If you’ve never been to Key West, you may be wondering what the big deal is and why travelers rave about it. After all, it’s one of the most popular destinations in the state of Florida, and for good reason! Between the beaches, fishing, food, shopping, and cultural sites and landmarks, you could easily spend weeks exploring all the island has to offer. Instead, use this guide to help you identify your must-see itinerary items and make the most of your time in the Conch Republic.
Snorkeling at Dry Tortugas National Park
While it’s technically near Key West instead of in Key West, the city is the closest one to the park and the only location with a ferry service to the park. Just around 75 miles away, Dry Tortugas is made up of seven small islands and acres of underwater land. The biggest island, Garden Key, has a historic fort still standing on it, and it’s open for tours and special events. But most people visit Dry Tortugas for snorkeling.
The clear, shallow water and the gentle currents make it ideal for inexperienced snorkelers to have an exciting time, while the reefs and shipwrecks make it fun for experienced snorkelers, too. The park also offers opportunities for kayaking around the islands, bird watching, and swimming, so even if snorkeling isn’t your thing, you can still find a lot to love about this excursion. Be sure to book your ferry tickets far in advance; because of Dry Tortugas’ popularity, seats fill up quickly, and you don’t want to arrive in Key West only to find you’ve missed out.
Fishing with All In Fishing Charters
Key West is, without a doubt, legendary for its vibrant fishing. Whether you’re a competitive angler or would just like to try fishing without investing in all that gear, a fishing charter offers you a convenient way to enjoy the sport while you’re away from home. All In Fishing Charters welcomes new and experienced guests who want to fish the backcountry, reefs, deep water, and wreck sites. All you need to bring is yourself, your lunch, and your sunscreen–All In Fishing Charters has everything else.
Sit back and enjoy the ride on a comfortable and well-equipped boat, then spend the afternoon going after tarpon, grouper, and more, depending on what’s in season. If you happen to catch a fish you want to keep, there are plenty of Key West restaurants that offer a menu item where the chef will prepare your fish, family-style.
Shopping on Duval Street
All along Duval Street, boutiques and shops offer a wide range of exclusive items like jewelry, clothing, glassware, household decor, artwork, crafts, and more. There are also plenty of distinctive bars and restaurants, as well as places that offer treats like ice cream, candy, and key lime pie.
Duval Street is also the place to go for jazz clubs, art galleries, and spas if you’re looking for some rest and relaxation. At the end of Duval Street, you’ll find Mallory Square, which is the site of the nightly Sunset Celebration. Every evening, the square comes alive with musicians, performers, and vendors selling food, drinks, and handcrafted items. Meanwhile, the setting sun delivers a spellbinding view.
Seafood at Eaton Street Seafood Market & Restaurant
While seafood is a huge draw in Key West, and there are numerous choices, from casual to fine dining, Eaton Street Seafood Market & Restaurant consistently gets rave reviews among Old Town Key West dining options. The most popular menu items are grilled lobster, grilled shrimp, and fish tacos.
The menu includes local favorites like conch fritters, too, and of course, chicken tenders for those who aren’t thrilled by fish. The Art Deco-style building makes it easy to identify, and plenty of outdoor seating allows you to comfortably linger over a meal.
A Night Out at The Little Room Jazz Club
Located right on Duval Street so it’s easy to get to, this legendary jazz club is famous for its live music every night. The distinctive atmosphere is engaging and the broad range of cocktails, wine, and beer, accompanied by an eclectic menu of small soul food-inspired plates, offer something for everyone.
It’s the ideal spot for music lovers, especially those who enjoy the thrill of discovering new artists and performers, and it’s worth spending some time here to hear up-and-coming and established jazz artists.
When you’re planning a trip to Key West, it’s easy to get over-confident in how many places you’ll be able to visit, especially if you’re only going to be here for a weekend. Instead, choose a few important destinations and plan your vacation around them. These are just a few of the most memorable places to go and things to do that ensure your Key West experience captures the highlights the city is known for.