Key West & Florida Keys Islands Bucket List: 45 BEST Things to Do

Where else can you find warm ocean water, breathtaking state parks, acres of mangroves, killer sunsets that draw crowds and arguably the best key lime pie in the world? The Florida Keys islands are undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in the country with an abundance of adventurous, historical and yummy things to do.

It’s possible to fly right into the most talked about city of Key West, but the best way to fully experience ‘The Keys’ is a road-trip from Key Largo all the way down to southernmost point of Key West (like I did!). This way you will have the flexibility to make pitstops along the way and check off your Florida Keys bucket list.

Top Attractions, Fun Activities & Best Things to Do in Key West (and the Florida Keys Islands)

What to See, Do & Eat in Key Largo

1. ✧ Paddle board the Mangroves at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Located in Key Largo, this excitingly serene park extends three miles into the ocean and has coral reefs, seagrass swamps and mangroves within its confines. The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is home to a flurry of activities and attractions that are excellent for adults and children alike—From glass bottom boat rides to sunbathing at the beach, snorkeling and kayaking. I should also mention that it is home to the Nation’s first underwater park!

If you visit with the mind for adventure, then you should rent a kayak or paddle board and go exploring through the mangroves. There are many little water paths that meander through these dense forest like mangroves. Keep an eye out for underwater life and the gorgeous birds that call the Florida Keys park home!

2. ✦ Take a Ride on the African Queen

Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn made the African Queen steamboat famous when they starred in the 1951 movie by the same name that was filmed in Uganda.

From then on, the African Queen, docked at the Marina Del Mar marina has become home to relaxing canal cruises in Key Largo and romantic dinner cruises as well. You can even ask the Captain for a turn at the helm while underway the one and a half hour cruise. I did!

3. ✧ Spend the night at Jules Undersea Lodge

The Jules Undersea Lodge is true to its name, it really is underwater—you actually have to dive 21 feet below the surface to enter! How’s that for bucket list worthy? You can choose to stay for just a few hours or be more adventurous and stay overnight. Don’t worry though, there are all the modern amenities. Plus, you can cozy up with a book or movie and watch the fish go by through the large round windows.

4. ✧ Visit the Wild Bird Sanctuary in Key Largo

The Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary which is only a few minutes’ walk from the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park really should be on the bucket list for bird lovers. In fact, even if you are not as enthusiastic about birds, you might find a tour of this sanctuary illuminating.

There is no official charge to get in but you are politely requested to donate whatever you can; these monies all go to the care of wounded wild birds within the sanctuary (so a very good cause!). Within the aviaries you will see owls, pelicans, hawks and a wide variety of other wild birds that are majestic and unique to say the least.

WHERE TO STAY IN KEY LARGO: The 14.5 beachfront acres of Playa Largo Resort and Spa is a luxury oasis in Key Largo. There you can eat dockside, take a dip in the freshwater pool or enjoy a glass of wine by the fire pit. Or stay at the Kona Kai Resort, a hidden treasure.

WHERE TO EAT IN KEY LARGO: You won’t go hungry in Key Largo, there are plenty of great restaurants. Eat the coconut cake at Buzzards Roost, hit up Skipper’s Dockside for an outdoor lunch and the Fish House for dinner, plus don’t forget to get the key lime martini at Sundowners.

What to See, Do & Eat in Islamorada

5. ✧ Take a Jetpack, Hoverboard or Flyboard Ride 

Get the ultimate adrenaline thrill by taking to the water with Jetpack Adventures. You can choose from a jetpack that hangs on your back and propels you into the air or a hoverboard that’ll do the same on while stuck to your feet like a snowboard. But for the best fun try what I did (pictured below) and get some air on a flyboard. It’s not as easy as it looks!

6. ✦ Shop at the Rain Barrel Artisans Village

Ah, what would the Florida Keys be without a unique shopping experience?! The first thing you will notice about the Rain Barrel Artisans Village is the 40-foot-long lobster named Betsy that will lure you in for an unforgettable photo-op off the Overseas Highway. Once you stop, you can’t leave without at least browsing through the stalls.

The artisans in this village are experts who create sculptures, paintings, collages, jewelry, home decor and almost every other type of accessories in such creative ways that you will definitely find something worth buying.

7. ✧ Feed the Tarpon at Robbie’s Marina

In Islamorada of the Florida Keys, there is a place called Robbie’s Marina where you can feed tarpon! These bony salt-water fish have a ‘strong’ smell, but as long as you are not looking to eat them then that shouldn’t be too much of a problem. They gather by the dozens at Robbie’s Marina waiting for you to feed them fish snacks which is a pretty exhilarating thing to do considering some of these fish have mouths almost as big as a five-gallon bucket.

8. ✧ Visit the History of Diving Museum

If you are a scuba diver, then definitely don’t miss a stop at the History of Diving Museum. With contributions from more than 30 countries, the museum has the world’s largest collection of armored suits, diving helmets and other diving accessories.

9. ✦ Drink the Local Beer

You will find the Florida Keys Brewing Company’s beer all over the Keys, but why not get it straight from the source at in Islamorada? The breweries new beer garden has 20 of their own brews on tap, plus Mead and house brewed Kambucha. Try their 10-beer sampler to find your favorite.

10. ✦ Stroll the Third Thursday Art Walk

Time your beer visit (see above) correctly and you can stroll through the Morada Way Artwalks. Every third Thursday of the month the Morada Way Arts District hosts an outdoor walk where talented artisans set up booths along the street. It’s the perfect place to pick up souvenir jewelry, handmade candles or paintings. The event happens to be right next to the Florida Keys Brewing Co., so stop in and get a beer, then do some shopping.

What to See, Do and Eat in Mid-Lower Keys

11. ✧ Get a Hogfish Sandwich on Stock Island

When in Key West, do like the Key Westians do and head over to The Hogfish Bar and Grill on Stock Island! This is a favorite among locals, so you know it’s for real. All of the seafood they serve comes straight from the fishing boats you can watch come in and out of the port while you dine.

As you might be able to guess from the name, their signature dish is the scallop-like flavored Hogfish! Specifically their One and Only, World Famous Killer Hogfish Sandwich. This specialty of the house is served fried and smothered with Swiss Cheese, Onions, and Mushrooms between two slices of fresh Cuban bread. Yum!

There’s plenty of other delicious fresh seafood on the menu, as well as Southern and Caribbean favorites!

12. ✦ Get the Lobster Reuben at Keys Fisheries

Make a delicious pitstop at Keys Fisheries for their famous Lobster Reuben. This sandwich is a take on the classic: slathered in Thousand Island dressing, filled with tangy sauerkraut, topped with melted Swiss and put in-between some crunchy buttered bread. The exception is that the cured pastrami is substituted with fresh lobster. Yes, please!

The sign at the order window counts how many rueben’s have been sold, proving how popular this sandwich is. It was at 288,926 when I was there. Wow! Side note: They don’t ask for your name when you order at the counter, they ask a question, like “what’s your favorite animal”—of course I said puppies.

Warning—The Lobster Reuben is huge, enough to feed two!

13. ✧ Visit the Turtle Hospital

Who doesn’t love turtles? Unfortunately, some turtles can get injured or sick. But, the good news is The Turtle Hospital is here to help! It’s a nonprofit organization that’s been helping to rehabilitate sea turtles and educate the public on how to be better friends to the little guys since 1986!

The Turtle Hospital also offers guided educational experiences that last about 90 minutes. You’ll start your visit off by viewing a presentation about sea turtles before going on a behind-the-scenes tour of the facilities and rehabilitation area. At the end of the tour, you’ll even be able to feed the center’s permanent residents.

14. ✦ Visit the Dolphin Research Center

Established in 1984, this is one of the most unique research centers in the Florida Keys, and possibly all of Florida. More than half the sea lions and bottlenose dolphins found in the Dolphin Research Center were born here, others are rescues who were deemed non-releasable by the government.

If you are keen on interacting with dolphins as they do in the movies (some of the stars from the movie Flipper were actually from here!), this is your chance. There are interactive classes that the public can participate in; believe me, you want to participate in these classes. The dolphins are friendly, mischievous and all-around fun to play with in the water.

Take note that for the Dolphin Research Center is is all about the dolphins. If they’re not interested in doing something they don’t have to do it. They never withhold food, it is all voluntary.

15. ✧ Get a Beer at No Name Pub in Big Pine Key

If you’re looking for that old Florida Keys atmosphere and some great food and drinks, No Name Pub is the place for you! It started out as a general store and bait and tackle shop in 1931, but in 1936 the owners added a small room and started serving food. By the 1950s, the bait and tackle shop closed and the pub became the entirety of the business.

You can stop in to just relax and have a drink at the end of the day, or try some of their delicious food! We recommend the homemade fish dip, made from fresh yellowfin tuna that they marinate and smoke in house daily, or one of the gourmet pub pizzas!

16. ✧ Walk the White Sand Beach at Bahia Honda State Park

We know the reason you came to the Florida Keys is to soak up that sun, surf, and sand. Well, we can’t think of a more perfect location than Bahia Honda State Park! The park covers over 500 acres and features not one, but two award-winning beaches: Calusa Beach and Sandspur Beach. You can also take a drive along the historic Bahia Honda Bridge, plus the park features some of the best snorkeling and beach-combing in Florida.

17. ✦ Cruise the Seven-Mile Bridge

The 7-mile long bridge is one of the longest bridges in the world. The scenic stretch connects the Middle Keys to the lower Florida Keys and has beautiful seaside views along the way. If you are doing a road trip from Key Largo to Key West you’ll definitely be driving across it!

What to See, Do and Eat in Key West

18. ✧ Listen to Live Music at the Green Parrot

As their website says: “The Green Parrot is more than a bar; it is a Key West icon!” It started out as a corner grocery store but became a bar in the 40s. Originally called the Brown Derby Bar, it was a popular hangout for the submarine sailors during World War II, but came under new ownership in the 70s when the Navy moved out the hippies moved in. It’s been the Green Parrot ever since!

Best of all, the Parrot has live music every night! From touring musicians to local artists, there’s always something going on, so if you’re a music lover this is a must-do while you’re in Key West. They even host periodic Ukelele Nights! You’ll also enjoy the bar’s signature decor pieces, like “The Smirk” that adorns the shutter door or the custom “No Snivelling” sign!

19. ✦ Walk Inside the Ernest Hemingway House

Ernest Hemingway and his wife Pauline fell in love with the Florida Keys way back in 1931 (I can see why!). When he finished his semi-autobiographical novel titled: A Farewell to Arms, they decided to make this their home. It is this charming house that is now a major tourist attraction in Key West. The grand Southern exterior of the house protects his eclectic collection of furniture, art and other accessories while the grounds act as a haven for wildlife, plants and quite a number of cats.

The Hemingway influence is also big in Cuba and some other of his points of interest at on my Havana things to do list.

20. ✧ See a Show at the Red Barn Theater

If you’re a theatre lover, you don’t need to travel to New York to get your fix for live performance—Key West is your place. Destination Hyatt magazine even describes the work produced at the Red Barn Theater as “Broadway caliber”!

The building began its life as a carriage house before the Key West Community Players transformed it into a performance space in the 1940s. In the 80s it became incorporated under the Red Barn Actor’s Studio, Inc and has been committed to putting on the best performances in South Florida ever since!

21. ✧ Take the Old Town Literary Walking Tour

Because even bookworms like to go on adventures too! If you have a love of literature and are planning a trip to the Florida Keys, this tour run by the Key West Literary Seminar is one of the best things to do in Key West! You’ll get to visit the homes and haunts of writers who have called Key West home, including Tennessee Williams, Robert Frost, and Shel Silverstein!

You’ll even get to learn about some lesser-known local talents and add some new titles to your “to be read” pile!

22. ✧ Eat Conch Fritters at BO’s Fish Wagon

So much fresh seafood, so little time! If you need help narrowing down where to get the best grub in the Keys, we recommend trying some of local legend Bobby Owen’s specialties! They’re so good, even Bobby Flay and the Food Network camera crew dropped by to try them out!

BO’s Fish Wagon started out as a wagon but has since ditched its wheels to become an open-air shack. Don’t worry, there’s no shirt or shoes required, so you can come right off the beach and grab some delicious food. Make sure to try the cracked conch sandwich with Key Lime mayo!

23. ✦ Catch the Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square

You cannot visit the ‘Home of the Sunset’ without actually taking the time to find out why they call it that and what makes the sunsets here so special. Geographically, this is the southernmost end of the United States and at the Mallory Square sunset celebration in Key West is the perfect place to sit, sip a few cocktails and enjoy one of the most stunning sunsets you will ever see.

As you watch the sun majestically sink into the Gulf of Mexico, there will be performers, artists and an assortment of food vendors assembling to ensure that you evening is one that your will not soon forget. Don’t miss Dominique’s Cat Circus!

You can also see this spectacular sky in a more unique way take the Sunset Party Cruise by Catamaran!

24. ✧ See a Drag Show 

Key West might seem like a quaint, old fashioned beach community on the surface but don’t be fooled: it has a thriving nightlife as well! If you want to experience some of this booming nightlife, then you must check out the Key’s drag queen scene. Here are three different top locations to choose from:

  • Aqua has a performance of their show “Reality is a Drag” Sunday through Wednesday at 8 pm, plus two shows at 7 an 9 pm on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. They also feature a full bar and offer karaoke!
  • If you’re looking for something a little more raunchy and guaranteed to make you cry with laughter, 801 Bourbon Bar is the place for you! They have shows every day at 9 and 11 pm and have Drag Bingo every Sunday night.
  • If you’re looking for something slightly more laid back, check out La Te Da, where top-quality performers Christopher Peterson and Randy Roberts perform a cabaret show a few times a week. They’re known for their spot-on impersonations of queer icons like Liza Minelli and Cher!

25. ✧ Stay at the Southernmost House

Relax in luxury while enjoying everything Key West has to offer at The Southernmost House: a taste of history and a tropical paradise!

This boutique hotel is also a museum, and you can find little pieces of history all around the property. It was built in 1897 and has hosted over 20 presidents and dignitaries! But it also offers the modern amenities of the best beachside resorts.

Each accommodation is spacious, air-conditioned, and uniquely decorated to no two rooms look the same! There’s free wi-fi access throughout the property, plus a heated infinity pool with a bar, oceanside hammocks for relaxing, an indoor lounge, dry cleaning service, and a concierge desk. Your stay also includes a complimentary breakfast every morning!

26. ✦ Pose at Mile Marker 0

US Highway 1 is a 2,369 mile long interstate that connects almost every city in the East Coast. In Key West this famous highway ends and begins at Mile Marker 0 and hundreds of people (myself included!) per day stop by the Mile Marker 0 sign to commemorate being at the ‘end of the road’.

27. ✧ Smoke a Key West Rolled Cigar at Rodrigues Cigars

Even if you’re not a regular tobacco user, you’ll want to see this important piece of Key West history up close and personal.

Cigar manufacturing has a long history in Key West, going back to 1831. The Rodriguez family immigrated to Key West from Cuba after the Cuban government nationalized their tobacco plantation and founded the Rodriguez Cigar Factory in 1984. It’s now the oldest cigar manufacturer in the Florida Keys, preserving this historic industry, They still make their cigars using traditional Cuban methods!

You can take a factory tour where you will learn more about the manufacturing process and even get to sample one of their cigars and a complimentary Cuban espresso!

28. ✧ Buy Some Made-in-Key-West Kino Sandals

Because you can never have too many shoes! These fashionable and comfortable sandals, made in a traditional Cuban style, are made only in Key West by the Lopez family. They still make them by hand from high-quality natural leather and natural rubber, just like they have since 1966.

According to their website, you should ask any Key West local “not if they own a pair of Kino’s Sandals, but how many they own!” The store offers 20 types of sandals and has expanded to include wallets, purses, and more. Their shop, Kino Plaza, is located in the heart of Old Town Key West and imitates the Cuban architecture of founder Roberto Lopez’s youth! 

29. ✦ Climb up the Key West Lighthouse

Not only is this a bucket list opportunity to climb up inside a lighthouse, but the 360 views from the tippy top of the Key West Lighthouse are incredible too. It is a great place to see the rooftops of local homes, including the Ernest Hemingway house.

30. ✧ Tour Harry S. Truman’s Little White House

Before Camp David, there was the Little White House of Key West! While you’re in the Keys, definitely take some time to see Florida’s only Presidential Sight. The Little White House was built in 1890 to serve as naval officers’ housing and has hosted many important visitors from Thomas Edison to presidents Taft, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Carter, and Clinton.

Harry Truman, however, spent the most time in this historic house, calling it his “Winter White House.” Over the course of his 6-year administration, he spent 175 days in Key West.

Visiting the Little White House, you’ll learn more about Truman’s life, career, and presidency, as well as the history of Key West. You can also view the official trip logs of President Truman’s 11 trips to Key West and get a peek into what he was doing during his visits. If you want to learn even more history, book the Truman Little House guided tour.

31. ✧ Visit the Maritime Museum

This museum tops our list of must-see attractions! As you may have guessed, Key West’s history and culture have been deeply intertwined with the sea. Well, the mission of the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum is to “research, interpret, and exhibit the maritime history of Florida and the Caribbean.

The museum is located in an old Naval Storehouse that was built in 1910. It features exhibitions on shipwrecks, piracy, and the slave trade, and is home to a conservation center where archeologists conduct ongoing research on artifacts found in the waters around Key West.

32. ✦ Take a Selfie at the Southernmost Point in the Continental USA

There is a colorful concrete buoy that marks the southernmost point in the continental USA and taking a selfie in front of it is one of the most popular things to do in all the Florida Keys. There is always a long line of people waiting for their chance to snap a photo, so either go really early in the morning or cheat a little like I did and sit on the bench a few feet in front of the buoy for your picture.

For a more in depth look into this area of Key West take the History and Culture Southernmost Walking Tour or the yummy Southernmost Food and Cultural Walking Tour.

33. ✧ Catch an Animal Feeding at the Aquarium

This is one bucket list idea that kids and adults will love! Taking in the native sea life is one of the best things to do in Key West, but if you don’t love the idea of snorkeling or scuba diving, this is the perfect place for you!

The Key West Aquarium houses dozens of sharks, fish, sea turtles, alligators, and stingrays native to the Florida Keys! You can also take a tour and meet those predators up close. At 10 am and 4 pm, there are special presentations at the Touch Tank about the history of the museum, as well as opportunities to touch and hold many of the conch and whelk species native to Key West!

34. ✧ Walk Through the Historic Key West Cemetery

A walk through a cemetery might sound like a spooky fall activity, but it’s actually a great way to see the Key’s history in a much more personal way! The Key West City Cemetery sits on 19 acres of land. It was established in 1847 following a hurricane that unearthed the city’s former beach-side burial grounds.

Between 80,000-100,000 of Key West’s citizens are buried here, a mixture of Bahamian mariners, Cuban cigar makers, Spanish-American war veterans, and civilians of all races, classes, and creeds.

Guided tours are available every Tuesday and Thursday at 9:30 am, or you can pick up a self-guided tour map at the front entrance.

35. ✧ Visit Dry Tortugas National Park

Made of 7 islands and some of the most gorgeous coral reefs you will ever see, the Dry Tortugas National Park  is a must thing to see when you head down to Key West—it’s just 70 miles west. Taking a seaplane ride there will allow you to get beautiful aerial views of the 19th-century Fort Jefferson on Garden Key; the beautiful lighthouse at Loggerhead Key as well as the Windjammer Wreck (an 1875 shipwreck) and the nesting site for many seabirds down at Bush Keys.

From snorkeling to diving, ancient sites and sunbathing, Dry Tortugas National Park is definitely bucket list worthy!

36. ✦ Stroll Duval Street

No trip to Key West would be complete without waking down the hottest road in town—Duval Street. It is  filled with hopping bars (you can even do what they call the Duval Crawl—you can only guess what that means!), souvenir shops, delicious restaurants and clothing boutiques.

37. ✧ Kayak from Key Largo to Key West

If you have some time and are looking for a fun adventure, consider taking a multiple day kayak tour from Key Largo to Key West with Burnham Guides (they’re the ones that took me on a memorable kayak tour in the Eastern Shores of Virginia!).

38. ✧ Drink Where Hemingway Drank—Sloppy Joes

Why not have a drink in the most famous and infamous saloon in all Key West? If you’re a fan of classic American literature, you’ll also love the Hemingway connection!

Sloppy Joe’s (originally called the Blind Pig) was founded by Joe Russell and opened the day Prohibition was repealed. Ernest Hemingway was one of Russell’s first and favorite patrons and was even the one to christen it Sloppy Joe’s! They even host a Hemingway look-alike contest every year.

Sip on a rum runner with local rum, “The Original Drink of the Florida Keys,” and snack on Key West favorites like peel-and-eat shrimp and conch fritters.

39. ✧ Chocolate covered Key Lime pie on a stick from Kermit’s.

And of course, you can’t visit the Florida Key’s without getting some Key Lime Pie! We highly recommend stopping by Kermit’s Key West Lime Shoppe—they’ve been serving up delicious Key Lime treats for almost 25 years! Don’t miss one of their most popular items, the Key Lime Pie bar that is hand-dipped in Belgian-style chocolate.

40. ✧ Get a Naughty Named Treat at the Better Than Sex Dessert Bar

If you’re looking for a grown-up date night on your Key West vacation, we have a recommendation that’s…well, Better Than Sex! Enjoy a selection of sinfully delicious desserts and signature drinks with naughty names like Peanut Butter Perversion or the Klimax. The speakeasy decor scheme adds to the sense of forbidden pleasure and creates a romantic ambiance. This is a cozy, intimate space so make sure to reserve ahead of time!

41. ✦ Visit the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory

The magical Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory is home to over 50 species of live butterflies and 20 exotic birds (even a few flamingos!). You can take a stroll through the climate controlled habitat and witness a small tropical paradise.

42. ✧ Drink at the Key West’s first Rum Distillery

You can’t get this close to the Caribbean without drinking some rum! While in Key West, you have to try the official rum of the Conch Republic at Key West First Legal Rum Distillery. Their rums are “chef distilled,” because they consider themselves chefs first and distillers second.

These chef distillers also consider themselves trained mojito masters, and you can even take a private class with them to learn their ways! You can also pop in for a free guided tour any day of the week!

Fun fact: they were also the first Americans to run rum to Cuba.

43. ✧ Eat Key Lime Pie for Breakfast at Blue Heaven

Blue Heaven used to be an old boxing ring where Hemingway refereed, now it is known for its brunch and mile high meringue. When you are in the Florida Keys, there is absolutely nothing wrong with eating key lime pie for breakfast and this is the perfect place to do it.

44. ✧ Take a Sand Sculpting Class at Casa Marina

Looking for something truly unique to do on your Key West vacation? If you’re staying at the Casa Marina Resort, you can spend an afternoon relaxing on the beach while creating a unique piece of artwork, a professional will guide you as you transform your pile of sand into a beautiful, one of a kind creation!

45. ✧ Explore the Vandenburg Shipwreck

Speaking of shipwrecks, I doubt it gets any better than this: The Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg shipwreck can be found on the Southernmost end of the Florida Keys Shipwreck Trail. It is a 10 stories high underwater adventure with the deepest end, the keel, being at a whopping 140 feet below sea surface.

Densely populated with sponges, sea fans, sea whips and an amalgamation of coral species, exploring this shipwreck is definitely a noteworthy entry into any ‘Florida Keys Shipwreck Trail’ logbook.

GETTING AROUND KEY WEST: Key Lime Bike Tours gives you a great overview, stopping at almost every highlight that you’d want to hit if you were in Key West for a day. Afterwards, use the Duvall Loop Bus that has 16 stops near most of the best attractions and it is FREE! See the map here.

Also, don’t forget to grab a Key West Vacation Pass that will get you over $1,200 of discounts during your visit!

WHERE TO STAY:  Choose The Marker Key West for a luxury stay steps from the best dining and walking distance to shopping, including Duval Street.


What to Do Everywhere in the Keys

46. ✦ Dine Alfresco

The weather in the Florida Keys is almost always perfect for outdoor dining—take advantage of it! I loved dining alfresco at The Grand Cafe right on Duval Street where from their patio you can see all the action on the liveliest road in Key West.

47. ✦ Eat Key Lime Pie—everywhere!

If there is one quintessential food in the Florida Keys it’s Key Lime Pie, so you must indulge in it—everywhere! All the locals seem to have a favorite (and so do I now!). One of the most popular is at Kermit’s or Mrs Macs, but my favorite was at Chef Michaels in Islamorada.

For an even more bucket list worthy pie eating experience take the Key West 3-hour guided bicycle tour with Key Lime Pie.

48. ✦ Nosh on Conch fritters

These fried balls are made with conch meat, savory batter and seasonings. You will be hard-pressed to find a local menu that doesn’t have them on it! I had some of the best ones at Sol by the Sea in Key Largo, but a few other favorites are at Louie’s Backyard and the Conch Republic Seafood Company in Key West.

If you want even more ideas, check out The Key West Bucket List book on Amazon.

From interacting with dolphins to taking a ride on the African Queen and eating your fair share of Key Lime pie, visiting the Florida Keys & Key West is without a doubt a must thing to do. The sunsets are unbelievable, the drive down is breathtakingly romantic and the beach life is straight out of the movies.

The fact that it has so many bucket list worthy attractions and activities just makes the Florida Keys even more captivating!


Essential Tips for Visiting the Florida Keys Islands

Getting There: Miami International Airport is the best airport to fly to if you plan on taking a road-trip from Key Largo to Key West. From Miami, you can drive to Key Largo (which will take you about an hour), where you can begin your road-trip. You can also fly directly to Key West International Airport. You can easily check for the best fare deals at Skyscanner, which also has the option to choose ‘cheapest month’ as the departure to find the lowest priced dates to fly to your destination. From Key West International Airport to downtown Key West, you can use a bus service, take a shuttle, a taxi, or Lyft and Uber.

Where to Stay in the Florida Keys Islands: For hotels in Key Largo, the Atlantic Bay Resort (moderate) is a great option located in Tavernier. For something on the less expensive side, try the Drift Hotel or Coconut Palm Inn. For a hotel with a little more extravagance, try Baker’s Cay Resort Key Largo, Curio Collection by Hilton. For hotels in Key West, the Avalon Bed and Breakfast (moderate) is a great choice, conveniently located on historic Duval Street. For a less expensive option, try the Caribbean House located in Downtown Key West. For a little more luxury, book a room at Oceans Edge Key West. Or search some great deals on hotels of your choice at If you’re looking for more of a home atmosphere (or are traveling with a group of people), head over to VRBO that has houses, apartments and even just a room for rent in every price range. 

Getting Around: Renting a car in the Florida Keys is the best to really experience the islands and has some great deals. If you are not renting a car, there are plenty of options. Taxis and Lyft are available all over the Florida Keys, while Uber is mostly available only in Key West. Key West is a small city and most of the attractions can be accessed by foot, or by a Hop-On Hop-Off trolley.

Best Tours in the Florida Keys Islands: You can find some of the top tours at Get Your Guide or Viator, and here are some of the top ones:

  • Key West Sunset Champagne Cruise
  • Key West Double Dip: 2-Stop Reef Snorkeling Trip
  • Key West: Parasailing Flights
  • Key West Dolphin Watch and Snorkel Eco Tour
  • This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through my links, I earn a commission that helps to keep this blog running—at no extra cost to you. For more information read my full disclosure.

    You Might Also Enjoy

    Crystal River Florida Bucket List: 22 Things to Do
    Nashville Bucket List: 30 Fun Things to do Downtown & Beyond
    Panama City Beach Bucket List: 30 Best Things To Do in PCB Florida
    Bonita Springs Resort Hotel: Hyatt Regency Coconut Point in Florida
    Havana’s Hippest Art Factory: Fabrica de Arte Cubano
    Havana Bucket List: 40 Things to Do In Cuba’s Capital
    Racing an America’s Cup Sailing Boat Through the Caribbean
    An American Traveling to Havana: What You Need to Know
    Swim with Manatees & Other Encounters in Florida’s Crystal River

    36 thoughts on “Key West & Florida Keys Islands Bucket List: 45 BEST Things to Do”

    1. Hemingway did NOT drink at the current Sloppy Joes, he drank at the original Sloppy Joe’s around the corner that was Capt. Tony’s later.

    2. thanks for writing the detailed list with pictures on key west , it was really helpful. i appreciate it! going in two weeks and i read everything carefully. great post, and pics!

    3. We do Key West every year. I much prefer cracked conch (similar to clam strips) over conch fritters. Conch fritters are just like hush puppies from Long John Silvers.

    4. Just went through your lovely blog, love the detailing. Really helpful for new travelers like me. I have a question: I have dedicated 5 whole days for the keys. how should I divide my night stay to cover most of the things which you have mentioned in your blog.

    5. First of all I want to say fantastic blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask
      if you don’t mind. I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear
      your head before writing. I have had difficulty clearing my thoughts
      in getting my thoughts out there. I truly do enjoy writing however it just seems like the first 10 to
      15 minutes are usually lost simply just trying to figure out
      how to begin. Any recommendations or hints? Kudos!

      • The first 15-30 minutes are the worst! What always has helped me is making sure that i am in a motivational space (there are only certain locations that I can write in) and then just getting starting. I know that that if I power through the beginning, it will start to flow after.

    6. Best “things to do in the Florida Keys” list I’ve read! And I’ve read A LOT!

      This will certainly make our trip to the Keys better! Thank you!

    7. First off, wanted to say this an amazing blog and that I added to my favorites. One of the best lists for things to do in key west that I have come across!!!!!
      Also don’t forget the Jet Ski Tour! One of my Key West favorites and a great way to acquainted with the island for first timers and Key West veterans alike. It is a fun 2-hour guided tour around the 26 Miles of Key West’s coastline with several stops along the way where the guide educates you on Key West’s history, the landmark’s, the beaches & some of the best places to visit. The trip took us around the entire coast, past landmarks & historical sites, in between the islands and through the mangroves. Some of the sites included, Mallory Square, the marina, Key West harbor, a historical fort, the Coast Guard & the Navy & all of the beaches, then at the end there’s a “Free Style” ride where you get to open up on the throttle and just have fun. The name of the company that does the tour is Barefoot Billy’s and I highly ecommend the tour to anyone visiting Key West!

    8. This has to be one of the most comprehensive blogs for the Florida Keys. I am headed down in late April for my honeymoon, and creating a list of To Do’s. My fiancé has been before, but she was in AmeriCore so it will be a different experience for her. We are planning 3 nights in both Key West as well as Key Largo and will play the first night by ear when we fly in.

    9. Wow, so much to do here and will have to add it to my list for next time. That hoverboard I’ve been wanting to do for ages, not many places in Australia have it available. Thanks very much for sharing !

    10. I love Key West. One of the cool quirky things my husband and I found on our first trip there was the chicken house. It was a little shop with a yard on a side street with chickens roaming everywhere. It was so Key West.

    11. Thank you SO MUCH for such a comprehensive list! I’m planning our first trip to the Keys and have written down so many suggestions from this post. I appreciate the time you took to write this ;)


    Leave a Comment

    Annette White the Owner of Bucket List Journey
    Hey Bucket Listers!
    I'm Annette.

    I’m a goal obsessed mid-lifer, traveler, experience collector, fear crusher, digital marketer and author with big bucket list dreams. Let's Connect!

    GET MY 2,000 free bucket list ideas

    Jump right in and you will get your printable ideas by email: