ABOUT Key West Florida
If you haven’t been to Key West, Florida or even thought about it, you need to start planning to go now. It’s a little paradise on the East Coast where you can travel to for a girl’s trip, family vacation, or a couple’s getaway. There are so many fun things to do that there are options for everyone who is looking to stay.
Between the beautiful, warm, crystal clear waters and spectacular sunsets, it’s a place that you wont’ regret going and you’ll feel like you’re in the Caribbean, but didn’t need to bring your passport.
The Florida Keys area is one of the most gorgeous places in the United States and you’ll not only find a variety of adventurous things to do, you’ll also find things in Key West where you can relax, take in the history, delve into luxury, and eat a variety of different foods – even though, I highly recommend the seafood in Key West because it’s so fresh.
There is so much to do in the Florida Keys I’ve put together this ultimate travel guide that will provide you with great things to do in Key West that pairs well with the itinerary for the upper region of the Florida Keys.
How to Get to KEY WEST
If you’re looking to only explore Key West, you can flight right into the Key West International Airport. This airport is not only great for flying in so that you can stay in Key West or travel up the coast, it’s also a great stop for if you’re looking to have a day or two layover in Key West before going down towards the islands.
Though flying directly in is great, I actually recommend flying into Miami and doing a road trip though the Florida Keys from Miami to Key West. Going straight from Miami to Key West may take you 3-4 hours, but you won’t want to just drive straight through on the one-lane-on-each-side highway. You’ll want to stop and stay overnight in areas such as Islamorada, Key Largo, and other major places that you have to experience along the way. Renting a car at the Miami airport is pretty easy as they typically keep a good inventory in that area because they are used to many travelers flying into Miami to head down to the Keys.
What to Pack for KEY WEST
When packing for your trip to Key West, you’ll want to bring comfortable clothing for the relaxed setting. Many of the restaurants are very casual so you don’t have to worry about packing anything super formal. You’ll also want to make sure to bring your swimwear and sunscreen for the intense sun rays. And if you’re doing any watersports, look at what they provide for you so you don’t overpack but also so that you don’t have to buy anything that you may already have at home. For example, if you’re going snorkeling, many of the snorkeling excursions provide you with the snorkeling equipment, but some require you to pay extra to rent.
You’ll also want to pack comfortable shoes and some sunhats. The comfy shoes are because many of the places that you can visit are within walking distance from the downtown resorts in Key West and the sunhats will keep you cool and shaded if you’re walking around or hanging out on the beach.
Where to Stay IN KEY WEST
Southernmost Beach Resort
Where to Eat IN FLORIDA KEYS
The Docks Stock Island
Southernmost Beach Café
Southernmost Beach Café is Southernmost Beach Resort’s on proper restaurant. The café is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and offers a variety of different eats that you can enjoy while looking out over the ocean. It’s a great restaurant to go to if you’re planning on spending a beach day while staying at the resort since it’s right next to the beach access. For breakfast, there are many great, fresh breakfast foods and drinks, and the lunch menu is also packed with tasty plates that are filling enough to get you through the day without overfilling you and becoming too overwhelming. For lunch, I enjoy the spicy chicken sandwich which was just the right spice that wasn’t too overwhelming but it did the job.
Half Shell Raw Bar
Things to Do IN THE FLORIDA KEYS
SNORKELING IN THE REEFS
With the crystal clear waters of Key West, you have to go snorkeling. Snorkeling in Key West is one of those things that if you don’t do it, you’ll regret it later. There are quite a few options on snorkeling tours, so it’s best to look around and find one that is best for you and fits for your pace and willingness to snorkel. Fury Key West has multiple options for snorkeling tours including their “Double Dip Snorkeling” which takes you out to two reefs where your able to see a variety of fish, possibly turtles, and maybe even a reef shark. For their tours, they do provide you with the equipment you need to snorkel and have things to aid those who aren’t the best swimmers, but still want to float along and look.
On these tours, the guides will take you out to protected reefs which means that you’re not allowed to touch or bring your feet anywhere near the reefs so that you aren’t to disturb or harm the reefs at all. When we traveled, that was something that was very important to us because though we love to see the marine life, we, most importantly, don’t want to harm it.
JET SKI TOUR
A jet ski tour is something that is great for those who are looking to have a thrilling experience and see Key West. Barefoot Billy’s is the jet ski tour company that I would highly suggest because they give such quality tours and make everyone feel comfortable enough to hit top speeds and take on the ocean like a pro. For the tours, you can ride solo or as a pair depending on your comfort, and they allow children starting at age 6 to ride on jet ski with an adult and when they are 14, they can ride by themselves. The tour starts off with getting you acclimated to the jet ski with an open area where you can take on the water, without waves, and get used to the speed and maneuvering of the jet ski. Then you’re off on the tour where you travel around the island to see “millionaire island” where Oprah’s old house is, a house that was used for a part of MTV’s The Real World Key West, and some other popular homes.
Note: Florida law requires that those operating jet skis get a temporary boating license if they are not in possession of one if you’re under the age of 33. If you’re under 33, you’ll simply be asked to arrive an hour before you tour to take a test that is open book, open internet, work together…and then you’re graded and given your temporary permit on site. It’s super easy and not as stressful as it sounds.
SUNSET SAIL / EVENING CRUISE
You can’t visit Key West, Florida and not do a sunset sail. It’s pretty much a required experience when you’re in the area. There are a variety of options of what type of cruise you can take depending on what type experience you want to have. I recommend taking a cruise with Fury Key West. You can opt for a sunset sail where you’ll be offered champagne and wine as you watch the sunset and enjoy the epic evening ambiance, or you can elect for the “Commotion on the Ocean” which is a cruise where there is live band, a variety of cocktail options, food, and a little more of a party where you’re still able to watch the sunset for the evening cruise and party the evening away. When taking these cruises, I suggest booking your dinner afterwards so that you can enjoy the bites as an appetizer, get a few drinks, and then find food afterwards.
VISIT THE HEMMINGWAY HOUSE
One of the highly popular places to visit in Key West is the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum. This house was the house that the writer himself lived in for nearly 10 years as he wrote many of his classic works such as “For Whom the Bell Tolls”. The house itself takes you back in time as you walk through the downstairs and upstairs rooms, the wrap around deck, the pool, and the gardens to see the home that Hemingway enjoyed for so many years. Along with touring the home, you’ll encounter the famous cats that call this house their home. Many of the cats are six-toed cats or polydactyl and are said to be decedents of Hemingway’s cat that was given to him y a sea captain.
Fun Fact: Polydactyl or six-toed cats were popular cats to have on boats as they were thought to have benefits of catching mice because of their extra toes.
Morning Yinyasa Flow Yoga
BUTTERFLY & NATURE CONSERVATORY
In Old Town Key West, you’ll find the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory that is also a place that you have to experience. Make sure to check the schedule as they stop letting in individuals about an hour prior to their closing. You can arrive in the morning and get a ticket and you’ll be able to use that ticket all day if you wish to visit multiple times. The conservatory is absolutely stunning. As soon as you enter, you’re greeted by the beautiful butterflies flying freely around, the birds enjoying the snacks left for them and the flamingos strutting around. And make sure to watch where you walk, because there are also frogs that tend to cross over the pathways as they make their way to and from the various sources of water.