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Is this your first visit to Key West, Florida? Hands down, you are going to love it! Key West, the southernmost point in the United States, is a destination that needs to be on your bucket list of places to visit! Famous for its spectacular sunsets, lively nightlife, conch-style architecture, all types of watersports, and several historical sites, Key West is a perfect vacation spot. Here is the Key West bucket list – 22 things you can’t miss on your first visit.

Are you planning a trip to Florida? Check out some of my posts to help you decide what to do and see in Florida:

Key Largo to Key West: 23 Florida Keys Road Trip Stops

One Day in Everglades National Park (9 Places You Can’t Miss on First Visit )

3 Scenic Drives in Big Cypress National Preserve (Best Stops You Can’t-Miss)

Table of Contents

How to Get to Key West

You can fly, drive or take a boat to Key West.

First of all, you can fly directly into Key West. The city’s airport, Key West International Airport (EYW), is serviced by all major carriers including Delta, American, USAir and United, Southwest, and Cape Air.

Second, you can also fly into Miami International Airport (MIA), rent a car in Miami, and then drive. The drive from Miami to Key West is about 3 hours and 40 minutes. The most spectacular section of that drive is between Key Largo to Key West along Florida Keys Overseas Highway. In my opinion, it is one of the most beautiful scenic drives in the United States.

Make sure to check Fort Lauderdale International Airport (FLL) as well.  Occasionally, it is less expensive to fly into Fort Lauderdale than Miami depending on where you are flying from. It is only about a 40-minute drive from Fort Lauderdale to Miami.

Finally, ferry service is available between Key West and Ft. Myers (and in the winter months, Naples). Travel in comfort aboard the state-of-the-art Key West Express, a 170-foot ocean catamaran, the 155-foot Big Cat, or the 140- foot Atlantic Cat.

How to Get Around in Key West

Key West is a small island. It is about four miles long and about two miles wide. The popular Old Town makes up about half of this area. The best way to get around in Key West is to either walk or bike. There are plenty of bike rental places in Key West and in my opinion, it is the best way to get around in Key West. Also, there are taxis, city buses, and most of the hotels have shuttles. In addition, Old Town Hop-off Hop-on Trolley Tour is a good way to get around in Key West.

If you are staying in the Old Town, then you really do not need a car. However, If you are planning to do some sightseeing outside of Key West, then, most definitely,  you will need a car.

Key West Bucket List

There are plenty of bike rental places in Key West and in my opinion, it is the best way to get around in Key West / Key West Bucket List

Key West Bucket List

In addition, Old Town Hop-off Hop-on Trolley Tour is a good way to get around in Key West / Key West Bucket List

Where to Stay in Key West: 5 Amazing Places to Stay in Key West

Are you looking for places to stay in Key West? Here are 5 amazing places to stay:

  • The Reach Key West, Curio Collection by Hilton

The Reach Key West, Curio Collection by Hilton is my top choice whenever I am visiting Key West. It is a beautiful oceanfront resort with stunning views. The one thing that I really appreciate about The Reach Key West is that it is meticulously maintained and absolutely spotless.  The rooms are nicely decorated and have a mini-refrigerator, a safe, and a coffee maker. The linens are very high quality. The location is perfect, just 2 short blocks to Duval street!

  • Casa Marina Key West, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

If you like hotels with some history then Casa Marina Key West, A Waldorf Astoria Resort is definitely for you! It is a historic 1920s resort listed in the National Register for Historic Places with a lot of old-fashioned charm and elegance. The resort was conceived by the railroad magnate Henry Flagler and designed to replicate the arches of Flagler’s pioneering Over Sea Railway. The resort is situated on a private beach and has two oceanfront pools. The location is perfect being close to Duval Street and the Old Town. Honestly, in my opinion, the resort looks a bit tired, well, it is 100-years old, but it could use some updating.

  • H2O Suites Hotel

H2O Suites Hotel is a brand new, all adult, luxury all-suites hotel featuring 22 one-bedroom king-bedded suites. And, 11 of those suites have individual plunge pools. There is a rooftop swimming pool and bar as well. I have to say that it is meticulously maintained and the service is great. If you are looking for a relaxing couples gateway then this is a perfect spot!

  • Santa Maria Suites Hotel

Santa Maria Suites Hotel is another one of my favorites in Key West. First of all, it is clean and well-kept. Second, the location is quiet, yet close enough to walk to all the action. There is access to a beautiful little beach next door! The staff is great at Santa Maria Suites Hotel, they will go out of their way to make sure your stay is perfect. What I like about Santa Maria Suites Hotel is that they have 2-room suites with kitchens, which is perfect when you are staying with a larger group.

  • The Capitana Key West

The Capitana Key West is probably my top choice in Key West. It pretty much has it all. The rooms are a good size and very charming, there is a pool, hot tub and a nice sandy beach. To top it off, you will definitely like the staff at The Capitana Key West. They are friendly and will make sure you have a great stay.

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Key West Bucket List
22 Things You Can't Miss on First Visit to Key West

When Is the Best Time to Visit Key West

Hands down, spring and fall are the best to plan and head to Florida Keys. The temperatures are between 70-80 F, the water is awesome for snorkeling, and the rain in almost none. Winter is beautiful as well with temperatures at about 65-75 F and also no much rain.

With that being the case, my recommendation is to avoid going to Florida Keys in the summer. First of all, it is a hurricane season. Second, temperatures are in the high 90’s and humidity is unbearable, plus bugs are everywhere. Also, it rains a lot!

Map of Key West with a Location of Things You Can't Miss on First Visit to Key West

Key West Bucket List - 22 Things You Can't Miss on First Visit

NUMBER 1

Take the Hop-On Hop-Off Conch Train Tour

No Key West vacation is complete without a Hop-on-Hop-off Conch Tour Train. It is a classical tour through Key West that you simply cannot miss! The 75-minute Key West tour begins at the Front Street Depot and ends right behind it in Mallory Square.

During the tour, the train will make one loop through Old Town Key West. There are three stops:

  • Front Street Depot, where you will find Key West Aquarium, West Shipwreck Treasure Museum, Mallory Square, El Meson de Pepe Restaurant, Mel Fishers, Herry S. Truman Little White House, Sunset at Mallory Square.
  • Truval Village, located at the corner of Duval Street and Truman Avenue. The second stop is also where you will find Historic Key West Seaport, the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, the Key West Lighthouse, the Southernmost Point, the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, and the many fine art galleries, shops, and restaurants of upper Duval Street.
  • Sails to Rails Museum at Flagger Sation, here, you will find Historic Seaport, Dry Tortugas National Park Ferry.
Key West Bucket List

Hop-on-Hop-off Conch Tour Train is a classical tour through Key West that you simply cannot miss / Key West Bucket List

Key West Bucket List

Key West Conch Train Tour

Location: Key West Conch Train Tour begins at the Front Street Depot and ends right behind it in Mallory Square.

Hours: Open 7 days a week, the first tour starts at 10:15 am. The last tour departs from Front Street at 4:15 pm.

Cost: Adults $39.85, Children $17.80

NUMBER 2

Take a Photo with the Southernmost Point Buoy

Taking a photo with the Southernmost Point Buoy is a must on your first visit to Key West! No doubt, this is the most photographed landmark on the island.

The southernmost point buoy in Key West

The Southernmost Point Buoy is one of the most visited and photographed attractions in the United States / Key West Bucket List

Key West Bucket List 

The Southernmost Point Buoy, located at the corner of South Street and Whitehead Street, is an anchored concrete buoy and it marks the southernmost point in the continental United States, the lowest latitude land of contiguous North American states.

NUMBER 3

Watch a Stunning Sunset on Mallory Square

If you are in Key West, then Mallory Square needs to be on your list of places to visit. Mallory Square is famous for its fun shopping, great places to eat, and lots of popular attractions. 

Mallory Square in Key West

Mallory Square is famous for its fun shopping and great places to eat / Key West Bucket List

Key West Bucket List

Now, everyone flocks here right before sunset for the famous Mallory Square Sunset Celebration when street performers, colorful entertainers, and mouth-watering foods emerge and the fun begins!

Mallory Square in Key West

Street performers on Mallory Square / Key West Bucket List

Key West Bucket List

Street performers on Mallory Square / Key West Bucket List

However, Mallory Square is legendary for its sunsets, which are simply stunning!

Key West Bucket List

Mallory Square is legendary for its sunsets / Key West Bucket List

Key West Bucket List

Mallory Square 

Location: 400 Wall St, Naval Air Station Key West, FL 33040

Hours: Open 7 days a week, 6:30 am to 11 pm

NUMBER 4

Visit Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum (Say Hi to the Cats)

Ernest Hemingway’s Key West home is a beautiful place in Key West where the legendary author Ernest Hemingway lived and worked for more than ten years. It offers a great glimpse into Hemingway’s life.

Ernest Hemmingway Home and Museum in Key West

Ernest Hemingway’s Key West home is a beautiful place in Key West where the legendary author Ernest Hemingway lived and worked for more than ten years / Key West Bucket List

Key West Bucket List 

In addition, you get a chance to meet some of the descendants of his beloved six-toed cat, Snowball.

Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West

The descendants of Hemingway’s beloved six-toed cat, Snowball / Key West Bucket List

Key West Bucket List

Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

Location: 907 Whitehead St, Key West, FL 33040

Hours: Open 7 days a week, 9 am to 5 pm

Cost: Adults $17, Children (6-12 years old) $7, Children (5 and younger) Free

Intrepid’s Tip:

Ok, if you are a fan of Ernest Hemingway as I am, then, you are really going to enjoy Hemingway Food and Walking Tour! It is the best! This guided walking tour will take you to the places that Hemingway lived, worked, and played, including where he watched and refereed boxing matches, where he kept his boat the Pilar, the bookstore where his books were sold, his first apartment in Key West where he finished writing “A Farewell to Arms”

What is fun is that along the way you will have three food samplings and a stop at Sloppy Joe’s with an alcoholic drink to experience Hemingway’s favorite bar.

NUMBER 5

Stop by and Take a Commemorative Photo of Mile Marker 0 Sign

Ok, so, this is one of those kooky signs in Key West and it is a perfect photo opt as well. So, take your take and snap a few commemorative photos of the sign! You made it to the end or beginning of U.S. Route 1. The sign is located at 501 Whitehead St Suite 1, Key West, FL 33040.

What you need to know is that U.S. Route 1 stretches from Key West, Florida, more than 2,000 miles to Fort Kent, Maine, not far from the United States-Canada border. The highway connects several major cities along the eastern seaboard such as Boston, Washington, D.C., and Portland, Maine.

First Visit to Key West

So, take your take and snap a few commemorative photos of the sign! You made it to the end or beginning of U.S. Route 1.

Key West Bucket List 

Mile Marker 0 Sign 

Location: 501 Whitehead St, Key West, Florida, 33040

NUMBER 6

Tour Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

I think you will really enjoy the tour of Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. It is an awesome experience! Now, the Butterfly and Nature Conservatory is entirely enclosed in glass and kept at a temperature of approximately 80° F (plus, it is fairly humid inside, so consider yourself warned),  so, once you step inside, you will really feel as if you stepped into another world.

There are between 50-60 species of butterflies from around the world and about  20 exotic bird species (including a pair of resident flamingoes).

You will take a winding path that goes past tropical plants, feeding platforms for the butterflies, and, hopefully, some butterflies. Now, you need to take your time and be on the lookout for them!

The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

Now, you need to take your time and be on the lookout for the butterflies /Key West Bucket List

Key West Bucket List

Along the way, you will learn about what butterflies eat, how and when they mate, and their migratory patterns. Make sure to stop at the Learning Center for a 15-minute film that gives a good overview of the life cycle, basic facts, and other details of the butterfly.

Also, if you enjoy taking photos, then this is a perfect spot for some great close-ups of butterflies!

Intrepid’s Tip:

The butterflies are most active in the morning. So, if possible, plan your visit to the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory early in the day.

The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

Along the way, you will learn about what butterflies eat, how and when they mate, and their migratory patterns.

The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

Make sure to stop at the Learning Center for a 15-minute film that gives a good overview of the life cycle, basic facts, and other details of the butterfly.

The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

Location: 1316 Duval St, Naval Air Station Key West, FL 33040

Hours: Open 7 days a week, 9 am to 5:30 pm

Cost: Adults $15, Children (4-12 years old) $11

NUMBER 7

Take in the View from the Key West Lighthouse and Explore the Keepers Museum

The Key West Lighthouse is one of the oldest buildings in Key West. It was built in 1825 to help ships entering the port avoid the dangerous reefs.

You can climb to the top of the tower, however, there are 88 iron steps to take before you reach the top, so make sure you are up to it. However, once at the top, you will be rewarded with some great vistas of Key West.

Also, make sure to tour the grounds to see the Keeper’s Quarters which have been restored to their original charm and view the displays of nautical artifacts, antique furnishings, maps, and vintage photos.

Key West Lighthouse and Keeper's Quarters Museum

The Key West Lighthouse is one of the oldest buildings in Key West. It was built in 1825 to help ships entering the port avoid the dangerous reefs.

Key West Lighthouse and Keeper's Quarters Museum

You can climb to the top of the tower, however, there are 88 iron steps to take before you reach the top, so make sure you are up to it.

Key West Lighthouse and the Keepers Museum

Location: 938 Whitehead St, Key West, FL 33040

Hours: Open 7 days a week, 10 am to 5 pm

Cost: Adults $15.40, Seniors/Retired Military $10.30, Chidren (7-18 years old) $6.30, Children (under 7 years old) free, Active Military free

NUMBER 8

Enjoy the Lively Atmosphere on Duval Street

There is no doubt that Duval Street is one of the most popular destinations in Key West! It is no more than a mile long, however, it stretches from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean and it is packed with shops, restaurants, world-famous pubs, art galleries, coffee shops.

Duval Street in Key West

Duval Street is one of the most popular destinations in Key West.

Key West Bucket List

Duval Street really comes alive at night and it is known as Key West’s party epicenter with parties that go on until dawn. The most popular establishment includes the famous Sloppy Joe’s Bar well-known for hosting thousands of famous patrons through the years, the most celebrated being Ernest Hemingway. Another place that you should check out is Flying Monkey’s, which is famous for its frozen drinks. Next, put The Rum Bar on your list. It is known for its rum of course, but you need to try a mojito or a painkiller here! Finally, check out The Smallest Bar in Key West. It really is a tiny place, and here you need to try their rum run.

Sloppy Joe's Bar in Key West

The most popular establishment includes the famous Sloppy Joe’s Bar well-known for hosting thousands of famous patrons through the years, the most celebrated being Ernest Hemingway.

Key West Bucket List

Intrepid’s Tip:

A great way to experience the lively nightlife in Key West is to do a Key West Pub Crawl. It is a 2.5-hour guided pub crawl during which you will visit some of its most popular and entertaining establishments, beginning downtown and then traveling to the historic seaport and back to busy Duval Street. The tour includes a domestic beer or mixed drink at each of the five locations, plus you will get a t-shirt to commemorate the event.

NUMBER 9

Visit Shipwreck Museum and Lookout Tower

Hands down, you are going to love the Shipwreck Museum! It is absolutely fascinating! To be honest, I was really skeptical about visiting the museum, thinking that it might be just another tourist trap. However, I honestly have to say, this is one of the things that you should not miss on your first visit to Key West.

The Shipwreck Museum tells an incredible story of the shipwrecking industry. What you need to know is that from the 16th to the early 19th century, enormous wealth was shipped from the Spanish Main to Spain in the form of gold, silver, gemstones, spices, hardwoods, hides, and other valuable goods.

More than 100 ships a day ventured past Key West filled with this valuable cargo. However, during the Age of Sail, these were some of the most treacherous waters in the world and at least one ship a week would wreck on the nearby reefs.

Wrecker captains would climb lookout towers to watch the reef day and night in an attempt to be the first to claim the salvage rights and the recovered goods would be sold at auction.

The Shipwreck Museum in Key West

You will be able to view recovered sunken treasures from various ships that were lost at sea, including a 64-pound silver bar salvaged from the Nuestra Senora de las Maravillas.

The Shipwreck Museum in Key West

Also, do not miss hearing a fascinating story about the Isaac Allerton. Many of the artifacts on display come from the Isaac Allerton.

The museum’s exhibits tell an incredible story about the men who risked their lives to save a ship’s precious cargo. You will be able to view recovered sunken treasures from various ships that were lost at sea, including a 64-pound silver bar salvaged from the Nuestra Senora de las Maravillas. Also, do not miss hearing a fascinating story about the Isaac Allerton. Many of the artifacts on display come from the Isaac Allerton.

Finally, climb to the top of the observation tower for a wonderful bird’s-eye-view of the surrounding area.

Key West Shipwreck Museum

Location: 1 Whitehead St, Key West, FL 33040

Hours: Open 7 days a week, 9:30 am to 5 pm

Cost: Adults $17.19, Children (4-12 years old) $9.66

NUMBER 10

Tour Key West First Legal Rum Distillery

Key West First Legal Rum Distillery offers free tours that give insight into the local rum-making process. Tours run from 12 pm to 5 pm and last about 15-20 minutes, and you get to enjoy some free rum samples as well. By the way, their rums are top quality, smooth, and full of flavor!

Key West Bucket List

Key West First Legal Rum Distillery offers free tours that give insight into the local rum-making process.

Key West Bucket List

Tours run from 12 pm to 5 pm and last about 15-20 minutes, and you get to enjoy some free rum samples as well.

Intrepid’s Tip:

My recommendation is that you book their Mojito Making Class. It costs $60 and it is totally worth the money. The class is a lot of fun!  You will gain some mojito-making skills as well as learn some history of rum and the mojito. As a part of the class, you will sample many different rums.

Key West First Legal Rum Distillery

Location: 105 Simonton St, Key West, FL

Hours: Open 7 days a week, 11 am to 6 pm, Tours run from 12 pm to 5 pm

Cost: Free tours

NUMBER 11

Tour Harry S. Truman Little White House

I think you will really enjoy the tour of Harry S. Truman Little White House. The tours are conducted by very knowledgeable and passionate docents who take you on a journey back to the era of Harry Truman.

You will see where President Truman retreated for rest and relaxation during his term in office, where he and Bess lived and dined, original furnishings, personal effects, and more. Also, you will see the rooms where Truman met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, worked on the Marshall Plan, and wrote the Truman Doctrine.

Also, learn about the notable people who visited, including Thomas Edison and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Harry S. Truman Little White House in Key West

The tours of Harry S. Truman Little White House are conducted by very knowledgeable and passionate docents who take you on a journey back to the era of Harry Truman / Key West Bucket List

Key West Bucket List

Harry S. Truman Little White House

Location: 111 Front St, Naval Air Station Key West, FL 33040

Hours: Open 7 days a week, 9:30 am to 4:30 pm

Cost: Adults $24.67, Chidren (4-12 years old) $10.75

NUMBER 12

Visit the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum

Mel Fisher Maritime Museum is one of a kind place that you cannot skip on your first visit to Key West! It is a fascinating place!

“Today’s the day” was Mel Fisher’s mantra and the day was July 20, 1985, when, after 17 years of searching, Mel Fisher and his crew recovered Nuestra Señora de Atocha vessel, which contained millions worth of buried treasure, from the ocean floor just offshore from Key West.

A Quick Read:

On September 4, 1622, 28 galleon ships left Havana en route to Spain.

Aboard these ships was silver from Peru and Mexico, gold and emeralds from Colombia, pearls from Venezuela, and so much more. The very next day, the fleet was overtaken by a hurricane and eight of these ships ended up on the bottom of the ocean floor.

The most widely known vessel of a fleet of ships that sank in a hurricane was Nuestra Señora de Atocha. At the time of her sinking, Nuestra Señora de Atocha was heavily laden with copper, silver, gold, tobacco, gems, and indigo from Spanish ports at Cartagena and Porto Bello in New Granada (present-day Colombia and Panama, and Havana, bound for Spain. It was a heavily armed Spanish galleon that served as the almirante (rear guard) for the Spanish fleet. It would trail behind the other ships in the flota to prevent an attack from the rear.

Mel Fisher Maritime Museum

After 17 years of searching, Mel Fisher and his crew recovered the Nuestra Señora de Atocha vessel.

Key West Bucket List

Nuestra Señora de Atocha contained millions worth of buried treasure, from the ocean floor just offshore from Key West.

Mel Fisher Maritime Museum has several exhibits. No doubt, the 1622 Fleet Exhibit is where you should start. You will see the buried treasures acquired from the Nuestra Senora de Atocha and the Santa Margarita. There are hundreds of artifacts on display that include gold and silver bars, gems, jewelry, coins, and many more.

Another exhibit that you should not skip is Henrietta Marie Exhibit. At Mel Fisher’s Maritime Museum, the Henrietta Marie Exhibit tells the story of English merchant slave ship that sunk off the coast of Key West in 1700 shortly after selling 190 captive Africans in Jamaica. Discovered by Mel Fisher’s dive time in 1972, the exhibit displays artifacts and information about Henrietta Marie, the Transatlantic slave trade, and Key West’s African Cemetery.

Intrepid’s Tip:

Make sure to book Mel Fisher Maritime Museum Admission Ticket and Audio Tour Combo. General admission is $17.50, however for $2 more, you get the audio tour as well.

Mel Fisher Maritime Museum

Location: 200 Greene St, Key West, FL 33040

Hours: Open 7 days a week, 10 am to 4 pm

Cost: General Admission $17.50

NUMBER 13

Visit Key West Historic Seaport

Key West Historic Seaport is just a perfect place where you can escape the crowds and go for a pleasant and leisurely stroll along the boardwalk. There are some cute little shops that you can check out and a few places to stop for a drink or a bite to eat, or just listen to live music, gaze at the boats and people watch.

Key West Historic Seaport used to be the hub of the island thriving with industries including sea turtle fisheries, shrimp and sponge fisheries. A fun way to learn about the history of Key West Seaport and to sample some food is to join Key West Historic Seaport Food Tasting and Cultural Walking Tour. Hands down, you will love it! The tour is about 3-hours long and it will take you through some cool neighborhoods in Key West. You will sample some fish tacos, Key West pink shrimp, spiny lobster, plus a  glass of white wine and our famous key lime pie!

Key West Bucket List

Key West Historic Seaport is just a perfect place where you can escape the crowds and go for a pleasant and leisurely stroll along the boardwalk.

Key West Bucket List

Key West Historic Seaport 

Location: Key West Historic Seaport is located along the harborwalk waterfront at the ends of Front Street, Greene Street, Elizabeth Street, William Street, Margaret Street & Grinnell Street.

Hours: Open 7 days a week, dawn to dusk

Cost: Free

NUMBER 14

Relax, Sunbathe, Snorkel on One of Key West's Beaches

There are several beaches in Key West and each offers a different vibe. Whether you like peace, quiet, and some serenity, a lively atmosphere, or some water sports, you. will find the perfect beach for you to hang out in Key West! Here are my two top suggestions for you to check out:

  • Smathers Beach

First of all, Smathers Beach is the longest beach in Key West with a half-mile of super soft and pristine white sand lined with palm trees. Second, the beach is great for families with children since the water is super shallow for quite a distance from the shore. You can rent kayaks, jet skis, go parasailing, and windsurfing. The beach is open every day from 7 am to 11 pm. Access is free for all beachgoers. Now, Smathers Beach gets very busy during the spring break, so if you are visiting around that time, then there are other options if you want to avoid the crowds.

Smathers Beach in Key West

Smathers Beach is the longest beach in Key West with a half-mile of super soft and pristine white sand lined with palm trees / Key West Bucket List

Key West Bucket List

  • Fort Zachary Taylor Beach

Hands down, Fort Zachary Taylor Beach is my favorite beach in Key West. It is the best place if you are looking for some solitude, to snorkel, or sunbathe. It is like a hidden gem in Key West!

Fort Zachary Taylor Beach in Key West

Ford Zachary Taylor is a hidden gem in Key West / Key West Bucket List

Key West Bucket List

What I like about Fort Zachary Taylor beach is its natural shoreline, which is composed of ground coral instead of imported sand. Snorkeling is great at Fort Zachary Taylor Beach!

Fort Zachary Taylor Beach in Key West

What I like about Fort Zachary Taylor beach is its natural shoreline / Key West Bucket List

Key West Bucket List

Also, you can stroll or bike along some beautiful nature trails. In addition, you can take ranger-guided tours of historic Fort Zachary, which explore the Civil War-era fortifications.

Now, since the ground is composed of crushed coral, you should wear water shoes or flip-flops to protect your feet! Also, what you need to know is that a lot of people come to Fort Zachary State Beach to take photos of the sign that has the distances to different places around the world.

Key West Bucket List

A lot of people come to Fort Zachary State Beach to take photos of the sign that has the distances to different places around the world / Key West Bucket List

Key West Bucket List

The entrance to Fort Zachary Taylor Beach is located at the end of Southard Street on Truman Annex in Key West. Parking is ample. Fees: $7 entrance fee for two in a car; 50 cents for each additional; $2.50 for pedestrian or bike.

NUMBER 15

Go on the Key West Sunset Sail

The one activity that you cannot miss on your first visit to Key West is the sunset sail. My top choice is Key West Sunset Sail with Full Bar, Live Music & Hors D’oeuvres operated by Sebago Watersports. It is top-notch! And, they do an awesome job!

Seriously, nothing beats watching a sunset aboard a 70-foot catamaran. To top it off, the appetizers are great, plus there is champagne, wine, a full liquor bar, ice-cold beer, and soft drinks (all included).

First Visit to Key West

The one activity that you cannot miss on your first visit to Key West is the sunset sail / Key West Bucket List

Key West Bucket List

  • Departure Location: 205 Elizabeth St, Key West, FL 33040, USA Unit #1; Office located on Lazy Way Lane between the Conch Republic and Schooner Wharf. Make sure to arrive 30 minutes prior to departure for check-in.
  • Departure Time: Different departure times are available. Duration – about 2 hours.
  • Cost: $89.95

NUMBER 16

Go on a Day Trip to Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park is about 68 miles west of Key West in the Gulf of Mexico. The park preserves Fort Jefferson and the seven Dry Tortugas islands.

The park’s centerpiece is Fort Jefferson, a massive but unfinished coastal fortress. Fort Jefferson is the largest brick masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere and is composed of more than 16 million bricks.

The seven Dry Tortugas major islands, all within the park, are, roughly from west to east, Loggerhead Key, Garden Key, Bush Key, Long Key, Hospital Key, Middle Key, and East Key.

The park is famous for its significant historic artifacts, as well as excellent areas for snorkeling.

Dry Tortugas National Park

The seven Dry Tortugas major islands, all within the park, are, roughly from west to east, Loggerhead Key, Garden Key, Bush Key, Long Key, Hospital Key, Middle Key, and East Key / Key West Bucket List

Key West Bucket List

Now, what you need to know is that the park is accessible only by boat or seaplane. Both options have some pros and cons and it all depends on how you feel about taking a boat or whether you prefer flying. Here is what you need to know:

  • Getting to Dry Tortugas National Park by Boat

The first option is getting to Dry Tortugas National Park by boat. My recommendation is to check out Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip by Catamaran from Key West.

Included in this day trip is a round-trip ferry service on the Yankee Freedom III catamaran, narrated tour of Fort Jefferson, snorkeling equipment, breakfast and lunch, and National Park Service Fee ($15.00).  Cost: $190.

It takes about 2.5 hours one-way to reach Dry Tortugas National Park. The tour is about 45 minutes, which leaves you with about 3 hours of snorkeling. And, then 2.5 hours back to Key West. Just heads up that food is just ‘ok’, so pack some snacks and water. Also, my recommendation is to bring your own snorkeling equipment. Don’t forget some towels, bathing suits, and sunblock!

Dry Tortugas National Park

The park’s centerpiece is Fort Jefferson, a massive but unfinished coastal fortress / Key West Bucket List

Key West Bucket List

  • Getting to Dry Tortugas National Park by Seaplane

Key West Seaplane Adventures is the only Seaplane Service permitted in Dry Tortugas National Park. It takes about 40 minutes to reach Dry Tortugas National Park from Key West. The views along the way are simply breathtaking! It was the highlight of this day trip for me!!!

First Visit to Key West

It takes about 40 minutes to reach Dry Tortugas National Park from Key West by seaplane / Key West Bucket List

Key West Bucket List

They offer half-day excursions (4 hours) or full-day excursions (6.5 hours). The cost is $361 for a half-day and $634 for a full-day excursion per person. Park service fee of $15 is not included.

To sum it up, my recommendation is to book a seaplane. It is totally a bucket list experience!

Seaplane in Dry Tortugas National Park

Key West Seaplane Adventures is the only Seaplane Service permitted in Dry Tortugas National Park / Key West Bucket List

Key West Bucket List

NUMBER 17

Go Parasailing in Key West

Go parasailing in Key West and get a birdseye view of the emerald waters of Key West. My recommendation is to go with Fury Water Adventures for 1-hour parasailing adventure. The guide will secure you into a double or triple-person parasailing device and you will be gently lifted off and glide above the water. You will not get wet, however, there is an optional ocean dip.

Departure Location: 245 Front St, Key West, FL 33040, USA

Cost: $85.95

Key West Bucket List

My recommendation is to go with Fury Water Adventures for 1-hour parasailing adventure / Key West Bucket List

Key West Bucket List

NUMBER 18

Go on Key West Mangrove Kayaking Eco Tour

Key West Mangrove Kayak Eco Tour run by Lazy Dog Adventures is great! Don’t miss it and put it on the list of activities to do on your first visit to Key West.

First off, it is an easy-going and relaxing kayak tour winding through the mangroves. The guides are knowledgeable and entertaining. You will learn about this unique coastal environment and hopefully spot some wildlife.

Departure Location: 5114 Overseas Hwy, Key West, FL 33040, USA (At Lazy Dog Adventures, Hurricane Hole Marina)

Cost: from $50

First Visit to Key West

Key West Mangrove Kayak Eco Tour run by Lazy Dog Adventures is great! / Key West Bucket List

Key West Bucket List

It is an easy-going and relaxing kayak tour winding through the mangroves / Key West Bucket List

NUMBER 19

Have Delicious Tapas at Santiago's Bodega

I have been to Santiago’s Bodega numerous times and always had a wonderful tapas dinner. Every dish is fresh and tasty, and there are so many choices.

My recommendation is to try beef tenderloin, pear and avocado salad, roman meatballs, short ribs, and brussel sprouts. However, you really can’t go wrong with any other choices. Everything is delicious!

Santiago's Bodega in Key West

Every dish is fresh and tasty at Santiago’s Bodega / Key West Bucket List

Santiago's Bodega in Key West

My recommendation is to try beef tenderloin and pear and avocado salad / Key West Bucket List

Santiago’s Bodega 

  • Location: 207 Petronia Street, Key West, FL 33040
  • Hours: Open daily, 10 am to 11 pm

NUMBER 20

Stop for Breakfast or Brunch at Blue Heaven Restaurant and Bar

One of my favorite places to eat in Key West is Blue Heaven Restaurant and Bar. Great food and great atmosphere with the chickens and roosters roaming about. It is always busy, so be prepared to wait. But, it is worth the wait!

My recommendation is to try Blue Heaven Benedicts or Breakfast Sandwich, and their pancakes are delicious as well.

First Visit to Key West

Great food and great atmosphere with the chickens and roosters roaming about at Blue Heaven Restaurant and Bar / Key West Bucket List

Blue Heaven in Key West

My recommendation is to try Blue Heaven Benedicts or Breakfast Sandwich, and their pancakes are delicious as well / Key West Bucket List

Blue Heaven Restaurant and Bar 

  • Location: 729 Thomas Street, Key West, Fl
  • Hours: Open daily, Breakfast/Lunch 8 am to 2:30 pm, Dinner 5 pm – 10 pm

NUMBER 21

Have a Romantic Sunset Dinner at Latitudes

If you are looking for a romantic sunset dinner and award-winning food, then I am recommending Latitudes.

Latitudes is located on the private island of Sunset Key. Their boat launch is located at Slip 29, behind the Opal Key Resort, 245 Front St. Your reservation time is your departure time (just arrive a few minutes before your departure time to check-in). The boat ride is about 7 minutes long.

Reservations are required. And, my recommendation is to make reservations way in advance, because Latitudes gets completely booked! Especially, if you are planning a dinner, then be prepared to book months in advance. However, if there are no reservations available for dinner, then do for breakfast or lunch. You will not be disappointed, because the food is delicious. And, not only the food is top-notch, but the service, quality, presentation, ambiance, and views are perfect.

My recommendation is to try cobia at Latitudes. Cobia is a deep-sea fish that is also known as a Crabeater or Sergeant fish. Cobia is often found living between 50-100 meters below sea level. Cobia fish has a mild, sweet taste to it, and it has little fat found in the meat. And, save room for dessert, because their key lime pie is awesome! Plus, their beignets are to die for, served nice and warm.

Latitudes in Sunset Key

My recommendation is to try cobia at Latitudes. Cobia is a deep-sea fish that is also known as a Crabeater or Sergeant fish / Key West Bucket List

Latitudes in Sunset Key

Save room for dessert, because their key lime pie is awesome! Plus, their beignets are to die for, served nice and warm / Key West Bucket List

NUMBER 22

Have the Best Coffee at Cuban Coffee Queen

Start your day at Cuban Coffee Queen. Hands down, it is the best coffee you will ever have. It is rich, creamy, and smooth. And then, try out their Cuban burrito, or one of the Cuban sandwiches. Jeez, just writing about it, makes me want to book a flight back!

Cuban Coffee Queen in West

Start your day at Cuban Coffee Queen. Hands down, it is the best coffee you will ever have / Key West Bucket List

Key West Bucket List

There are three locations. However, I always bike to the original Cuban Coffee Queen!

Location: Waterfront (original location!), 284 Margaret Street, Key West, FL 33040

Hours: Open daily, 6:30 am – 7 pm

Intrepid Scout's 7 Must-Have Experiences in Key West

Ok!  So, this is quite a list, right? How do you narrow it down, if you only have a few days to spend in Key West? No problem! Here are the best things to do on your first visit to Key West:

  1. Visit Mallory Square – it is such a fun place to walk around, watch street performers, have a bite to eat, or just a drink, and watch a fabulous sunset.
  2. Take in the View from the Key West Lighthouse – visiting the Key West Lighthouse is such a cool experience, and climbing all the stairs is good exercise, however, you will love the spectacular views.
  3. Visit Duval Street – Duval Street can get rowdy and crazy, however, you need to experience the lively atmosphere. Make sure to stop at Sloppy Joy’s and have a mojito.
  4. Visit Key West Historic Seaport – it is just a perfect place where you can escape the crowds and go for a pleasant and leisurely stroll along the boardwalk. There are some cute little shops that you can check out and a few places to stop for a drink or a bite to eat, or just listen to live music, gaze at the boats and people watch.
  5. Go on a Day Trip to Dry Tortugas National Park – my recommendation is to splurge and take a seaplane to Dry Tortugas National Park. It is a bucket list experience. Then, spend your time snorkeling!
  6. Stop by Cuban Cofee Queen – Cuban Coffee Queen is such a cool place. Their coffee is awesome. Plus, make sure to try one of their sandwiches!
  7. Have a Romantic Sunset Dinner at Latitudes – sunset dinner at Latitudes is one of the top things to do in Key West. If you decide to splurge, then make reservations as soon as possible.

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Things to Do in Key West
Things to Do in Key West

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