While lots of people enjoy museums, shopping, and dining while on vacation, others are quite content to be outside. There’s nothing like the bright sunshine and comfortable humidity of Key West to encourage you to spend as much time as you can outdoors. When booking your trip to Key West, keep these itinerary ideas in mind so you can be assured of experiencing all of the outdoor fun and excitement that Key West is known for.
On the Water
Dry Tortugas National Park is located just off the coast of Key West, and it’s legendary for world-class snorkeling. Just a quick ferry ride from Key West, and it’s like you’re in a whole new world. What’s great about this destination is that the water is relatively calm, clear, and shallow. This makes it ideal for people who are new to snorkeling as well as experienced swimmers. You can explore multiple coral reefs and authentic shipwrecks where underwater wildlife is abundant. Grab a kayak and paddle around the islands that make up the park, swim at the beach, or stroll the promenade of the historic fort.
Fishing is another top-ranked activity in Key West. There are several types of fish that come in season year-round, so it’s always a great time to get your fishing gear and get out on the water. Instead of going through the hassle and expense of renting a boat yourself, book a fishing charter! These are typically half-day trips so you can choose an early morning start or an afternoon start. You’ll have all the fishing gear you’ll need, and lots of pointers from an experienced crew, if you need them. These fishing charters, like All In Fishing Charters, are headed up by a local captain who knows the waters well and can get you to the ideal spot where the fish are biting.
If you’d rather be in the water, consider a sandbar charter instead. These excursions take you out to a secluded sandbar by boat, where you’re dropped off while the boat anchors. The crew sets up beach chairs and water toys while you splash and play the day away. Most charters have Bluetooth speakers set up for music, and some include lunch, too. One of the biggest draws of sandbar charter trips is how it feels like you’re lounging on your own private island.
Eco-tours are another popular way to explore Key West. Your tour guide leads a group–typically in kayaks–along mangrove forests that touch back country waterways. You’ll learn about the biodiversity of these unique ecosystems, see wildlife like turtles, fish and birds, and get the inside scoop on how the natural characteristics of Key West influenced its development.
For a small island city, Key West has lots of races to be run each year. From races that mark holidays like New Years to those that celebrate festivals like Hemingway Days each summer, there’s a good chance you can sign up for a 5K during your visit. While many are highly competitive, others offer opportunities for participants of all skill levels–even children–so it’s fun for all.
Key West is home to several local public beaches. They offer sandy shores and the kind of palm trees you see in postcards. Whether you want to swim, sunbathe or snorkel, these beaches offer lots of room to relax and enjoy the beautiful weather, warm water and easy-going vibes. Be sure to check out the amenities at each beach, which range from welcoming pets to offering playgrounds, snorkel equipment rentals or snack bars.
One of the most dynamic outdoor sites on Key West is Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. This easily accessible landmark offers lots of activities for locals and visitors alike. The historic fort is surrounded by acres of open space. There are hiking and biking trails, a jetty to fish off of and beaches for swimming. The on-site snack bar offers light fare or bring your own picnic–check out the nearby Eaton Street Seafood Market and Restaurant in Old Town Key West for grilled lobster, fish tacos and other exciting to-go options.
At night, don’t miss the daily Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square. It’s a vibrant event packed with local musicians, arts and crafts vendors, food and drink vendors, and performers. Crowds gather at Mallory Square, located at the end of Duval Street, to watch the sun go down, and it’s the ideal way to immerse yourself in the beauty of Key West and kick off a night to remember.
Make Your Next Vacation Key West
With all that Key West has to offer vacationers, it’s no wonder that people return for it’s natural beauty and wide range of activities again and again. Whether you’re adventurous enough to visit Dry Tortugas or would rather stay closer to your hotel by exploring local parks and beaches, you’ll find plenty to do outdoors in Key West.