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We're going to Florida! In two months from now, we'll be traveling in Florida and just like before any one of our trips, I'm busy researching and preparing my trip notes. Today, I want to share with you our cheat sheet for the Florida Keys Attractions. This is going to be a long post, simply because there is a LOT to see and do along the keys. In fact, after filtering things down to what we really want to see, the list came down to 66 key attractions (I just couldn't resist the pun, sorry!).
Here's the thing about the Florida Keys: This isn't a cheap location.
The rules of supply and demand are hard at play here. There's only so much land available for hotels, and so many travelers coming in to enjoy the Keys, that accommodation can get expensive. For us, that means our stay in the Keys will be limited to a total of three days. That's not a long time, considering all that the area has to offer.
That's why planning ahead of time is so important. Having researched everything and prepared our notes should hopefully help us make the most of the short visit. If you're planning a trip to the area, you may want to bookmark this page and return to it. Here's a quick table of contents to help you find your way around.
- A Super Quick Overview of the Florida Keys
- Key Largo
- 5. Islamorada Founders Park
- 6. Rain Barrel Village
- 7. Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park
- 8. Theatre of the Sea
- 9. History of Diving Museum
- 10. Islamorada Brewery & Distillery
- 11. Florida Keys History & Discovery Center
- 12. Florida Keys Brewing Company
- 13. Indian Key State Historic Site
- 14. Anne's Beach
- 15. Highway Piers Historical Marker & Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail
- Long Key
- Grassy Key
- Marathon Islands
- Big Pine Key
- Cudjoe Key
- Key West
- Key West Landmarks & Unique Attractions
- Key West Historic Homes & Museums
- 43. Audubon House & Tropical Gardens
- 44. The Oldest House
- 45. Harry S. Truman Little White House
- 46. The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
- 47. Fort East Martello Museum
- 48. The Basilica of St. Mary Star of the Sea
- 49. Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum
- 50. U.S. Coast Guard Cutter INGHAM Maritime Museum
- 51. Key West Art & Historical Society Custom House Museum
- 52. Key West First Legal Rum Distillery
- 53. The Key West Shipwreck Museum & 65’ Tower
- 54. Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park
- Key West Gardens & Animal Attraction
- More Things To Do Along The Florida Keys
- Enjoy the Florida Keys!
All set? Grab a coffee and maybe a slice of key lime pie. This is a long read. And if you find it helpful, please do leave me a comment below to let me know that you made it all the way through to the end.
A Super Quick Overview of the Florida Keys
Just in case you're very early on in your research, let's lay down the base here.
The Florida Keys are a group of small tropical islands, connected by the Overseas Highway. The chain of islands begins 15 miles south of Miami and is the southernmost point of the continental USA. The first island is Key Largo and the last connected one is Key West.
This is a classic road trip - you have to drive along the highway to get to Key West. If you don't want to drive, there are organized tours that can get you there. The road along the keys is 113 miles long, connecting the keys with bridges. The longest bridge is the famous seven mile bridge, between Marathon and Little Duck Key. This is not a toll road, in case you were wondering.
Here's a list of the Florida Keys Tourist Attractions, in the order that you'll encounter them driving from Key Largo to Key West.
The first key you’ll see on a drive down US-1 is also the longest. Home to 10,000 people, Key Largo certainly lives up to its name with a “largo” length of 33 miles. Celebrated for its superb snorkeling spots, this key is only a 1.5-hour drive from Miami, making it a popular day-trip destination.
1. The Grecian Rocks Snorkeling Site
Located off of Key Largo’s eastern shore is a famous coral reef known as the Grecian Rocks. Measuring about 0.5-miles, Grecian Rocks is an exceptionally good snorkeling destination on windy days thanks to its shallow depth and durable wind protection.
Besides common sponges and colorful coral, tourists often report seeing parrotfish, hogfish, and grouper on their tour. Be sure to inquire at the nearby John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park for Grecian Rocks transportation info.
2. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Of all Key Largo’s premier diving locations, the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park deserves special attention. Not only is this park vast (25 miles long and 3 miles wide), it's also one of Florida's most popular with about one million annual visitors.
Although diving and snorkeling are John Pennekamp’s top draws, visitors could also take advantage of glass-bottom boat tours, an indoor aquarium, and camping facilities. To help plan your trip, be sure to visit the official John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park website.
Admission fees are as follows:
- $8 for cars with no more than eight passengers.
- $2 for pedestrians, cyclists, and additional passengers.
- $4 for solo drivers in vehicles and motorcyclists.
3. Dolphins Plus Bayside
Ever wondered what a dolphin kiss feels like? Well, dream no longer, because Dolphins Plus Bayside offers dozens of supervised dolphin swims.
Whether you want to swim with dolphins, paint with dolphins, or get a dolphin smooch, there’s a tour package at Dolphins Plus sure to fit your preferences. To see a full list of tour packages and prices, visit this Dolphins Plus Bayside link.
4. Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center
The Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center is a fantastically feathery (and frugal) Key Largo attraction. Home to hundreds of rescued and wild birds, this center has an outdoor sanctuary and bird hospital that are free to visit. Besides gawking at all those birds, many travelers enjoy strolling on the center’s boardwalk during sunset.
For more info, check out the Mission Wild Bird website.
Home to about 6,000 residents, Islamorada is a collection of six islands smack dab in the middle of the Florida Keys. Best known for its fantastic sport fishing, these central islands are a great home base for tourists interested in conquering all the Keys.
5. Islamorada Founders Park
The largest of Islamorada’s parks is Founders Park, which is located in the north on the key’s bayside. Measuring a massive 45-acres, this park is home to many sporting facilities—including an Olympics-sized swimming pool—as well as picnic benches and a Visitor Center.
Currently, it costs $8 per adult and $5 per child to enter this park. You can find out more about the facilities at Islamorada Founders Park on this website.
6. Rain Barrel Village
Even if you didn’t read our list, you’d probably end up visiting Rain Barrel Village. Why? Well, there’s a colossal lobster statue outside that’s screaming for selfies!
As long as you’re pulled over, you might as well check out all the lovely local art, handicrafts, and souvenirs inside this eccentric store.
7. Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park
While it might not look like much, Windley Key played a big role in Florida’s past. Indeed, this former limestone quarry helped build the state’s historic Overseas Railroad. To help take guests back to the early 20th century, park organizers have placed authentic machinery throughout the key’s five walking trails.
You will have to pay $2.50 to enter this park and another $2 if you want to go on a guided tour. Anyone can learn more about Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park on this official website.
8. Theatre of the Sea
It’s not hard to see why Theatre of the Sea is often ranked as Islamorada’s top tourist draw. Founded in the 1940s, this lagoon hosts dramatic daily shows featuring dolphins, sea lions, and parrots. Those who want to get even closer to the action could check out this theatre’s special exhibits or book an animal interaction.
For specific details on ticket pricing and showtimes, be sure to click this official link to the Theatre of the Sea.
9. History of Diving Museum
From the Epic of Gilgamesh to William Beebe, the History of Diving Museum one of the world's most comprehensive collections diving artifacts. Although focused on South Florida, this pet-friendly non-profit strives to inspire visitors with the story of man’s eternal quest to fathom the fathomless depths.
Tickets cost $12 for adults and $6 for children between the ages of 6-11. Pro tip: visit the History of Diving Museum’s website beforehand and print the coupon on the “Ticket Information” page.
10. Islamorada Brewery & Distillery
Craft beer lovers should track down the bright-yellow Islamorada Beer Company building on their tour. Located at 82229 Overseas Highway, this local distillery is starting to garner national attention for its tasty tropical-themed concoctions.
To see all the thirst-quenching brews available at Islamorada Beer Company, definitely check out their official website.
11. Florida Keys History & Discovery Center
For a comprehensive overview of the Florida Keys, look no further than Islamorada’s Florida Keys History & Discovery Center. From Native American artists to pineapple growing pirates, you’ll learn a great deal as you explore the rare artifacts and interactive exhibits housed here. This museum also has a theatre that plays a fascinating hour-long documentary four times per day.
General admission costs $15 per person, but there are discounts for seniors, students, and military personnel. Click on the Keys Discovery Center’s website for more details on special exhibits.
12. Florida Keys Brewing Company
Florida Keys Brewing Co. might be new to the craft beer game, but it’s certainly making its presence felt. Once you arrive, you could choose to relax inside the company’s taproom or take your drink out to the glorious beer garden. Wherever you sit, you’re sure to have a refreshing experience.
Be sure to take a look at the Florida Keys Brewing Company’s website before your visit.
13. Indian Key State Historic Site
Indian Key is a tiny 11-acre island near Islamorada’s 78.5-mile marker. Although it’s deserted nowadays, this island has quite a colorful history, including Spanish shipwrecks and intense Seminole War battles. Those who aren’t interested in the island’s history will enjoy its many outdoor activities, including hiking, kayaking, and swimming.
Most people who journey to Indian Key either rent a kayak or take a boat ride. It costs $2.50 to enter this historic site. Click on this link to Indian Key’s official webpage to better plan your trip.
14. Anne's Beach
Officially located on Lower Matecumbe Key, Anne’s Beach has become quite popular in the kite-boarding community thanks to its shallow waters. Anyone who hasn’t tried this intense water sport can safely test it out on this laid-back beach.
If kite-boarding isn’t for you, however, Anne’s Beach has plenty of space for sunbathing, picnicking, and swimming.
15. Highway Piers Historical Marker & Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail
In 1935, a massive hurricane slammed Islamorada and claimed roughly 420 lives. You can find a chilling reminder of this natural disaster at the Highway Piers Historical Marker near Anne’s Beach. The easiest way to visit this area is to walk or cycle on the long Overseas Heritage Trail.
To find out more about riding this trail, follow this link put together by Florida State Parks.
Sandwiched in-between Islamorada and Marathon is a small island that’s curiously named “Long Key.” Back in the early 20th century, Long Key gained a snobbish reputation due to its association with America’s wealthy. Today, anyone is welcome to enjoy the “high life” on this idyllic island’s campgrounds.
16. Long Key State Park
Gilded Age industrialist Henry Flagler founded a ritzy vacation club on Long Key that was pretty popular until a hurricane blew through in 1935. Today, the remnants of Flagler’s camp have become what we know as the Long Key State Park. Besides camping, popular activities on Long Key include paddling, fishing, and snorkeling.
Usually, there are 60 campsites available for rental, but Hurricane Irma caused significant damage in 2017. Please visit Long Key State Park’s website ahead of time to check the status of camping areas and fees.
Grassy Key is formally classified as one of the Marathon Islands, but it has a different feel from its cousin Keys. Although best known for hosting the Dolphin Research Center, Grassy Key is beloved for its small-town atmosphere and RV park.
17. Dolphin Research Center
As hinted in the intro, the Dolphin Research Center is a big deal on Grassy Key. Indeed, this research institute is often listed as the top attraction on the Marathon Islands. In addition to dolphins, guests who visit this center can watch entertaining educational shows with tropical birds and sea lions.
General admission to Dolphin Research Center costs $28 per adult and $23 per child. There are also more expensive tour packages that include interactive dolphin encounters. For more info on ticket pricing, here’s the link to the Dolphin Research Center’s website.
The Marathon Islands refer to a cluster of thirteen Keys that are about a one-hour drive north of Key West. Home to almost 9,000 residents, these islands are a bit more developed than other Keys, especially on the central Marathon Island.
18. Marathon Visitor Center
On the central Marathon Island, you’ll find a cute Visitor Center full of friendly locals more than willing to help you plan your trip. Whether you have questions about attractions, places to stay, or good restaurants, the Marathon Visitor Center is there to ensure you have an enjoyable vacation.
19. Curry Hammock State Park
Although the Marathon Islands are quite developed, Curry Hammock State Park boasts a remarkable 1,000-acres of uninhabited land ideal for campers. Thanks to Curry Hammock’s untouched scenery, it has become especially popular with nature tourists interested in activities like paddle-boarding, hiking, and star-gazing.
If you’re driving into Curry Hammock State Park, it will cost $4.50 for the driver and an additional $0.50 for each extra passenger. Pedestrians and cyclists only have to pay $2.50 to enter.
Find out more about camping on Curry Hammock State Park on this official website.
20. San Pablo Catholic Church
No matter your faith, you will be inspired on a walk through Marathon’s stained glass-filled San Pablo Catholic Church. Take a few extra moments to stroll through this church’s rosary gardens and meditate on the beauty of nature. For those lucky enough to visit in December, schedule a nighttime stop at San Pablo to see the highly reviewed Christmas light displays.
21. Sunset Park Beach
Situated on the Atlantic edge of Key Colony Beach, Sunset Beach is best known for (surprise, surprise) its sunsets. While tourists say there are a few docks here, don’t expect anything super fancy. There have been, however, a few impromptu musical performances here; so, maybe you’ll enjoy a sunset serenade.
22. Oceanfront Park
Oceanfront Park is an almost 8-acre park on Marathon Island’s Atlantic side with boardwalks, tiki huts, and picnic tables galore. Besides fishing and launching a kayak, everyday activities on Oceanfront Park include kite flying, hiking, and bird-watching. Best of all, there’s no fee to enter this pet-friendly park.
23. EAA Air Museum
Anyone with even the slightest interest in aviation must make a stop at the EAA Air Museum inside Marathon International Airport. Although it looks small on the outside, this museum has loads of flight memorabilia, a fire engine, and even a few planes you could hop inside. As a bonus, the EAA Air Museum is free to visit.
24. Crane Point Museum & Nature Center
Situated on Key Vaca, the Crane Point Museum & Nature Center was created in the 70s to preserve the area’s natural beauty from residential development. Today, this non-profit is still going strong and welcomes anyone interested to explore its bird rehabilitation center, nature trail, and museum.
Discover all that Crane Point Museum has to offer by clicking on this website.
25. The Turtle Hospital
Of over 30 years, Marathon’s Turtle Hospital has helped hundreds of injured turtles reclaim their health and re-enter their natural habitat. Those who would like to see the center's current turtle patients should book a guided tour in advance on the Turtle Hospital’s website.
Currently, it costs $27 per adult and $13 per child to tour the Turtle Hospital.
26. Pigeon Key Foundation Marine Center
Pigeon Key is an extremely small key south of Marathon that played an important role in housing workers during the construction of the Old Seven Mile Highway. Today, visitors are more than welcome to tour the historic buildings (one of which is a museum) on Pigeon Key.
To take a ferry ride to Pigeon Key, be sure to visit the official Pigeon Key Visitor’s Center at the 2010 Overseas Highway, Marathon. Please note: there is a $12 fee to go on a historical tour. For more information on the Pigeon Key Foundation, check out their official website.
27. Old Seven Mile Bridge (Slated For A 2021 Re-Opening)
One of the most photographed bridges in the Keys is the Seven Mile Bridge between Marathon’s Knight’s Key and Little Duck Key. Although it’s not the longest bridge in the world, this seven-mile-long stretch an undeniably impressive engineering accomplishment.
As you’re driving through this area, you’ll notice there are two Seven Mile Bridges—one solely for pedestrians and another for cars. Unfortunately, the pedestrian-friendly Old Seven Mile Bridge is currently undergoing refurbishment and won’t be finished till at least 2021.
Big Pine Key
Home to about 5,000 people, Big Pine Key, is the perfect key for nature enthusiasts. Believe it or not, this island’s main claim to fame is protecting the world’s largest population of endangered Key deer. Pullover here if you’re interested in wildlife adventures.
28. Bahia Honda State Park
Crystal clear water. Swaying palm trees. Scintillating sunsets. All the hallmarks of a Caribbean beach retreat can be found at Big Pine Key’s Bahia Honda State Park. From bicycling and bird-watching to snorkeling and sunbathing, you won’t have any difficulties finding some way to relax in beloved Bahia.
Admission to Bahia Honda State Park costs $8.50 per vehicle, provided there are more than eight passengers. Although Bahia Honda is open to visitors, keep in mind Hurricane Irma hit this park. You should visit Bahia Honda State Park’s website to check for availability during your trip.
29. Key West Visitor Center
That’s right, Key West’s Visitor Center is located on another key. Go figure.
If you’re passing through Big Pine Key and searching for reliable Key West info, then you can’t go wrong at this visitor center. For those using GPS, the official address of the Key West Visitor Center is 31281 Overseas Hwy.
30. National Key Deer Refuge
Anyone interested in seeing those endangered Key deer we mentioned earlier should stop at Big Pine Key’s 9,200-acre National Key Deer Refuge. While the Key deer are the highlight at this refuge, there are many other endangered animals on the property, including Bartram’s hairstreak butterfly and the Lower Keys marsh rabbit.
When you are here, please resist the urge to feed the adorable Key deer because it is against the refuge’s policies. For more information on visiting this wildlife wonderland, check out the National Key Deer Refuge’s official website.
31. The Blue Hole
Three miles north of the National Key Deer Refuge, you’ll come across a small, but significant wildlife area called the Blue Hole. Named for its circular pond, the Blue Hole is an excellent area for wildlife watching, especially if you’re looking for various reptiles, iguanas, birds, and, yes, more Key deer!
The mysteriously named Cudjoe Key is a world away from the excitement of nearby Key West. Only about 1,000 people live on Cudjoe Key, making it a perfect island for those who want a super secluded getaway.
32. American Shoal Lighthouse
Anyone taking a boat ride from Cudjoe Key should keep their eyes peeled for the bright red American Shoal Lighthouse. Although this lighthouse was deactivated in 2015, it’s worthwhile visiting for the fantastic photo ops and snorkeling opportunities.
Before your visit, please keep up-to-date on the latest news surrounding American Shoal Lighthouse. Recent reports suggest the lighthouse was deemed an “excess” by the US Coast Guard and might be dismantled soon.
33. Veterans Memorial Park
People looking for a small beach retreat during their trip to Cudjoe could drive 25-minutes north to Little Duck Key’s Veterans Memorial Park. The positives of visiting this beach include free access, free parking, and beautiful shallow waters. Just be forewarned: many visitors complain of limited parking, so it’s best to get here early and claim your territory.
With a population of about 25,000, Key West is by far the most populous, most visited, and most politically significant of all the Florida Keys. Internationally known for its quirky character, this southernmost key is jam-packed with unforgettable attractions, hot restaurants & clubs, and lovely nature retreats.
Since Key West has the most attractions in the Florida Keys, we’ve conveniently arranged our itinerary into three distinct groups:
- Landmarks & Unique Attractions
- Historic Homes & Museums
- Gardens & Animal Attractions.
We hope this organization will make it easier to pinpoint the perfect Key West destinations for your preferences.
Key West Landmarks & Unique Attractions
34. Key West Historic Seaport
A great place to begin your Key West adventure is at the 20-acre Historic Seaport. Used for hundreds of years as a trading port, this coastal area is now home to dozens of the city’s finest shops and restaurants. You’ll also find convenient access to water-sports excursions, snorkeling tours, and hop-on hop-off trolleys from this seaport.
Find out more about what’s going on at Key West Historic Seaport on this website.
35. Mallory Square
Mallory Square is hands down the most popular place to watch Key West’s stunning sunset. Located on the key’s northwest tip, this square is equally well known for its dramatic (and sometimes kitschy) evening street performers. If you are going to visit Mallory Square for sunset, be prepared to deal with crowds of cruise ship tourists.
To learn more about the restaurants and attractions in Mallory Square, you can visit this official webpage.
36. US-1 Mile Marker 0
Looking for a fantastic and free photo-op? Visit the US-1 Mile Marker 0 between Whitehead and Fleming streets.
Yes, this sign marks the official endpoint for one of the East Coast’s longest and most historic roads. Now all you have to do is travel 2,300 miles north for a pic by “America’s First Mile” in Fort Kent!
37. Duval Street
Measuring 1.2-miles between the Atlantic and Gulf sides, Duval is Key West’s liveliest and most distinctive street. Whether you’re looking for big-name restaurants, historic bars, or souvenir shops, there’s a good chance Duval Street has just what you’re looking for. Duval Street is also a popular place for nighttime ghost tours and parades during special events.
38. Key West Lighthouse and Keeper's Quarters Museum
The bright white Key West Lighthouse stands proudly on Whitehall Street, a position it has held for some 170 years. Since it was deactivated in the 1960s, the lighthouse has become one of the most iconic tourist draws thanks to its fantastic panoramic views of the city. Just be forewarned: you will have to climb 88 steps to reach the top.
Tickets inside the lighthouse and Keeper’s Quarter Museum cost $12 per adult and $5 per child. Be sure to visit the Key West Lighthouse’s website for even more tourist information.
39. Higgs Beach
Anyone looking for a family-friendly beach near Downtown should consider visiting the Atlantic-facing Higgs Beach. This 16.5-acre beach has quite a bit of exploring, including remnants of the 19th century West Martello Tower, an old African burial ground, and two piers. Plus, Higgs Beach has a restaurant, kiddie play area, and dog park to take advantage of.
40. South Beach & Southernmost Point of the US
Taking a picture by Key West’s Southernmost Point is like standing in front of the Vegas sign. You have to do it. Oh yeah, and don’t do anything super embarrassing because there is a live webcam of the Southernmost Point.
Nearby the Southernmost Point, you will also find a small beach and pier conveniently named South Beach. Although this beach is very tiny, tourists say it has clean amenities and great views of ships and the sunset.
41. Key West Cemetery
Visiting the Key West Cemetery isn’t as macabre as it might seem. Indeed, some tourists say visiting this historic burial ground is downright hilarious.
You’ll be surprised at what’s inscribed on some of the tombstones in this supposedly solemn area. It seems the fun-loving Key West spirit extends even into the afterlife!
Although it’s free to visit the Key West Cemetery, you could reserve a guided tour for a small fee. Please click this link to the Key West Cemetery’s official site to learn more about the area and tours.
42. Smathers Beach
About one mile from the Historic District, Smathers is Key West's longest beach and a well-known haunt for party-hardy spring breakers. But it’s not all about debauchery here. Tourists who visit Smathers praise the area's cleanliness and fantastic amenities like volleyball courts, picnic benches, and jet ski rentals.
One potential downside of visiting Smathers Beach is that it’s near the Key West International Airport. So, be prepared for planes always flying overhead. On the pro side, parking at Smathers Beach is free.
Key West Historic Homes & Museums
43. Audubon House & Tropical Gardens
A stone’s throw from Mallory Square, the Audubon House, is an essential stop for any bird lovers out there. Although the influential Birds of America painter John James Audubon visited Key West before the current Audubon House was built, it’s believed he stayed here when working on his famous tome.
44. The Oldest House
Although it’s not the Oldest House in America (you’ll have to go to St. Augustine for that), Key West’s Oldest Home is still pretty remarkable. Constructed in 1829, this Duval Street home will undoubtedly transport you to a different era.
Adults and children over the age of 12 only need to pay $5 to tour this legendary home. For more facts on this charming residence, please check out the Key West Oldest Home’s website.
45. Harry S. Truman Little White House
To date, no American president was born in Florida—and yet, there is one presidential library in Key West. History buffs might already know President Harry S. Truman used to retreat to a “Little White House” near Mallory Square during the winter. For an intimate view of Truman’s life and times, you can’t do better than visiting this fantastic attraction.
Tickets cost $21.95 per adult and $10.75 per child but check out the Truman Little White House’s webpage for online discounts.
46. The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
Just behind the Key West Lighthouse, you’ll find the former home of a literary legend: Ernest Hemingway. On your 30-minute guided tour, you’ll learn amusing anecdotes on the Nobel Prize-winning author’s time in Key West and get to tour his second wife Pauline Pfeiffer’s gardens. Oh yeah, and there are dozens of cats on the property, some of which might be descended from Hemingway’s original six-toed cat.
For the full Hemingway experience, consider visiting during the Hemingway Days Festival at the end of July. If you’re not in town for the “Running of the Bulls,” then at least grab a drink at Hemingway’s old haunt Sloppy Joe’s.
General admission costs $15 per adult and $6 per child, and keep in mind this museum only accepts cash. You can find out more about Ernest Hemingway Home online.
47. Fort East Martello Museum
The Civil War in Key West was kind-of complicated. Although officially under Union control, many residents were Confederates. Fearing the Confederates might try to take the territory, Union troops worked feverishly on Fort East Martello till the end of the war. Today, this former fort is a fascinating museum housing not only Civil War relics but also unique artwork and artifacts from Key West’s past.
Tickets to this fort cost $12 per adult and $5 per child. Check out this link to Fort East Martello Museum’s website for more info.
48. The Basilica of St. Mary Star of the Sea
With a history dating back to the 1850s, the Basilica of St. Mary Star of the Sea is one of the Sunshine State's most historic Catholic churches. According to tourists, this storied church has a beautiful interior and a serene garden well worth a visit, especially if you need a few moments to meditate.
You can download a full map of the Basilica of St. Mary Star of the Sea on the church’s official website.
49. Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum
Anyone with a keen interest in pirates, shipwrecks, and buried treasure should put the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum high on their itinerary. The star attractions at this museum include Spanish ships and treasure from the 1600s, but there are also fascinating exhibits dedicated to conservation efforts and the history of Caribbean pirates.
Located near Mallory Square, this museum costs $16 per adult and $7 per child to visit. Find out more about special exhibits on the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum’s website.
50. U.S. Coast Guard Cutter INGHAM Maritime Museum
Alongside Truman Waterfront Park, you’ll find one of the Coast Guard’s most celebrated ships: the 320-foot-long USCG Cutter INGHAM. Serving between 1936 – 1988, this cutter saw a lot of action in WWII and the Vietnam War, and now it houses many artifacts from those heroic decades. If possible, visit this ship’s artifacts later in the day so you could also enjoy a spectacular view of the sunset.
It will cost adults $10 and children $5 to step aboard this USCG Cutter. You can learn more about the USCG Cutter Ingham Maritime Museum on this webpage.
51. Key West Art & Historical Society Custom House Museum
Another historical attraction near Mallory Square is the Custom House Museum. Dating back to 1891, this four-story building once served as Key West’s central business hub and a strategic Naval base. Today, visitors can learn more about the essential roles this building played on a tour of the museum’s exhibits.
You can purchase tickets to this museum for $12 per adult and $5 per child. Find out more info about the Custom House Museum on this website.
52. Key West First Legal Rum Distillery
What's now Key West’s First Legal Rum Distillery used to be an early 20th century Coca-Cola plant. During the Prohibition era, however, this plant played an exciting role in the “rum-running” underground. On your distillery tour, you’ll not only learn how rum is made but also what Key West was like in the 1920s.
The best feature of this distillery is that tours, tastings, and mojito classes are entirely free. Not only that, the Key West First Legal Rum Distillery’s website claims all tours are kid and pet-friendly.
53. The Key West Shipwreck Museum & 65’ Tower
The most eye-catching museum by Mallory Square has to be the Key West Shipwreck Museum, which is designed to look like a shipwrecked vessel. Inside this highly interactive museum, you’ll watch live performers tell the incredible stories behind authentic shipwrecks and treasure. As a part of your admission fee, you can also get to climb the museum’s 65’ Tower for an unforgettable view.
If you purchase your tickets at the door, then you’ll have to pay about $16 per adult and $10 per child. You can, however, save on ticket prices if you purchase from the Key West Shipwreck Museum’s website.
54. Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park
A 15-minute walk from the Southernmost Point, Fort Zachary Taylor earns high marks with snorkelers thanks to its incredibly clear waters. As the name suggests, this park also has a Civil War-era fort that you could tour by yourself or with a guide. Tourists say it’s effortless to stay the entire day here swimming, sunbathing, snorkeling, and picnicking.
You’ll probably be walking or biking into this park, in which case it will cost you $2.50. For more detailed info on attractions and pricing, please click on Fort Zachary Taylor State Park’s website.
Key West Gardens & Animal Attraction
55. Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden
Unlike the other Key West attractions listed here, the Key West Botanical Garden is a 20-minute drive from the Historic District. Those who make the trip here, however, rave about the garden’s lush Caribbean gardens as well as the many rare birds, butterflies, and turtles. Plus, since this garden is “frost-free,” there’s never a wrong time of year to visit.
Tickets to the Key West Botanical Garden are $10 per adult and free for accompanied children. To get a sneak peek at all the fantastic flora, click on this link to the Key West Botanical Garden’s website.
56. Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center
Every family visiting Key West should add a stop to the government-sponsored Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center. A short walk from Fort Zachary Taylor, this 6,000 sq. ft. complex is full of interactive exhibits, films, and live fish educating visitors on the wonders of the Keys’ biodiversity.
The best part of visiting this center is that there are no admission fees. Click this link to the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center for more details.
57. Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory
Calling all lepidopterologists: Key West’s Butterfly and Nature Conservatory is near the Southernmost Point. As you stroll through the conservatory’s beautiful walkway, you’ll encounter over 50 species of butterflies as well as dozens of exotic birds.
Adult tickets cost $15, while kids can enter for $11 each. Take a look at the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory’s website for more info.
58. Key West Aquarium
First opened in the 1930s, the Key West Aquarium is a long-standing family-friendly attraction near Mallory Square. One of the most popular draws at this museum remains the touch tank, which is full of local critters like sea stars, hermit crabs, and conchs. A few other creatures you’ll see (but thankfully not touch) include sharks, alligators, and stingrays.
Tickets to the Key West Aquarium cost $17 per adult and $10 per child, but you could save money by booking online.
59. Nancy Forrester's Secret Garden
Only a five-minute walk north of Mile Marker 0, Nancy Forrester’s Secret Garden is the best place to get up-close-and-personal with some extremely rare macaws. If you’ve ever wanted to feed, touch, or hear one of these colorful birds up close, look no further than this intimate setting.
The entrance fee to this secret garden is $10 for adults and $5 for children. Visit Nancy Forrester’s Secret Garden’s website to find out more info on daily macaw showtimes.
More Things To Do Along The Florida Keys
As if all those attractions weren’t enough, here are a few more things to consider trying in the Florida Keys. From snorkeling sessions and sunset cruises to parasailing and plane rides, this final section will cover activities you could experience in multiple locations.
60. Snorkeling In The Reef
Honestly, there are very few “bad” snorkeling spots in the Florida Keys. After all, the Keys are home to one of the world’s longest barrier reefs: the Great Florida Reef.
As we mentioned above, Key Largo usually garners the most attention in the snorkeling community due to its phenomenal John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. There are, however, dozens of other fantastic snorkeling destinations such as:
- Fort Zachary Taylor Historic Park in Key West
- Dry Tortugas National Park 70 miles off of Key West
- Sombrero Reef in Marathon
- Biscayne National Park
If you choose to go on a guided half-day snorkeling excursion, then expect prices to be around $40 – $80 per person. You can find more specific information on tour companies and snorkel rentals at your desired park’s official website.
61. Take A Cruise Along The Keys
Unfortunately, couples can’t go on those clichéd “long walks on the beach” in the Keys. Not only are these islands relatively small, but the sand can also be somewhat rocky in places. You can, however, easily book a romantic guided cruise in most of the major Keys.
Of the many cruises to choose from, sunset and dolphin sightseeing tours are the most popular choices. Here are a few highly reviewed cruise operators worth checking out:
- Fury Water Adventures in Key West
- Key Largo Princess Glass-Bottom Boat Tours
- Keyz Charters in Islamorada
Rates for sightseeing cruises that last a few hours are usually between $40 – $80 per person.
62. Kayaking Excursions
Outdoorsy types who don’t mind a bit of paddling might enjoy kayaking in the Keys. Whether you feel like exploring lush mangroves or heading out into the open ocean, here are a few of the best-reviewed kayaking points throughout the Florida Keys:
- The mangroves in Key Largo’s John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.
- Ponds and lagoons in Long Key State Park.
- In the ocean at Marathon’s Curry Hammock State Park.
- Exploring mangroves in Key West with tour companies like Lazy Dog Adventures or Key West Eco Tours.
Usually, kayak rentals only cost about $20 per day, but this could vary depending on the park you’re visiting. Of course, you will have to pay extra if you go on guided kayak excursions. For instance, most two-hour guided kayak tours in Key West are around $65 per adult.
63. Booking A Fishing Charter
With a nickname like the “Sport Fishing Capital Of The World,” Islamorada has a reputation in the fishing community. While other Keys like Marathon and Big Pine also have fantastic fishing opportunities, nothing compares with an Islamorada experience.
A few Islamorada fishing charters that have earned high praise in recent years include:
Fishing charters tend to be a tad pricey compared with other excursions. Expect a standard 4-hour skiff trip to cost between $400 – $600 for two people.
64. Water Sports For Adrenaline Junkies
Looking for a rush? Don’t worry. There are plenty of water & jet skiing opportunities sure to satisfy even the speediest of speed demons.
You’ll have the easiest time finding companies that offer water and jet skiing in Key West, but here are a few destinations throughout the Keys the check out:
- Fury Water Adventures in Key West
- Keys Skis Watersports in Key Largo
- Dolphin Bay Watersports in Marathon
Typically, these water sports excursions are between $100 – $200 per person for half a day.
65. Parasailing, Take Me Away!
For those who want to fly away, consider taking to the sky on a parasailing adventure. A few highly rated parasailing excursions in the Keys include:
Parasailing trips usually cost between $60 – $80 per flyer and in the $20-range for friends and family members who want to tag along and watch you soar.
66. A View From Above: Helicopter Tours
As far as helicopter tours go, there’s only one major player in town: Air Adventures in Key West. You might find smaller operators in other Keys, but Air Adventures currently has the best reviews and the most extensive array of options for guests to choose from.
Helicopter tour prices vary wildly depending on where you want to go. For instance, a five-minute tour of Key West is priced at about $70 per person. At the high end, an hour-long tour of the Lower Keys will cost over $400 per person.
Enjoy the Florida Keys!
Ok, show of hands, who made it this far? If you have, please leave me a comment to let me know. If you've visited the Florida Keys already, let me know what you think about our list. Anything that you would add? Any special recommendations? I'd love to hear them now so we can adjust our notes - so thank you!
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