Relaxing, laid-back Key West calls to beach bums who prefer their landscape pristine and untouched. Key West is famous for watersports, nightlife, beaches and historic sites. Don’t miss Duval Street, one of the most energetic strips of shops, bars and cafes in Florida. Whether you prefer culture or the outdoors, Key West has plenty to offer in a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere.
There’s so much to see and do in Key West. So how do you narrow it down? That’s where we’re here to help. We’ve listed our top 10 favorite attractions in the area below. From eateries to events and everything in between, we hope we’ve added some inspiration to your Key West, FL trip itinerary.
So read on and start planning your next trip — and if you need lodging, book a Key West vacation rental to save money and gain so much more space & privacy over a traditional hotel.
Top 10 Key West, FL Activities
Latitudes (245 Front Street)
In their own words: Sunset Key Cottage’s signature restaurant, Latitudes, serves a fresh, flavorful island cuisine with free ocean breezes and gorgeous views of the Gulf of Mexico. A delicious, ever-evolving “work of art” menu incorporates locally sourced fresh fish and tropical fruit, and cuisine is based on what is in-season and includes daily fresh catch.
Luxuriate while dining in the Ernest Hemingway Room, where photos of authors, fishermen, and former Key West residents adorn the walls. Or dine al fresco overlooking the Gulf of Mexico where tiki torches illuminate the night sky magnifying the glorious Key West sunsets.
Azur Restuarant (425 Grinnell Street)
In their own words: Conveniently located in the heart of old Key West, AZUR Restaurant is the locals” and visitors’ favorite for creative, Mediterranean cuisine. Whether you choose our shaded terrace or the cool blue dining room, please join us for a hearty breakfast featuring a few new twists, an al fresco lunch by the waterfall, or an intimate dinner with offerings including old favorites and new creations. AZUR is within walking distance of most guest houses and hotels, and also has free parking. For a completely unique dining experience in Old Town, AZUR is a must on your list of innovative-chef restaurants in Key West.
Seven Fish (921 Truman Avenue)
In their own words: From humble beginnings over 20 years ago, Seven Fish has earned its place as a Key West Classic. Serving the freshest local fish in a casual, contemporary bistro setting, it is the perfect finish to your day. Unpretentious dishes, with a commitment to only the finest ingredients, and made from scratch every day, it is the meal you don’t want to end. Try our house specialty, Thai Curry Snapper, or any of our fresh fish dishes. Try the Banana Chicken or even the locals’ favorite, 7 Fish Meatloaf. There is something for everyone, lovingly prepared to exceed your expectations, including our specialty drinks and inspiring wine menu. Be sure to save room for one of our home made, classic desserts. You will love our beautiful atmosphere enjoy our warm, friendly staff and come back again and again for the remarkable food.
Key West First Legal Rum Distillery (105 Simonton Street)
In their own words: Key West First Legal Rum is made on premises at 105 Simonton St, with tours and retail daily. In true Key West island tradition, our chef distillers and the authentic Rum-making process happens everyday in front of guests, customers, and neighbors alike. Key West Rum is the Rum we live. Witness the process and talk with the actual chef distillers of Key West’s First Legal Rum–since 2012.
Key West Shipwreck Museum (1 Whitehead Street)
In their own words: Wreck Ashore! With these words, enter the world of 1856 Key West… the era of the wreckers. At the Key West Shipwreck Museum you will step back into time as you discover Key West’s unique maritime heritage and how it became the richest city in the United States.
The Key West Museum combines actors, films and the actual artifacts from the 1985 rediscovery of the wrecked vessel Isaac Allerton, which sank in 1856 on the treacherous Florida Keys reef.
Join master wrecker Asa Tift and his wrecking crew as he tells you the story of how this unusual industry provided for the livelihoods of the early pioneers of Key West. You will be invited to climb the 65′ lookout tower and if need be, alarm Mr. Tift of any wrecks on the reef!
Key West Aquarium (1 Whitehead Street)
In their own words: Located in Key West’s famous Mallory Square, the Key West Aquarium is one of the island’s most popular attractions for people of all ages. Home to alligators, jellyfish, sharks and many other marine animals, guests can enjoy interactive conservation talks as well as animal feedings. For an unforgettable day in Key West, stop by the Key West Aquarium and get up close and personal with some of the most fascinating creatures in the Florida Keys!
Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory (1316 Duval Street)
In their own words: Feel your stress fade away as you enter our magical world of butterflies. Relax and be amazed as you stroll through our tropical paradise. Walk through a magical and inviting environment filled with hundreds of the most beautiful winged creatures in nature. During your breathtaking journey you will experience an impressive collection of flowering plants, colorful birds, cascading waterfalls and trees that set the stage for the “flowers of the sky.” Witness a variety of some 50 to 60 butterfly species from around the world, along with over 20 exotic bird species, all under a climate- controlled, glass enclosed habitat.
In The Learning Center, explore the butterfly anatomy, physiology, life cycle, feeding and migratory world of the Monarch. Also get a rare close up view of a variety of live caterpillars feeding and developing on their host plants. Browse through our unique Gift Shop offering a wide assortment of butterfly and nature related items. Wings of Imagination, the Butterfly Gallery, offers original art work by artist Sam Trophia. The acrylic shadow boxes depict the butterfly’s beauty preserved and suspended in art form in a spectrum of colors, shapes and sizes – your perfect piece of art from your vacation in Key West!
Fantasy Fest (922 Caroline Street)
In their own words: Fantasy Fest is an annual 10-day party in paradise for grown-ups. Started in 1979 by a small group of Key West locals, the party was created to bring visitors to the island in what was a typically quiet, but beautiful season. It worked. Fantasy Fest has grown every year since its inception and is now the wildest extravaganza around! Fun-loving revelers from around the globe bring their creativity and imaginations as they descend upon Key West each year in October for 10 days filled with costuming, parades, libations, and excitement!
Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden (5210 College Road)
In their own words: The Key West Botanical Garden Society is governed by an all volunteer board of directors and has been the “keeper of the trees” since 1989. The society preserves, develops, expands and maintains the historic Key West Botanical Garden as an arboretum, botanical garden, wildlife refuge and education center. The land is owned by the City of Key West
This society encourages study of this collection and promotes the benefits of native vegetation worldwide. The society provides educational programs for all age groups and various levels of interest geared to Keys residents, tourists, plant experts and others.
We are the only “frost-free” botanical garden in the continental United States. A tropical environment with ample rain allows most trees to retain their leaves in the dry season (December through late May). It is home to endangered and threatened flora and fauna. Unlike traditional botanical gardens, this garden advocates the importance of native plants and species through education in a natural conservation habitat.
The garden is a major migratory stopping point for neo-tropical birds from places as far as South America and home to many rare birds in the Florida Keys. Enjoy this tropical forest and garden for a chance to view rare butterflies, migratory and resident birds, tropical and subtropical plants and beautiful flowers.
A visit begins with a smiling volunteer greeter at our education center. See a short film to familiarize yourself with the operation and browse the photo walls. Pick up a garden guide that describes the eight self-guided information tours, two wetland habitats and two butterfly gardens.
The lush courtyard has a waterfall wall of tropical plants and the turtles happily show off their home. Meander through a one-acre butterfly habitat with over 23 discovered species. Stroll through a lush canopy of tropical trees. Discover the hidden pond and maybe see a rare resident white crowned pigeon or bald eagle!
Waterfront Playhouse (407 Wall Street)
In their own words: The Waterfront Playhouse has been entertaining Key West audiences for over 75 years. Located in the heart of Key West’s historic Mallory Square, this not-for-profit, professional theater attracts locals and tourists with a wide range of theatrical fare. The Playhouse is an intimate 150-seat theater located steps from Key West’s nightly sunset celebration.
The Playhouse utilizes Key West’s rich talent pool of actors, directors and designers, as well as attracting internationally known luminaries including Terrence McNally, Kelly McGillis, Donna McKechnie, Charles Busch, Israel Horowitz and Carl Hiaasen.
Recent hit productions at the Playhouse include Monty Python’s Spamalot, The Drowsy Chaperone, Casa Valentina, August: Osage County, Lend Me a Tenor, Noises Off, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, She Loves Me, Next Fall, Doubt, Twelve Angry Men, The Full Monty, Reefer Madness, Urinetown, Equus and the world premiere of Carl Hiaasen’s Lucky You, as well as many others.
When the sun sets, the curtain rises at the Waterfront Playhouse.