Things to Do in the Florida Keys

It's all about the water ... diving, snorkeling, fishing, ... and the keys are also full of interesting history ... from the days of pirates, Indians and the overseas railway to present day treasure hunting.

A great way to combine history and a day enjoying the water is to visit Pigeon Key. The buildings on the small island off the 7 Mile Bridge were built in 1909 to house the railroad workers who built the Overseas Highway. The price of the tour $11 gets you a ride out to the island on the tram across 2.2 miles of the historic Old Seven Mile, an excellent guided tour of the island and its quaint clapboard architecture and colorful history - and you can spend the rest of the day relaxing under the palms and snorkeling the tidal shoreline.

There's a small sandy beach and a lovely long pier with a tiki hut for shade at the end. The snorkeling is as good as it is anywhere in the keys without a boat and there are picnic tables if you bring your lunch. The tram is not the only way out to the island, you can also walk or bike out to it. The island is now home to marine science education programs as well as being a tour destination. An annual arts festival in February is a great way to enjoy the island and local art, but don't wait until then!

Getting to the Keys! Fly into Miami International on your favorte airline and drive down. Looking for a discount ticket? Get CheapOair's travel coupon for Delta Airline tickets and save when booking your flight to the American Caribbean.

 

Florida Keys Fishing

Fishing! It's why so many people have chosen to visit or live here ... starrting (most famously) with Ernest Hemingway and including many US Presidents. The fishing is Sharkworld class and the keys are home to many fishing tournaments. Catch sailfish, marlin, tarpon, shark, wahoo, snapper, grouper ... the list goes on.

Trolling along the deep troughs and weedlines along the Gulfstream is popular with anglers, especially aboard comfortable charters such as the Mr. Z. Key West Flats fishing guide, Dan Dempsey, will show you non-stop action and excitement fishing for shark, barracuda or whatever's hungry with light tackle. More information on all types of fishing charters in Key West, and the very latest on what's biting see Capta in Craig's blog for fishing reports.

Islamorada, Florida: some call it the Sportfishing Capital of the World, perhaps because you are closer to the Gulfstream Islamorada than anywhere else in the keys. The closer you fish to the Gulfstream, the more productive the fishing. That’s due, in part to the incredible rate of water flow of the Gulfstream off the Keys – an amazing 30 million cubic meters per second.

SailfishThat action forces water to the surface from great depths, carrying rich nutrients that create a strong eco-system for the plankton and larvae and the smaller fish that game fish feed upon. (More information on the GulfStream and its impact on Florida Fishing.)

Fish Islamorada, Florida with Prizefighter Charters out of Whale Harbor Marina, mile marker 83.4, Florida Keys. Check their FAQ for information on species fished in the keys.

Florida Keys Fishing Tournament Calendar. If you're looking for more information on fishing try these pages on the Keys ans Fishing in Key West from Squidoo.

More History Combined with Fun Things to Do in the Keys:

Indian Key State Park You can't reach Indian Key these days except by canoe, kayak or private boat, but it remains a favorite destination for getting a sense of early keys history while having fun on the water. MM78. For Information about Indian Key Historic State Park, call 305-664-2540

Bahia Honda State Park - Conde Nast and other publications have names Bahia Honda one of the top ten beaches in the world. The centerpiece of the state park is the old Bahia Honda Bridge. Unlike other bridges along the Overseas Railway, this span was built as a trestle bridge because it had to cross the deepest channel along the railway. When the state of Florida converted the old railway to roadway, the narrowness of this bridge required the road to be built on top of the bridge. From the park you can walk out on the old road and get a sense of how precarious it felt to drive across that span.

Information on camping, birding, hiking, snorkeling, and other things to do at Bahia Honda State Park.

More on the History of the Overseas Highway.

The Overseas Highway may stop at MM0 in Old Town Key West, but the Florida Keys extend another 70 miles west to a group of seven islands known as the Dry Tortugas. This island group is also steeped in history as it is home to Fort Jefferson the largest of the 19th coastal forts.

Ponce de Leon named the islands Las Tortugas for the Turtles found there; 'Dry' was added to the name later to warn mariners that there is no fresh water on the islands. Because of the islands' strategic position in the Florida Straits, the US Military planned and commenced building the massive Fort Jefferson in 1846. The fort was never completed, but it was used by the military, as a prison, and later as a staging area during the buildup to the Spanish American War. Fort Jefferson also made the history books for its most famous prisoner: Dr. Samuel Mudd, who was involved in the assassination of President Lincoln.

Gorgeous coral reef surround the islands and the snorkeling is great. Birding is very popular and camping is also available, though you must bring all the water you will need. You can reach the islands on the Yankee Freedom, a ferry from Key West to Fort Jefferson. If fishing is your thing, the Florida Fish Finder has 2-3 day liveaboard trips to the Dry Tortugas.

History and Museums in the Florida Keys

Oldest House and Gardens - Key West's oldest house is also the oldest house in South Florida and the oldest all-wood structure in Florida. The beautifully restored home offers a fascinating glimpse into the life of early Key West settlers. Stop in the gardens for a respite from the bustle of Duval Street. Tour the home and see what island llife was like in the 1800s. Admission is free.
Open M, T, Th, F, S 10a,m to 4 pm
(Closed Wednesday and Sunday)
322 Duval Street.
Phone 305-294-9501

Audubon House & Tropical Gardens
The lovely home and gardens highlight the work of John James Audubon, who visited the Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas in 1832 to draw 18 new birds for his "Birds of America" folio but this was not originally his home. The 19th-century home was built by Captain John H. Geiger, a harbor pilot and master wrecker, who lived in the house with his wife and nine children.
205 Whitehead Street, Key West, FL 33040
Phone: 305-294-2116

Harry S Truman Little White House

Key West could have become US Capital - if Harry Truman had his way. "...I've a notion to move the capitol to Key West and just stay," he wrote to his wife, Bess Truman, March 13, 1949. Originally built in 1890 as officer's quarters for the Naval Station, Harry Truaman made this his second home for 175 days of his presidency.

111 Front Street, Key West , FL 33040
Phone: 305-294-9911

The Old Custom House - Key West Art & Historical Society Adjacent to Mallory Square, this beautiful brick building was built in 1891 and served as a post office, customs house and goverment center before becoming a museum.
281 Front Street, Key West, FL 33040
Phone: 305-295-6616

Key West Lighthouse & Keeper's Quarters Museum
Built in 1847 to aid to ships navigating dangerous reefs off the lower Florida Keys. the tower was originally 46 feet high and powered by 15 oil lamps with 15-inch reflectors, but was extended to 86 feet in 1894. You can climb the 88 iron steps to the observation deck for the best views of Key West.
938 Whitehead Street, Key West, FL 33040
Phone: 305-294-0012

Lofton B Sands African-Bahamian Museum
Photos. pictures, art and crafts chronicle Key West’s black community. Many Key West residents are descendants of Bahamian immigrants and the museum is in the heart of Bahama Village, named for the original Bahamian community.
324 Truman Ave, Key West, FL 33040
Phone: 305-295-0840


Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum

If recovering sunken gold is your dream, Mel Fisher is the man who made it all real. His story and the gold and silver he recovered from the Atocha are showcased in the museum.
200 Greene Street, Key West, FL 33040
Phone: 305-294-2633

More information on travel, fishing and outdoors attractions in the Florida Keys and elsewhere ... inlcuding dancing in St. Croix, the popular US Virgin Island.