Florida Keys

Things to do in Florida Keys

The coastline provides a variety of activities for the whole family, both educational and recreational – but most importantly fun. Ocean activities include snorkeling through reefs, or viewing sunken ruins, including the Christ of the Abyss in Key Largo. Ocean lovers can also take surfing lessons, fishing tours and set off on other water adventures.

There are also conservation programs and workshops, along with dolphin encounters for those keen to learn about the Keys and the natural ecosystem. Visitors can also take eco-tours or drop by the Key West aquarium for a fun and educational day.

For those whose main objective is relaxation – and who can blame you in this beach paradise? – there are a plethora of wellness centers and spas to chose from when visiting the Florida Keys.
When planning a visit to the Florida Keys, there is something for everyone: nature, adventure, relaxation, learning – and even theater and shopping as well.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Self-proclaimed environmental artist Nancy Forrester is the mastermind behind this oasis off Simonton Street. Like a patch of rainforest, it has dense foliage, squawking birds, and plenty of hidden nooks.

Yacht owners tie up their boats and grab seats on the wraparound porch at this marina bar and slurp Key lime–garlic oysters during happy hour (4–6:30 p.m., when starters and drinks are half-price).

The Mel Fisher Maritime Museum celebrates its namesake's 1985 discovery of the hull of a 1622 Spanish Galleon named Atocha, uncovered about a one-hour boat ride from Key West that divers and the Fishers still explore.

This recently renovated hotel restaurant hosts its very own cabaret; men in drag do nightly impersonations of celebrities like Madonna and Cher at the Crystal Room. Skip the overpriced poolside restaurant for a fresh mojito on the black-and-white-marble patio.

Fish with Captain Tina Brown.

Owned by a Key West native who stocks her well-appointed accessories boutique with candles from Diptyque and Tocca, antique clocks, spicy red pepper–flavored Belgian chocolates, and enough Dr. Hauschka and Kiehls beauty products to keep you moisturized for life.

Book a snorkeling trip à deux to view a multicolored swirl of marine life and the 136-year-old lighthouse.

Check exact tournament dates with the tourist office, or if you want to fish year-round, they'll help you rent a charter.

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.

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.