Are you looking for a destination with a Caribbean feel in the United States that has a lot of activities? Look no further than Key West, Florida! There are a variety of free activities, parks, beaches and sights to see in Key West so you won’t be short on things to do.
There is public transportation, taxis, pedi-cabs, tour trains, trolleys, or you can walk to get around Key West. You can even rent a bicycle, golf cart or scooter/motor bike for a day or your entire stay. The following is information for a free option and a paid tour:
- Key West’s free hop-on, hop-off Duval Loop city-operated bus. The route currently includes 18 stops near Key West attractions, hotels, museums, boutiques and eateries. Duval Loop’s pink & blue buses run every 15 minutes from 10 a.m. to midnight and every 30 minutes from 6 to 10 a.m.
- The World Famous Conch Tour Train in Key West has been around since 1958. It runs daily from 10:15 am-5:15 pm (closed the last Saturday in October for Fantasy Fest) All schedules are subject to change. The Conch Train gives you a tour of all of Key West’s best attractions. You will need to purchase a ticket for the tour. It makes a stop at Station Depot, Truval Village, and the Sails to Rails Museum. You can get off at the second stop to see the historic sights and catch a later train.
Key West is closer to Cuba than to Miami, Florida. Visitors can check out the Southernmost Point buoy at the corner of South and Whitehead Streets. It was put in its place by the city of Key West in 1983. It marks 90 miles from Cuba. Sometimes, a line of people forms to get their picture taken at the buoy.
Duval Street is the most popular street in Key West with its many bars, restaurants, and stores. The Oldest House Museum is the oldest house in South Florida and is located on Duval. You can also visit Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory.
Hungry? Try Sloppy Joe’s or Margaritaville for some great food and drinks. At the north end of Duval Street is Mallory Square, where everyone gathers nightly for a sunset celebration. There are tightrope walkers, jugglers, and animal acts performing as the sun sets into the Gulf of Mexico. The Key West Aquarium can also be found in Mallory Square. You can get up close and personal with many of the incredible creatures found in the Florida Keys.
Key Lime Pie
No trip to the Florida Keys would be complete without having Key Lime Pie. You will find all kinds of variations of Key Lime Pie throughout the Keys – original, fried, frozen on a stick and dipped in chocolate, and more. We personally love Blue Heaven for their Key Lime Pie and it’s also where Kenny Chesney flew his grandmother in for the day for some Key Lime Pie. Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe, Key West Key Lime Pie Co., and several others are great options too.
Key West Museums
How would you like to see real treasure that divers have brought up from the water? Visit Mel Fisher Maritime Museum and check out the centuries-old treasure of Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha. The museum opens at 10am Tuesday through Sunday with the last ticket sold each day at 4pm. The museum is a nationally recognized research and archaeology institution. My family really enjoyed this museum. It’s really neat to see! There is an admission fee.
Beaches to Visit
There are a few beaches in Key West that you can visit. I do suggest water shoes due to how rocky it is walking in the water.
- Higgs Beach is a small beach with a pier as well as monuments documenting the site of a 1800s African slave cemetery. There are restrooms and beach chair rentals.
- Smathers Beach is the largest public beach in Key West at a half mile long. Beach rentals are available.
- Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park Beach at the end of Southard Street is good for swimming, snorkeling, and fishing. It is open 365 days a year from 8am until sundown. The fort closes at 5pm. The entrance fee varies for vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, single-occupant vehicles or motorcycles. There is a rental hut and also picnic tables.
- Fort Taylor predates the Civil War and is a National Historic Monument. It contains the largest cache of Civil War armament in the world. This park is also the southernmost state park in the continental United States. There are restrooms, a shower station, concession and restaurant, nature trail, and canoe kayak launch. You can also visit the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ingham Maritime Museum close by at Truman Waterfront.
There are plenty of places that offer rentals for exploring in the water whether it be by kayak, jet ski, stand up paddle board, boat, snorkeling, or scuba diving. Some places also offer guided tours. We like using our kayaks around the mangroves and my husband enjoys fishing from his kayak. Our son and his friend had a great time on kayaks in the canals and out on the open water.
Other Museums and Activities
- Visit the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum (there is a charge to enter). Many cats roam the property and are believed to be descendants of a white six-toed cat named Snow White, which Hemmingway was given by a ship’s captain.
- Across the street is Key West Lighthouse Museum, a historical site built in 1847. There are 88 steps to the top of the light that you can walk up. You can also view the belongings, photographs, and words of the lighthouse Keepers and their families.
- Take a tour of Harry S. Truman Little White House. This is the home of former President Truman that has been turned into a museum. There is a VIP White Glove Tour that gives behind the scenes access and even a ride in President Truman’s 1949 Lincoln Cosmopolitan Limousine.
- At Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Gardens you can walk the paths to check out the tropical forest, garden, and special exhibits on the 15 acres. There is an admission fee.
- The #1 rated Key West Day Trip is a trip to Dry Tortugas National Park and Fort Jefferson Ferry. Take the high-speed catamaran 70 miles from Key West to the park. There is snorkeling, bird watching, pristine beaches and tours of Fort Jefferson. There is a cost for tickets and reservations can be made up to six months in advance.
These are just a few of the many activities available in Key West. There is so much more to see and do for everyone! Key West is a beautiful place whether you want to relax, explore, or shop. We first visited over 12 years ago and fell in love. Now, I have my sister’s family and our parents in love with Key West too!
If you want to explore further, you can rent a car and drive north to the other popular towns of the Florida Keys – Marathon, Islamorada, Key Largo, etc. There is so much to do in all of the Florida Keys that you will want to make several trips! A couple of our personal favorite things in Marathon are visiting the Turtle Hospital and Dolphin Research Center.
If you are interested in a trip to Key West or Florida Keys in general, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or any of our Journey Planners at Embrace The Journey Travel.
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