Florida Keys Bucket List: Amazing Places to Visit in the Florida Keys
L.Located south of Miami, the Florida Keys are a series of coral islands stretching 110 miles between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. The islands vary in size and each is filled with an abundance of activities, making them some of the most popular vacation spots in Florida.
Some of the main attractions in the Florida Keys are Marathon, Key Largo, Key West, and Islamorada. Here is our list of the 15 best things to do in the Florida Keys:
1. Explore an underwater park
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park By Jim Stuby (discussion) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Molasses11.jpg, Public Domain, CC
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is the first underwater park in the United States and is located on Key Largo.
The subaquatic park offers visitors an extraordinary glimpse into one of the most diverse coral reefs.
2. Admire Duval Street in Key West
Duval Street in Key West Florida photo via Depositphotos
Another Key West attraction, Duval Street, starts in Mallory Square and extends to the Southernmost Point marker, while being lined with gift shops, museums, cafes, and galleries.
Additionally, several annual festivals and events are held on the street, including Hemingway Days, which are held every summer, and Fantasy Fest, a costume party that lasts ten days every October.
Duval Street is home to landmarks like the Southernmost House, the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, and an old Strand Theater.
3. Enjoy the beach at Bahia Honda State Park
Bahia Honda State Park Photo via Depositphotos
This is one of the most beautiful beaches in Florida and is located in Bahia Honda State Park. There are actually two beaches in the park – one facing the open water while the second overlooks an old railroad bridge.
Here visitors can snorkel, swim, and picnic.
4. Check out the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
Ernest Hemingway house and museum photo via Depositphotos
Also located in Key West near Duval Street, this former home of famed author Ernest Hemingway is a must-see for anyone vacationing in the Florida Keys. This two story house is an important part of the state’s cultural history.
You can tour every inch of the house and explore the original pieces of furniture. Or just take a stroll outside in his garden, where you’ll find a wide variety of species of flowers and 40+ cats that are descendants of Hemingway’s original cats.
5. Take a boat trip to Dry Tortugas National Park
Fort Jefferson, photo of Dry Tortugas National Park via Depositphotos
Dry Tortugas National Park is located on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, about 100 km from Key West and can only be reached by seaplane or boat. The park is made up of seven beach islands and is also intended for Fort Jefferson, a long 19th-century wall that covers the island.
Visitors come to Dry Tortugas National Park for diving, snorkeling, and swimming, thanks to its irresistible seaweed and coral, as well as many shipwrecks.
6. Spend your evening in Mallory Square
Mallory Square, Key West, Florida photo via Depositphotos
This lively neighborhood in Old Town Key West is where to spend your evening due to its lively after-sunset activities. Every day in the evening, vendors and artists meet in the square to create a festive atmosphere.
It is also a place where you will find many tourists catching a glimpse of the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico.
Mallory Square is also the final stop for the Conch Tour Train, which typically takes tourists on an hour and a half sightseeing tour of the neighborhood, including several stops at Truval Village where you can hop off to wander around.
7. Visit the National Key Deer Refuge
National Key Deer Refuge Photo via Depositphotos
Located between Key West and the Marathon, the National Key Deer refugee was established in 1957 as an asylum for the endangered Key Deer who were nearly wiped out by hunters in the 1950s.
The park is also home to the Blue Waterhole, a pond where alligators and turtles live.
Florida Keys marathon sunset
8. Fish at the marathon
Marathon is known as the sports and commercial center of the Middle Keys. Here visitors can arrange tours for reef, deep-sea and shallow fishing. You can also take part in exciting water sports like kayaking, paddling and jet skiing.
There are also numerous beautiful beaches with waterfront restaurants and other attractions, including the Dolphin Research Center, Turtle Hospital, and Aquarium Encounters.
9. Visit the Turtle Rehabilitation Center at Turtle Hospital
Turtle Hospital in Marathon Photo via Turtlehospital.org
The Turtle Hospital is open daily and is one of Florida’s premier rescue facilities in Marathon. The center offers tours every hour of 90 minutes, during which tourists learn about the process of assimilation of wounded sea turtles and even get the chance to feed some of the turtles.
The center usually treats injured turtles and conducts emergency rescue services for stranded turtles trapped in tropical storms.
Since it opened in 1986, the center has treated over 1,500 sea turtles and released them back into the sea.
10. Learn about California sea lions and dolphins at the Dolphin Research Center
Dolphin Research Center in Florida Keys Photo via FB Page
At the Dolphin Research Center, learn about the California sea lions and Atlantic bottlenose dolphins through recited sessions and see how the trainers interact with different types of dolphins.
Tourists are also allowed to take part in the interactive programs, which are mostly about swimming with the dolphins. There is also an organized tour to Island Dolphin Care on Key Largo. Here, experts work with dolphins to offer some unique therapies for people with different health conditions.
11. Visit Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park Photo via Depositphotos
Covering over 1 million acres, Everglades National Park is one of the most-visited public parks in America. It is home to 14 endangered and rare species, including the West Indian manatee, Florida panther, and American crocodile.
12. Go to the buttons
The best way to enjoy your trip to the Keys is by driving. The locals’ 18-mile freeway as “The Stretch” is a two-lane freeway with numerous transit zones that turn it into a four-lane freeway. It’s one of the most peaceful rides you will ever experience.
13. Learn about Fort Taylor’s past
Fort Taylor Interior Florida photo via Depositphotos
Located on the southern edge of Key West, this waterfront fort is home to the largest collection of sea-shore cannons in America. It’s also known for its beautiful beach, which is perfect for swimming and picnicking.
14. See Harry Truman’s Little White House
Harry Truman’s Little White House By Judson McCranie, CC BY-SA 3.0, CC
This tiny White House is located in Key West and was originally built as the hub of the Spanish-American War, but later used as a White Winter House during the reign of President Harry Truman.
15. Drink beer in Islamorada
Beer on the beach
Florida Keys Brewing Company has a tasting room in Islamorada and has a collection of more than 20 beers on tap. It’s the perfect place to sample some of the best local beers like the Iguana Bait.
Florida Keys travel and tour packages
To help you plan your Florida Keys vacation, we’ve listed places to visit and other amazing things to do in the Florida Keys, Florida. We’ve also listed links to some of the best travel deals, tour packages, excellent flight deals, and accommodation options.
Looking for the best hotels, resorts and cheap flights in nearby towns? Check out our list of affordable Florida Keys hotels and resorts through Agoda, Booking, or check out Airbnb hotels available in the city as well.
Want more updates on new vacation packages and attractions in the Florida Keys? Follow #TeamOutofTown on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Bloglovin, and Pinterest for more travel ideas.