Key West is one of the country’s most popular vacation destinations, and with good reason: it offers an array of activities for every interest. When you’re planning your trip to Key West, it’s best to line up your itinerary in advance so that you can make the most of your time there, especially if it’s a short trip like a weekend getaway. Make sure you add these seven attractions to your to-do list for a memorable trip.
1. Visit Dry Tortugas National Park
Just a ferry-ride away from Key west activities is Dry Tortugas National Park. It’s mostly underwater and offers world-class snorkeling to new and experienced snorkelers alike. The series of islands offers opportunities for kayaking, swimming, and birdwatching, too. Garden Key is the largest island, and it’s also the location of Fort Jefferson, where tours and reenactments are held. Off of Garden Key, you’ll find the coral reefs, shipwrecks, and old naval pilings that make snorkeling and diving here so exciting.
2. Book a Fishing Charter
Fishing is one of the top reasons people make the trip to Key West. Instead of worrying about packing your own fishing tackle and renting a boat, let one of the local fishing boat captains and their crew take care of the details. All you’ll need to do is show up and enjoy yourself. Even if you don’t have any fishing experience, the crew can lend a hand with tips and advice. Your captain will know where to find schools of fish in season, which practically guarantees at least one catch. And if you’d like to celebrate your achievement with dinner, book a reservation at Dante’s in Key West; their menu features a cook-your-catch option.
3. Grab Lunch at Eaton Street Seafood Market and Restaurant
For the best grilled lobster around, it’s worth making the effort to get to Old Town Key West and Eaton Street Seafood Market and Restaurant. This small venue offers several seafood dishes, including fish sandwiches and crab cakes, to delight you. The tables and umbrellas provided for outdoor seating are cozy and comfortable. If you’d rather, make your purchase of raw seafood from the market and prepare your own; the quality and taste of this seafood still stand out. Housemade sides and sauces perfectly complement every dish.
4. Learn About Shipwrecks at the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum
As one of the few museums of its kind in the world, the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum welcomes visitors to not only explore the artifacts and exhibits but also consider joining a behind-the-scenes tour of its working conservation lab. Learn about the science of shipwrecks, archaeology, and artifact preservation. Discover how treasure hunter Mel Fisher contributed to the field, and how those advancements continue to influence the work of today’s shipwreck salvage work.
5. Stroll Down Duval Street
No trip to Key West is complete with a walk down its most famous street. Akin to Main Street, Key West’s Duval Street is where you’ll find the city’s best boutiques, shops, art galleries, and museums. The road is bookended by Southernmost Point and Mallory Square. The city’s nightly Sunset Celebration kicks off at Mallory Square, and the Conch Tour Train traverses the area, providing riders with several opportunities to hop off and hop on as they explore Key West. While you’ll find some well-known names here, many of the shops are small local businesses with product lines you won’t find anywhere else.
6. Enjoy the Great Outdoors at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park
Located right on the island of Key West, this Civil War-era fort welcomes visitors who are interested in history and natural beauty. History buffs can join one of the daily tours of the fort, although guests are welcome to explore the park independently, too. Walking and biking trails are open, as is a small beach and fishing jetty. The park’s on-site cafe serves up light fare, including breakfast and lunch items plus cold beverages.
7. Taste the Key Lime Pie at Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Pie Shoppe
No trip to Key West is complete without trying key lime pie at least once. And the pie at Kermit’s is made fresh every day. They sell pies by the slice and whole, too, in case you can’t get enough. Make sure you visit the Elizabeth Street location because the charming patio features a quaint koi pond to sit beside. In addition to key lime pie, you’ll find an extended product line of key lime-related food items like condiments, cookies, relishes, and snacks, plus health and beauty products featuring key lime ingredients.
Whether you’re traveling solo, as part of a couple or as a family, Key West’s attractions offer many opportunities to explore the natural beauty of the island, as well as the cultural, culinary, and social history of the area. These seven activities are merely an introduction to everything the island city offers visitors, and you’ll have a wonderful time filling in your itinerary based on these ideas.