For most visitors to South Florida, no trip is complete without a trek down to the Florida Keys, an archipelago of small islands stretching for 127 miles from the southern tip of Miami and ending in busy Key West and the uninhabited Dry Tortugas. Travel along the Overseas Highway can be done via private car, Gray Hound bus or by booking with one of several Miami area tour companies that offer hotel and transportation packages and often also just transportation. See our suggestion below for the latter option as well our suggestions for Florida Keys sightseeing for less. If you want to save time – the drive to Key West takes about 4 hours – there is also the possibility of booking a flight.
The most popular places to visit are Key Largo and Islamorada in the Upper Keys, Marathon a sports fishing Mecca, in the Middle Keys and of course at the end of the highway, Key West with its vibrant “Conch Republic” culture. In between those you will find countless smaller keys that each offer something different be it unique local fauna such as the Key deer, state parks as the one at Bahia Honda Key or fun Tiki Bars with stunning ocean views where you can enjoy a bite and refreshments along the way.
As can be expected of such a natural setting there is no shortage of activities to choose from in this island paradise; scuba diving & snorkeling, paddle boating, kayaking, sports fishing, cruising, and cycling are just a few. Also fun: Visiting dolphin or turtle research and educational centers, shipwreck museums and old forts. Below we give you some suggestions on how to save on some of the most popular tours and activities. via the Smart Destinations passes.
Go Cards from Smart Destinations
The Smart Destinations cards and passes give you discounts on many South Florida attractions including multiple activities in the Keys as well as offering a day trip to the keys from Miami. Passes can be downloaded to your phone or printed at home for ease and convenience. The All-Inclusive Pass works best if all you want is a quick visit to the Keys but are planning to spend most of your time in Miami and/or Orlando. This pass offers 55% discounts on 27 attractions and can be scheduled for 1, 2, 3 or 5 days. Prices start at $69 for adults and $59 for children 3-12 years of age.
If spending a bit more time in the Keys is your preference then the Explorer Pass or Build Your Own Pass give you a great selection of activities that save you between 20 and 40% on each activity. The Build Your Own pass includes your choice of 42 attractions. It requires you to purchase a minimum of 2 to receive the 20% discount. The Explorer pass lets you choose from 3, 4 or 5 activities out of 24 options and offers 40% off the gate price. Both passes have to be used over a 30 day period. Read on to get the scoop on available choices.
Key West Day trip from Miami
This Key West Day trip begins early with pick up at either your Miami Beach or Downtown Miami hotel for your drive along the Overseas Highway. Once you arrive in Key West time is your own to do as you please with and you get approximately 6 hours to sight-see. Visit the Hemingway House, do some shopping on Duval Street, take a snorkel tour or dolphin cruise or rent a bicycle to check out the charming Conch houses and streets typical to this laid back town. Get more info on the Key West Day Trip.
Sunset Paddle boat rentals
Get down to Smathers beach to rent a paddle boat for a couple of hours and head out on the calm waters of Key West, leisurely paddling around mangroves, inlets, and beaches while enjoying the local sea life and fauna. Easy to learn, fun and relaxing activity. Simply present your pass to receive a discount on a paddleboard rental from Sunset Sports. Find out how to book your Key West Paddleboat rental.
Island Safari Bike rentals
The best way to get around town is on two wheels as it lets you really enjoy the picturesque streets lined with Caribbean style homes and tropical vegetation. Do some shopping at quaint shops and boutiques or visit the flea market in Bahama Village. Enjoy waterfront restaurants or hidden local places off the main streets and make your way over to Mallory Square as the sun sets for some pretty spectacular views and a festive atmosphere. Bike basket, safety helmets, lights and bike lock provided with each rental. Delivery and pick up services also available. Find out more about the Island Safari Bike rentals.
Key West Kayak Adventure
Departing from Smathers Beach in Key West this 2-hour kayak trip can be conducted on a one or two person kayak and lets you explore the coastal waters at your own leisure. Great activity for kids and adults alike. Paddle on calm waters and explore local flora and fauna among the mangroves then go for a swim to cool off. Click to find out how to get a deal on a Key West Kayak rental.
Ripley’s Key West Odditorium
Although its claim to being the strangest place in Key West could be debated, this is The Conch Republic, after all, there is no doubt that visitors will be awed and surprised by some of the oddities found here. Shrunken torsos, vampire killing kits and a giant sculpture of Jack Sparrow are but a few of the 550 artifacts and exhibits housed in over 10,000 square feet of galleries and special themed rooms. The Odditorium is available with the Explorer pass. Find out how to book your discount pass.
Key West Parasailing
Take in sweeping views of the Key West shoreline from the air as you soar above local beaches in state of the art equipment and Coast Guard inspected parasailing boats. Then re-live the excitement back home with a CD with video and pictures of your parasail ride. Please note that 48-hour advance reservations are required and certain blackout dates apply. Click to find out more.
Key Largo Glassbottom Boat
Sail out on the M.V. “Key Largo Princess”, and onto the waters above the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State park – the only underwater park in the US – where you will able to observe the active reef life below fro this glass-bottom vessel. Colorful tropical fish by the hundreds swim among the reef and its sea plumes, anemones and swaying sea fans. Turtles, barracudas and maybe even a hammerhead shark could also appear under the large viewing windows. Snacks and refreshments are available at the onboard galley. Find out more about this fun adventure.
Key West Snorkel Trips
Your choice of an a.m. Reef Snorkel excursion with breakfast, draft beer and refreshments or an afternoon Sip & Dip sailing that includes draft beer and soft drinks. Snorkel gear, fins, and safety vests are provided as well as instruction for those who need it plus the boat has a safety line for less experienced swimmers. The snorkel trip lasts 3 hours and takes you to The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary aboard a brand new custom designed catamaran. Get more info about getting a discount on this tour.
Key West Trolley
Hop on and off the Key West trolley as it makes its way around to 50 different attractions and points of interest. This is a narrated tour so you find out about Key West history as you ride along. Trolleys operate from 9:30 am daily and run every 30 minutes. Tours end at different times depending on the time of year but stop no earlier than 3:30 pm. Some of the stops along the way include the Southernmost point in the US, Clinton Square and Historic Seaport, Hemingway House, Butterfly Conservatory and NOAA Eco Station. For those searching for fun and food stops hit all the right spots such as Margaritaville, Kermit’s Key Lime Pie Factory (do not miss this one, folks) and the Conch Republic Seafood Company. Click to find out what other attractions are part of the tour and to book your pass.
Conch Tour Train
Another popular way to sightsee in Key West is via the venerable Conch Train, which has been in operation since 1958. The “train” does a 90-minute loop around town while regaling riders with colorful stories about famous Key West legends and stories about Pirates and Indians. This is also a hop and off tour, with three conveniently located shops so passengers can conveniently hit some fun shopping spots, art galleries and museums and other well-known points of interest A stop at the Front Street shops and Mallory Square for the famous Sunset viewing is a great way to wrap up this tour. Runs daily from 9AM to 4:30PM. Find out more about the Conch Tour Train.
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