Key West, the last of the Florida Keys, is one of the best places to visit in America if you love Caribbean vibes and perfect, amazing weather all year long. Another great thing about this tropical island is that there are just so many fun things to do and see!
The city is quite small in size – 7,21 mi² to be exact – and you can easily go on a day trip to Key West from Miami. However, that will probably leave you wanting more and you will surely end up going back and spend anything between 4-5 days.
Curious to discover how to make the most of Key West in one day? This post will highlight the best things to do in Key West, the most important places to visit and all the most fun Key West attractions. I will also list the best restaurants to try while you are there.
What To See And Do During Your Day Trip To Key West
Now, here are some of the places that you absolutely have to visit during your day trip to Key West. You’ll see there are many – so may need to select a few and stick to those.
Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum
If you have only one day in Key West and decide to visit just one museum, it has to be this!
A short walk from Key West historic center you’ll find Whitehead Street, where Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum is located. Visiting is one of the best things to do in Key West, so if you want to avoid the crowds head there nice and early. Visits consist of a 30-minute guided tour around the house, which is filled with Hemingways many objects. You also get to visit the garden and get to meet some of the descendants of Snow White, Hemingway’s famous polydactyl (six-toed) cat.
The museum is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. General admission is $16 USD.
Truman Little White House
In the winter of 1946, President Truman lived in this historic building. After that it started being used as a winter retreat by other presidents, including Eisenhower, Kennedy and Clinton.
For guided tours to Truman Little White House, click here.
The Southernmost Point Buoy
The Southernmost Point Buoy is an iconic Key West Landmark. The notorious buoy marks the southernmost point of the continental United States and the small distance of only 90 miles to Cuba.
When you visit, make sure to arrive early! The lines for taking a picture with the buoy are huge most time of the day but get slightly better in the morning.
Smathers Beach is for sure one of the best beaches in Key West. At Smathers, the sand is white and soft and the water is clear and perfect for a swim.
For information on snorkeling in Key West, click here.
Truman Waterfront Park
Located right by the ocean, the Truman Waterfront Park is a good place for practicing sports or taking children – they have many great playgrounds! Also, once a week it hosts a cool farmer’s market with great food.
Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory
The Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory is a gem of a visit. It is a dome greenhouse that replicates a tropical climate where more than fifty different species of butterflies live peacefully along with some exotic birds like flamingos.
Visiting the conservatory is so magical! It is beautiful to see all these butterflies flying around in one place. It is also a great place for pictures since the butterflies love stopping on the visitor’s shoulders and hats.
The Conservatory is open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Last entrance is at 4:30 pm. General admission is $15.
Mallory Square is an absolute must-see. It is where every day around 6:00 pm, locals and visitors gather to see and celebrate the sunset. When the sun goes down, everybody starts applauding. Such a special moment. After the sunset, stay for a while to see all the street performers on the square.
Don’t worry if you are on the other side of the historic center. Hop on the Old Town Trolley and you’ll be there in no time. For more information about it, click here.
U.S. Route 1 Mile 0 Sign
The U.S. Route 1 Mile 0 Sign marks the start (or the end) of the US Route 1. It is a very popular photo spot on the island. Right next to the sign, there is a souvenir shop that sells all sorts of US Route 1 related souvenirs.
The Key West Aquarium
The Key West Aquarium is a lovely place to visit and learn about South Florida’s rich marine life. It is considered to have been the first-ever attraction in Key West and is one of the most unique aquariums in the country.
The Aquarium is open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Last entrance is at 4:30 pm. General admission is $17. For tickets, click here.
Key West best restaurants
There is no shortage of great food in Key West. Make sure to try at least one of these fabulous restaurants.
Blue Heaven is literally – heaven – for brunch and breakfast on the island! Make sure to try their famous Blue Heaven Benedicts and Rooster Special. You should also try the famous Key Lime Pie!
Willie T’s is a classic! It is a restaurant & bar that is impossible not to catch your eye since it is completely covered in real dollar bills. That’s right. When you go, make sure to sign a dollar bill and ask the staff for a staple gun to put it up in the wall and take a picture for a cool souvenir.
While Latitude’s is not literally on Key West, it is located only a short (and free) ferry ride away. Latitude’s is one of the best restaurants in the Florida Keys and has even been nominated best restaurant by Conde Nast in 2021. It is as good as it gets in regards to Oceanfront fine-dining in Key West.
At last, I leave you with a suggestion of an extraordinary restaurant that is actually very well-priced. Santiago’s Bodega specializes in Spanish tapas and they are all amazing. Their Beef Tenderloin is unforgettable.
More Time In Key West?
If you are spending more than one day in Key West, you’ll easily find more things to do to keep buys! Here are a few ideas.
Dry Tortugas is one of the most amazing and remote National Parks in the United States. It is basically a group of gorgeous islands located in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. Oh, and it is also a prime snorkeling spot!
To get there, you can either book a seaplane or take the ferry from Key West. There is unfortunately no way to get there without a tour. Tours last all day, so this isn’t really something you can do on a day trip to Key West.
For tours of Dry Tortugas departing from Key West, click here. Click here to read about all the best Key West tours.
Go on a Ghost Tour
If you are looking for some truly quirky things to do during your day trip to Key West, perhaps you should join a ghost tour. Some people swear by it and declare they have seen and heard ghosts. Most visitors simply go in for the fun – to listen to spooky stories and enjoy the company of their friends.
Guided Ghost Tours depart 3 times per week at 7:00 pm and last about one hour. You can book yours here.
How To Get From Miami To Key West
Even though the island is closer to Cuba than anything else, usually the starting point to visit Key West for most travelers is the city of Miami. There are five main ways of getting from Miami to Key West.
Many companies will be able to take you on a day trip to Key West from Miami. Transport is usually in a shuttle and once you get to Key West, you get about 6 hours to visit the island. So that’s a pretty full day!
For more information on day trips to Key West from Miami click here or here.
By far the fastest way to get from Miami to Key West, flights to Key West International Airport take under an hour. Tickets are usually around $200 but prices may vary depending on the season.
Check out the prices of flights here.
The scenery along the Overseas Highway (US1) is simply stunning and makes driving from Miami to Key West very worth your time. However, you should know that the journey can take up to four hours.
Check out the prices of car rental here.
A fun idea to make the trip less exhaustive is stopping along the way and visiting the other Florida Keys. Islands like Marathon, Islamorada, and Key Largo are great places to stop and recharge. Some travelers might even consider spending the night to cut the driving time in half.
Taking a Greyhound bus from Miami to Key West is 100% doable – though perhaps the long ride isn’t the best if you are only going on a day trip to Key West.
Tickets will cost you around $30 per person, which is a super good deal. The journey takes about 4 hours and a half.
To book your bus ticket, click here.
Another way more expensive option to travel from Miami to Key West is by a charter boat. You can check Miami Charters for great options.
Key West is one of the best tourist destinations in Florida, with plenty of things to see and do to keep yourself busy. I am sure you will have a blast and I really hope you have enough ideas to make the most of Key West in one day. Make sure to stay longer if you have a chance!
This post was contributed by Camila Neves, expert traveler, and author of Travel Cami.
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