What are the best things to see and do in the Florida Keys?

Stephanie Goldberg Glazer

The Florida Keys offers something different to do at practically every Mile Marker — basically how you identify where you’re headed in these parts. Here are some of the best things to see and do in the Florida Keys:
 
1. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (Key Largo, Mile Marker 102.6). Take one of the famous glass-bottom boat rides, snorkel along the coral reef, sign up for a scuba tour or cruise down the park’s mangrove creeks in a kayak or canoe.
 
2. Go fishing. Almost anywhere in the Keys is an acceptable fishing spot — off the old Seven Mile Bridge, from the side of the road or on a charter boat. Catch local delicacies like yellowtail snapper and mahi mahi.
 
3. Bike the tiny streets of Key West. There are several local bike shops that will rent you a bike for the day or week. The best way to take in the Victorian architecture is on a bike. 
 
4. Bahia Honda State Park (Mile Marker 37). Consistently rated one of the best beaches anywhere, Bahia Honda offers white sandy shores, biking trails, birding, boating and camping.
 
5. Dry Tortugas National Park. Located 70 miles off the coast of Key West, you can get to the park by seaplane or catamaran. Either way, it is a lovely day trip from Key West and it’s worth the time to see the majestic tangle of coral reef sheltering the marine and bird refuge. Swim, snorkel or simply walk around the seawall and explore Fort Jefferson, a former military fortress.

  • On November 19, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best places to stay in the Florida Keys?

    Hotels in the Florida Keys range from properties with a few tiki huts to luxury resorts with every amenity you can think of. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s picks for the best places to stay in the Florida Keys.
     
    1. Little Palm Island Resort & Spa (Mile Marker 28.5, Little Torch Key). Accessible only by a three-mile boat ride, this is the epitome of luxury in the Keys. From the chic Colonial décor to the hammocks by the beach to the amazing restaurant and spa, you will find it hard to return to reality. Private bungalows include living rooms, verandas and outdoor showers.
     
    2. The Reach Resort (1435 Simonton Street, Key West). Smaller and more intimate than the sister resort, Casa Marina, The Reach is a Waldorf Astoria property. The grounds are beautiful, as are the rooms with their clean lines, rattan headboards and pops of color. An outpost of Manhattan’s famed Strip House restaurant is located on the premises and it’s a fun and chic place to dine with its red damask wallpaper, box beam wood ceilings and large windows. By the way, the restaurant is a good spot to catch the 4th of July fireworks.
     
    3. Cheeca Lodge & Spa (Mile Marker 82, Islamorada). Cheeca Lodge has been newly renovated and includes a beach, fishing pier, camp for kids, swimming lagoon, golf course, tennis and more — plus its conveniently located near many restaurants and attractions.
  • On November 19, 2012
    Stephanie Goldberg Glazer answered the question: Stephanie Goldberg Glazer

    Where is the best shopping in the Florida Keys?

    The best shopping in the Florida Keys is in the numerous galleries and unique boutiques, the bulk of which are located in Key West. You won’t find mega-stores or shopping malls — there’s simply no room for them — but what the area lacks in size, it makes up for in uniqueness. Visit the quirky galleries and interesting shops along Duval Street in Key West. Guild Hall Gallery (614 Duval St.) is actually a cooperative of artists. On the other end of Duval Street you’ll find SoDu Gallery (1100 Duval St.) and Frangipani Gallery (1102 Duval St.), both of which feature clothing, jewelry and more by local artists. Just up the street The Green Pineapple (1130 Duval St.) features unique items for your home.
  • On November 19, 2012
    Stephanie Goldberg Glazer answered the question: Stephanie Goldberg Glazer

    What are the best things to do with kids in the Florida Keys?

    If you want to take your kids someplace where they can spend their time discovering and being active outdoors, consider the Florida Keys for your next family vacation. Spend your days learning about ecosystems and evenings gobbling up key lime pie. Check out this list from our Forbes Travel Guide editors on the best things to do with kids in the Keys.
     
    1. Visit Pigeon Key, Marathon. Step back in time as you visit buildings from the early 1900s, when Henry Flagler was building his railroad through the Keys. Ride the ferry and see both the new and old Seven Mile bridges.
     
    2. Head to Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center. The Eco-Discovery Center in Key West is a great place to learn about the fish and wildlife of the Florida Keys through interactive displays and exhibits. It’s fun for the entire family—plus it’s free.
     
    3. Relax at The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. Stroll through a magical environment with hundreds of butterflies. The conservatory houses more than 50 kinds of butterflies, exotic birds and tropical flowering plants.
     
    4. Get moving at Founders Park, Islamorada. Founders Park is a great spot for tennis, water sports, swimming and more. The park includes an Olympic swimming pool, ball fields and a dog park.
     
    5. Tarpon Feeding at Robbie’s of Islamadora. Robbie’s offers fishing excursions but kids and adults also come in droves to feed the dozens of tarpon that congregate at the end of the dock each day.  It’s a sight to see these large silver-blue fish open their large mouths and feed on the fish.
  • On November 19, 2012
    Stephanie Goldberg Glazer answered the question: Stephanie Goldberg Glazer

    What are the best things to see and do in the Florida Keys?

    The Florida Keys offers something different to do at practically every Mile Marker — basically how you identify where you’re headed in these parts. Here are some of the best things to see and do in the Florida Keys:
     
    1. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (Key Largo, Mile Marker 102.6). Take one of the famous glass-bottom boat rides, snorkel along the coral reef, sign up for a scuba tour or cruise down the park’s mangrove creeks in a kayak or canoe.
     
    2. Go fishing. Almost anywhere in the Keys is an acceptable fishing spot — off the old Seven Mile Bridge, from the side of the road or on a charter boat. Catch local delicacies like yellowtail snapper and mahi mahi.
     
    3. Bike the tiny streets of Key West. There are several local bike shops that will rent you a bike for the day or week. The best way to take in the Victorian architecture is on a bike. 
     
    4. Bahia Honda State Park (Mile Marker 37). Consistently rated one of the best beaches anywhere, Bahia Honda offers white sandy shores, biking trails, birding, boating and camping.
     
    5. Dry Tortugas National Park. Located 70 miles off the coast of Key West, you can get to the park by seaplane or catamaran. Either way, it is a lovely day trip from Key West and it’s worth the time to see the majestic tangle of coral reef sheltering the marine and bird refuge. Swim, snorkel or simply walk around the seawall and explore Fort Jefferson, a former military fortress.
  • On September 24, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best overall restaurants in Southeast Florida?

    In Southeast Florida, you get the intimate island feel in addition to the luxurious hotels and dining. Café Boulud, L’escallier and the Restaurant will do much more than merely satisfy your taste buds during your stay. Here are the best restaurants in Southeast Florida:

    1. Café Boulud: The authority on French cuisine, Daniel Boulud brings his masterful cooking to Palm Beach with his restaurant Café Boulud. Tucked inside the historic Brazilian Court Hotel, Café Boulud elevates traditional fare like steak frites to utter perfection.

    2. L’escalier: L’escalier in Palm Beach is an innovative French restaurant that uses fresh seasonal ingredients to make its dishes shine. But the real reason to come is the vast wine list that would make any oenophile drool.

    3. The Restaurant: Inside the Four Seasons Resort in Palm Beach’s signature restaurant, you’ll find a contemporary and tropically inspired dining room aptly named the Restaurant, where every seat gets an ocean view, and where the menu melds the flavors of the South, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
  • On September 24, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best overall restaurants in Southeast Florida?

    In Southeast Florida, you get the intimate island feel in addition to the luxurious hotels and dining. Café Boulud, L’escallier and the Restaurant will do much more than merely satisfy your taste buds during your stay. Here are the best restaurants in Southeast Florida:

    1. Café Boulud: The authority on French cuisine, Daniel Boulud brings his masterful cooking to Palm Beach with his restaurant Café Boulud. Tucked inside the historic Brazilian Court Hotel, Café Boulud elevates traditional fare like steak frites to utter perfection.

    2. L’escalier: L’escalier in Palm Beach is an innovative French restaurant that uses fresh seasonal ingredients to make its dishes shine. But the real reason to come is the vast wine list that would make any oenophile drool.

    3. The Restaurant: Inside the Four Seasons Resort in Palm Beach’s signature restaurant, you’ll find a contemporary and tropically inspired dining room aptly named the Restaurant, where every seat gets an ocean view, and where the menu melds the flavors of the South, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
  • On September 24, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best overall restaurants in Southeast Florida?

    In Southeast Florida, you get the intimate island feel in addition to the luxurious hotels and dining. Café Boulud, L’escallier and the Restaurant will do much more than merely satisfy your taste buds during your stay. Here are the best restaurants in Southeast Florida:

    1. Café Boulud: The authority on French cuisine, Daniel Boulud brings his masterful cooking to Palm Beach with his restaurant Café Boulud. Tucked inside the historic Brazilian Court Hotel, Café Boulud elevates traditional fare like steak frites to utter perfection.

    2. L’escalier: L’escalier in Palm Beach is an innovative French restaurant that uses fresh seasonal ingredients to make its dishes shine. But the real reason to come is the vast wine list that would make any oenophile drool.

    3. The Restaurant: Inside the Four Seasons Resort in Palm Beach’s signature restaurant, you’ll find a contemporary and tropically inspired dining room aptly named the Restaurant, where every seat gets an ocean view, and where the menu melds the flavors of the South, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
  • On September 24, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best overall restaurants in Southeast Florida?

    In Southeast Florida, you get the intimate island feel in addition to the luxurious hotels and dining. Café Boulud, Chef Allen’s, L’escallier and the Restaurant will do much more than merely satisfy your taste buds during your stay. Here are the best restaurants in Southeast Florida:

    1. Café Boulud: The authority on French cuisine, Daniel Boulud brings his masterful cooking to Palm Beach with his restaurant Café Boulud. Tucked inside the historic Brazilian Court Hotel, Café Boulud elevates traditional fare like steak frites to utter perfection.

    2. Chef Allen’s: Famed chef Allen Susser was one of Miami’s first James Beard Award recipients and a member of the Mango Gang, a group that helped lead the new-world cuisine revolution. He continues to turn out winning sustainable seafood dishes at Chef Allen’s.

    3. L’escalier: L’escalier in Palm Beach is an innovative French restaurant that uses fresh seasonal ingredients to make its dishes shine. But the real reason to come is the vast wine list that would make any oenophile drool.

    4. The Restaurant: Inside the Four Seasons Resort in Palm Beach’s signature restaurant, you’ll find a contemporary and tropically inspired dining room aptly named the Restaurant, where every seat gets an ocean view, and where the menu melds the flavors of the South, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
  • On November 12, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    When is the best time to visit Florida?

    Since Florida is a warm-weather destination, there’s really no bad time to visit.

    Although there’s been little activity in recent years, hurricane season runs from June to November. If you decide to go during that time, just be prepared and pay attention to weather reports.

    Another factor you may want to take into account is the throngs of spring breakers and tourists. Most spring breaks fall between March and April, and the busiest spots around that time tend to be Daytona Beach, Key West, Miami and Panama City Beach. The peak season for the northern half of the state tends to be the hot summer, while the southern part of Florida sees most of its tourists in the winter. If you travel to the Sunshine State during the fall, you’ll avoid the horrific heat and most tourists will have gone home by then.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best overall restaurants in Southeast Florida?

    In Southeast Florida, you get the intimate island feel in addition to the luxurious hotels and dining. Café Boulud, Chef Allen’s, L’escallier and the Restaurant will do much more than merely satisfy your taste buds during your stay. Here are the best restaurants in Southeast Florida:

    1. Café Boulud: The authority on French cuisine, Daniel Boulud brings his masterful cooking to Palm Beach with his restaurant Café Boulud. Tucked inside the historic Brazilian Court Hotel, Café Boulud elevates traditional fare like steak frites to utter perfection.

    2. Chef Allen’s: Famed chef Allen Susser was one of Miami’s first James Beard Award recipients and a member of the Mango Gang, a group that helped lead the new-world cuisine revolution. He continues to turn out winning sustainable seafood dishes at Chef Allen’s.

    3. L’escalier: L’escalier in Palm Beach is an innovative French restaurant that uses fresh seasonal ingredients to make its dishes shine. But the real reason to come is the vast wine list that would make any oenophile drool.

    4. The Restaurant: Inside the Four Seasons Resort in Palm Beach’s signature restaurant, you’ll find a contemporary and tropically inspired dining room aptly named the Restaurant, where every seat gets an ocean view, and where the menu melds the flavors of the South, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Which are the best hotels for a quiet escape in Southeast Florida?

    Some of America’s most glamorous, yet secluded resort tows can be found in Southeast Florida. Forbes Four Star Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort & Club, Little Palm Island Resort & Spa in Little Torch Key and Sunset Key Guest Cottages, a Westin Resort in Key West, all offer serenity and gorgeous views. Here are the best hotels for a quiet escape:

    1. Fairmon Turnberry: When you need a break from the Miami mayhem, Forbes Travel Guide Four Star hotel Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort & Club offers a reprieve. Secluded on 300 acres, the Fairmont gives out relaxation on its golf course, splurge-worthy spa and on the onsite lazy river.

    2. Little Palm Island: Talk about the perfect escape: To get to Little Palm Island Resort & Spa, Little Torch Key, you have to either take a boat or seaplane. Your thatched-roof bungalow also promises to be an oasis, since there are no phones or TVs allowed. Plus, no one under 16 is permitted to stay at the hotel, so peace and quiet is practically guaranteed.

    3. Sunset Key: Get away from it all at Sunset Key Guest Cottages, a Westin Resort in Key West, which sits on Sunset Key, a secluded 27-acre island. You won’t have to worry about loud neighbors, since you’ll get your own cottage. It comes with kitchen and dining areas, so you’ll never have to leave your hideaway.
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