The Best Things to Do in Key West, Florida

Key West has so many things to do, from exploring a national park to taking a yummy food tour
Key West has so many things to do, from exploring a national park to taking a yummy food tour | © ShootingCompany / Alamy Stock Photo
Kathryn Beeson

So you find yourself in a gorgeous subtropical paradise, with a ton of history, stunning scenery and great places to eat. Where to start? With its marine wildlife, gorgeous sunsets and attractive sandy beaches, Key West offers this enviable quandary. Let Culture Trip’s local insiders solve it, with their tips on what to see and where to go.

Did you know – Culture Trip now does bookable, small-group trips? Pick from authentic, immersive Epic Trips, compact and action-packed Mini Trips and sparkling, expansive Sailing Trips.

Dry Tortugas National Park

No visit to the Florida Keys would be complete without exploring the Dry Tortugas National Park. It preserves Fort Jefferson – an unfinished 19th-century fort that is currently the largest brick masonry structure in the western hemisphere – and the surrounding subtropical islands. There’s something here for every taste: hiking, ranger days, Fort Jefferson tours, snorkeling and birding, to name a few. Keep your eyes peeled for the sea turtles that give the park its name – there are five species to spot), but remember to keep your distance. Recommended by local insider Alli Griffiths

Mallory Square

This seaside square, packed with boutique shops, independent restaurants and major Key West attractions, is a place where you can lose an entire afternoon. After sightseeing, stay for the nightly sunset celebration, with local performers to keep you entertained for the evening. Expect a carnival atmosphere with street food, magicians, jugglers, clowns, psychics and local music acts. It’s so much fun, you’ll be back here every night for more. Recommended by local insider Alli Griffiths

Fury Water Adventures Key West

Fury Water’s jet ski, kayak and boat rentals, as well as parasailing, are a fantastic way for adventurous people to explore the Keys scenery and have a blast doing so. For anyone looking to get better acquainted with the islands’ marine inhabitants, there is also a range of snorkeling options and eco-tours. Your guide will take you to the best parts of the coral reef to spot a host of colorful sea critters, including angelfish, parrotfish, butterflyfish and the universally adored turtles. Take a dolphin-watching tour for more wildlife enjoyment; an accessible glass-bottomed boat makes this a great option for those with limited mobility. Recommended by local insider Alli Griffiths

Lazy Dog Paddleboard Tours

Paddlesports – whether kayaking, canoeing or stand-up paddleboarding – are a fun and ecofriendly way to explore the different environments Key West encompasses. Best of all, they’re easy for beginners to learn, so you can take in the beauty of the mangroves and canals while picking up a great new hobby at the same time. Lazy Dog offers guided SUP and kayak trips for those wanting to learn more about their surroundings as they paddle – they’re definitely worth your time, for the combined amount of instruction and tour guiding on offer. Recommended by local insider Alli Griffiths

Sunset Sail Key West

Vary your Key West sunset experience by taking a boat out and watching the spectacle from the water. Not that you’d ever get bored of the Key West sunset, but watching one from the sea provides a new perspective and some stunning photo ops. There are plenty of companies to choose from, and all do the job well. If you have the budget to spare, escape the crowds and hire a private vintage sailboat from Key West Sunset Tours for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Recommended by local insider Alli Griffiths

Key West Historic Seaport Harbor Walk

Enjoy life’s simple pleasures with a stroll along the harbor. As you meander along the seafront, browsing independent boutiques, taking in the views and deciding which of the many tempting restaurants you should try next, keep an eye out for fish and sea turtles in the water. It’s impossible not to feel relaxed after spending some time here. To finish your walk, pick a bar and get a couple of drinks while watching the world go by, or to witness another heartmelting sunset. Recommended by local insider Alli Griffiths

Key West Food Tours

Get the lowdown on Key West’s exciting, multicultural food scene with a guided tour. From fresh seafood to Southern comfort, via strong Cuban and Caribbean flavors, the range of culinary influences is worth exploring. Key West Food Tours offers a variety of packages to suit every taste, with knowledgeable guides and plenty of sampling opportunities on the way. Check its drink-focused tours if you’re big on craft cocktails. Recommended by local insider Alli Griffiths

Conch Tour Train

Taking a ride on this much-loved Key West institution is a must. For families with young children, those with limited mobility and anyone who would simply rather ride than walk, it’s a great way of seeing the island and learning a bit about its history. Your guide will point out major landmarks and entertain you with a local story or two as you enjoy the ride. Recommended by local insider Alli Griffiths

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

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