Things To Do And Explore In Key West

Key West is a beautiful island in South Florida, located at the end of the famous Florida Keys.

From awesome state parks and kayaking adventures to sunset sailing and pub crawls – there really is something for everyone!

I recently moved to Key West for four months and had the time of my life. But if you’ve never been there, I know it can be a little overwhelming to figure out what to do in this beautiful place.

To help you plan your trip, I’ve put together this list of my favorite things to do for new visitors and locals.

Key West is truly one of the best places to visit in Florida and a top destination in January.

Whether you want an active day out or a relaxing day out, these are some of the best attractions Key West has to offer so you can experience all that life has in store for you at the southernmost point of the continental United States.

If you’re visiting Key West anytime soon, I recommend you check out this guide on what to pack for Key West.

Here is a list of the top 15 things to do in Key West, Florida.

1. Visit the Fort Zachary Taylor State Historic Site

Fort Zachary Taylor State Park is a great place to be outdoors on a sunny day in this tropical paradise.

The park has excellent trails, both for walking and cycling, and a historic fortress.

The historic fort itself is located on the Key West waterfront, just off Southard Street. Founded in 1866, it was built with the aim of protecting the Southern docks from potential invaders during the civil war that was raging at that time.

Although no shots were fired here, there are many cannons on display, as well as a few other pieces of history that you can see inside.

Another interesting thing to know about Fort Zachary Taylor State Park is that it is considered a great snorkeling spot and one of the best beaches in Key West.

The water at Fort Zachary Beach is crystal clear and marine life is very interesting to observe. If you are looking for a relaxing day at the beach, this is the place to go.

2. Discover the local art scene

The local art scene in Key West’s Old Town is thriving, with plenty of galleries and studios to explore.

Walk down Whitehead Street or Duval Street to discover the works of local artists, from painters, photographers and sculptors to Potters in traditional and modern styles.

The best part is that most of these artists often create artwork inspired by the island that makes for great souvenirs to take home.

Some of Key West’s most famous artists are well represented here in their own studios, but there are also several small galleries that have excellent works to enjoy and buy.

Expert Tip: The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory gift shop sells great Key West-inspired artwork at a reasonable price. They even send the parts to your home when you need them.

3. Paddle through the mangroves on an Eco-kayak adventure

The ecological landscapes of mangroves are full of plants, birds, fish and animals that are found only in these habitats. These protected areas are known as nurseries for many marine species.

The mangroves near Key West are some of the most protected in Florida, and a kayak tour is a great way to get up close. You might even be lucky enough to see a manatee or two.

Take a look at this affordable kayak tour that lasts about 2 hours and includes an expert guide, equipment, safety briefings and is even dog friendly!

If you prefer to spend a little more time on the water, this beloved day trip takes about 6 hours-but first you will be swept away to clear water in a catamaran! After reaching the beautiful place, start your paddle excursion. Search from your kayak for dolphins, stingrays, turtles and manatees.

4. Enjoy fresh seafood at one of the many restaurants

Try a fresh seafood dish along Duval Street accompanied by a Key West cocktail.

From fish to conch, you’re sure to find everything the water has to offer in the island’s many great restaurants, so be sure to try some of the local catches.

Some of Key West’s most traditional seafood includes all things conch, such as conch salad, conch fritters, conch chowder, and cracked conch. Plus, you can even try a conch margarita! It tastes better than it looks, believe me.

If you’re more of the lobster type, try a Key West lobster roll or a lobster bisque. I am absolutely sure that you will love it.

Some of the restaurants I recommend on Duval Street are DJ’s Clam Shack, Bagatelle, Caroline’s Cafe and Ocean Grill and bar.

5. Take a sunset cruise

Key West has some of the best navigable waters in America, making it a true paradise for all outdoor enthusiasts.

Embark on a sunset cruise as you see endless shades of purple, pink, orange and red scattered across the sky. My favorite thing about Key West sunset cruises is that they always have good food and an open bar. And when I went there, the crew was fantastic.

Check out this sunset sail on a 70-foot catamaran. The journey takes about 2 hours and includes excellent appetizers, plonk, sparkling plonk, freshly made sangria and beer. This sunset trip is an excellent value. More information can be found here.

Maybe you prefer to sail to sunset on a real sailboat? This small group tour takes about 2 hours and includes 8 different plonk tastings or 5 different beers. In addition, a selection of gourmet cheeses, cold cuts, crackers, fruits and much more. Read more about the trip here.

6. Visit unique Bars and Restaurants

Key West has many great bars and restaurants to visit, especially those around Old Town Key West.

Choose from a variety of dive bars, sports bars and nightclubs where you can dance the night away or just relax with friends over an important lime mojito.

Stop at Blue Heaven for a meal of world-famous conch fritters, then head to Captain Tony’s Saloon on the same block for live music that will keep you buzzing deep into the night.

Afterwards, head to the famous Green Parrot Bar, one of the oldest bars in America, to end the night on a golden note.

7. Watch a movie

Located in the heart of Key West Old Town, The Tropic Film is one of only two indoor theaters in Monroe County.

The Film opened in 2004 and aims to offer quality films to people who aspire to something more than Hollywood blockbusters — with plush chairs and a concession that includes beer, plonk and popcorn with real butter, it’s a great place to beat the heat!

If you live in Key West, this is the perfect place to see independent movies, classics, and unique shows. In keeping with the neighborhood, the theater has a must-see aqua blue Art Deco facade, a Marilyn Monroe sculpture and a Hollywood Walk of Fame, with a twist.

8. Try the lime pie

Mallory Square Dock is a must-see for foodie travelers when visiting Key West.

On the waterfront square, sunset takes place every evening with an open-air market full of local artists selling delicious products and dishes, such as the traditional lime pie.

Lime pie was invented in the Florida Keys and is the most traditional dessert on the island, so you can’t leave Key West without trying it.

If you’ve already had your share of the classic pie, try the chocolate-dipped lime pie or even the lime pie on a stick (my favorite).

Another option is to combine a little exercise with a piece of cake. On this leisurely Key West bike tour, you’ll learn all about Key West’s history, while taking photos and taking in the views — at the end, enjoy a slice of lime pie! More information can be found here.

9. Attending a Drag show

Drag shows are a Key West Classic! They often have some of the most talented performers in a fun bar atmosphere that you have to see to believe. Discover the Bourbon St pub. and the Parade lounge.

The Bourbon Street singers perform every Friday and Saturday night and let you have a very pleasant time! They always create unique and hilarious interpretations of popular songs that everyone knows.

In addition, to make the evenings even more fun, the pub hosts special drinks every night and has an impressive dance floor with loud music to get you into the groove. More information can be found here.

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