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the florida keys

17 Things To Do In The Florida Keys

The Florida Keys are a taste of tropical paradise right in the United States. The Keys are famous for their sugary white sand beaches, beautiful coral reefs, and laid-back island vibes. To make your tropical dreams a reality visit the island chain and enjoy all of the amazing experiences that the Keys have to offer. This list of the best things to do in the Florida Keys will help you to make the most of your time in this tropical paradise.

Dry Tortugas National Park

40001 SR-9336, Homestead, FL 33034

$15 per person for 7 consecutive days

Almost 70 miles west of Key West is the remote Dry Tortugas National Park. The park is 100 square miles of mostly open water and is comprised of 7 small islands. You’ll need to take a boat or a seaplane to get to these remote islands. Ferry tickets are included in the park entrance fee, but seaplanes will charge the entrance fee upon arrival at the island. Dry Tortugas is known for its beautiful blue waters, Fort Jefferson, stunning coral reef, and awe-inspiring marine life. You can also camp at Dry Tortugas to get the full experience.

Ernest Hemingway House And Museum – Key West

907 Whitehead Street, Key West, FL 33040

Adults – $17

Children (6-12) – $7

Under 5 – Free

Cash Only

Walk in the path of the legendary author Ernest Hemingway by visiting his home and museum in Key West. Take a 20 to 30-minute tour and then have full access to the home, gardens, and museum to wander at your own pace. This is also the home of about 60 polydactyl (6-toed) cats. Polydactyl cats held a special place in the author’s heart as he was gifted a 6-toed cat named Snow White. Hemingway named all of his cats after famous people.

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park – Key Largo

102601 Overseas Highway, Key Largo, FL 33037

$8 per vehicle + $.50 per person

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is one of a kind and offers visitors a breathtaking glimpse into the underwater world of the Keys. Encompassing an impressive 70 nautical square miles, take a glass bottom boat tour, or for a closer look consider diving or snorkeling. This state park is a place of clear blue water, where fish swim and lobsters crawl while you marvel at the colorful organisms that make up this impressive coral reef. Dive or snorkel to see the famous Christ Of The Abyss, an 8.5-foot bronze statue of Jesus that is 25 feet below.

The Turtle Hospital – Marathon

2369 Overseas Highway, Marathon, FL 33050

Adults – $30

Children (4-6) – $15

Under 4 – Free

Reservations Recommended

This non-profit organization is dedicated to the rehabilitation of endangered sea turtles and runs on donations and funds from visitors. This is a working hospital so you must be on a guided tour in order to visit with the turtles. All of the efforts of the hospital are to release these beautiful endangered turtles back into the wild after they are rehabilitated. And you can learn how they do that by visiting the Turtle Hospital in Marathon.

Looe Key Marine Sanctuary – Big Pine Key

By visiting one of Big Pine Keys’ grooves and spur reefs at Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary you’ll escape into the underwater world of the Florida Keys. This reef got its name from the HMS Looe which ran aground in 1744. With its interesting history and diverse depths Looe Key is an excellent scuba and snorkeling adventure for people of all skill levels. The water clarity here will leave you stunned as you take in over 150 species of fish including yellowtail, parrotfish, barracuda, and moray eels. If you’re lucky you may even spot sharks and stingrays.

Theater Of The Sea – Islamorada

84721 Overseas Highway, Islamorada, FL 33036

Adults (11+) – $44.95

Seniors (65+) – $40.46

Children (3-10) – $29.95

Animal interactions depend on animals, you can find out more here

The Theater Of The Sea lagoons and lush gardens are home to dolphins, sea lions, sea turtles, sharks, stingrays, alligators, and birds. The general admission tickets will get you up close with dolphins, sea lions, and parrot shows. You can also take a glass bottom boat ride or enjoy the lagoon side beach. Take a fish or reptile tour to see tropical fish, sharks, sea turtles, and alligators. The animal encounters include swimming with dolphins, meeting sea lions, and swimming with sharks or stingrays.

Key West Butterfly And Nature Sanctuary

1316 Duval Street, Key West, FL 33040

Adult – $15

Locals – $13

Seniors (65+) – $12

Children (4-12) – $11

Under 3 – Free

Enter the magical world of butterflies and relax as you stroll through the tropical paradise of the Key West Butterfly And Nature Sanctuary. Walk through the mystical environment filled with hundreds of butterflies, including 50 to 60 different species. You’ll also see an impressive array of tropical plants, colorful birds, and cascading waterfalls as you are transported to another world.

Long Key State Park – Long Key

64700 Overseas Highway, Layton, FL 33001

1 person – $4.50

2+ people – $5.50

$.50 per additional person

Long Key was historically a favorite of the rich and well-to-do but now serves as a tranquil haven for everyone. Nature enthusiasts can kayak, hike, snorkel, and fish at this beautiful state park. Take a hike on one of the 2 nature trails in the park where you can explore a variety of plant and animal life.

African Queen Canal Cruise – Key Largo

99701 Overseas Highway, Key Largo, FL 33037

Adults (13+) – $59

Children (4-12) – $25

Under 3 – Free

Made famous by the 1951 movie starring Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn the African Queen remains a timeless classic today. The famous steamboat is available for canal cruises in the Port Largo canal. The newly restored African Queen takes about 1.5 hours to cruise the canal to the Atlantic Ocean and back again.

Duval Street – Key West

One of the most popular destinations in Key West, Duval Street, is the heart of the island. Although it’s only a mile in length, you’ll find a diverse array of restaurants, shops, nightlife and world-famous pubs. See live music at The Green Parrot, pet a shark at the Key West Aquarium, or take an Old Key West Trolly Tour. You won’t run out of things to do or entertainment options on Duval Street.

The Overseas Highway

There is only one road that links the islands of the Florida Keys, the Overseas Highway, sometimes referred to as the Highway That Goes to the Sea. The highway includes 42 bridges that cross the ocean between islands spanning an impressive 113 miles. Large portions of the highway were built on the former right-of-way of the Overseas Railroad, the Key West Extension of the Florida East Coast Railway. The drive from Miami to Key West generally takes 4 hours with no stops.

History of Diving Museum – Islamorada

82990 Overseas Highway, Islamorada, FL 33036

Adults – $15

Seniors (62+) – $13

Children (6-11) – $7

Under 5 – Free

This museum is dedicated to the preservation, exhibition, and education of the history of diving, and focuses specifically on the Keys and their contributions. They have an impressive collection of artifacts, antiques, books, documents, and photographs. You can even see a true buried treasure from the 16th century at the History Of Diving Museum. You won’t want to miss the collection of diving helmets or a visit to the gift shop.

Bahia Honda State Park – Bahia Honda Key

36850 Overseas Highway, Big Pine Key, FL 33043

$8 per vehicle

At Bahia Honda State Park you’ll find ionic Florida scenery including palm tree-lined beaches, beautiful gin-clear waters, and awe-inspiring sunsets. Rent a kayak to explore at your own pace or take a boat trip to the park’s reef for snorkeling excursions. Nature lovers will appreciate the island’s plants and animals, including wading and shore birds.

Southernmost Point – Key West

Whitehead Street + South Street, Key West, FL 33040

What you’ll find at the Southernmost Point is the iconic colorful buoy and some of the most spectacular sunsets you’ve ever seen. The buoy marks the southernmost point in the continental United States. This is a great photo op to remember your time spent in the Florida Keys. Keep in mind that this is a very popular photo op and you will most likely have to wait in line to take your photo.

National Key Deer Refuge – Big Pine Key

30587 Overseas Highway, Big Pine Key, FL 33043

Key Deer are unique to the lower Florida Keys and this refuge was established in 1957 to both protect and preserve this endangered species. But this refuge is unique because it also protects other endangered species including butterflies, marsh rabbits, and several bird species. Visitors to the refuge can take part in wildlife viewing, fishing, and checking out the Visitor’s Center. Visit the Blue Hole, a freshwater pond located in a former quarry if you are interested in spotting alligators and turtles.

Robbie’s Marina – Islamorada

77522 Overseas Highway, Islamorada, FL 33036

Robbie’s Marina has been voted the #1 place in the Keys that visitors shouldn’t miss. This marina is home to the world-famous tarpon feeding. Tarpons, often known as silver kings, are fish that are great at aerobatics, attaining astonishing size, and having impressive armored scales. It is poorly received as food, but valued as a game fish. This open-air market has something for everyone. Whether you want to hand feed a gigantic tarpon, enjoy watersports, or shop for handmade goods, you’ll find that Robbie’s Marina has it all. Check out the Hungry Tarpon Restaurant for delectable fresh seafood.

No Name Pub – Big Pine Key

30813 Watson Blvd

This unassuming pub may have no name, but it’s got a larger-than-life reputation. This eclectic pub is eccentric and loaded with money, literally. Visitors contribute $1 to the interior to leave their mark on the No Name Pub. They have typical pub fare with large portions that are great for sharing. Try the seafood plates or bbq pork sandwich.  At this bait and tackle shop turned pub it’s all about atmosphere.

The Florida Keys are a wonderful mixture of fun and nature that will have you wanting to return every year. There are so many things to do that this list barely scratches the surface, but it is a great start for planning your Florida Keys vacation.