Thinking of heading to Key West? Here is the ultimate Key, West Florida bucket list! A few years ago, I spent a summer working at a color-changing T-shirt shop in Key West, Florida. I think my dad was a little worried and thought I was going to be working at a little shack on the beach bumming my way through the summer.
However, the shop where I worked was right next to the cruise ship docks and only a couple of blocks from Duval Street. So every day I admired the giant cruise ships and amazing yachts riding up to the docks. Then I wandered my way through town on my scooter every night after work.
Because of this, I think I know some of what I’m talking about and even have compiled 17 things you need to know before visiting Key West! Key West, Florida can be known for Duval Street’s drinking and partying each night. However, I didn’t spend any of my time on the island drinking or partying 🙃 (crazy, right?). Instead I spent my time exploring every.single.inch of the island (way beyond Duval Street). And I found all of the amazing things to do in Key West, Florida. Plus I found unique places to eat, and hidden gems to explore.
I have since taken my husband back to Key West on an amazing Florida roadtrip. We started at Walt Disney World then made our way all the way through the Florida Keys to Key West.
However, ever since that roadtrip, I have been daydreaming about returning and spending an entire week just on the island of Key West to be able to fully relax and unwind. Plus this time we’d get to bring along our little tot 😍.
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Getting to Key West
Key West has its own local, international airport. However, I recommend flying into Miami or Ft. Lauderdale instead. Then I recommend you rent a car and enjoy the amazing 3.5-hour drive on the Overseas Highway to Key West. Plus Miami and Fort Lauderdale will most likely have less expensive flights than Key West.
Where to stay in Key West, Florida
Lodging in Key West, Florida can be pretty pricey (booo👎). I’d plan on budgeting *at least* $175 per night for lodging (that’s on the lower end). And, if you are looking at trying to save money, you may be able to find a better deal on an Airbnb.
I recommend looking for an Airbnb with a kitchen because this will help you save a lot of money on eating out! However, staying in a fancy hotel with a private pool and beach sounds pretty amazing too. For example the Casa Marina Key West, Waldorf Astoria. Maybe one day I’ll have that kind of $$$ 🤞🤞🤞.
Use this link to save up to $65 on your first Airbnb booking.
Related Post:17 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting Key West, Florida
98 Amazing Things You Must Do in Key West
- Drive the Overseas Highway from Miami to Key West. It’s so magical! | Overseas Highway
- Walk a portion of the old 7-Mile Bridge | Overseas Highway
- Watch a picture-perfect sunset from Mallory Square |Mallory Square
- Tip the street performers during Sunset Celebration | Mallory Square
- Pet a cat 6-toed cat while touring Ernest Hemingway’s House | Whitehead Street
- Paddleboard through mangroves and seagrass (and possibly see some Nurse sharks!) | Paddleboard rental with optional lesson
- Take a thrilling jet-ski trip around the entire island of Key West with a fun stop at a sandbar. | Ultimate Jet Ski Tour
- Take a jog along the gorgeous beach path on S. Roosevelt Blvd with crystal clear water next to you. | S. Roosevelt
- Have breakfast with the roosters at an authentic local’s favorite, Blue Heaven. Make sure to get a table outside to enjoy the live music. And order the best fruit-filled pancakes you’ve ever had!| Petronia Street
- Pick up some cheap-eats from Key West’s hidden gem, Falafel King. Look for the Falafel King sign pointing you down the alley off of Front Street! | Fitzpatrick Street
- Snorkel at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park- the best Key West beach for snorkeling. Snorkel gear can be rented onsite. | Fort Zachary Taylor
- Snap a pic at the southernmost point of the USA. | Whitehead Street/South Street
- Crash a wedding at the famous Smathers Beach | S. Roosevelt
- Get an Insta-worthy pic with the giant conch shell at Key West High School | Flagler Ave.
- Rent a scooter or golf cart and explore the island with the wind in your hair
- Try fried plantain (and other delicious Cuban food) with the locals at El Siboney | Catherine Street
- Wander through the Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden | Stock Island
- Hang out on a private sandbar in Key West’s backcountry (it’s seriously sooo dreamy)| Key West Backcountry Sandbar Tour
- Climb aboard a U.S. Coast Guard ship USCGC INGHAM retired in 1988 | Southard Street
- Let a butterfly land on you at the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory | Duval Street
- Explore beautiful gardens and history of a Civil War fort at West Martello Gardens and Fort | S. Roosevelt
- Take a stroll down Edward B. Night Pier (White Street Pier) and keep a lookout for people catching interesting fish! | Atlantic Blvd.
- Go deep-sea fishing (people of all skill levels welcome) | Gulfstream Fishing
- Snap a pic of the famous sign marking Mile 0 of Highway 1 | Whitehead Street
- Climb on and explore the civil-war era Fort at Fort Zachary Taylor | Fort Zachary Taylor State Park
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- Relax on a hammock surrounded by white sand and palm trees on your own private beach. (Must have reservations at Sunset Keys restaurant or spa) | Sunset Key
- Eat a sloppy joe at the Famous Sloppy Joes | Duval Street
- Rent a bike to explore the island or ride the beach path on S. Roosevelt | Island Safari Rentals
- Soak in the views from the top of the Key West Lighthouse which was open in 1848 with a woman as the keeper (which was unheard of at that time💪) | Whitehead Street
- Wander the beautiful Key West Cemetery from 1847. Graves are organized by faith and ethnicity. See the beautiful statues, above-ground graves, and clever grave inscriptions | Pauline Street
- Eat at the world’s first Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville | Duval Street
- Try the must-have Key Lime Pie on a stick from the original Kermit’s Key Lime Shoppe | Elizabeth Street
- Get your Key Lime Pie dipped in chocolate from Funky Rooster Coffee House | Caroline Street
- Walk Duval Street (during the day for a quieter time, at night for a lively bar scene) | Duval Street (book a pub crawl here if that’s your thing)
- Parasail over gorgeous turquoise-blue and emerald-green waters | Fury Parasailing Adventure
- Take a tour of President Harry S Truman’s Winter White House | Front Street
- Eat fresh fish in a former turtle cannery overlooking the harbor at Turtle Kraals | Margaret Street Historic Seaport
- Get the best fresh-Mex at Amigos Tortilla Bar with a fun and intimate atmosphere (you’ve got to try their bowls) |Duval Street
- Snag some yummy Cuban sandwiches or smoothies-to-go at Cuban Coffee Queen | Margaret Street
- Snap a pic at the adorable ‘Welcome to Key West’ postcard mural | Behind Cuban Coffee Queen on Margaret Street
- Make lunch or dinner reservations at Latitudes on Sunset Key for a perfect meal on the water overlooking Key West. Plus get access to Sunset Key’s private beach (trust me, it’s worth it) | Sunset Key
- Check Hard Rock Cafe Key West off your Hard Rock bucketlist| Duval Street
- Shop the fun Bahama Village Market for a Key West trinket | Petronia Street
- Swing by the cute, local boutique Wanderlust KW for some cute clothes or knick-knacks | Petronia Street
- Learn about 400 years of shipwreck salvaging in the Florida Keys at the Key West Shipwreck Museum |Whitehead Street
- Take a boat trip to the Sand Key Lighthouse which is a huge metal tower way offshore and a great place to go snorkeling | Florida Reef Snorkel Tour
- Take a guided Conch Train tour to get your bearings and an overview of the island | Front Street
- See an extensive collection of artifacts 17th-century shipwrecks at the Mel Fischer Maritime Museum | Greene Street
- Pay respects at the African slave burial/memorial site from 1860 at Higgs Beach | Atlantic Blvd
- Catch a movie at the retro-style Tropic Cinema | Eaton Street
- See the gorgeous white-washed Trinity Presbyterian Church with blue accents and lined with palm trees | Simonton Street
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- Admire the huge white-washed St. Paul’s Episcopal Church with multiple towers and a stunning door on the usually hectic Duval Street | Duval Street
- See The Basilica of St. Mary Star of the Sea with 2 large, silver spires and a beautiful olive green exterior | Truman Ave
- Stroll Caroline Street to admire beautiful, old Key West homes with traditional Southern charm | Caroline Street
- Try a Key West-fav, Conch Fritters from a cute stand called Key West Original Conch Fritters | Duval Street
- Day trip to Dry Tortugas National Park on a spacious catamaran | Dry Tortugas Tour
- See the Key West Riviera Canals where homes back up to the water and owners dock their boats | S. RooseveltVisit the quirky and unique Peace Store for unique, feel-good souvenirs and gifts | Caroline Street
- Shop the Truman Waterfront Key West Farmers Market every Thursday from 2 pm to 7 pm for local food and crafts | Truman Waterfront
- Shop the Key West Artisan Market every other Sunday in season (November to April) from 10 am to 3 pm at Higgs Beach | Atlantic Blvd
- Get a close-up look of what’s under the sea at the (small) Key West Aquarium | Whitehead Street
- Rent a lounge chair and relax under the sun at Southernmost Beach | Duval Street
- Buy a cheap T-shirt on Duval street | Duval Street
- Order some delicious and cleverly-named desserts from Better Than Sex Dessert Restaurant | Simonton Street
- Hang out at the small but clean Simonton Beach snacking on some fast food from the beach vendor | Simonton Street
- Catch some live music near the water at Coffee Butler Amphitheater | Angela Street
- Enjoy a gorgeous Key West sunset while sailing on a 55-foot sailboat sailing the waters of Key West | Sunset Sail
- Have a meal under the twinkle lights on Sunset Pier (bonus if it’s during sunset)| Near Mallory Square
- Buy all the kitschy Key West trinkets, Christmas ornaments, and seashells from a quirky shop called Mac’s Sea Garden | Margaret Street
- Swing by Mo’s Restaraunt for home-cooked Creole/Caribbean food | White Street
- Catch a play or a musical from one of the best professional theaters in Southern Florida, Red Barn Theatre | Duval Street
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- Try the best sprinkle-covered custard at Boardwalk Frozen Custard | Duval Street
- Share a delicious (and huge) ice cream and cookie dessert called the Cookie Monster from Mattheessen’s Homemade | Duval Street
- Admire original John James Audubon bird paintings and stroll through the area he visited in the 1830s at the Audubon House & Tropical Gardens. | Whitehead Street
- Wander through Key West’s Historic Seaport | William’s Street
- Take the stairs into the water from Higgs Beach Pier | Atlantic Blvd
- Watch the sunset with some tasty snacks from Southernmost Beach Cafe | Duval Street
- People-watch at the cruise ship docks | Mallory Square
- See a collection of salvaged Cuban refugee boats to learn a little of what Cuban refugees have experienced traveling to Florida | Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden
- Visit Key West’s natural history museum: Eco-Discovery Center | Quay Road
- Play with rescued parrots at Nancy Forrester’s Secret Garden | Elizabeth Street
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- Be in Key West during one of the many festivals that occur each year. For example, Hemingway Days or the Speed Boat Racing Festival. (I recommend steering clear of Fantasy Fest if you want to avoid nudity and a raucous time) | Duval Street
- Visit the beautiful and unique Kapok Tree in front of Monroe County Courthouse | Whitehead Street
- Try the French crepes at La Crêperie French Café Key West | Petronia Street
- Hang out with the huge Banyan tree on the property of the Key West Lighthouse | Whitehead Street
- Visit the Tennessee Williams museum to learn about the famous playwright who lived in Key West for 30 years and wrote The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof . | Duval Street/Truman Avenue
- Go sailing on a historic Key West schooner | Elizabeth Street
- Take a clear-bottomed kayak tour to get up close and personal with fish, jellies, and nurse sharks | Clearly Unique Kayak Tours
- Admire the vintage Strand Theater from the 1920s with bulb lighting and retro colors. It now is home to the most unique Walgreens you’ll ever see | Duval Street
- Snap a pic with the huge Conch Republic flag mural at the Key West airport terminal | S. Roosevelt
- Visit the Key West Aids Memorial at Edward B. Knight/White Street Pier | Atlantic Blvd
- Take a ride on the Key West Hop-on-Hop-off Trolley Tour | 13 stops on Key West
- Spend an entire day on the water (breakfast and lunch included) sailing on a catamaran, snorkeling, jet-skiing, parasailing, and playing with water toys on Fury’s Ultimate Adventure (it’s a perfect way to get a taste of all the watersports!) | Greene Street
- Go thrifting at Key West’s Salvation Army | Flagler Ave.
- Explore Key West’s two independent book stores: Key West Island Bookstore (charming used-book store), Books and Books (spacious, new-book store) | Fleming Street and Eaton Street
- Feed the Tarpon at Robbie’s. Pay a few bucks for a bucket of fish to dangle for HUGE tarpon to snatch out of your hand around the docks | Islamorada (1.5. hours away)
- Wander the adorable outdoor market at Robbie’s | Islamorada (1.5 hour away)
- Try fried Key Lime pie (yes, fried pie) at Porky’s Bayside right on the water | Marathon (1.5 hours away)
- Relax by the water with food or drinks at the Hungry Tarpon Restaraunt | Islamorada (1 hour away)
And that is your ultimate Key West, Florida bucket list of 98 things to do in Key West!
Please let me know if you have any questions about things to do in Key West, Florida in the comments below! I am a real person who loves to talk travel!
You’ll Love these other posts:
- 17 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting Key West, Florida
- The Ultimate Itinerary for a Day Trip to Key West
- Ultimate Key West Food Guide | 19 Places You Must Try
- 8 Best Places to Try Key Lime Pie in Key West
- The 7 Most Beautiful Places You Need to Watch the Sunset in Key West
- 10 Best Things to do at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park in Key West Florida
- 8 Key West Excursions Definitely Worth the Money
- 5 Reasons You Need to Rent Jet Skis in Key West + How to Rent
This list is awesome, and even having been to the keys many times I find many things on here to check out still! I’m shocked that the resort for suggestion is Casa Marina and wonder if anyone here has stayed there recently? We booked it in Jan2023 for March2023, and have only seen abysmal reviews lately. We are worried to say the least!! Any insight?
Hey Linda- I’m so happy to hear this was helpful! I just checked out some of the recent reviews for Casa Marina and-yikes! it looks like things may have gone a little downhill (but they may be getting a renovation soon?). Anyway, I always trust my gut when it comes to reading reviews. If you are feeling unsettled about your accommodations, you may want to see if you have any options to rebook elsewhere. I hope you have an awesome time! The two hotels at the top of my list to try are The Perry Hotel and Marina Key West and Southernmost Beach Resort.
Missi Maschino says
We are looking for a wonderful 30th anniversary trip and had been considering Key West! This was such a great list to find! Thank you and now I believe this will be our destination!
I’m so happy to hear this was helpful and I hope you have a wonderful anniversary trip- and congratulations on 30 years!
Paula Cooper says
What an amazing resource for a trip to Key West! I’m planning my entire trip in April around your info. Very precise and beautiful descriptions! Thank you so much.
Hey Paula 🙂 Thank you so much for the nice compliment and I’m so happy to hear you have found this helpful. I hope you have an awesome time in Key West in April!
Love your list ❤️. We’ve done many of them!! Going again in June can’t wait to try more that you suggested that we haven’t thought of!!
Hi Nancy! I’m so glad to hear you were able to come up with a few more ideas from this list. I hope you have a great visit in June 🙂
Thanks for the info! We are driving down from Miami on the 30th, only staying 1 1/2 days. We will use some of your suggestions, but assume after a brief visit we will return for a more lengthy stay next winter. I now wish we had a few more days before returning to our rental in Miami!
I’m glad this could be helpful to you 🙂 I hope you have an awesome trip and I so wish we could be there right now as well!