10 Best Things to Do in Key West, Florida in 2023
This list of the best things to see and do in Key West or Key West is perfect for getting to know the southernmost island of the Florida peninsula, just 150 kilometers from Cuba.
In addition to its privileged location, at the end of an impressive and panoramic highway that runs above the Atlantic, the island of Key West offers all travelers who visit its beautiful wooden houses in the purest southern style a relaxed atmosphere in which American and Latin style are combined, beaches with transparent waters, delicious cuisine, and fantastic sunsets.
To get to know all its tourist attractions, we recommend spending a full day and the night in the city to enjoy its lively nightlife, especially if you come from Miami, since the one-way journey will take an average of 4 hours.
Based on the experience of the two days we spent in this key during our trip to the best of Florida, we have made this list with the ten essential things to see in Key West. Let’s start!
1. Overseas Highway
The best way to get to Key West (Key West), although it has a small airport, is to drive the more than 200 kilometers of the iconic US1 Overseas Highway, hopping from key to key and passing over long bridges over the ocean.
During this scenic road trip from Miami, which will take about 4 hours, you can make some stops, such as Bahía Honda, which offers white sand beaches and turquoise waters, as well as views of an old abandoned railway bridge.
Other exciting stops are in Big Pine Key (Cayo Gran Pino), where you can observe the white-tailed deer, which is in danger of extinction and can only be seen in this part of the world or in more traditional restaurants such as Florida Keys Steak and Lobster House and Fish Tales Market and Eateryen where you can eat the delicious stone crab.
If you only have one day and don’t want to spend all your time driving, you can book this excursion to Key West with a Spanish-speaking guide from Miami.
2. Stroll down Duval Street, one of the things to do in Key West.
Taking a stroll down Duval Street, the city’s main artery, taking in the magnificent pastel-colored wooden houses with pretty southern-style porches and balconies, is one of the best things to do in Key West.
Among this street’s most representative houses and buildings are the old Strand cinema, the Hard Rock Café, the Key West Woman’s Club, and the church of St. Paul’s Episcopal, which is worth going inside to see its beautiful interior.
This street also has several of the best restaurants in Key West, such as DJ’s Clam Shack, Blackfin Bistro, Kaya Island Eats, Frita’s Cuban Burgers, and Clemente’s Pizzeria. After eating, you can drink at a bar with live music like Sloppy Joe’s, Irish Kevin’s, or Capt Tony’s Saloon, the oldest and most famous in Key West.
3. Southernmost Point
At the end of Duval Street, you will arrive at a small beach and South Street that will take you in a few minutes to Southernmost Point, the most photographed place and one of the essential things to see in Key West (Key West).
At Southernmost Point, you will find a massive buoy with red, black, and yellow stripes that marks the southernmost point of the United States, located just 90 miles from Cuba.
Be safe if there is a long line of people waiting to take a photo when you arrive. It is one of the most famous spots in the town, and as such, it deserves a shot!
4. Whitehead Street
Back in the center of Key West, we recommend you go along Whitehead Street, which also has southern-style mansions and several historical buildings to visit in Key West, such as the Ernest Hemingway House and the Lighthouse, which we will talk about in the following points.
Some of our favorite spots on this street are the intersection with Truman Ave that hides some beautiful one-story wooden houses in pastel colors, the picturesque 0 Mile point that marks the end of US1, and Audubon House, built by the Captain John Huling Geiger in the 1840s and which has a small botanical garden dedicated to the famous ornithologist James Audubon, who spent a long time in Key West.
5. Ernest Hemingway House
The famous American writer Ernest Hemingway and his wife Pauline bought one of the oldest houses in Key West in 1931 to spend a large part of the year since he was a great fan of the sea, fishing, and the relaxed atmosphere of this island, similar to that of his beloved Cuba. He used this paradisiacal place as a source of inspiration to write some of his most famous works, such as the novel “Farewell to Arms” and several of his best short stories.
While visiting this two-story colonial mansion, surrounded by beautiful gardens and a large swimming pool, you will discover different rooms with original furniture (special attention to the desk) where the couple lived with their two children until Hemingway left in 1940. He moved to Cuba, and Pauline stayed in this house with her two children until she died in 1951.
Even though admission costs 18 dollars, it is worth visiting the Ernest Hemingway house museum and its original souvenir shop to see its history and his hobbies, such as keeping many cats, which are still preserved.
We were visiting hours: every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
6. Lighthouse, one of the places to see in Key West
Another of the best things to do in Key West is to climb the 80 steps of the old Lighthouse, located in front of the Ernest Hemingway House, to get the best views of the historic center.
Built in 1848 after the destruction of its two old lighthouses by the hurricane of 1846, this imposing white tower 15 meters high and with 13 reflective lamps had to be raised another 15 meters to avoid being covered by trees and new buildings…
7. Mallory Square
Mallory Square, located in front of the promenade and offering magnificent views of the Gulf of Mexico and the small island of Sunset Key, full of luxury houses and resorts, is another important place to see in Key West.
After taking a walk through an area of craft and souvenir shops, you can go to the pier and the promenade to have a drink in one of its bars and wait for the fantastic sunset. I will not disappoint you!
8. Truman Little White House
The Truman Little White House is close to Mallory Square and the beautiful building of the Key West Museum of Art and History, the residence President Harry S. Truman used for more than 170 days to recover from health problems and rest.
Later, this house was used for official government events, such as the summit between John F. Kennedy and British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, or relaxation until it became a public museum.
During the guided tour, you can see the rooms with original Truman furniture, as well as various items of the president, such as the briefcase or the famous sign “The Buck Stops Here.”
9. Strong Zachary Taylor
Visiting the historic Fort Zachary Taylor, built in the late 18th century to defend the southeast coast and home to the most extensive collection of Civil War weaponry in the world, is another of the best things to do in Key West.
After visiting the fort, you can go to its fantastic white sand beaches and turquoise waters, considered the most beautiful in Key West and one of the essential beaches in Florida, to enjoy a relaxing swim and a fantastic sunset.
10. Excursions to do in Key West
If you have time, you can complete this list of places to see in Key West with some fun water activities like these:
What is Key West best known for?
Key West, the southernmost point in the United States, is famous for watersports, lively nightlife, beaches, historic sites and its pastel, conch-style architechture.
Can you just walk around Key West?
Key West is a very walkable town. Many of the best things to do in Key West are located around Mallory Square, along Duval and Whitehead Streets, and down towards the Southernmost Point. The Key West Trolley can be used as a hop-on hop-off bus to get around Key West.
Is there a lot to do in Key West Florida?
Like other vacation locales in Florida, Key West offers plenty of ways to enjoy its coastal seat, including sailing and kayaking tours, snorkeling excursions, several clean beaches and fishing charters. But beyond its outdoor pursuits, Key West also lays claim to some interesting artifacts.
How do you spend a day in Key West?
Key West Day Trip In-Depth Itinerary
- Breakfast or Brunch at Blue Heaven. …
- Snorkeling at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. …
- Lunch at Cuban Coffee Queen. …
- Snap a Pic at the Iconic ‘Greetings From Key West’ Mural. …
- Stroll Through the Key West Historic Seaport. …
- Get Key Lime Pie on a Stick at Kermit’s Key Lime Shoppe.