I tend to think that after spending an entire summer living and working in Key West that I should be able to curate the perfect day trip to Key West… and that’s just what I’ve done for you. When I lived and worked on the island I spent each day off exploring as much of Key West as possible and eating as much awesome Key West food as possible. You can read my ultimate Key West bucketlist with seriously almost every single cool thing there is to do on the island (almost 100 things!). However, if you are looking for what to do in Key West for a day, I am here to give you (from all of my experience and research) the perfect one-day itinerary!
check out this post: The Ultimate Key West, Florida Bucket List | 98 Things to Do
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Best Time of Year to Spend a Day Key West
One of the magical things about visiting Key West is that you can basically go any time of year and have a great experience. That being said, there are a few things to note about the weather and potential crowds at different times of year in the Florida Keys.
Spring and fall generally are the best times to visit Key West for the most moderate weather. You can expect temperatures to be in the 80s F and you will find fewer crowds than in winter. Speaking of winter, you can expect the most crowds in winter and temperatures to drop to the mid-70s F with lows around 65° F.
In the summer you can expect high humidity and temperatures in the 90s F. Speaking from experience, this definitely feels quite toasty. However, if you are willing to bear the heat, you will be rewarded with less crowds (and possibly a little bit or a lot a bit of seaweed along the beaches depending on the year). Hurricane season generally runs from June-November with higher chances of hurricanes forming towards the latter end of that period.
Obviously, hurricanes don’t pass through the Florida Keys every year, but it’s something to be aware of when planning your ideal Florida Keys itinerary. As I said, I have experience with being in Key West for an entire summer, however, I also returned with my husband on a Florida road trip end of October/early November and the weather was perfect and it really felt like the perfect time to visit (minus the fact that a hurricane had come through that summer leaving a few things in shambles 😬 but we were happy to support Key West during a hard time).
*There may be affiliate links in this post. Read my privacy/disclosure policy to learn more.
1 Day Key West Itinerary: Quick Look
- Morning: Breakfast/Brunch at Blue Heaven
- Go snorkeling at Fort Zachary Taylor Beach
- Afternoon: Eat Lunch at the cute Cuban Coffee Queen shack along the waterfront
- Snap a pic at the iconic ‘Greetings From Key West’ mural
- Stroll/shop along the Key West Historic Seaport
- Taste Key Lime Pie on a stick from Kermit’s Key Lime Shoppe
- Visit the Southernmost Point and Mile Marker Zero
- Evening: Watch the sunset at the Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square
- Eat Dinner on Duval at Amigos Tortilla Bar
*Use this interactive map to see where all the top stops are for a great day in Key West*
Key West Day Trip In-Depth Itinerary
1. Breakfast or Brunch at Blue Heaven
You have probably seen other sites recommend Blue Heaven for a meal and it is definitely for good reason. Eating breakfast or brunch at Blue Heaven is one of my top recommendations for things to do in Key West. Thankfully, breakfast is served until 2:00 pm, so even if you are running late you can most likely catch breakfast!
Blue Heaven is such a cute eatery and it’s a local hotspot. Unfortunately, reservations aren’t available, but when you arrive, be sure to ask for a seat outside in their relaxed open-air area. It really is my favorite place to sit and eat. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to hear some live music and watch the infamous Key West chickens roaming the patio.
I recommend ‘Richard’s Very Good Pancakes’ which are huuuge pancakes with chunks of either banana, pineapple, pecans, or blueberries within! If you are feeling up for some Key Lime Pie, Blue Heaven has one of the most unique pies in Key West with a crazy high topping of meringue.
related post: Ultimate Key West Food Guide | 19 Places You Must Try
2. Snorkeling at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park
Fort Zachary Taylor beach is the ultimate hidden gem of Key West. When I worked in Key West for a summer I quickly learned the locals call it Fort Zach and that it’s one of their favorite spots on the island to visit. I returned to Key West with my husband a few years back and even though we only had about 1.5 days on the island, we made sure to snorkel at Fort Zach.
Key West has a lot of beaches, but only one of them is good for snorkeling, and that’s the beach at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. The only other option for snorkeling (which is also a great option) is to take an excursion to snorkel at the Florida Reef a few miles offshore. However, if you want to stay on the island, Fort Zach beach is amazing.
The beach has two rocky jetties home to many colorful fish plus the water is a lovely blue/green color. You can rent snorkel gear, seats and umbrellas from a stand on the sand and even grab a snack from Cayo Hueso Cafe if you get hungry.
If you have more time, you can also take a self-guided tour of a Civil War Era Fort at the state park and wander the pretty walking trails in the area. Check out my 10 Best Things to do at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park post to learn more!
3. Lunch at Cuban Coffee Queen
If you aren’t totally still stuffed from breakfast at Blue Heaven, after snorkeling you’ll want to swing by Cuban Coffee Queen for a yummy drink, Cuban favorites or other sandwhiches and salads. And the best part is, everything is super reasonably priced (which is a huge bonus to find in Key West).
Cuban Coffee Queen has multiple locations on the island, however, my favorite (and in my opinion the cutest) is their original location on Margaret Street near the Key West Historic Seaport. It’s an adorable walk-up stand right near the water and the side of the establishment has the infamous ‘Greetings From Key West’ mural. From here, you’ll be able to walk to enjoy another great area of Key West (more on that below).
4. Snap a Pic at the Iconic ‘Greetings From Key West’ Mural
Be sure to snap a pic at the infamous ‘Greetings From Key West’ mural on the side of Cuban Coffee Queen. Even if you don’t want to stop for food, this is still a great area for a cute pic and a perfect place to start exploring the Key West Historic Seaport.
5. Stroll Through the Key West Historic Seaport
Right near Cuban Coffee Queen and the Key West mural, is the lovely historic seaport. It’s a nice area to go for a relaxed stroll (much quieter than Duval Street). You can get great harbor views of the sailboats and yachts plus even do some shopping and pick up some trinkets or other items to take home as souvenirs.
The cutest road to stroll is the pedestrian-only road called Lazy Way Lane. It has cute, colorful shops, palm trees and lots of islandy trinket shops.
6. Get Key Lime Pie on a Stick at Kermit’s Key Lime Shoppe
Even if you only have one day in Key West, you MUST try Key Lime Pie. One of the quirkiest and yummiest pies to get is the Kermit’s Key Lime Pie, dipped in chocolate served on a stick. Yep, you heard that right, served like a popsicle! If that sounds like a little much to you, you can also buy it on a stick NOT dipped in chocolate, or you can just purchase a traditional slice of pie. However, if you’re only going to try one piece of Key Lime Pie, I definitely recommend Kermit’s Key Lime Shoppe.
They have a few locations in Key West, however, I like the Elizabeth Street location that is right near the Historic Seaport. It’s a super cute yellow and green wooden building and their original location on the island.
check out this post: 8 Best Places to Try Key Lime Pie in Key West
7. Walk and Shop on Duval Street
Duval Street is the largest main street in Key West known for bars, restaraunts, galleries and tourist shops and one of the most popular things to do during a day in Key West. For a calmer, more family-friendly experience on Duval, you may want to walk and shop Duval Street during the day.
One of my favorite spots is the fanciest Walgreens you’ll ever see (yes… Walgreens). The Walgreens on Duval is stationed in a converted, colorful, vintage building called The Strand Theater. From the outside you would neverrrr guess this beautiful building is currently home to a Walgreens. Another favorite cute spot on Duval is the rainbow crosswalk intersection.
At night, the bars on Duval come alive and the sidewalks are crowded. If the bar scene is your thing, you may consider booking a Duval Street pub crawl to experience some of the island’s most iconic bars like Sloppy Joe’s.
8. Visit the Southernmost Point and Mile Marker Zero
While definitely touristy, making a quick stop at the Southernmost Point and Mile Marker Zero are two classic things to do in Key West in one day. The Southernmost Point marker indicates the Southernmost Point of the Continental United States, from this point you are actually closer to Cuba than Miami! It’s a fun spot that’s mostly a quick photo opportunity.
Mile Marker Zero is similar to the Southernmost Point in that it’s a very quick stop/photo-op. It’s the end of Highway US 1 and just a fun spot to see as you are so far south in the Florida Keys.
9. Watch the Sunset at the Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square
If you are doing Key West in a day, I sure hope you have time to stick around for sunset because the Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square is one of my favorite things about Key West. I have visited the sunset celebration many, many times and it’s always a fun experience.
Beginning about two hours before sunset, right on the water in Mallory Square, you’ll catch the Sunset Celebration every single night of the year. There are local vendors, musicians, stunt performers and more! From here you get to watch the huge ball of sun drop below the horizon and possibly even clap once it’s set! It really is a great time.
If you prefer a quieter and possibly more romantic experience watching the sunset, be sure to check out one of the many awesome sunset sails that Key West offers. You can hop aboard a large catamaran, sailboat or even a small private boat to experience the sunset from the water. I also have done a sunset sail in Key West and it’s another awesome way to experience the sunset that I highly recommend. For other great excursion ideas check out my top Key West excursions guide (they are all worth the price!).
10. Eat Dinner at Amigos Tortilla Bar
When living in Key West, Amigos was by far the restaraunt I most frequently visited. It’s a super yummy Mexican joint with the option to sit in the open-air facing Duval Street (makes for great people watching). You can buy delicious tacos, burritos or bowls with various veggie and meat options with (of course) Baja fish being a top contender.
Amigos is a great option for a relaxed, yummy dinner on Duval in the heart of Key West. If you are curious about other great places to eat, be sure to check out my Ultimate Key West Food Guide.
And that is the best way to spend your day in Key West! Please let me know if you have any questions about a day trip to Key West from Miami or from anywhere in the Florida Keys! I’m a real person that loves to talk travel and I’ll be sure to get back to you!
Check out these other posts, I know you’ll love them:
- Ultimate Key West Food Guide | 19 Places You Must Try
- 17 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting Key West, Florida
- The Ultimate Key West, Florida Bucket List | 98 Things to Do
- 10 Best Things to do at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park in Key West Florida
- 8 Key West Excursions Definitely Worth the Money
- 8 Best Places to Try Key Lime Pie in Key West
- The 7 Most Beautiful Places You Need Watch the Sunset in Key West
- 5 Reasons You Need to Rent Jet Skis in Key West + How to Rent