Sometimes, you have a limited window of opportunity to get away for a mini-vacation. That’s no reason to overlook someplace like Key West, though. It’s quickly accessible from all major airports in the United States, so don’t rule it out based on distance alone. You’ll also find that the unique mix of activities and attractions available here make it convenient for you to feel like you can do it all. Enjoy nature, have exciting adventures, and explore local dining that’s been long-loved for serving only the best freshly caught seafood. Here’s a quick idea of just some of the fun things you can do in Key West with just 48 hours.
Snorkel at Dry Tortugas National Park
With a short ferry trip, you can find yourself in a whole other world that is Dry Tortugas National Park. This is one of the more recent national parks, and for many visitors, an undiscovered jewel off the Florida Keys. Most of the protected acreage is underwater, which is why access is relatively limited to the ferry traffic. The waters around the small islands that make up Dry Tortugas are rich with local wildlife, and snorkelers, too! This is a wonderful way for new and experienced snorkelers to explore coral reefs and authentic shipwrecks.
The water is relatively shallow, calm and known for being extremely clear. If you can’t get here, there are other opportunities for snorkeling at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park and Key West’s local beaches, but this is the premier location for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Relax at the Beach
Key West has several local beaches that offer you a traditionally relaxing beach experience. From white sands to clear waters where you can swim and snorkel, many people find this is just the balm they need to recover from the stress of everyday life. If you’re staying at one of the city’s high-end resorts, you may also have private beach access, which expands the amenities available to you. Resort guests may also enjoy perks like yoga on the beach, beach-side bars, premium loungers and umbrellas, and complimentary towel services.
Self-Guided Tour of Key West by Bike
Depending on where you stay in Key West, your accommodations may include bicycles that you can borrow or rent. Biking is one of the most popular ways to get around Key West, especially if you’re motivated to explore or build your own self-guided tour. Check out the shops along Duval Street, Southernmost Point, local public beaches, and Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, for starters.
The weather in Key West makes it ideal for outdoor dining, and most of the bars and restaurants offer this option to their guests. From high-end restaurants serving fine dining menus to even the most casual food truck, enjoying your meals outdoors allows you to keep soaking in that sunshine and Key West charm without missing a beat.
Eaton Street Seafood Market and Restaurant is a well-regarded place to grab a delicious meal in Old Town Key West. It’s a perennial favorite for its reliance on serving locally caught fish and shellfish. One of the top menu items is always the grilled lobster, but the fish tacos and fish sandwiches are also always in-demand. Don’t miss the conch fritters, and yes, if anyone in your group isn’t a huge fan of seafood, they have chicken tenders, too.
Fishing, aside from snorkeling, is really the big draw in the Florida Keys, and you’ll find that All In Fishing Charters in Key West delivers a premium experience. It’s led by a local captain with a comfortable and well-equipped vessel. His knowledge of the area and which fish are biting is second-to-none, so you can be assured of having a great time. All In Fishing offers morning or afternoon fishing charters for those who want deep water, wreck, reef or flats fishing.
There’s always fish in season, and with a chartered trip, you won’t need to worry about packing the right gear. Even those who have never held a fishing pole are welcome! You’ll get all the fishing gear you need, and the friendly crew is even available to offer basic tips if you need them.
Make It 48 Hours to Remember
Although your time in Key West may be short, that’s no reason to feel like you are skimping on your vacation. With just a single weekend, you can still make the most of a couple days here with one-of-a-kind activities that are unlike any you could find in nearly all of the continental United States. With this list as your starting itinerary, you’re halfway there to having an amazing time you’ll remember fondly for years to come.