Our Island Adventures, Our favorite things to do in Key West!
Updated: Feb 26
Welcome to Key West!
There are so many things to do here and places to eat and drink that it can be overwhelming for folks visiting for the first time, so we thought we would put together our top list of things to do! Having lived here for years now, we have had a lot of time on the island to adventure, try different activities, and eat and drink our way around the island. And these gems have made our favorites list! Give them a try and have a blast in Key West!
Best indoor activity – The Butterfly Conservatory
This is truly a magical place. As you walk through the conservatory, 100s of species of butterflies gracefully sway around you, tropical birds soar above you from tree to tree, and a pair of flamingoes call romantically to each other. You can feel your blood pressure decrease after just a few minutes here! For only $15 for adults and $12 for kids, it is a fantastic activity. You can buy tickets here: https://keywestbutterfly.com/plan-your-visit/ or watch their live webcam here: https://keywestbutterfly.com/live-webcam/
Best Museum – The Mel Fisher Museum
Who doesn’t love a good treasure hunting story?! The thing is, we usually read about treasure hunting through fables and fiction, and this one is the real deal! The museum details all that went into the search for treasure off the shores of Key West. Mel Fisher found the Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha. The estimated $450 million cache recovered, known as "The Atocha Motherlode," included 40 tons of gold and silver, as well as Colombian emeralds, gold and silver artifacts, and 1000 silver ingots. The museum does a great job of documenting the struggles that the team had in their search, and displays many of the artifacts and treasure that they found from the Atocha. You can also buy your own Atocha coin as a souvenir, but beware, they aren’t cheap! The museum is so interesting and a great way to learn about a unique piece of our Key West history. https://www.melfisher.org/
Best Beach – Fort Zachary Taylor
We really love Fort Zach beach, which is within walking distance of downtown. Smathers beach is a close second, but Fort Zach beach wins for the number of different activities you can do there and its proximity to downtown. Located near the Truman Annex, the beach has a number of activities that you can do throughout the day – snorkeling just offshore, sunbathing on the beach, eating at their seaside café, bird watching, bbq’ing, visiting the historic Fort, and of course watching the gorgeous Key West sunset! You can spend a full day here and still want to come back for more. We love it so much we hosted our son’s 1st birthday there recently! Here is their website: https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/fort-zachary-taylor-historic-state-park and their live webcam: https://www.floridastateparks.org/learn/webcam-see-beach-key-west
Best Outdoor Activity – Walking the streets!
A lot of people rent bikes when in Key West, which is a phenomenal way to get around. But, we have to say, you actually miss many of the unique architectural and landscaping details of the many houses and properties when you bike by. We love to take daily strolls down different streets and are always finding a house that we hadn’t noticed or a plant we have never seen before. You are on vacation in Key West! Take a few hours to slow down and appreciate all that our wonderful little town has to offer. 😊 You can also download the Key West Historic Marker app to experience free, self-guided tours. https://apps.apple.com/us/app/key-west-historic-walking-tours/id1394777381
Best Water Activity – Bimini Charters
Ok, we may be a bit biased here, but we truly do think that booking a private sail with Bimini Charters is a unique and special way to spend a true Key West day on the water. Many of our guests say that their trip with us was the highlight of their entire time in Key West, and we do our very best to ensure that your day is magical. From snorkeling the West Sambo reef, to dolphin and sea turtle watching, exploring the mangroves, and watching a beautiful Key West sunset, you can really do it all on an adventure with us! Here are all of the activities that we can provide in a day: https://www.biminisailingcharters.com/key-west-activities
Best Dinner with a View – Latitudes
Located on Sunset Key, Latitudes is a fun and romantic experience, from taking the little ferry boat to the island, to a great dinner watching the sunset, to a romantic stroll around the island to work off your dinner. It is definitely worth the price point. A few things to note: Book in advance, and call to book rather than try to book online; your ferry boarding time is the time of your “dinner reservation”; we suggest booking your dinner one hour in advance of the sunset time that time of year, so you can enjoy the sunset and afterglow throughout your dinner; take a stroll through the island after your dinner, it is a beautiful and peaceful place to enjoy, and most folks just head back home after their dinner is done. We always go for Nils’ birthday each year and are never disappointed! https://www.opalcollection.com/sunset-key-cottages/restaurants/latitudes/
Best Place to listen to live Music – The Smokin’ Tuna
We stumbled upon the Tuna just before we moved here when we visited about six years ago, and it has been our go-to place to listen to live music ever since. They bring in great musicians, host song writers’ series (our favorite was listening to Jesse Rice last year!), and have a great menu. The open-air restaurant and bar also has tables that are spread out, so you don’t feel overcrowded, which we love. One of our favorite musicians to listen to lately is Nick Brownell, who won Entertainer of the year last year at the Key West music awards. Here’s Nick’s FB page to follow him: https://www.facebook.com/nickbrownellmusic and the Tuna’s page for their upcoming music schedule: https://smokintunasaloon.com/ENT_SCHED.pdf
Best Happy Hour – First Flight
Where do I start?! I love everything about this place. The building was the birthplace of Pan American World Airways, with Pan Am’s first tickets being sold there in 1927. It started as an airmail and passenger service between Key West and Havana, Cuba, and ended up evolving into the major company that we all know. But enough about its history, let’s talk happy hour! First flight is now a brewery and restaurant so you can order great home brewed pints at happy hour for only $4, or a margarita, rum punch, or house wine for $6. The happy hour food specials are awesome as well! Such a great bargain, with dishes ranging from $5-$7, and the food is delicious. Our favorites are the beef brisket mac n cheese, the fries, and the wings. And not listed on the menu, but they often have an oreo cookie stout, which is our favorite beer that they brew! With tables nestled amongst beautiful landscaping, you cannot beat First Flight for the atmosphere, great beers, and great food. You can also hear the amazing live music from across the street at Hanks while you chill out on the deck. https://firstflightkw.com/happy-hour
Best brunch – The Banana Café
I love going out to brunch, but I almost always want to eat lunch instead of breakfast! The Banana café has such a diverse menu that there is something for everyone. With a French twist, you can get everything from escargot (my favorite), to steak frites, to American classics like a club sandwich. They offer great salads as well. Eat indoors next to big open windows, or upstairs in their outdoor seating area. Both are great for people watching while you sip your kir royale. 😊 https://bananacafekw.com/
Best People Watching – The Bull
Not only do they have great live music most nights, but it is THE place to sit by the window and watch all of the craziness of Duval walk (or stumble) by. Always a fun and entertaining time! And their two for one margarita special doesn’t hurt either! 😊 https://bullkeywest.com/the-bull
Best Burger – The Waterfront Brewery
I have to say, I crave burgers a lot and am often super disappointed with the quality of them when I order at a restaurant. This is not the case at all at the Waterfront Brewery! Their burgers are super tasty, salted correctly, and are always cooked to the correct temperature. And on top of that, we usually don’t have to wait to be seated at the Brewery, which we really appreciate. A great lunch spot! https://www.thewaterfrontbrewery.com/
Best fish tacos – Mangrove Mama’s
If you are looking to venture out of downtown Key West for an afternoon, Mangrove Mama’s is a great spot in Sugarloaf! Get the blackened Mahi tacos! So good I asked what was in their blackening spice mix, as I have never had such a good one. I am still waiting for my answer 😊 https://www.mangrovemamas20.com/
Best conch fritters – Geiger Key Fish Camp
Man, I love this place. It is an unassuming bar/restaurant with a great vibe, fantastic food, and a phenomenal location nestled in the mangroves. Conch fritters can be a bit blah if not done correctly, but their conch fritters are not only bursting with flavor, but fried to perfection and served with a great sauce! I’m drooling now just thinking of them. Worth the trip, you’ll be wanting to go back here again and again! https://www.geigerkeymarina.com/restaurant/
Best late night music – Hank’s
Hank’s always brings in fantastic musicians, and the place is hoppin’ all day and all night long. A lot of our favorite musicians play here. Stop at the Tuna or First flight early in the night, and keep the live music going by heading just across the street over to Hank’s after, you will not be disappointed!
Best Pizza - Seaside Cafe at the Southernmost Mansion
Imagine yourself sitting on the beach, toes in the sand, sipping a rum punch and eating the best lobster pizza you have ever had! This can be your reality if you stop here. A great view, fun atmosphere, and a pizza to die for. And seating either on the beach or in the shade. Definitely make this a stop on your trip! https://www.seasidecafekw.com/
We hope you have a blast in Key West! We feel so grateful to call this home. If you are interested in learning more about us and our private catamaran charters, you can check us out here: https://www.biminisailingcharters.com/ or for our Key West specific activities you can click here: https://www.biminisailingcharters.com/key-west-activities.