• Lisa

Key West, FL - City Guide

Updated: Jul 4

Key West, Florida is the southernmost point in the continental United States. FUN FACT: Key West is actually closer to Havana, Cuba than it is to Miami, FL!


This charming beach city stretches only 2x4 miles wide and is a great destination for a weekend getaway in the sun! Keywest is known for their beaches, lively nightlife, and historic sites.


Know Before You Go to Key West, FL

  • Key West is HOT in the summer (especially July-Sept).

  • Wear a lot of sunscreen! In 6 hours, I was as red as a lobster just from walking around and shopping.

  • There are no Ubers on the island. Cabs are available, but everything is walkable!

Getting to Key West, FL

Key West is part of a connection of small islands off the coast of mainland Florida. You can get to Key West by land, sea, or air!


Flying to Key West:

There is a small local airport in Key West (Key West International Airport- EYW).If you opt to fly right into the island, you won't need to rent a car. Key West is very walkable and has plenty of bikes available for rent if you'd like!


Some people opt to fly into Miami (MIA), Fort Lauderdale (FLL) or Tampa (TPA) and then rent a car to drive the rest of the distance. Distances are listed below.


Driving to Key West:

Driving into Key West is a great option. Keep in mind you'll be driving for 90 miles just from mainland Florida. Distance is listed below.

  • 90 miles from mainland Florida

  • 165 miles from Miami, Florida

  • 188 miles from Fort Lauderdale, Florida

  • 392 miles from Orlando, Florida

  • 425 miles from Tampa, Florida

Sailing to Key West:

Many cruises will make a pitstop in Key West. However, this will only give you one day in the vibrant city. For some, this is enough to see the highlights. But for others, you'll definitely want to come back asap.


There is also a Ferry service from Ft Myers. This is a full day trip with overnight options available.

Top 15 Things To Do In Key West


1. Visit The Southern Most Point In The USA

Free

Yes, the city in general is the southern most point in the USA. However, visit the landmark to snap a quick picture of this monumental moment! :) Sometimes, tourists will form a line here as its a very photographed spot!


2. Shop at the Rain Barrel Artisans Village

Free

Explore the artisan village that has dozens of local shops. This is a perfect place to souvenir shop and explore the trinkets that locals have designed.


3. Visit Ernest Hemingway's Home

$15 per person

You'll quickly learn that Ernest Hemingway is a huge part of the history of Key West. His home is available to tour as a historic museum. Explore the house and the garden surrounding it and learn why Hemingway fell in love with this city. Guided tours last for 30 minutes, but you can spend time on your own exploring too.


BONUS: Over 40 cats live here which to me, is enough of a reason to visit this landmark.


4. Take a Sunset Cruise

$35-55 per person

If you've read any of my other city guides, you know I LOVE a good sunset cruise. There is nothing better than relaxing on a boat as the sun goes down with 20+ random strangers (haha). I recommend Sebago for a sunset cruise - free drinks and appetizers are plentiful.


5. Take a Train Tour

$20-$40 per person

It can get SO hot in Key West that walking around by foot is exhausting. Instead, opt for a train tour - it's 90 minutes and takes you to see all the historic sites in downtown Key West. You'll learn a lot about the history too! Book tickets here. PS: Ticket prices are a little high but include admission to other museums and rum distilleries too.


6. Watching the Sunset at Mallory Square

Free

Mallory Square is the perfect location to see the sunset on land. Grab a drink and show up to watch one of the best sunsets in Florida. Note: This is a very popular spot at sunset so you won't be alone! It's so popular that they began calling it the "Sunset Celebration".



7. Visit the Butterflies

$15 per person

Key West has a beautiful Butterfly Nature Conservatory. Spend an hour or two exploring the beautiful venue filled with 50 types of butterflies. It is a magical experience that takes all your stress away! It's open 7 days a week from 9AM to 5PM.


8. Take a Boat Eco-Tour

$80-90 per person

Sebago offers great Eco-tours that allow you to explore. This 5 hour activity is a perfect way to spend your morning. Half of the tour is spent in kayaks while the other half is snorkelting around the mangrove islands.


9. Papa Pilar Rum Distillery

$10 per person

Spend an hour touring the Papa Pilar Rum Distillery and learn the history and process for rum distilling. Then, sample it for yourself. Tours start at 11AM and continue every hour until 5PM.


10. Visit the Little White House

$22 per person

Visit Florida's only presidential museum! This Little White House was Truman's house. In the late 40s and 50s, Truman used this as a remote White House during the winter months. It's a "living museum" because the government still uses it today for events and meetings. Guided tours are offered daily between 9AM and 4:30PM (every 20 minutes).


11. Mile Marker Zero

Free

Another photo opt for a fun little milestone. Stretching from upper Maine to Key West, US 1 is a 2,369 mile interstate that connects most major cities in the eastern U.S.


Fun Fact: Tourists often steal this sign as a memento so the city is constantly having to replace it.


12. Spend a day at the beach

Free to $7 per car

There are a few great beaches in Key West that are the perfect place to spend a day under the sun! Check out the beaches below:

  • Fort Zachary Taylor - Large Beach (entry is $2.50 for walkers or $7 per car)

  • South Beach - Crowded Beach with Chair Rentals (free entry; $20 chair rentals)

  • Key West Higg's Beach - lots of people watching and activities available (free)

  • Smather's Beach - largest beach on the island; perfect for sunbathing (free)


13. Shop on Duval Street

Duval Street is the hub of shops, restaurants, bars, and more in Key West. Stroll down Duval Street to see art shops, souvenir shops, and more!


14. Bar Hop on Duval Street

Shop by day, drink by night. Duval Street has it all. Some popular bars to check out at night are listed below:

  • Irish Kevin's Bar - live entertainment; lots of beer options

  • Smallest Bar Key West - 72sqft bar; unique experience; photo opp

  • Vinos on Duval - great wine; cozy bar


15. Key West Lighthouse

$12 per person

Walk 88 steps to the top of the Lighthouse in Key West. This will give you a great view of the city, plus a small workout! :) Along the walk, you'll see photos of the history of the lighthouse.

Best Restaurants in Key West, FL:

  • Sloppy Joes - Most Iconic Restaurant

  • Bagatelle - Wrap Around Porch with Great Lobster Mac N Cheese

  • Sarabeth's - Best Breakfast/Brunch

  • Little Pearl - Amazing Seafood Restaurant

  • Sunset Pier - Great Drinks and Wonderful View

  • Key West Brewing Co - Local brewery with a 10-beer sampler!


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