Florida Keys – A beautiful Paradise of turquoise waters, tropical forests, abundant nature, water activities and finally, blessed with a perfect weather to have fun with your family.
What is Florida Keys?
If you are wondering about Keys, Florida Keys are located in the south coast of Florida and forms the southernmost point of the entire continent.
The land comprises approximately 1,700 islands and is named after the Spanish word “Cayo” which means Keys. One has to visit Keys to experience the beauty of the land as it cannot be described through words.
How could words do justice to such an eternal beauty? If you are planning to have a beach vacation with tropical climate in a land blessed with artistry and nature, then Florida Keys should top your list.
Florida Keys are grouped into different categories, each with their uniqueness – Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine & Lower Keys and Key West.
The entry point of the Keys is the Key Largo, the largest among all the islands. Islamorada, also known as the Purple Isle is the newest location in the Keys and called as the Sport Fishing Capitol of the World.
The city, Marathon is the heart of the Florida Keys, surrounded by many small islands. The Key West forms the southern end of the Florida Keys.
Florida Keys has numerous options and it has something to offer for every one of you. It is blessed with beaches if you are nature lover, loaded with water activities if you are sportsperson and a dream destination for a foodie.
I flew to Fort Lauderdale and drove along the US route 1 to reach Key West. The entire drive is along the Gulf of Mexico and Pacific Ocean surrounded by clear waters, blue sky and beautiful sight of Keys. We stayed in Marathon as Key West is just an hour away by drive and also is the best place to explore the entire stretch of the Keys.
If you are the first timer, then definitely one will get bowled by the diverse options of entertainment the city has to offer. Hereby, I have compiled the list of best things to do in Key West.
Top Things To Do In Key West
Click your picture at the Southernmost Point
The buoy in the southernmost point of the Key West is a must-to-do in the Key West.
I would highly recommend visiting the buoy as the first spot in the morning to avoid the long queue. Don’t forget to click a selfie at the buoy!
Watch for this landmark in the intersection of Whitehead and South Streets. You are just 90 miles away to Cuba from this intersection. We visited around 9 AM to avoid the crowd and also the sun. Watch out for the beautiful art performed by the Pelicans over the sea near to the buoy.
Take your selfie at Mile Marker
Don’t forget to click your picture at the 0 Mile Marker of US 1, starting point of the route which starts at Key West and ends in Acadia Maine, stretching through the entire Northeast coast.
Unwind yourself at the beaches
There are beaches everywhere you turn around in Key West.
Though some of them are private beaches, Key West has some fine beaches to have family fun with chairs, umbrellas and some provide watersport activities.
Smathers beach and Higgs beach are the most visited beaches by family and perfect place to have fun. I personally liked Smathers beach compared to Higgs to take a dip in the water and soak yourself in the sun under the shade of tall coconut trees.
Take a stroll along the Duval Street
Duval Street, that starts from Mallory Square brims with food outlets, artistic shops, tikki bars, cafes and local shops. Take a walk along the street to experience the nightlife, fun and to taste some great food.
If you want to experience the adrenaline rush, then Duval Street is the perfect spot to relax and unwind, experience the vibrant energy and rejuvenate your inner child.
Watch Sunset at the Mallory Square
Key West is blessed with the mother nature and the Sunset at the Mallory Square is spectacular.
Mallory Square is known for its vibrancy; watch out for the local artists performing gimmicks; local musicians singing soulfully; shops providing amazing drinks.
The Square will be usually crowded around sunset and take my wise decision here – reach early to witness the nature’s best show. Watch out for the medley of colors in the sky as the sun sets over the Gulf of Mexico.
Witness the most dramatic show from the shore or catch a sunset cruise to view the dazzling sunset from the sea.
The sight of a bright reddish sun setting over the blue sky above the clear waters is such a beautiful sight to watch and I am sure that it will be the best moment during your vacation. Grab a tropical drink; capture your seat at the shore and enjoy the Nature with your loved ones.
If you are fond of adventures and love to do water sports activities, then here you go with the list
For the adventurer in you:
The Florida Keys is abundant with underwater sea life and is a perfect place to go for snorkelling.
There are a number of agents providing water sports activities. Some of the best spots to go for snorkelling is Sombrero beach near to the Marathon and at Dry Tortugas National Park.
Kayak along the Mangroves:
Florida Keys has tropical climate and mangrove forests. One of the best activity is to kayak along the Mangroves.
There are Kayak tours provided by many agencies. Rent a tandem, kayak with your loved ones along the mangroves to experience the tropical season, watch mangroves in closer and reptiles.
Jet Ski and Paddle Board
If you are an adventurer and love to enjoy sea life, then the best way is to get into water. Jet Skiing and Paddle boarding are some more fun ways to spend your valuable time in Key West and make memories of a lifetime.
Bike around the Island
Key West is bite-sized and the best way to explore the city is by walk or by bike. Yes, doesn’t that excite you? Rent a bike and be a wanderer on the island.
Burn out those calories by pedalling along the city. Key West is lined by beautiful homes painted with vibrant colors and palm trees lining the streets. Tour every street of the island and soak in the beauty of this small town.
Tour in Old Wagon Trolley or Conch Train
What would be the best way to tour around the city other than catching up this old wagon trolley or conch train? Conch train is one of the most popular in Key West and offers a 75-minutes journey explaining the history and evolvement of the city.
Catch a tour on this world famous conch train and explore the city in a relaxed way. To explore some of the iconic spots in the city, catch an old wagon trolley tour.
For the Nature Lover in You:
Visit Dry Tortugas National Park
If you are an ardent lover of nature, then a visit to the Dry Tortugas National Park should be in your list during your vacation.
Dry Tortugas is a National Park located in the Gulf of Mexico and 70 miles west of Key West, comprised of seven keys. The park can be reached only via ferry or through seaplane.
Dry Tortugas is a paradise on land surrounded with clear waters on all the sides and abundant marine life. Visit the park take one whole day and Yankee Freedom offers daily trips to the park with 4 hours to explore the park.
Visit the Fort Jefferson and learn about its history. Snorkel in the Florida Keys Reef system. Go bird watching; watch out for pelicans, blue herons, Kermit Crabs, and pelagic seabirds.
Camp in the park to experience the nightlife and go for star gazing.
For the historic person in you:
Visit Truman Little House:
Visit the house used by the previous six American Presidents for their stay. The house was used as Naval Officers and even famous scientists like Thomas Edison stayed in this little house.
Tour the house constructed in 1890 and explore its architecture. Appreciate its artistic beauty and no wonder why it was used a place to relax and unwind by many Presidents. They do provide guided tours for every 15 minutes.
Visit Key West Light House:
Visit the Key West light house and museum to learn about the maritime heritage and also about the first lighthouse keeper – Barbara Mabrity. The lighthouse is located in the Whitehead Street and has entry fees.
One has to climb 88 steps to reach the top of the lighthouse and each step is worth the view of the city from the top of the lighthouse.
Tour the Hemingway’s House:
Check out the house of the most respected author – Ernest Hemingway, who stayed in the house for around 10 years and created epic works. He proudly referred Key West as his Home.
Tour the house, check out their gardens and watch out for the six-toed cats. And don’t forget to check out the names of the Cats, they do follow a tradition in naming and named after some of the famous personalities.
Tour the Audubon House & Tropical Gardens
Visit the Audubon House to know about the master wrecker in the mid-19th century. A visit to the house takes you back in time and reflects the life of wealthy family, Captain John Huling Geiger during the era of shipwrecks in Key West.
Fort Zachary Taylor Historic Park
The state park is another great place to watch sunset and snorkel. The park is located 2 miles away from the downtown and has an entrance fees. Check out the beaches in the park. Visit the President Taylor Fort and learn as how it was used for protecting their harbor during the civil war.
For the Foodie in You:
The entire Duval Street is lined with tiki bars and bars. Hop on to bars to enjoy their local drinks and enjoy soulful music. Check out the famous tradition of Key West – Sloppy Joes and don’t forget to taste their craft beers.
Enjoy the food:
Key West is a dream destination for every food lover with various options for food – healthy, vegan, and amazing food. Grab a tropical coconut drink. Chuck those usual food and enjoy some amazing Caribbean food.
Choose your favorite fish and let the cooks do their magic to bring you a plate of great food filled with flavor and aroma. It is a sin if you return from Key West without tasting their famous Conch Fritters.
Taste Key Lime Pie
Key West and their Key Lime Pies are inseparable and they bake their Key Lime pies to utmost perfection. Yes, they do take the process very seriously.
How about tasting the pie in their place of origin? My favorite shop to visit Key Lime Pie is Kermit’s Key Lime Pie Shop. Try out their World famous Key Lime Pie covered in chocolate on a stick. Grab a pie and let your taste buds thank you later.
Key West – a place where you will never run out of things to do and the above are some of my personal favorites. And the place offers you something new every time. Key West is a perfect island vacation for you and your family. Pack your bags, book your flights, relax and unwind yourself in the beaches and finally be in island time!
This is Karthika, who blogs at www.karthiskitchenstudio.com, an accidental software developer, passionate foodie who would travel miles for a crisp samosas, amateur singer, a crazy explorer of food, a chatterbox, a voracious reader who can spend entire day with books, a true coffee lover who enjoys it without diluting with sugar and insanely interested in everything.
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