Florida Keys

Florida Keys Travel Guide

Captain Jim Sharp takes groups of up to six anglers on saltwater fishing expeditions in the Florida Straits with his boat Sea Boots. The boat's light weight and streamlined design make it agile in the quick-changing weather.

Get a glimpse at the ruins of an early European settlement and some secluded waterfront sands.

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.