Visiting Key West and the Florida Keys has been one of our favorite family vacation spots, not just for the warmth, but for the mass amount of things to do. We spent 3 nights in the Florida Keys (1 in Marathon and 2 in Key West) and ended up wishing for at least one more day in Key West. There were still so many activities and things to do that we had on our list!
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Key West Weather
If you want to escape the cold in the wintertime, Key West is one of the best choices you can make. During the winter in Key West, average temperatures are in the mid-to-high 70's. The average high temperature in Key West is 83, meaning perfect weather year round. Key West weather is warmest in August and tends to be coldest in January. We traveled to Key West in March and summer clothing was perfect; however, there was an unusual cold front for a day or so and we wished we had packed a light sweater. Our experience wasn't too typical for the time of year though. Florida hurricane season peaks in August and September, so avoid those months if you don't want to chance a rainy trip.
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Key West Florida: 99+ Things to Do in Key West
Key west has over 200 restaurants and bars and over 100 shops, and many of them are packed into this lively area. For recommendations on restaurants, see our guide, what to eat in Key West.
Fury Catamarans. This was one of our favorite experiences! They offer a wide variety of activities, but we chose the island adventure eco tour, which included snorkeling, kayaking, and even paddleboarding. Our kids loved it!
Imagine a place that celebrates the sunset every single night! Key west is the place! If you're in Key West, this is a top “to-do.” Watch the street performers, shop the vendors, or just delight in the waterfront sunset.
Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society & Historical Museum. See the display of treasures found by Mel Fisher and his crew, a famous treasure salvor. You can buy authentic gold coins and other exciting treasures here.
Rent a bike. Key West is only about 4 miles long and 1 mile wide, and free parking is hard to come by….so renting a bike is a smart option and makes for a really fun way to experience the island. If renting a bike isn't your think, a lot of the hotels offer shuttles to downtown. Here's a forum on renting bikes in Key West.
Visit the Dry Tortugas National Park. A cluster of islands about 70 miles from Key West, this very unique National park makes a perfect day trip for those who want a fun historical experience and some great snorkeling. You’ll need to take a seaplane or the Yankee Freedom ferry. The ferry includes breakfast and lunch. Most of the trip advisor reviews I read raved about the experience.
Fishing in the Florida Keys. Some of the best fishing can be had in the Florida keys, with Islamorada being a top spot! See this list of Top 10 Fishing Resorts in the Florida Keys for some great fishing opportunities. Also check out this list of fishing Charters and Tours available in the Key West area.
Bahia Honda State Park. Voted “best beach” and about 45 minutes from Key West.
Mile Marker 0. Take a photo next to the iconic mile 0 sign, which marks the start of U.S. 1 which ends in Maine, after continuing 2,369 miles up the East Coast.
Conch Tour Train. If you are a history buff this is a great experience to get a good feel of the entire island and its history. The first part of our tour was an hour before a step-off point, so it can be kind of long with kids, but we just bought ours some popcorn and drinks from the train station before getting on.
Take a Bike Tour. Better than renting a bike, take an actual bike tour of Key West! There are 4 different bike tours you can choose from.
Key West Aquarium. See over a 100 species of fish, turtles sharks and birds, as well as See stingrays, eels, lobster, tarpon, and seahorses.
Enjoy the Overseas Highway. To get to Key West and the Florida Keys, you will need to take the charming 110-mile overseas highway. Take your time and enjoy the unique journey.
Watch the Cruise ships. Key West is a popular cruise stop, so sometimes it's fun just to walk the dock and watch the big ships come in or leave.
Take a food tour. Taking a food tour is a fun way to experience the unique food and drinks of Key West. There are a few different options. See the list of Key West Food Tours here.
Fort Zachory Taylor Historic state Park is Historic the site of a Civil War-era fort, currently being excavated; but it also has a beautiful beach for swimming and snorkeling.
Enjoy the warmth. Being the Southernmost part of the U.S., this is one of the warmest places you can escape to! I went during March and was just happy to finally be warm.
Eat Some Key Lime Pie. You will find this all over the island, and it would be silly to go to the Florida Keys without having some. This particular piece was devoured in Marathon at the Lighthouse Grill.
Red Barn Theatre is a theatre that has been producing plays and musicals in Key West for over 35 years!
Key West Theater also shows plays, musicals, films and concerts.
Waterfront Playhouse Right next to Mallory square and produces plays and musicals and Named “The Best Professional Theater in Florida” (Florida Monthly Magazine).
Harry S. Truman’s Little White House. Florida's only presidential white house, served as our 33rd President's winter home.
People Watch. Key West is such a unique place, sometimes it's fun to just sit back, relax and watch everyone.
Key West Lighthouse. If you have any interest in lighthouses, this one is right across from Hemingway's place and you can climb to the top!
Take a Helicopter Tour. Air Adventures helicopter tours has tours ranging from $69-209.
Ripley’s Believe it or Not! This was fun, but more for older kids. our 6 and 4-year old were scared.
Smather's Beach. One of the main beaches on Key West, and a good place to stop especially if you want to rent a beach chair or water gear.
The Southernmost Point: Join the line of people waiting to get a selfie at the Southernmost point of the continental U.S.
Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. Considering this place is ranked #1 out of 185 Things to do In Key West via Trip Advisor, you should probably stop for a visit.
Enjoy some conch fritters. With a long-time conch influence on Key West history, it makes sense that you will find conch fritters offered all over the island. Better try some!
Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum. This is where Ernest Hemingway wrote 70% of his lifetime works. He lived here for 10 years.
Florida Keys Eco Discovery Center. “The Eco-Discovery Center features more than 6,000 square feet of interactive exhibits, which interpret the resources and management efforts of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, two national parks, and four national wildlife refuges. Check out the exhibit on Aquarius, the world's only underwater ocean laboratory, the Living Reef exhibit, which includes a 2,500-gallon reef tank with living corals and tropical fish, the live Reef Cam, and other displays that highlight the coral reef environment. The Center is located in NOAA’s Dr. Nancy Foster Florida Keys Environmental Complex on the Truman Annex waterfront in Key West. Admission is always free (and so is parking), so be sure to stop by for a visit!”
Dolphin Safari Charters. Dolphin Safari Charters took off right from the Marina at our hotel (the Perry Hotel), and we are so glad we gave them a try! Such a unique and intimate experience to go on a smaller boat with just our family, and to see so many dolphins! Our captain Ashley was fabulous!
Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum: Discover artifacts from Key West’s shipwreck history, and get a view from atop the 65-foot lookout tower. Storytellers bring history to life and make this a fun family experience.
Alan S Maltz Gallery. See the artistic work of an official Wildlife and Fine art photographer for the state of Florida.
The Curry Mansion. Home of Key West's first millionaire, this historic building was completed in 1899. Also, the first key lime pie was made in the Curry mansion kitchen.
Things to Do Surrounding Key West (Lower/Middle Keys)
Dolphin Research Center. This ended up being one of our most favorite experiences of our whole vacation. The dolphins are grouped socially into different lagoons, mimicking their natural environment in the wild. It was fascinating to just sit and watch them socially interact with each other (and with us). There are also several different interactions you can sign up for that let you actually get in the water and interact more closely with the dolphins.
Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters makes it easy to interact with a wide variety of marine-life, including rays and sharks. We also got the chance to pet a baby alligator. If you are extra brave you can even sign up to dive in the tank with sharks!
The Turtle Hospital. The Turtle Hospital in Marathon is the first state-certified veterinary hospital in the world for sea turtles. In a year they receive as many as 200 injured sea turtles. The tour is a really good way to see a bunch of sea turtles up close, get a chance to feed them, as well as learn about all the rehabilitation efforts of the hospital for these turtles.
Sombrero Beach. A nice beach with actual sand instead of rocks, and great for the kids since it remains shallow for quite a distance. We chose to beach here instead of the keys to avoid the spring breakers.
Marathon Community Theater is a cute little local place to catch a movie.
Lighthouse Grill is a great place to catch a delicious bit to eat with a good view! It's a good idea to make a reservation and if you go before 6pm, you get entrées for $19.99. Make sure and try the cuban rice balls for a starter. It was the favorite dish for everyone at our table.
Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center is located in Key Largo and is home to over 100 wild bird residents including hawks, owls, vultures, pelicans, terns, gulls, herons, spoonbills, and many more.
Indian Key Historical State park: Kayak out to this small Indian Key and learn of its unique history.
We hope you enjoyed these tips and that you take a trip out to Key West Yourself. The Florida Keys Visitor's Website is a great resource as well!
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*As a VIP Media member, we received discounts and tickets to some of these attractions. All opinions are authentic and our own.