Florida Keys Bucket List: Amazing Places to Visit in the Florida Keys
Located south of Miami, the Florida Keys are a series of coral islands stretching over 110 miles between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. The islands vary in size, and each is packed with an abundance of activities, making them some of the most popular vacation spots in Florida.
A few of the main attractions in the Florida Keys include Marathon, Key Largo, Key West, and Islamorada. Here’s our list of 15 Best Things to Do in the Florida Keys:
1. Explore an underwater park
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is the first-ever underwater park in the United States and is located on Key Largo.
The subaquatic park offers visitors an extraordinary glimpse into one of the most diverse coral reefs.
2. Admire Duval Street in Key West
Another attraction in Key West, Duval Street, starts from Mallory Square and stretches all the way to the Southernmost Point marker, while fringed with souvenir shops, museums, cafes, and galleries.
Moreover, the street also stages several annual festivals and events such as the Hemingway Days that take place every summer and the Fantasy Fest, a costume party that takes ten days every October.
On Duval Street, you will find attractions such as the Southernmost House, Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, and an old Strand Theater.
3. Enjoy the beach at Bahia Honda State Park
Located inside the Bahia Honda State Park, this is one of the most stunning beaches in Florida. There are actually two beaches at the park – one faces the open water while the second one overlooks an old railroad bridge.
Here visitors can snorkel, swim, and picnic.
4. Check out Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
Also located in Key West near Duval Street, this former home of the iconic author Ernest Hemingway is a must-visit for anyone vacationing in the Florida Keys. This two-floor house is an important portion of the state’s cultural history.
You can tour every inch of the house and explore its original pieces of furniture. Or just stroll outside in its garden where you will find a wide range of flower species and more than 40 cats, who are offspring of Hemingway’s original cats.
5. Take a boat trip to Dry Tortugas National Park
Dry Tortugas National Park is located in the Gulf of Mexico’s waterfront, around 70 miles away from Key West, and is accessible only by a seaplane or boat. Made up of seven beach-looped islands, the park is also for Fort Jefferson, a long wall from the 19th century covering the island.
Visitors come to Dry Tortugas National Park for diving, snorkeling, and swimming, thanks to its irresistible seagrass and coral along with many shipwrecks.
6. Spend your evening at Mallory Square
This bubbly neighborhood in Old Town Key West is the place to spend your evening due to its vibrant activities after the sunset. Every day in the evening, the place sees vendors and performers who gather in the square to create a festive vibe.
It is also a spot where you will find many tourists who come to catch a glimpse of the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico.
Mallory Square is also the last stop for the Conch Tour Train, which usually takes tourists on an hour and a half sightseeing tour of the neighborhood, including several stops at Truval Village where you can get off to wander around.
7. Visit the National Key Deer Refuge
Sandwiched between Key West and Marathon, the National Key Deer refugee was established in 1957 as an asylum for the endangered Key deer that was almost wiped out by hunters in the 1950s.
You will also find Blue Water Hole within the park, a quarry-turned-pond home to alligators and turtles.
8. Fish at Marathon
Marathon is known for being the sportfishing and commercial hub of the Middle Keys. Here visitors can arrange for tours of reef, deep-sea, and flats fishing. You can also participate in some thrilling watersports, such as kayaking, paddleboarding, and jet-skiing.
There are also numerous beautiful beaches lined with waterfront restaurants and other attractions, including Dolphin Research Center, Turtle Hospital, and Aquarium Encounters.
9. Visit the turtle rehabilitation center at Turtle Hospital
Opened daily, the Turtle Hospital is one of Florida’s leading rescue facilities located in Marathon. The center offers 90-minute guided tours hourly that allow tourists to learn about the process of assimilating wounded sea turtles and even get a chance to feed some of the turtles.
The center usually treats injured turtles and perform emergency rescue for stranded turtles caught in tropical storms.
Since it opened in 1986, the center has been treated and released back to the sea over 1,500 sea turtles.
10. Learn about California sea lions and dolphins at the Dolphin Research Center
At the Dolphin Research Center, you will learn plenty of things about the California sea lions and Atlantic bottlenose dolphins through recited sessions and witness as the trainers interact with different types of dolphins.
Tourists are also allowed to participate in the interactive programs, which mostly involves swimming with the dolphins. There is also an organized tour to the Island Dolphin Care located on Key Largo. Here, experts collaborate with dolphins to offer some unique therapies for people with different health conditions.
11. Visit Everglades National Park
Set on more than 1 million acres, Everglades National Park is among the most visited public parks in America. It is home to 14 endangered and rare species of animals, including the West Indian Manatee, the Florida Panther, and American Crocodile.
12. Drive to the Keys
The best way to enjoy your journey to the Keys is by driving. The locals’ 18-mile highway as “The Stretch” is a two-lane freeway featuring numerous passing zones that turn it into a four-lane highway. It is one of the most peaceful drives you will ever experience.
13. Learn about Fort Taylor’s past
Located on the southern edge of Key West, this waterfront fort is home to the largest collection of seacoast cannons in the whole of America. It is also known for its beautiful beach that is perfect for swimming and picnics.
14. See Harry Truman’s Little White House
This tiny White House is located in Key West and was initially built to be the naval hub of the Spanish-American War but later used as Winter White House during the reign of President Harry Truman.
15. Drink beer in Islamorada
The Florida Keys Brewing Company has a tasting room at Islamorada, and it features a collection of more than 20 beers on tap all the time. It is the perfect place to sample some of the best local beers, such as the Iguana Bait.
Florida Keys Travel and Tour Packages
To help you plan out your vacation to the Florida Keys, we listed places to visit and other amazing things to do in the Florida Keys, Florida. We also listed links to some of the best travel deals, tour packages, excellent flight deals, and accommodation options.
Searching for the best hotels, resorts, and affordable flights in the nearby Cities? Check out our list of affordable Florida Keys hotels and resorts via Agoda, Booking, or you may also see available Airbnb properties in the city.