for lunch and use the sheltered pavilion, or stop to relax on one of the many well-located benches to soak up the song of the birds. (Attractions and Things to Do in the Florida Keys)

  • Address: County Road 905 and Mile Marker 106, Key Largo, Florida
  • Official site:
  1. Key West Lighthouse and Keepers Quarter

Built-in 1848, the Key West Lighthouse and Keepers Quarters were mothballed in 1969, but in recent years, they have become one of the city’s most visited (if not the tallest) attractions.

Both the lighthouse and the original keepers’ quarters have been restored precisely how they were in the 1900s.

Highlights of a visit include viewing furniture and household items, along with exhibits related to the life and work of those who have kept the lighthouse over the years.

Although a steep climb, the 88 stairs leading to the top of the building are well worth the effort for the spectacular views of Key West. (Attractions and Things to Do in the Florida Keys)

  • Address: 938 Whitehead Street, Key West, Florida
  • Official site:
  1. Key West Museum of Art and History at the Custom House

Located at the north end of Key West, just steps from Mallory Square, is one of the city’s most fascinating historic buildings: the Customs House.

Built in 1891 and used in many different municipal roles over the years, it is now home to the Key West Museum of Art and History and is a must-see.

Not only is this beautiful building a peaceful haven from the hustle and bustle around it (Duval Street is just a block away), it is full of fascinating art exhibits and exhibits related to the city’s history and people.

In addition to the shows associated with Ernest Hemingway, perhaps Key West’s most famous resident, there are exhibits relating to the history of the building, as well as Mallory Square and the Historic Naval Yard and buildings, many of which are still standing.

  • Address: 281 Front St., Naval Air Station Key West, Florida
  • Official Site:

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