You see the huge “Welcome To the Conch Republic” sign welcoming you, and you’re wondering, What are the best things to do in the Florida Keys?
No matter what kind of traveler you are, the Florida Keys will certainly wet your whistle.
Looking for a beach vacation in Florida? The Keys boast some of the most incredible beaches perfect for snorkeling, tanning, and all-around fun! Not to mention some of the cutest beach cottages in Florida.
You won’t find better seafood than in the Florida Keys, either. You’ll eat like a king at the best restaurants in the Keys. The only way you could taste something fresher is to cook your own fish right on the boat!
Also, what better place is there to taste Florida’s premiere dessert, Key Lime Pie?
With loads of tropical Florida state parks, the Keys are a great way to get back in touch with nature. Bask in the beachy nature trails or take a paddle in a kayak!
With many national landmarks and historical sites, history buffs will enjoy their time in the sun too!
The Florida Keys have some of the best attractions in South Florida. It’s time to experience the islands that make Florida a tropical paradise.
Don’t forget to check out our complete guide to where to stay in the Florida Keys!
Let’s look at what to do in the Florida Keys!
What is the Prettiest Key in Florida?
All of the islands in the Florida Keys are beautiful in their own way. But if you are looking for unspoiled nature and classic island vibes, you should definitely plan on visiting Bahia Honda Key and Big Pine Key.
These two pretty Florida islands are located near each other on the southern end of the Keys.
Bahia Honda has a gorgeous state park featuring long stretches of white sand beaches with clear water. The palm trees against the turquoise waters paint a beautiful scene perfect for relaxation.
Big Pine Key is where the endangered Key deer make a home in the wooded National Key Deer Refuge. For more wildlife, you can look for alligators in the Blue Hole. The island also has beaches and kayaking opportunities.
Really, the prettiest key in Florida is whichever one you are currently exploring.
Is the Drive From Miami to Key West Worth It?
Yes, the drive from Miami to Key West is 100% worth it! This is a great bucket list activity and one of the best road trips in the U.S.
The journey is just under 200 miles but you will want to take a leisurely drive to make the most of the many amazing stops.
No matter your interests, you will love this Florida road trip. From jaw-dropping nature to historic sites, to cute, beach towns, the Florida Keys really have it all!
You should plan a couple of days to enjoy all of the top Florida Keys activities!
17 Best Things To Do In the Florida Keys For Your Bucket List
On the south side of Biscayne Bay, you can find one of the most unique things to do in Miami.
Stiltsville, a group of wood stilt houses, stands on reinforced concrete pilings between Miami and the Keys.
The group of pastel buildings appears to hover over the greenish water. At a distance, they even appear to be boats.
There are currently seven houses. A number of them have been destroyed due to hurricanes.
In Biscayne National Park, one of the best national parks in Florida, you can take a boat tour of the mysterious community. The ride to get there lasts an hour, but the sight of the Miami skyline makes it worth it.
You can even see native Florida animals like sea turtles!
You are free to charter your own boat as well! Try Monty’s in Coconut Grove or Haulover Marina in North Miami Beach.
Be advised the area around Stiltsville can be difficult to navigate. With only one deep channel running through the houses, pay attention close attention to markers.
This is one of the top things to do in the Upper Keys!
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
The first undersea park in the United States, John Pennekamp State Park is one of the best things to do in Key Largo.
The park is 70 nautical miles of beautiful coral reefs! If pine trees and hiking trails are getting old, trade in your hiking boots for a snorkel and jump into one of the best things to do in the Florida Keys.
As a Florida National Marine Life Sanctuary, the living, shallow-water coral reefs are alive and vibrant with color. Divers from around the world travel here to experience the area’s extraordinary wildlife.
While the park boasts mangroves and tropical hammocks, the reefs are the star attraction. You are permitted to scuba dive and snorkel to get a closer look.
If you want to stay dry, rent a glass-bottom boat to see the beauty underneath you!
For a truly unique experience in one of the prettiest state parks in Florida, exploring the underwater worlds will be one of the best things to do in Key Largo with kids!
Even if you do not go swimming, the park is still a must-see in the Keys.
Marathon Marine Park
With an aquarium and conservation center, a visit to the Marathon Marine Park is one of the best things to do in Marathon Key.
Their mission is to teach about the ocean and its majestic creatures through close, or even one-on-one interaction.
Through many aquatic exhibits, you can take a free guided audio tour. You can also take a tour led by an expert marine biologist.
Marathon Marine Park also features multiple touch tanks including Tide Pool, Nursery, Stingray Cove, and Giant Isopod! Here you can see and gently touch different aquatic species. Just remember to keep them underwater!
While not included in your admission, consider taking an exclusive encounter! You can get up close and personal with baby stingrays, entire coral reef ecosystems, and even big sharks!
Marine biologists on site will teach you about the majestic creatures as you interact with them. This is one of the best activities to do in the Keys! Add it to your Florida Keys bucket list!
Coral Cay Activities & Adventures
Sometimes when you’re on vacation, you need to ditch the kids and have some alone time. You’ll find some relief at Hawks Cay Resort, home to one of the best things to do in Duck Key for kids!
Hawks Cay is home to Coral Cay Activities & Adventures, a haven for kids and teens alike. Keep in mind, kids under 13 will need an adult or someone over 18 with them at all times.
Coral Cay offers swimming pools, sports venues, great food, and all sorts of programs and events to make sure kids and teens have an awesome time! So the adults can escape and enjoy some peace and quiet!
Kids will enjoy Florida Keys vacation activities and educational programs through water sports like snorkeling! There’s also a game room offering board games, foosball, and video games.
Don’t forget access to the kids’ exclusive Pirate Ship Pool. There’s also a playground, a putting course for miniature golfers, as well as basketball and volleyball courts!
Bahia Honda State Park
When people visit the Florida Keys, they tend to only visit the most famous beaches like Key West and Key Largo. We’re here to tell you they’re missing out!
Bahia Honda State Park on Bahia Honda Key is one of the most beautiful things to do on your drive from Miami to Key West.
Visitors to the park experience breathtaking views of what makes Florida the Sunshine State. Palm-lined shores are lapped up by gin-clear waters. Balmy breezes will keep you warm year-round in this South Florida State Park.
This is truly one of the best beaches in the Florida Keys and you must check it out!
Explore the world just underneath the waters of Bahia Honda on a self-guided snorkeling tour.
Among the seagrass beds and rocky bottoms, you’ll catch a glimpse of spiny lobster, starfish, and queen conch poking their heads out to say hello.
Perhaps the most beautiful thing to do at Bahia Honda is stargazing. Once the sun sets on the turquoise waters, stars fill the night sky and the beaches become a magical wonderland.
Walk the Old Bahia Honda Bridge and gaze up at the constellations, or just lie back in a beach chair and let the majesty wash over you.
You will agree a visit here is a must-do in the Florida Keys!
Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
One of the most interesting things to do in Key West is to pay a visit to the home of writer Ernest Hemingway.
This unique residence is now one of the most interesting museums in Florida, dedicated to one of America’s most respected authors.
Because Hemingway found solace in the tranquil waters of the Atlantic Coast, he made Key West his home. Subsequently, he spent 10 years cultivating his personal home and writing there!
Inside the Hemingway House, you’ll see furniture he and his family used. Along the walls, oil paintings from his personal collection hang. Make sure to see the massive chandelier collection of his wife, Pauline.
Outside, the surrounding gardens are lush with gardenias, plumbagos, and powder puffs.
Before you leave, make sure to gander at the massive pool. A luxury in Hemingway’s time, it lights up in the evening. It was described to look like “luminous frogs in a green fire.”
Meanwhile, throughout the grounds, 40-50 polydactyl (six-toed) cats run free! These cats are all descendants of Hemingway’s first six-toed cat, Snow White.
Tabbies, calicos, and tortoise-shell cats with six toes make the museum their home. They are all named after celebrities, in Hemingway’s tradition.
Overall, this is definitely one of the most popular things to do in the Florida Keys for couples, families, and solo travelers alike.
Famous for its beautiful sunsets, Mallory Square holds 26,000 square feet of shops, boutiques, art galleries, exhibits, and some of the best restaurants in Key West! Right on the water, this is one of the best Florida Keys must-see attractions.
Start your day with one of the best Key West breakfasts at Cuban Coffee Queen for cafe con leche and then head to one of the art galleries like Wings of Imagination.
You can pick up handcrafted wares and Florida souvenirs at shops like Native Colors or Nature’s Treasures.
The fun doesn’t stop there! Mallory Square is home to the world-famous Mallory Square Sunset Celebration. A staple in local nightlife and one of the best things to do in the Keys at night, this celebration has turned into a tradition.
While you’re walking through the square, you will enjoy the entertainment of musicians and street performers. You can even buy something unique from a street vendor!
Spend a few hours here and enjoy the party! This is one of the best things to do in the Florida Keys for adults looking for a night out.
Dry Tortugas National Park
If you’re looking for scenic Florida Keys camping, you can’t beat the sights and sounds of Dry Tortugas National Park. This is one of the most fun things to do in the Florida Keys for both history and nature lovers!
The Dry Tortugas form a 100-square-mile park made up of seven small islands.
A tropical paradise known as the home of magnificent Fort Jefferson, this island is a place where nature, history, and relaxation meet to form something quite special.
The only way to get there is by private boat, chartered seaplane, or the Yankee Freedom Ferry. The upside? Mosquitos are virtually nonexistent because there is no fresh water on the island. This makes it perfect for camping in Florida.
While there are no camping reservations, the National Park Services does limit the number of campers. Reservations for the ferry fill up very quickly, so you’ll need to plan several months in advance.
Camping at Dry Tortugas is incredibly primitive. There is a bathroom, but nothing else, not even drinking water. If you’re camping for multiple days, you can get lunch or snacks on the ferry when it arrives each afternoon.
Near the outhouse, campers will leave leftover supplies in a plastic bin when they leave, as a friendly courtesy.
This park is easily one of the top places to visit in the Florida Keys!
Long Key State Park
Once only available to the rich and famous, one of the best things to do in the Florida Keys is now open and available for all to enjoy. A trip to Long Key State Park will allow you to bask in Florida’s natural beauty.
Many celebrities and authors like Zane Grey once made Long Key State Park their haven. Many U.S. Presidents even fished here! After the Labor Day Hurricane in 1935, the course of the park changed forever.
Everyone is now welcome to enjoy outdoor recreation like kayaking, hiking, birding, picnicking, flats fishing, and even snorkeling!
There are even two excellent hiking trails to explore and see the natural flora and fauna of the Keys up close.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try primitive camping. Since Hurricane Irma, there are 60 oceanfront campsites! Make sure to reserve your reservations in advance, camping on the beach is very popular.
This is easily one of the fun places in the Florida Keys for outdoor recreation.
Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail
Sure, you can drive the Seven Mile Bridge on a road trip, but there’s a different way to experience the Florida Keys.
One of the best things to do in the Florida Keys is to take it all in from the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail.
Many existing pathways and bridges from the remains of Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway make up the trail. Currently, it features over 90 linear miles of transportation corridor spanning from Key West to Key Largo.
The inspiration for the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail parallels Highway 1 in California. The FKOHT today aspires to be a National Scenic Highway and All-American Road.
Pedestrian and bicycle-friendly, here you can go hiking, running, bicycling, skating, sightseeing, fishing, and paddling.
Always check the weather and fishing pier closures before heading out. Conditions on the bridges may be treacherous.
From the trail, you can access many points of interest like Everglades National Park, Biscayne National Park, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and more!
You also have access to many Florida state parks as well as private campsites.
Harry S. Truman Little White House
History buffs, rejoice! You can learn more about American history at Florida’s only Presidential Museum! Get some education at the Little White House, one of the best things to do in the Florida Keys.
For 175 days over 11 visits, Harry Truman spent his time here in Key West as a winter getaway when the White House and D.C. became too cold to bear.
While named after Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Clinton all used this space during their presidencies as well.
Among the exhibits, you can look through the records of Truman’s time in official trip logs. While some overlook these logs as souvenirs for staffers and family, history buffs can read into clues as to the working president of Key West.
For a fee, you can tour the house and the grounds and see how the presidents lived while they were visiting Key West!
Key West Art & Historical Society
For a taste of culture down south, visit the Key West Art and Historical Society! The Society collects, safeguards, and interprets all facets of Florida Keys culture.
While you can visit the Society’s headquarters in the Custom House directly, you are encouraged to visit its four culturally distinct museums.
These include the Key West Museum of Art & History, the Key West Lighthouse & Keeper’s Quarters, Fort East Martello, and the Tennessee Williams Museum!
Take the self-guided marker trail and see 120 historic markers in the largest historic district of frame buildings in the United States.
Among the sites, you can see Casa Antigua, one of Key West’s oldest hotels. Don’t forget the Oldest Drugstore and the Southernmost House!
The society also hosts many events and Florida festivals annually. There’s always something going on and sometimes you can participate remotely!
Enter the Tennessee Williams Poetry or Short Story Contest. Or join other families each week for Littles on the Lighthouse for a special storytime!
There really are so many great things to do in the Lower Keys!
Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory
If you’re looking for a different way to connect with nature, consider a walk through the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory.
A stroll here will afford you close-up views of hundreds of butterflies and Florida birds! This is one of the best activities in the Keys!
When you arrive, a 15-minute film will set the stage, explaining basic facts of interest about butterflies.
There’s also a wall-size mural map, depicting butterflies by their country of origin, as well as illustrated diagrams on butterfly anatomy, physiology, and a look at the incredible Monarch migration.
When you walk through the climate-controlled, glass-enclosed habitat, you’ll experience the collection of flowering plants and glistening waterfalls. Nestled among the flora are the butterflies, the “flowers of the sky.”
A stroll through the butterflies is one of the most romantic things to do in the Florida Keys!
There’s even a chamber where you can see the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly! The caterpillars are never taken from the wild, but rather bred in this haven to keep them safe and keep their numbers up!
After your stroll, wander to the Gift Shop and Gallery! In addition to stunning artwork depicting butterflies and Florida nature, you can take home all things butterfly related to the nature lover in your life!
Sea Turtle Hospital
If you love animals, then you’ll love the work of the small non-profit, the Sea Turtle Hospital.
One of the most heart-warming things to do in the Florida Keys, you can take guided tours to see the rehabilitation of sea turtles in Florida!
The Sea Turtle Hospital functions as a veterinary hospital for sick and injured sea turtles. Every day, they rescue, rehab, and release sea turtles in the Florida Keys.
On what was once the Hidden Harbor Hotel, the hospital was built. The old motel rooms function as living quarters for the staff so they can take care of the turtles 24/7.
In order to see the turtles, you must take a guided educational tour of the hospital facilities and sea turtle rehabilitation area.
This provides a behind-the-scenes look at just how delicate marine life can be. At the end of the tour, guests are invited to feed the permanent residents!
Each tour lasts approximately 90 minutes. Guests are encouraged to book their reservations in advance, as the tours are one of the popular Florida Keys things to do.
Southernmost Point of Continental USA
Throughout this post, we’ve discussed some of the best attractions in South Florida. For this last attraction, we’re going WAY down south.
One of the best things to do in the Florida Keys is to visit the Southernmost Point of the Continental USA. This is the coolest thing Florida offers, kind of like the Four Corners in the Midwest!
At the corner of South Street and Whitehead Street, you can visit the concrete buoy anchored in the spot marking exactly what it’s named for!
Eighteen feet above sea level, this is one of the most photographed spots in the entire country!
While the actual southernmost point of the Continental US is truly in Ballast Key, to the southwest, this spot on Key West remains a sort of cultural placeholder.
It is easier for tourists to reach, and who wants to move a slab of concrete that’s 12 feet tall and 7 feet wide?
This is one of the best free things to do in the Florida Keys for your bucket list!
Fort Zachary Taylor State Park
It is also the southernmost state park in the continental US and has our vote as one of the best Florida Keys state parks! This is what to see in the Florida Keys!
Built in the 1840s, as a series of forts to protect the southern coast after the conflict of the War of 1812 and used during the Civil War and Spanish American War, it was named after U.S. President Zachary Taylor.
Learn about the past as you explore the old fort and enjoy the monthly historic reenactments.
Other things to do at this state park include hiking, biking, fishing, and grabbing a meal at the Cayo Hueso Café.
No matter what you do, you will agree this is one of the best attractions in the Keys!
Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park
The former quarry was used by Henry Flagler when he was building the Overseas Railroad in the early 1900s.
This piece of history is definitely one of the unique things to do in the Florida Keys with kids because there is plenty to discover within the rocks left behind!
Go and explore the awesome fossil corals and quarry machinery from 20th-century Florida that was used until 1960. There are tons of unique flora and fauna in the park.
You can take a self-guided tour of the park or learn even more during a ranger-led tour on select days.
The fossils are truly some of the coolest things to see in the Keys!
Hopefully, you have discovered some Florida Keys vacation things to do for your next trip!
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