A Local’s Guide to the Best Things to do in Key West, Florida

Ah, Key West. The Southernmost Point of the Continental United States. A place where Floridians go to escape the heat, and tourists come to gawk at the history and the…well, the chickens.

As a part-time resident of this tiny island for almost four years now, I consider myself a bit of an expert on all things Key West. And today, I’m going to share with you my top 10 things to do in Key West, Florida. Let’s get started!

#10 – Watch the Sunset at Mallory Square 

This one is a no-brainer. Every night at dusk, thousands of people flock to Mallory Square to watch the sun dip below the horizon. It’s a beautiful sight, made even better by the fact that there are dozens of food and souvenir vendors set up around the square. So whether you want a conch fritter or a key lime pie, you’re sure to find it here. Just be sure to arrive early to get a good spot!

#9 – Pay Your Respects at the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum 

No trip to Key West would be complete without paying homage to one of its most famous residents, Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway lived and wrote here for over ten years, and his influence can still be felt throughout the island. The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is located just off Duval Street and is open daily from 9am-5pm. Tickets are $15 for adults and $7 for children 6-12. Trust me, it’s worth it.

#8 – Take a Day Trip to Dry Tortugas National Park 

Looking for something a little more adventurous? Then hop aboard the Yankee Freedom III and take a day trip out to Dry Tortugas National Park. This remote park is located about 70 miles west of Key West and can only be accessed by boat or seaplane. Once you’re there, you can explore Fort Jefferson, go snorkeling, or just relax on one of the pristine beaches. Tickets are $170 for adults and $80 for children 3-12, and includes breakfast, lunch, and snorkeling gear rental. 

#7 – Join the fun at Fantasy Fest 

Key West is known for its parties, but none is more famous than Fantasy Fest. This 10-day festival takes place every October and features costume contests, street parties, concerts, parades…you name it! It all culminates with a grand parade down Duval Street on the last Saturday of the festival. Trust me when I say that Fantasy Fest is an experience you won’t soon forget! (Pro tip: book your accommodations well in advance because they fill up fast!)  

#6 – Stroll Down Duval Street 

No matter what time of year you visit Key West, a stroll down Duval Street is always a good idea. This famous street is the heart of Key West and is home to dozens of bars, restaurants, shops, and art galleries. Start at the Southernmost Point and walk all the way down to Mallory Square. Then stop for a drink at one of the many bars along the way. You’re sure to find something (or someone) to your liking!

#5 – Visit the Key West Lighthouse and Museum 

For only $10, you can climb to the top of the Key West Lighthouse and get a breathtaking view of the island. The Key West Lighthouse and Museum is located at the end of Whitehead Street and is open daily from 9am-4:30pm. Tickets can be purchased at the entrance or in advance online.

#4 – Take a Ghost Tour 

If you’re looking for a spooky good time, then take a ghost tour! Key West is home to its fair share of ghosts, and there are several tours that will take you to some of the most haunted places on the island. One of my personal favorites is the Ghosts and Gravestones tour, which takes place every night at 8pm. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for children 6-12.

#3 – Watch the Sunrise at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park 

There’s something magical about watching the sun rise over the ocean. And there’s no better place to do it than at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. This state park is located on the southern tip of Key West and is home to one of the best beaches on the island. Admission is $2 per person, and the park is open daily from 8am-sunset.

#2 – Go Snorkeling or Diving 

The waters around Key West are teeming with marine life, making it a snorkeler’s and diver’s paradise. There are several companies that offer snorkeling and diving tours, or you can rent gear and go exploring on your own. Either way, you’re sure to have a blast!

#1 – Relax on the Beach 

And last but not least, don’t forget to relax on the beach! Key West has several great beaches to choose from, so you’re sure to find one that’s perfect for you. If you’re looking for a party atmosphere, then head to Smathers Beach. For something a little more low-key, try Fort Zachary Taylor State Park or Higgs Beach. And if you want to escape the crowds altogether, then take a short drive out to Bahia Honda State Park.

And there you have it!

These are just a few of my favorite things to do in Key West. Of course, there are plenty of other great activities to enjoy here including snorkeling, fishing, kayaking…the list goes on. But if you’re looking for some insider tips on how to make the most of your trip to Key West, I hope this guide was helpful! Thanks for reading!