From kayaking, fishing, snorkeling, and diving, Key West has much to offer to any outdoor enthusiast. Known for warm beaches and a live-in-the-moment philosophy, Key West offers a relaxed yet unexpected seaside adventure.
Visit the Southernmost Point of the USA
By far one of the most popular attractions and photographed places in Key West is the Southernmost Point. Located at the corner of South and Whitehead Street sits a large painted anchored buoy erected in 1983 by the city that reads, Southernmost Point Continental United States and 90 Miles to Cuba. Before the buoy was placed, there was only a simple wooden sign marking the landmark, you can’t come to the Key’s without stopping to snap a photo. Just know that at popular times of the day there will be a line to get your picture.
Take in the History
Key West is known for being quirky, quaint, and full of history. This is as true for its buildings and architecture as it is for its people.The Key West Historic District, which is centered on the famous Duval Street, is an eclectic collection of houses of all shapes, colors, and unique designs.
- The Hemingway Home is an iconic house nestled into the Historic District
- The Key West Oldest House and Museum (The oldest house on the island, built in 1829)
- The Key West Lighthouse
- The Harry S. Truman Little White House
Rent some wheels!
One of the best ways to see the Key West attractions is by renting a bike, scooter, or golf cart.
Finding parking can be a challenge, trade in your personal vehicle for some new wheels. Depending on the size of your party and on how adventurous you want to be you can conveniently rent a golf cart, moped, or bike to transport you around the island.
Key West itself is only a few miles from one end to the other and you might find more reasonable accommodations on the north end. Making new wheels a great way to transport you around the island and give you a unique view. There are plenty of side streets, fun detours, and places to stop along the way.
Catch the Sunset
There is something about viewing a Key West sunset that will stay with you for life. As the southernmost point in the US, and beaming out into the Straits of Florida, Key West sunsets are spectacular wherever you find yourself at the end of the day. In my opinion, Mallory Square will give you the most unobstructed views of the setting sun. But the sunsets in Key West paint the sky in all sorts of rays that will make views breathtaking.
I have been fortunate to visit some beautiful islands with gorgeous beaches. So, when it comes to talking about the beaches on Key Ways I can honestly say, this island is not known for picturesque white sandy beaches.
- Smathers Beach is the largest beach on the island, at just over a half-mile in length.
- South Beach has calm, shallow waters, which are excellent for swimming.
- Simonton Beach this pet-friendly beach is quite small, despite the soft sand beach, the shoreline can be a bit rocky, so swimmers will want to bring water shoes.
- Dog Beach the only beach that allows dogs to run freely, dogs big and small can play in the water and sniff among the rocks for hidden treasure.
- County Beach great little spot for sunbathers not interested about having a swim.
- Clarence Higgs Beach Memorial Park is another family-friendly sandy beach. Higgs Beach also houses historic landmarks and a small pier.
- Fort Zachary Taylor State Park includes a civil war fort as well as lots of green space and beaches.
These beaches are great for water activities such as standup paddle-boarding, kayaking, snorkeling, and swimming. You can also bring a fishing rod to catch your own fish and enjoy a BBQ on the beach.
Snorkel or Dive
A bit of unknown history to many is that the United States’ only living coral barrier reef is found in the waters around the Florida Keys. There is a whole other underwater world to explore full of amazing marine life. If you are dive certified, you can find many opportunities to dive around Key West and the surrounding islands. Or if you’d prefer to snorkel, you can explore the underwater world with local tour operators.
The Dry Tortugas National Park
The Dry Tortugas offer a unique day trip from the island just under 70 miles west of Key West Florida. As one of the US National Parks, the Dry Tortugas offers some of the most incredible combinations of natural beauty and history. First discovered by the explorer Juan Ponce de Leon, the islands were named for the many turtles they found in the area. As a strategic location between the Straits of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, the Dry Tortugas National Park is home to Fort Jefferson. This civil war fort is the largest brick structure in the Western Hemisphere. Fort Jefferson is a National Historic Landmark that was constructed during the Civil War.
If you are looking for an epic adventure, you won’t want to miss jumping on a charter boat and fishing for some incredible varieties of fish. There are plenty of charter boat companies on the island regardless of you are interested in catching dinner, or simply want to catch and release, you have plenty of opportunities to fish in Key West Florida.
Hop-On and Hop-Off the Trolley
A fun and easy way to get a full view of the island is to hop on The Old Town Trolley. I enjoy using the Trolley experience as my way around town. It conveniently stops at the main attractions and allows you to make your stops and visit each attraction then hop back on when you are ready. If you chose to walk a bit, that is not a problem you can conveniently find the nearest Trolley hop on location and just jump on.
Kayak Through the Mangroves
We love to Kayak when we travel, a unique way to view the island and get in some fitness. If you really want to slow things down and step up the outdoor adventure, one of the best activities in Key West is kayaking with gorgeous views of the Mangroves. The Mangroves are protected shallow water, filled with manatee grass beds, a lush’s environment that is the home to over 600 species of birds, fish and marine life.