Top 10 Things to Do in the Florida Keys
If you’re tired of rolling up the sleeves of your jacket and fancy getting out of Miami for a few days then heading south (by approximately 15 miles) to the Florida Keys could be the perfect solution.
Below are our top 10 things to do in the Florida Keys - some worthwhile excuses to leave Magic City behind and head to the vast selection of islands which are sandwiched between the Florida Peninsula and Cuba.
10. The Waterfront Playhouse
Another of Florida’s profit-free art hubs is the Waterfront Playhouse that can be found in Mallory Square in Key West’s old town district. Well known for providing locals and tourists alike with a wide range of performances, including: comedies, musicals, concerts and dramas, this is a wonderful way to spend an evening as the sun begins to set. Prepare for an intimate theatre setting with unobstructed views no matter where you choose to sit.
9. Key Largo
This is the largest island in the whole of the Keys and is considered a major base for those wishing to dive amongst the resplendent coral reefs which can be found a few miles offshore. Key Largo is also ideally situated close to the Everglades which also makes it very popular with tourists and you’ll find plenty of chances to kayak and explore amongst some of the world’s most renowned sub-tropical wetlands. From eco-tours and art galleries to golf and dolphin spotting, Key Largo promises a whole host of things to do while the Florida sun continues to shine.
8. Ernest Hemingway’s Home and Museum
Renowned for his partiality for the finer things in life, it’s little wonder that Ernest Hemingway choose to live in the Florida Keys. Located on Whitehead Street, within walking distance of the island’s south coast, Hemingway’s home was named as a historic national landmark in the late 60’s and currently serves as a museum. The main feature of a guided tour is Hemingway’s writing desk and study as well as lots of seven-toed cats that may or may not be the direct descendants of Hemingway’s own moggies.
7. Mel Fisher’s Maritime Heritage Museum
If you fancy finding out a bit more about the Key’s noble maritime heritage then the Mel Fisher Museum, located on Greene Street in Key West, is up there with the best of them. Featuring an amazing array of artefacts recovered from wrecks, such as the Henrietta Marie slave ship, the Nuestra Señora de Atocha Spanish galleon and another Spanish ship, the Santa Margarita, this is an excellent chance to learn more about the history and the legends that claimed the Florida Keys as their final resting place.
6. The Everglades
No trip to the Florida Keys is complete without at least finding out a bit more about the Everglades and when you consider that this area of marshland stretches for over a million acres then you’ll be hard pushed to try and ignore its influence. Well-known for its rich diversity of habitat, you can expect to find areas split into: mangrove forest, saw grass marsh and free flowing channels of water, known as sloughs. Exploration via airboat and eco-tours presents one of the world’s greatest natural wildernesses and well-worth a visit if you’re in the area.
5. The Vandenberg Wreck
As with most of the Keys, water visibility is excellent which makes dive sites, such as the <strong>Vandenberg</strong>, an incredible experience no matter what your level of Scuba proficiency. As the wreck is so colossal you can’t take her all in within one dive however, with the right dive guide you’ll get to explore some incredible highlights without too much bother. Still recognisable as the vessel which was sunk in May, 2009, the Vandenberg is now teeming with marine life and from her 524ft length to her weight of over 17,000 tonnes, this is indeed one of the best dive sites in America.
4. The Molasses Reef
This fascinating coral reef falls within the boundaries of the Key’s national marine sanctuary and is home to an abundance of underwater life including: parrot fish, chubs, trumpet fish, eagle rays and yellowtail snappers, to name but a few. This is complete heaven for Scuba divers with diving depths from 10 to 70 feet as well as excellent opportunities for drift diving. Snorkellers can enjoy <strong>Molasses Reef</strong> too with excellent water visibility ensuring a truly magical experience. Turtles, eels, shipwrecks and even nursing sharks make Molasses one of America’s top dive spots and a must explore no matter what your level of competence.
3. Dry Tortugas National Park
Just over 100 clicks to the west of Key West lies the Dry Tortugas National Park which is a collection of islands that are considered to be the best preserved in the whole of the Keys. There are plenty of chances to make the most of this beautiful patch of natural beauty and from snorkelling and scuba diving to camping and picnics, the park offers some amazing experiences in a tropical paradise. Abundant marine and bird life combined with the largest brick-built structure in the Western hemisphere, Fort Jefferson, make Dry Tortugas well-worth the trip by boat or sea plane.
2. The Tropic Cinema
Consistently voted as the best movie theatre in the state, Tropic Cinema is a not-for-profit multi-screen that offers up the best in art house, indie and foreign films. With a loyal and coveted following, it’s easy to see why TC is so highly-regarded by the locals and with plenty of Hollywood hits and thought-provoking documentaries shown every day, this is the place to come if you’re scratching your head for things to do after dark. This is a great way to escape the summer sunshine and enjoy: a movie, a cool beer and air-conditioned loveliness.
1. Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory
This fabulous climate-controlled habitat presents a wondrous opportunity to get up close to some of the most exotic, beautiful and downright weird looking butterflies on the planet. Located on Duval Street in Key West this is the perfect chance to get warm on a wet day in the winter however, as it’s open all-year-round it’s pretty nice to visit in the summer too if you just fancy a relaxing alternative to the beach. Check out the great learning centre that has made the Key West butterfly attraction top of the pile for visitors to Key West.
Further reading: The 113 miles along the Overseas Highway provide an amazing Florida Keys road trip you’ll be talking about for years to come.
Article written by Chris Owen.