29 Best & Fun Things To Do In Key West (Florida)

things to do in key west
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If you’re looking for some of the best vacation spots in the world, you simply cannot miss Key West, an island city located in the Florida Keys.

Famous for its gorgeous marine life, whimsical houses, and interesting history, the best of Key West offers fascinating must-see points of interest that will ensure you’re never at a loss for what to do.

We’ve compiled a list of the best attractions and fun activities in Key West for your convenience.

Things To Do In Key West

1. Dry Tortugas National Park

Fort Jefferson Dry Tortugas
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The Dry Tortugas National Park is one of the most historically rich tourist attractions in Key West, Florida.

Encompassing seven little islands and large expanses of water, it is just 50 miles off the land, so it won’t take too long to get there.

The journey requires a boat, ferry, or seaplane, but the moment you see the brilliant blue waters that flow across the park, you’ll know that it was more than worth it.

Its most popular spot is likely Fort Jefferson, built in the 19th century and teeming with a fascinating past that you can uncover through a guided tour of the structure.

But it’s not just history that you’ll find here.

The surrounding coral reefs are packed with gorgeous plant and animal life.

Within certain areas, you can even go swimming and snorkeling.

Bird watching is also a great option, as large groups of exotic birds call this area their home.

2. Key West Historic Seaport and Harbor Walk

Historic seaport Harbor Walk on Key West
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The Key West Historic Seaport and Harbor Walk is one of the most popular things to see in this side of Florida.

Located on the famous Key West Bright Marina, it boasts plenty of eateries, shops, and attractions to enjoy for a short trip.

This seaport has a good amount of history to it, being one of the region’s main sources of economic and cultural life over the past 2 centuries.

Up until the 1990s, it was used as a stop for shipping and fishing boats.

Known also by the name Inner Harbor, it attracts countless tourists all year round who want to get a taste of the seaside life.

Delicious, fresh dishes of seafood are common fare among the many restaurants facing the waterfront.

Visitors can also enjoy a wide range of exciting activities like parasailing, snorkeling, dolphin watching, scuba diving, jet-skiing, kayaking, and more.

Address: 201 William St, Key West, FL 33040, USA

3. Key West Seaplane Adventures

Sea Plane at Dry Tortugas
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The Key West Seaplane Adventures is one of the most loved ways to get to Dry Tortugas National Park (and the only air service to go there in the first place!).

But it’s more than just a convenient mode of transportation.

You can find it sitting on the South Roosevelt Boulevard, within the international airport housed in this state.

Those who venture onboard will receive a seat by a window and a headset for a narrated sightseeing tour.

You’ll be able to view the incredible islands in this region of Florida from above.

Narrators will show you famed Key West shipwrecks that you can spot from your vantage point, such as the Patricia and the Arbutus.

If you’re lucky, you may even see a variety of animals outside, including sharks, dolphins, turtles, rays, and porpoises.

The sheer novelty of the experience makes this flying experience one of the best things to do in Key West.

Address: 3471 S Roosevelt Blvd, Key West, FL 33040, USA

4. Mallory Square

Mallory Square at dusk, Key West
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Mallory Square is one of the most popular areas in Florida.

Located in the Old Town area, right on Wall Street, this plaza is situated on a waterfront and is a mix of modern delights and historic richness.

The square faces the Gulf of Mexico, allowing for some truly astonishing views and lending itself to the Sunset Celebration, one of Key West’s most iconic recreational things to do.

This celebration begins on a daily basis, two hours prior to the setting of the sun.

The tradition began back in the 1960s and is still going strong!

Visitors flock to the area during that time to watch street performances from magicians, clowns, and more.

They buy food from street carts and vendors, check out local arts and crafts exhibits, and finally, gather to watch the sun go down.

Address: 400 Wall St, Key West, FL 33040, USA

Planning to travel to other parts of Florida soon? Be sure to check out our lists detailing the things to do in Pensacola and things to do in Fort Lauderdale!

5. Higgs Beach

Wooden pier in Higgs Beach
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Not many people think of Key West, Florida as a location full of good beaches, but some of the best that Key West has to offer still make decent places to visit over a weekend!

One of the most popular of these beaches is the Clarence Higgs Beach Park, known simply as Higgs Beach.

This beach boasts an incredible underwater marina park, deemed the only one of its shore-accessible kind in the entire country.

This makes it among the best Key West attractions for snorkelers who want to get a glimpse of some of the most beautiful flora and fauna underwater.

There is also a somber location on Higgs Beach – an African Burial Ground that serves as a sobering reminder of the lost lives and cruelty of the transatlantic slave trade.

You can visit it to pay your respects.

Address: 1000 Atlantic Blvd, Key West, FL 33040, USA

6. Key West Aquarium

Key West Aquarium
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Approximately 7 hours from Orlando, Florida, the Key West Aquarium is very close to Mallory Square, making the general area one of the greatest places to take a trip to in order to enjoy must-see points of interest.

Sitting on Whitehead Street, this aquarium was first built somewhere in the early 1930s.

In the beginning, it was an open-air aquarium, and it is now among the oldest aquariums in the state of Florida.

Today, the Key West Aquarium houses countless interesting exhibits and animals.

There’s everyone’s favorite Touch Tank and Aquarium, which is perfect for kids and grown-ups alike.

There’s the Atlantic Shores Exhibit, a Sea Turtles Conservation Tour, and even an American Alligator Exhibit.

In addition, visitors can even take part in interactive feedings with stingrays and sharks or join in on different kinds of tours.

If you’re going to the state for a special occasion, you can even rent parts of the aquarium for events!

Address: 1 Whitehead St, Key West, FL 33040, USA

7. The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West
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Visiting the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is easily one of the top 10 things to do in Key West, Florida.

Built with stunning Spanish Colonial architecture and design, this mansion was first completed in 1851, carved out of native rock.

The house became well-known when Ernest Hemingway moved into the home with his wife in the year 1931.

Even today, decades and decades later, many of the personal effects of the famed author remain behind, including a wide range of antiques from across Europe, each one purchased during holidays and trips.

Today, you can wander around the home and have fun taking a look at the various animal skins and trophies displayed across the mansion, left behind from Hemingway’s many hunting trips.

You can even take a look around his studio – the same one where he wrote ‘To Have and Have Not’, a tale of the Great Depression’s effect on the Key West.

It also still houses a cat that is directly descended from Hemingway’s own!

Address: 907 Whitehead St, Key West, FL 33040, USA

8. Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory
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The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory is one of the best places to visit in Florida if you love nature and, of course, the beautiful titular insect in question.

It spans 5000 square feet and takes the shape of a gigantic dome.

Between 50 and 60 different butterfly species live in this glass enclosure, so if you love these flying creatures, visiting this is one of the must-do activities in Florida.

But it’s not just butterflies that you can see here!

About 3,500 plants live here, and over 20 bird species also share the environment with the insects.

This is a great place to go if you’re looking for a break from the crowds outside.

It’s a calm and relaxing spot that offers educational material on the animals that live within.

Address: 1316 Duval St, Key West, FL 33040, USA

Planning to visit other parts of Florida? Be sure to check out our list of things to do in Destin, FL.

9. Audubon House & Tropical Gardens

Audubon House & Tropical Gardens
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The Audubon House & Tropical Gardens was first built in the 1840s, and it sits in the Old Town part of Key West, Florida – just a short distance away from the famous Duval Street.

It originally served as a home to Captain John Huling Geiger, a Key West ship captain, but was named after John James Audubon, an ornithologist.

Within the home, you can find Audubon’s numerous curiosities, including twenty-eight of his works and a mix of colonial furniture and knick-knacks that are beyond fascinating.

The house is also surrounded by a lush garden full of flowers that shine in different bright colors.

Every inch of the home has been cautiously restored to bring it to its full glory for visitors.

You will have to pay to enter the home itself, but children and students are entitled to a discount from the standard price for adults.

If you can spare the time, drop by the gift shop afterward, too, and purchase a lovely Audubon print.

It’s one of the best things to do in Key West!

Address: 205 Whitehead St, Key West, FL 33040, USA

10. Southernmost Point

Southernmost point
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If you’re in Key West for a weekend, the Southernmost Point is one of the many great things to see.

It is located just 90 miles away from Cuba and is named because it was once the lowest point in all of America due to Florida’s location, though Hawaii has since changed that fact.

A gigantic buoy made from concrete marks the exact location.

Built in 1983 to honor this Key West landmark, it is one of the most photographed spots in the whole region.

There’s a charming novelty about taking a selfie at such a cool spot, so get your phone or camera ready for action if you’re heading here!

Address: Whitehead St & South Street, Key West, FL 33040, United States

11. Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center

Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center
Haydn Blackey from Cardiff, Wales [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
The Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center is one of those Key West attractions that is essential for any nature-lover.

It sits on East Quay Road, where it spans across 6,000 square feet.

It is a marine sanctuary and houses numerous flora and fauna native to the Key West area.

Within its walls, there are plenty of activities for visitors.

You can view the contents of a massive gallon reef tank containing 2,500 gallons of water or enjoy numerous interactive exhibits that aim to educate visitors on marine ecology and other issues.

You can also find a full-scale model of Aquarius, which is the only ocean laboratory underwater in the entire world.

While you’re walking around, enjoy the sights of some habitats on display, like pine lands, beach dunes, grass flats, shorelines, and more!

Address: 35 E Quay Rd, Key West, FL 33040, USA

12. Nancy Forrester’s Secret Garden

Nancy Forrester's Secret Garden
Nancy Forrester’s Secret Garden

Nancy Forrester’s Secret Garden is a more quiet location in Key West, and it’s lesser-known than most of the other activities you may enjoy while in Florida.

But who, exactly, is Nancy Forrester?

She’s an environmental artist and is pretty well-known among the community in the region.

This secret garden is just as whimsical and mystical as it sounds.

In a special backyard, she hosts macaws and parrots, all rescued and all who love to talk and chirp and chat with those they meet!

These very smart and lovely animals live happily in this yard, and visiting them is easily among the top things to do in Key West.

If you go at the right time, you’ll be able to listen to Nancy’s special Parrot 101 talk, which she gives at 10 am every single day.

It’s a wonderful place for kids, and also for musicians – if you bring your instruments, you can play music for the birds, who love it!

Address: 518 Elizabeth St, Key West, FL 33040, USA

13. Key West Garden Club

Key West Garden Club
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The Key West Garden Club actually sits on Higgs Beach, within Atlantic Boulevard.

It is also often called the West Martello Tower.

It’s a free garden that anyone can go into as they desire, and its upkeep is entirely performed by volunteers.

It sounds relatively tame, but it’s among the points of interest in Key West, Florida.

The purpose of this garden club is to educate visitors regarding tropical gardening.

Stroll through the lovely brick pathways that seem to have jumped right out of a fantasy book.

Gasp in awe at the lush greenery and wide range of fauna – orchids, lilies in a lily pond, bromeliads, and even a waterfall!

Plus, the West Martello Tower itself has some interesting history. It was once a citadel in the Civil War.

This means this location is actually on the National Register of Historic Places.

So if you’re looking for where to go that is relaxing but interesting, this is a great spot to visit!

Address: 1100 Atlantic Blvd, Key West, FL 33040, USA

14. Duval Street

Duval Street in downtown Key West
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Duval Street is one of the coolest Key West attractions to visit.

It is as famous as it is infamous in Florida, and no trip to Key West would be complete without it.

It wouldn’t take longer than a weekend for you to get your fill of all that this street has to offer.

Plenty of quaint cafes line this street, and interesting art galleries, one-of-a-kind boutiques, and plenty of other lovely shops that you can walk into and scrutinize.

There’s a reason this place is home to so many Key West artists – you may just get inspired!

Meanwhile, adults can enjoy numerous drinking establishments and party at the many nightlife hotspots that are perfect for having an incredible time.

It can get quite rowdy, so take heed!

15. Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park
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The Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park is one of the more popular places to go in Key West.

You can find it along the southern side of Key West in the Truman Annex, and it is actually an official Florida State Park and a National Historic Landmark.

This park’s must-see popular features are its beach and its titular fort, which dates back to the times of the Civil War.

There are many different events that you can enjoy, including reenactments of the war era that span across the entire weeks.

Explore the fort area and take in all that rich history!

If you’re not much of a history buff, you can still head down to the beach, which is often hailed as the greatest that Key West has to offer.

It has plenty of equipment for water sports like snorkeling, and there are beach chairs to lounge on.

You can also stroll through the park and try out the different eating spots!

Address: 601 Howard England Way, Key West, FL 33040, USA

16. Harry S. Truman Little White House

Harry S. Truman Little White House
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The Harry S. Truman Little White House is one of the best Key West attractions to visit if you’re a fan of history and politics.

It was first built in the year 1890, during the Spanish-American War and became host to the naval station’s command headquarters.

It continued to serve this purpose throughout both of the World Wars.

Then, in 1946, this building earned its name because none other than President Harry S. Truman used it as a White House during the winter months.

From then, this spot became an unofficial resting place for presidents to take a break from the stressful rush of running a country during test times.

Today, this house is still used by many national leaders, who often come down to this quaint Florida location for business or as short vacation homes.

But it’s also now open to tourists as a museum with some brilliant adventures and activities to do.

You can check out the official logs of the house and find out exactly what President Truman did when he visited this home 11 times!

Address: 8311, 111 Front St, Key West, FL 33040, United States

17. Sebago Boat Tours

Sebago Boat Tours
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If you want to see the top tourist attractions in Key West just to view them, the Sebago Boat Tours are a great option.

You’ll hop onto one of the six available boats, which are all brilliant and equally lovely, to be brought along a little tour of the most loved parts of the waters.

If you’re just in Florida for a weekend and want to spot some fascinating places to consider taking a trip to later, these boat tours can help you make that decision.

More importantly, they give you the chance to take a sunset cruise and sip a delicious drink while you luxuriously lounge.

You also have the option of going for a Power Adventure package, where you’re able to play a variety of water sports.

Whichever one you go for, all tours come with gourmet fare to eat and drink, so you’ll live in the lap of luxury for the length of the tour!

Address: 205 Elizabeth St i, Key West, FL 33040, USA

18. Key West Lighthouse & Keeper’s Quarters

Key West Lighthouse
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The Key West Lighthouse & Keeper’s Quarters is a neat place to drop by in Florida if you’re okay with heights and don’t mind clambering up 88 steps!

It is a unique structure with a very narrow viewing balcony that you can look out from to state longingly out over the waves above.

But it’s not just the lighthouse that makes this among the top things to do in Key West.

It’s also the keeper’s quarters, which was completed all the way back in 1848 and, today has been turned into a museum where you can find out more about the history of the lighthouse.

You can also see some cool artifacts and photos that you won’t find elsewhere in Florida!

There’s also a gift shop in the museum that sells beautiful and intricate pieces of art made locally.

There is a fee to enter the lighthouse or its museum, but many consider it worth it thanks to the breathtaking view and the rich historical value!

Address: 938 Whitehead St, Key West, FL 33040, USA

19. Key West First Legal Rum Distillery

Key West First Legal Rum Distillery
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The Key West First Legal Rum Distillery is one of the best places in Florida if you love your alcohol!

You can tour the whole are for free and even enjoy special rum tastings and snacks made from rum.

There’s also an exciting class that is offered on how to make mojitos if you’re interested!

Think this is a trip just for adults? Think again!

Kids are welcomed on the property and there are non-boozy snacks that they can sample while you kick back and relax on this quiet and strangely beautiful Florida location, with lots of things to see!

Address: 105 Simonton St, Key West, FL 33040, USA

20. Ghosts & Gravestones Tour

Ghosts & Gravestones Tour
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The Ghosts & Gravestones Tour is rather interesting and unusual compared to many other points of interest in Key West.

It’s not quite the same as the other Key West attractions you may be interested in while you’re in Florida, but if you’re into horror, ghosts, and the supernatural, this is the tour for you!

According to Haunted American Tours, Key West is the 4th most haunted location in the whole country.

That’s what makes these mini-adventures so exciting!

Tours will take you through Old Town, bringing you into rustic wooden houses built back in the 19th century.

And even allow you into the East Martello Civil War Fort, which is believed to be haunted by the dozens of soldiers who passed away in its walls from yellow fever.

Address: 501 Front St, Key West, FL 33040, USA

21. Smathers Beach

Smathers Beach
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If you’re in Key West, Florida, over a weekend, chances are you aren’t focusing much on beaches.

But Smathers Beach is easily one of the most beautiful places in the United States as well as the most popular one in all of Key West, becoming extremely crowded during the spring break period.

With the right timing, you’ll be able to head over there during the less crowded periods and enjoy the clean, white sand and the peaceful lapping of waves against the shores.

It’s also packed with food trucks, shady spots to lie down under, and great, high-quality amenities that make the entire experience adorable.

Located next to Highway A1A, Smathers Beach is easily accessible.

You can rent jet skis, catamarans, or paddleboards, and even umbrellas and chairs are available for you to lease for a given period of time.

The waters are calm and great to swim in, too!

So if you’re looking for what to do in Key West, consider adding Smathers Beach to your schedule.

Address: 2601 S Roosevelt Blvd, Key West, FL 33040, USA

22. Sunset Pier

Sunset Pier
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Key West is famous for its gorgeous sunsets, and that’s why visiting Sunset Pier, even if you reside in Jacksonville, is one of the top best things to do in Key West.

It is located very near to Mallory Square, and it’s one of the most loved locations in this region of Florida due to the sheer beauty of the sunset that is to come.

A large bar awaits on the pier, as well as plenty of seats to sit on, and there are some food-related activities to enjoy.

Fresh oysters (and other seafood options) are available to purchase with the delicious, bold taste of Caribbean inspired Key West cuisine.

Alcoholic drinks in vibrant colors are also ready to down, and live music is usually playing within the Sunset Pier restaurant!

Address: 0 Duval St, Key West, FL 33040, USA

23. Basilica of Saint Mary Star of the Sea

Basilica of St. Mary Star of the Sea at Key West
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The Basilica of Saint Mary Star of the Sea is among the places to visit in Key West, whether you’re religious or not.

It is a Catholic cathedral with a stunning interior that shows some stunning and incandescent architecture with a maritime influence.

Once you’re done looking around the Key West, Florida cathedral, you can step outside of the building and into its grounds.

These grounds are lush and well-kept, and they are, of course, totally free to roam around.

You may even spot a chicken or two, or even a cat!

Address: 1010 Windsor Ln, Key West, FL 33040, USA

24. Key West Cemetery

Key West Cemetery
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Not everyone would consider a cemetery a good place to go to avail of a holiday in Florida, but for those who are interested in some spookiness mixed with melancholy history, the Key West Cemetery is the place to go.

This cemetery first began being used in 1847 and covers 19 acres.

One of the most interesting facts about the Key West Cemetery, which can be found in Old Town, is that its tombstones do not all have somber, eerie, or inspirational messages etched onto them.

Instead, quite a few of them are tongue in cheek, with famous ironic and humorous inscriptions like “I told you I was sick”.

There’s also a ship’s mast tombstone in the Key West Cemetery that you can spot if you’re eagle-eyed enough.

As you wander through the large grounds, think about the fact that some of these plots actually have more than one person in them, stacked over each other.

It’s a good representation of the funny and eclectic people who call this area their home.

Address: 701 Pauline St, Key West, FL 33040, USA

25. Shipwreck Treasures Museum

Shipwreck Treasures Museum
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If you’re trying to figure out what to see in Key West when you have kids in tow, look no further than the Key West Shipwreck Treasures Museum.

But adults can enjoy it too – who doesn’t love a mix of history and fun things that you can do!

A lot of educational history can be discovered as you walk through the structure.

Kids can enjoy going on a scavenger hunt, and they can try their best to hold up a gigantic, heavy silver bar.

If you’d like, you can join a guided tour that gives you a good introduction to the museum.

There’s also a movie that you can head downstairs to the basement beneath sea level to watch, and there’s the best part of this Key West museum – the tower!

When you climb to the top of the tower, you’ll be able to see an incredible view of this Florida region at its finest.

Address: 1 Whitehead St, Key West, FL 33040, USA

26. Wild About Dolphins

Wild About Dolphins
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Wild About Dolphins is definitely among the top activities you can take a trip to while you’re in Key West, Florida.

Located on the Key West Harbour Marina, and about 8 hours from St. Augustine, it’s the perfect place to go if you love dolphins and want to learn more about them.

Head on a boat tour on the Amazing Grace ship and find out about bottle-nosed dolphins that are local to the region.

Stare in awe at the dolphins swimming by and enjoy snorkeling or swimming to interact with marine life up close.

You can also stop by the mangrove islands and habitats which are part of Key West attractions to spot exotic bird species.

Address: 6000 Peninsular Ave, Key West, Florida, USA

27. Henry Flagler’s Overseas Railroad

Henry Flagler’s Overseas Railroad
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The Henry Flagler’s Overseas Railroad isn’t the kind of place you’ll typically stop at and make a day trip out of.

Still, stopping briefly to observe it is among the best unique things to do in Key West.

If you happen to be passing through the Overseas Highway one weekend, on your way to Key West from the rest of Florida, you’ll be able to spot the ruined railroads.

This railroad was finished in the 1910s by Henry Flagler, who was a rich railroad magnate back in the day.

But just around two decades later, a hurricane ripped through it and ruined it irreparably.

It was then abandoned, and now you can see it from the highway in Key West.

28. Lloyd’s Tropical Bike Tour

Lloyd's Tropical Bike Tour
Lloyd’s Tropical Bike Tour

Lloyd’s Tropical Bike Tour is one of the must-do ways to go sightseeing through Key West, Florida.

At 9:45, the tours begin, starting from Truman Avenue’s Moped Hospital and lasting for around two hours.

None other than Lloyd himself leads these tours, and he makes them truly enjoyable!

It is a relatively easy biking trip, so anyone can take part in it, and you’ll go on an entertaining and exciting tour of Key West and its most interesting locations packed with information.

You’ll see a botanical garden, the Key West Wildlife Center, old houses of Florida celebrities, and, most unexpectedly, private gardens of Lloyd’s own acquaintances!

Address: 601 Truman Ave, Key West, FL 33040, USA

29. The Vandenberg Wreck

Vandenberg Wreck
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The Vandenberg wreck is one of the fun places to see in Key West.

It is actually a Navy ship belonging to the United States, and you may wonder what terrifying fate befell this shipwreck – but the truth is much happier!

The Vandenberg was purposefully set to sink back in 2009 in order to prompt the growth of a coral reef.

Back in its serving days, the Vandenberg worked to track missiles and transported troops.

Today, it sits in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, which is seven miles off the Key West coast.

This artificial reef was made to create marine animal habitats and boost scuba diving tourism, and it certainly succeeded!

Start Planning Your Trip To Key West

Whether you’re here for a day trip, a weekend, or longer, there’s no shortage of fun places to visit across this little island city.

There’s so much to do and see, and there’s a type of attraction for everyone due to the rich history, nature, and even beaches.

Hopefully, this list of the top things to do in Key West will lead you to the most fun Key West attractions while you’re in Florida!

Don’t forget to check out some of the fun things to do in Gainesville, Tallahassee, and Tampa!