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What you really must do in Key West during your trip

Planning on visiting the paradise called Key West? Find out the good advice and tips on how to plan your trip and don't miss out on the must do things for you to fully enjoy this place.

8min

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Key West may look very small, but it’s such a paradise and there is so much to do and see in this place. 

Lots of tourists and travelers stay only one day to visit, but sometimes they underestimate it due to its dimensions. If you truly immerse yourself there, you will fall in love with it and end up wanting to stay more.

It’s  famous all over the world as a paradise destination in the United States, because its sea and beautiful sunsets attract lots of people every day.

It’s one of those places where there is something for everyone: if you love shopping, Key West is full of boutiques and amazing shops, if you love relaxing by the sea, you have amazing views and beautiful beaches, and if you are a person who want to do some sightseeing, there is something for you too.

In this article we will talk about all the things you must do in Key West and you will also get the best tips to plan your visit and to enjoy your time even if you are on a low budget.



Where is Key West?

Key West is the southernmost point of Florida State, in the US. It’s even closer to Cuba than to the US, if you look at the map. If you are on a trip to Florida, you must include Key West in your itinerary because it’s definitely worth it.

How to reach Key West

If you are on a road trip and you have your own car, you won’t have any problems. You will take 3 hours to get to Key West from Miami. The trip to Key West passes through some very amazing road sceneries on the famous US Highway 1.

If you don’t have a car, you can reach Key West by bus from Miami. It is quite cheap and the bus leaves from Miami Airport.

If you are not on a budget and want to reach Key West in the quickest way, you can take a flight from Miami.

Last way to reach Key West is by ferry. Ferries leave from Fort Myers and Marco Island.

Must things to do in Key West: best places to visit 

In Key West you can easily spend all day on the beach, but you can also go sightseeing and visit some very interested cultural things if you’re keen. 

So let’s see the best places to visit in Key West.

1. Duval Street

Duval Street is the most popular street in Key West, it could be a bit chaotic but you really have to visit it and you’ll probably end up there anyway, because it’s the place where amazing restaurants and shops are, and also some attractions like the Aquarium.

2. Old Town Key West

As I said, Key West is very great if you want to go sightseeing, and the best place for this is the Old Town, full of nice and historical buildings. The center of the old town is signed by Mallory Square, This square really offer a nice view over the Gulf of Mexico.

3. Key West Garden Club

Who said that you have to go to Hawaii to see a tropical garden? You can see it in Key West instead! At Key West Garden Club you can see how volunteers created a very beautiful tropical garden all around the streets. 



4. Dry Tortugas National Park

You can visit this park on a guided tour and reach it by boat, ferry or seaplane. It’s a fortified historical park, but you can also admire clear sea water and a lot of plants and nature in here.

5. Fort Zach State Park

This is one of the most interesting places in Key West. It’s a park with amazing beach all around, but it’s also famous for its Fort, from the Civil War period. A lot of manifestations and events about war memories occur in this park during the year.

5. Bahia Honda State Park

In this park you can do a lot of activities and admire wonderful landscapes. You can go to the beach, spot some animals, go snorkeling and have really nice walks or bike rides.



7. Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

Lots of famous people loved Key West in the past and spent a lot of time there. Among them, there is also Ernest Hemingway. In Key West you can find one of his houses and you can visit it, today it’s a museum. 

It’s a colonial house built around 1850 and inside it you can find some of Hemingway’s belongings and see in person the place where he used to sit and write his novels.

The 10 best things to do in Key West, Florida 

As you can see, there is so much to visit on this island. And now let’s talk about the 10 best things that you really must do in Key West.

1. Go to the Southernmost Point

The Southernmost Point is located between Whitehead and South Street. If you are in Key West, taking a picture with the sign is a must. 



2. Have a drink at Sloppy Joe’s

This place was one of Hemingway’s favorite places to go drinking, so if you want to follow the path of the author and do something unique in Key West, having a drink here is something you have to do.



3. Visit a museum

If you love museums, you really have plenty of choice in Key West. This small island has hips of museums. If you travel with the family or with kids you can visit the Aquarium, if you love animals you can go to the Butterfly Conservatory, and there is even another interesting museum for ship lovers, the Shipwreck Museum

4. Go to the Sunset Celebration

Key West is famous to have some of the most amazing sunsets ever, that’s why the sunset celebration was born on the island in 1960. Every day, two hours before sunset, you can go to Mallory Square, eat some street food or buy something typical from the vendors, and enjoy the sunset.

5. Have a picnic at Bayview Park

Bayview Park is the perfect place to have a picnic on a bench under the trees, or to play some sports if you like. In this park you can find tennis and basket fields, and even a playing area for the kids. It’s a very nice place to relax by yourself or enjoy time with your family.

6. Go snorkeling or diving

Key West is the only place in the US with a barrier reef, that’s why it’s so popular for snorkeling. The water is so clear and full of corals and colorful fish. If you like diving, you can even admire some shipwrecks underwater. 



7. Have a boat tour

Key West is an island after all, so of course one of the best activities to do there is a boat tour. There are different kinds of tours. 

You can have a dolphin tour, if you want to spot some animals. The island is full of dolphins to spot.

You can have a tour on a glass bottom boat, if you want to admire the clear water and the fish from the boat without having to dive in it.

You can even have a sunset cruise to watch the sunset from a different point of view.



8. Go for some beautiful walks or bike rides

Key West has some very nice walks or hiking to do if you like to stay active. Keys Overseas Heritage Trails is an amazing trail you can walk, or you can go on a bike if you prefer. It’s very long and you can reach the island of Key Largo if you are not afraid of the many kilometers.

Bike riders are everywhere in Key West and going by bike is the best way to get around the little island.

9. Go fishing

Would you like to try fishing? You can do it in Key West. There are a lot of tours that take you out with a boat and you can fish in the middle of the sea, but if you prefer to stay on land, the best spots to fish are in Mallory Square and Bahia Onda State Park.



10. Chill on the beach

We are talking about such a paradise, so an absolute must do in Key West is chilling on the beach! And there are so many beaches that you won’t be able to choose.

Smathers Beach is the longest, you can even go kayaking there. Otherwise there is Key West Dog Beach, a dog-friendly beach, if you love dogs or you are traveling with your dog. Or, just beside the Southernmost Point, you can go to South Beach for an amazing view. You have plenty of choice.

Tips to travel to Key west 

It’s the time to give you some tips to visit Key West, because I am sure that now you are starting to feel like going in this paradise.

What to pack for a trip to Key West

It’s not hard to pack your things for a trip to Key West, because it’s warm all year long and you won’t need too much stuff.

Remember to take your flip flops and your swimsuit, because you are going to spend a lot of time on the beach, and pack summer clothes because it’s hot. Don’t forget your sunscreen and even a pair of walking shoes if you want to have some walks and sightseeing.

Best time to visit this island

Key West can be very expensive and very crowded during winter, because everyone wants to escape from cold weather. So the best time to visit the island is from March to May, because usually crowds are gone and the weather is still very good and sunny. In this way you can have the best possible experience.



Budget to travel to Key West, Florida

Key West is unfortunately a bit pricey as destination. Florida is not the cheapest place in the US and Key West is one of the most expensive. Eating at the restaurants all the time can be unaffordable if you are on a low budget and some hotels are very expensive.

If you are traveling on a budget, don’t worry, because you can always opt to stay in a place with your own kitchen and cook your meals to save money.

And then, there is another way in which you can save money during your travels, and that is volunteering. If you volunteer during your travels, in exchange of some works per day, you get free accommodation, and sometimes free board. And it’s very easy to start doing it, you can have a look at Worldpackers platform to find volunteering positions all over the world.

For example, in Key West there is this volunteering position which requires help in getting a yatch ready for travel, and no marine knowledge is required! They need help for 25 hours a week, so you can have a lot of free time to explore the island. 

In exchange for our work you get free accommodation and full board. This is a very great deal to save money because the only things you have to pay are the tours and sightseeing you want to do. 



So, are you keen on visiting Key West now? I hope so, and I hope this article will be very useful to you. And I really suggest you to volunteer during your trip because it’s an amazing experience to try and it can be very helpful for your budget. All you have to do is subscribing to one of Worldpackers plans, and then you are ready to start and to have the best time of your life.

Maybe you could find interesting these other articles from Worldpackers community:

The 18 best beach getaways in the USA

20 tropical islands to visit around the world

13 best cheap beach vacations in the USA



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