Skip to Content

8 of our favorite things to do in the Florida Keys

Soft and steady breezes in the Florida Keys can take the edge off the hot sun, making these islands a great destination no matter the time of year.

Here are seven of our favorite things to do in the Florida Keys and Key West.

Paddling in the Florida Keys

things to do in florida keys curry hammock kayak
Kayaks on the beach at Curry Hammock State Park near Marathon. (Photo by Bob Rountree)

There are paddle trails throughout the Florida Keys to explore from kayaks, canoes and paddle boards. You can just pull off the Overseas Highway almost anywhere to launch your own boat, or patronize any one of dozens of outfitters for rentals of kayaks and standup paddle boards near the Keys’ finest paddle trails.

A few special spots we like are in the undeveloped back-country islands of the Lower Keys, and no kayak guide knows that area better than Bill Keogh at Big Pine Kayak Adventures. You might also want to arm yourself with Capt. Bill’s excellent Florida Keys Paddling Guide.

Related article: 12 Great Kayak Outings in the Florida Keys


Bicycling in the Florida Keys

bicycling bridge things to do florida keys
Bicycling on scenic bridges near Key West. (Photo by David Blasco)

The Overseas Heritage Bicycle Trail, when complete, will extend 107 uninterrupted miles from Key Largo to Key West. You can experience much of that trail today, and the most enjoyable sections span old bridges repurposed for bicyclists, walkers and fishing.

Pedaling a bicycle through the quiet side streets of Key West will take you from historic Old Town and the storied Key West Cemetery to the Bahamian Village, near Ernest Hemingway’s house and haunts.

Related article: Biking the Overseas Highway Heritage Trail

Your Florida Keys companion: Overseas Highway Mile-Marker Guide


Snorkeling & Diving in the Florida Keys

florida keys key largo snorkel statue things to do in the florida keys
“Christ of the Abyss” statue in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. (Stephen Frink/Florida Keys News Bureau)

The most popular destination for snorkeling is John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo, but that’s not all there is. The Great Florida Reef, the only coral reef in the United States, extends 170 miles four miles offshore in parallel to the Keys all the way to the Marquesas Islands, 20 miles west of Key West.

For a different experience than mingling with the snorkeling hordes of Key Largo, try a snorkeling expedition to Looe Key Reef on Big Pine Key, paddle a kayak or jet ski out to the lighthouse off Marathon, or hop aboard a schooner for a snorkel trip out of Key West.

Related article: Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park: Snorkel, dive, camp, kayak


Fishing in the Florida Keys

things to do florida keys fishing islamorada
Fishing on the Genesis off Islamorada in the Florida Keys. (Photo by Bob Rountree)

Islamorada is the legendary go-to destination for fishing in the Florida Keys with historic significance. This is where former President George H.W. Bush would frequently go bone-fishing on the flats of Florida Bay and adventuring author Zane Grey made his mark fishing in the ocean from Henry Flagler’s long-gone Long Key Fish Camp.

Fishing charters, including party boats, deep-sea charters and private flats guides, are available at marinas throughout the Keys, but no island has a higher concentration of charters than Islamorada, which not coincidentally is also home to the Keys’ largest bait and tackle shop, Bass Pro Shops’ Worldwide Sportsman.

But you don’t have to charter a boat to find excellent fishing in the Florida Keys. Many of the old bridges that carried Henry Flagler’s railroad have been retro-fitted with fishing balconies, and these bridges draw anglers 24/7. We recommend trying the Channel 5 and Channel 2 bridges that link Lower Matecumbe Key to Long Key.

Related article: Bridge fishing in the Florida Keys


Beaches in the Florida Keys

smathers beach things to do in the florida keys
Smathers Beach in Key West (Rob O’Neal/Florida Keys News Bureau)

Visitors (even locals) don’t consider the Florida Keys a beach destination, but there are more beaches here than you might think. Not all of them are natural, only a handful are in public parks, a few are as splendid as you might find along Florida’s Gulf Coast.

We especially like the award-winning beaches at Bahia Honda State Park, and I personally have an affection for the beach at Curry Hammock State Park. Sombrero Beach in Marathon is a fabulous beach, and the beaches of Key West — Smathers Beach, Higgs Beach and Fort Zachary Taylor State Park — are certainly worthy.

Related article: Best Beaches in the Florida Keys

Your Florida Keys companion: Overseas Highway Mile-Marker Guide


Camping in the Florida Keys

Boyd's Key West Campground. (Photo: Bonnie Gross) things to do in the florida keys
Boyd’s Kest West Campground. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Warm days and breezy nights make spring or fall the ideal camping seasons in the Florida Keys. Savvy campers have already snapped up campsites at the three state park campgrounds in the Keys, but there are dozens of private campgrounds from Key Largo to Key West that have sites available. Private campground rates are high in peak winter and summer, but you may find discounts at some campgrounds in late fall and spring.

Private options include Boyd’s Key West Campground, Sugarloaf Key KOA, Sunshine Key Resort and Marina in the Lower Keys, the Jolly Roger Travel Park and Fiesta Key RV Resort in the Middle Keys, and Key Largo Kampground in the Upper Keys.

Related article: Best Tent Camping in the Florida Keys


Sunsets in the Florida Keys

things to do florida keys sunset key west fort zachary taylor
Sunset cruisers off Fort Zachary Taylor in Key West. (Photo by Bonnie Gross)

Sunsets in Florida Keys are legendary. While you can see spectacular sunsets from land on almost any island in the Keys, the best way to enjoy the ritual is from a boat. You’ll find a sunset cruise in every community, from Key Largo to Key West, or just paddle your own kayak into Florida Bay.

Our favorite locations on land are the Bayside Grill and Sunset Bar on Key Largo, the Lorelei Cabana Bar in Islamorada, the Indian Key Causeway between Upper and Lower Matecumbe Keys (just before Robbie’s Marina), and the Niles Road kayak launch on Summerland Key.

Mallory Square in Key West is where all the tourists go to see the jugglers, magicians and tight-rope walkers, but you’ll have the best view of sunset from Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, where the locals go.

There’s a sunset cruise offered everywhere in the Keys. Try something different and watch the sunset from motorized tiki bar in Key Largo, the Cruisin’ Tikis, which embarks from Snook’s Bayside. A catamaran named “Blue” can accommodate 100 passengers out of Robbie’s Marina in Islamorada, or hop aboard Capt. Dale Mallory’s “Sirius” sailing catamaran out of the Marathon Marina.


Eat, Drink and Be Merry

lorelei islamorada florida keys things to do in the florida keys
The Lorelei in Islamorada. (Photo by Bonnie Gross)

Seafood restaurants and tiki bars dominate the dining scene in the Florida Keys, but travelers should not bypass the legendary pit stops and offbeat holes in the wall symbolic of the Keys lifestyle. From Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen and Hobo’s in Key Largo to Blue Heaven and the Hogfish Grill on Stock Island, you will find a happy place to graze.

A few of our favorite waterfront eateries are Skippers Dockside on Caribbean Drive in Key Largo, the Lorelei in Islamorada, Burdine’s Waterfront in Marathon, Kiki’s Sandbar on Little Torch Key, Hogfish Bar and Grill on Stock Island and the Half-Shell Raw Bar in Key West.

Kick it up a notch at these fabulous landlocked restaurants, the Fish House on Key Largo, Marker 88 or the iconic Green Turtle Inn in Islamorada, Frank’s Italian Grill in Marathon, the Square Grouper on Cudjoe Key and La Te Da in Key West.

Looking for fresh seafood to go? There’s none fresher than at Key Largo Fisheries on Ocean Bay Drive, Islamorada Fish Company in Islamorada, Brutus Seafood in Marathon, Fanci Seafood on Cudjoe Key and Fishbusterz on Stock Island.

Related article: Legendary Road Food in the Florida Keys

Your Florida Keys companion: Overseas Highway Mile-Marker Guide


Places to stay in the Florida Keys

Book a room on hotels.com



All articles on FloridaRambler.com are original, produced exclusively for our readers and protected by U.S. Copyright law. Any use or re-publication without written permission is against the law. Read more: floridarambler.com/licensing

This page may contain affiliate links from which Florida Rambler may earn a small commission if a purchase is made. This revenue supports our mission to produce quality journalism about authentic Florida at no cost to our readers.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.