Florida Keys

Florida Keys Travel Guide

Pick up cartoonlike sculptures (fish in red high heels, anyone?) and bright beachscape-painted tables and chairs at this boutique filled with handmade crafts by Floridian artists. All evoke a cheery Key West sensibility.

This two-room bookstore feels and smells like an attic, but the collection of mostly used books is worth a visit. Peruse the teetering stacks for Cuban literature and biographies of local luminaries: Harry Truman, Ernest Hemingway, and Tennessee Williams among them.

Feeding the tarpon ($3 for a bucket of bait) off the dock of this water-sports center is a Keys rite of passage.

At the improbably first-rate theater, local boy Richard Wilbur once helped out with Molière translations.

Hop the ferry to the Dry Tortugas National Park; the seven islands, 70 miles west, are the last of the true Keys. Evocative Civil War–era Fort Jefferson is spooky to explore (Samuel Mudd was jailed here for his supposed part in Lincoln’s offing). Snorkel in the coral reefs 10 feet from shore.

Grab a beer and discuss the day’s haul at this rough-and-ready bar.

Key West natives take their nightlife seriously, though not literally, as many begin their reveling at 3 p.m. Join the party early at this indoor-outdoor martini bar; three-man bands and solo guitarists serenade fortysomethings under a shimmering disco ball.

Take a guided snorkel tour near Bahia Honda State Park, to spot barracudas and stingrays.

Key West has attracted its fair share of vacationing presidents (Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Carter among them), and the memorabilia displayed at Truman's former winter residence turned museum immortalizes every presidential visit.

A popular area activity, the Butterfly & Nature Conservatory has more than 50 species of butterflies and 20 species of exotic birds all housed under the glass dome greenhouse.

Don't miss the summer regattas held here.

Spend the day at the 1850s park (don’t miss the fascinating antique desalination plant). Here, you’ll also find one of the few beaches in Key West with showers and picnic tables. Tip: bring waterproof sandals—the beach is pebbly.

Almost every item in this ocean-themed shop is covered in seashells. There are handmade sand dollar– and starfish-rimmed mirrors and frames, along with gorgeous sea-glass chandeliers, all of which come wrapped in tissue paper decorated, yes, with shells.

It's a shame to come to Hemingway's tropical hideaway and not take the official tour, which start every 10 minutes and are led by a ramshackle group of stand-up comics turned literature lovers.

This three-acre green that housed the railroad builders who constructed the Seven Mile Bridge to Key West in 1912 is now a charming museum complex surrounded by grassy fields and shady palm trees.