Key West Activities
When people think of Key West, what comes to mind for most are palm tree lined beaches with crystalline waters. But there is a lot more to the island than just sitting on a beach, although that is a nice way to spend a day. The island can be as relaxing or exciting as you want it to be…
History & Museums
The island of Key West has a rich history. From Native Americans to Spanish Conquistadors to English settlers and beyond, the heritage of the island is quite diverse. That diversity paired with the location and natural resources of the island led to many types of industry that eventually make Key West what it is today. Shipping, pirating, smuggling and treasure hunting, cigar making, fishing, sponging, and salt manufacturing have all been prevalent businesses here at one time or another. For history buffs, we have over a dozen museums that dot the island. Some of our favorite museums include:
Beaches, Parks & Gardens
Key West has some nice beaches, parks and lush gardens to visit. Fort Zachary Taylor is a wonderful state park that intertwines the island’s history through it’s Civil War Fort with the natural beauty of the beach and waters. You can also grab a ferry from Key West to the Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson, the only National Park that can be gotten to only via water or seaplane. The Key West Botanical Gardens are exquisite, and also serves as a stop for many migrating birds, so this is also a birdwatchers paradise.
Key West draws many artistic people, so the number of art galleries in Key West rivals the number of bars on the island! Big name artists like Wyland and Peter Lik have their own galleries while local artists like my good friends Janis Stevens and Valerie Fetcher have their works showing in galleries like Lucky Street and the Art Bar.
For foodies, the culinary options are nearly endless. There are over 200 restaurants in Key West, so no matter what someone is craving you should be able to find it here! You can check out some of our favorite restaurants for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and our restaurant reviews to help you narrow down your options.
Bars & Nightlife
And the nightlife can be pretty exciting here too. We have so many bars on the island it is crazy that anyone gets anything done! Some places have nightly live music while others are more reserved. You’ll find classy bars that specialize in Martinis and other more trendy bars that specialize in craft beers. Whatever your poison, you will surely find it here! You will also find adult entertainment at some of the bars. Strip clubs, clothing optional bars, and gay bars all get wild late at night. One of my favorite night time stops with visiting friends is to check out a drag show which can be extremely entertaining.
If an exciting nightlife is not your thing, you can enjoy a romantic sunset sail aboard one of the many distinguished sailboats that port here. Or, you can walk around Mallory Square and enjoy the nightly Sunset Celebration, where local performers and artists congregate to peddle their wares while the sun goes down over the harbor.
The warm, clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean are teaming with fish, luring fishermen, snorkelers and scuba divers down to experience the plethora of sea life. But the land lover will also find activities suited for him, such as golfing.
The amazing Key West fishery not only allows for commercial fisherman to make a living by providing fresh seafood to our local restaurants, but for the angler to enjoy the excitement of reeling in a fish. Thousands of people come down to Key West each year to go out on a fishing charter. Whether you are just wanting to bend a rod and get into some action or you want to catch that sport fish of a lifetime, the Key West waters are the place to do it. Specialty fishing trips to places like the Marquesas Keys and the Dry Tortugas are also available.
Offshore we have deep sea fishing charters where we troll the blue water for dolphin, tuna, wahoo, sailfish, kingfish, and marlin as well as bottom fishing the wrecks and reefs for snapper, grouper, cobia, and amberjacks.
- Inshore we fish the shallow waters of the backcountry for Tarpon, Bonefish, Permit, Jacks, Barracudas, Sharks, Trout, and many other species. In the summer and fall months the flats fishing for sport fish is at their peak while the winter and spring months bring a huge variety of species.
Watersports like wave runner tours, parasailing and kayaking are fun for just about anyone looking for a little excitement or adventure on the water while taking advantage of the great Key West weather.
In addition, sightseeing tours on land, water, and by air are all available to give one a better lay of the land as well as an appreciation for the beauty that is Key West.
- Dream Catcher Charters offer customized boating charters for sightseeing, fishing, snorkeling, and dolphin watching, giving one an amazing tour of the island by water.
- Walking tours such as the Key West Pub Crawl lace the Key West night life with an entertaining history of Key West.
- You can also see Key West from above with helicopter and biplane rides that offer low altitude flights with fantastic views.
Lets not forget about all of the different events that are scheduled throughout the year. Almost every day of the year you will find some festival, concert, play, show, party, seminar, race, gala, carnival, tournament, parade, etc to partake in. Popular events like Fantasy Fest held each October draw thousands of guests to the island of Key West to stay and indulge in this Mardi Gras type atmosphere that the island takes on for this long celebration. Other events, like our Seafood Festival held in January, are not necessarily huge draws for visitors, but they are for locals.
Movies, Plays, and Concerts
If it is a less than perfect day on our island (which doesn’t happen often) you can also take in a movie at one of the two movie theaters we have on the island. Regal is located in New Town near Sears and shows the more popular mainstream movies while Tropic Cinema is in Old Town and shows more artsy films. Or, there are often plays and concerts being performed at one of the local churches or theaters.
While Key West does not have a mall, we do have plenty of shops to buy some Key West memorabilia. All along Duval Street and the surrounding Old Town streets you will find a few high end chain stores like Coach and Banana Republic as well as lots of interesting little shops that sell everything from a t-shirt to fine arts and soap to sandals. Speaking of sandals, check out the Kino’s factory and pick up a pair of sandals actually made in Key West!
Key West may be a tiny island, but there are a huge number of spas and salons where one can really relax and get pampered for an hour or a day. My go to place for a day of relaxation is the Caribbean Spa at the Pier House Resort. But the All About You Day Spa on Roosevelt Boulevard is where I go to get my hair done and they also have some great services. Or, you can get a drink and a nail treatment at Nailtini on Duval Street. These are just a few of the many options to go with for your island day of relaxation.
So, as you can see, Key West is so much more than just an island. It is the Southernmost City in the United States, full of history, culture, sports, natural beauty, and entertainment suitable to people of all ages and walks of life. It is the pretty much the perfect vacation destination.