If you’re looking for the best places to stay in Florida Keys for your trip, here’s the answer. Your guide to where to stay in the Keys is right here.
‘The Florida Keys’ refers to an archipelago located on the southern tip of the state of Florida. With around 1700 islands making up this archipelago, starting about 24km south of Miami, they extend south and south-westward more than 137 square miles. Some remain completely uninhabited by human souls while others have become idyllic locations for both holidaymakers and homeowners alike.
The Florida Keys make for a stunning holiday location and a colourful place to live. There’s a lot to see and explore though.
So, where should you stay in the Florida Keys, and where are the best places to stay in Florida Keys?
Places to stay in Key West
Probably the best known of the Keys, Key West is one of the most popular places to stay and at just 144km from Cuba, it is the most southerly part of the State of Florida. For many, this is where to head if you’re looking for the best Florida Keys nightlife and entertainment. However, this isn’t just a place to come and party, Key West is also jammed packed full with historic homes and is proud of its maritime history.
Culture vultures will therefore certainly get their fix here.
Key West is also home to some great diving spots and has plenty of water activities for those that struggle to sit still for too long.
Things you must do when visiting Key West
- Walk down Duval Street. At one and a quarter miles, this street is creamed full of museums, shops, galleries and cafes and is well-known because it holds several festivals each year including the Hemingway festival every summer and Fantasy Fest, a 10-day costume party every October.
- Visit Mallory Square at Sunset where you can either watch the street performers or party the night away at one of the many bars in this area.
- For literary lovers a visit to 907 Whitehead Street, better known as Hemingway’s home, is an obvious must.
- If you only have time for one museum make sure you visit the Key West Shipwreck museum which through a mixture of actors, videos and artefacts tells the story of 400 years worth of shipwreck salvage.
- Head to Mile 0 Marker which marks the end of the US You can say that you have stood on the most southernmost point of the continental US.
For those that have a bit longer also make sure you allow time for a day trip from Key West via catamaran to Dry Tortugas National Park which is also home to Fort Jefferson, a 19th century fortification.
Nature lovers will love the abundant sea life and breeding grounds for many tropical birds as well as the coral reefs while history nerds will be able to learn more about legendary shipwrecks and sunken treasures. After which, you may then want to visit Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society Museum and see the gold and silver that has been recovered from the Nuestra Señora de Atocha, a 17th-century Spanish galleon that sank 45 miles west of Key West. It’s one of the most unique things to do in the Florida Keys.
Where to eat in Key West
Being so popular, it is no surprise that there are many places to enjoy. However, no trip to Key West would be complete without a trip to at least one of the following:
- Santiago’s Bodega – charming tapas bar pairing small plates with its house-specialty, sangria. The owners themselves claim that this place embodies the heart and soul of the island and is both relaxed and a little bit odd but very welcoming.
- Garbo’s Grill – If tacos, burritos, burgers and dogs are your thing, then this food truck is for you. Don’t be deceived though, there is plenty of seating available and the highlight along with the food is the band that plays under the stars every evening for your enjoyment.
- Tavern N Town – This may be slightly more high-end than some of the other restaurants in town but if you are after a romantic meal in a modern setting this is place comes highly recommended.
- Blue Heaven – Expect a wait if you decide to just walk into this establish ablaze with colour. As a Key West staple made famous by the likes of Ernest Hemingway people flock here to see what all the fuss is about plus, it’s meant to be the best place to sample the well-known, local Key Lime Pie.
- El Siboney Restaurant – Being so close to Cuba, it is not surprising to find traditional Cuban food here and this is said to be some of the best. Open for more than 40 years, this is the place to come when you are craving homemade food.
READ MORE: The Best Restaurants in the Florida Keys
Where to Stay in Key West
Key West is one of the best places to stay in Florida Keys…
- Almond Tree Inn – This resort close to Duval Street is proud to promote its eco-conscious, made in the USA products and luxurious furnishings. You will also see artwork hanging all around this hotel created especially by local artists.
- Orchid Key Inn – Ranked in the top 10 of best small hotels in the US, this luxury hotel located on Duval Street and Truman, is at the crossroads of the historic old town. Surrounded by lush tropical grounds, the amenities here are some of the best in all of the Keys. If you are after some relaxation after all of your exploring here you will be surrounded by peaceful waterfalls, relaxing sun decks and a spa.
- Havana Cabana at Key West – If you would prefer both a waterfront location and somewhere full of the charms of Cuba then a stay here is a must. This is a place to come and escape reality where even a Flamenco guitar can be heard from the poolside.
If however, you are after somewhere less well known, perhaps one of the other Keys would appeal more.
Places to stay in Key Largo
One of the best places to stay in the northern Keys, Key Largo is more laid back and offers the perfect tropical beach holiday. For those that don’t want to spend their days relaxing on a sun lounger you will also find some amazing snorkelling and diving locations here.
Things you must do when visiting Key Largo
- Spend the day exploring John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park which protects the only living coral reef in the US.
- If you feel brave enough why not visit the Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge. For those of a tamer nature, there is also a Wild Bird Rehabilitation centre which is well worth a visit.
- Take the time to explore Everglades National Park.
Where to Eat to Key Largo
- The Fish House – If you are a seafood fan, then this is sure to be a big hit with you. It purchases all it produce locally and fillets it fresh on the premises to guarantee freshness. Smokes fish is the speciality of the house and the smoked fish dip is something of a local delicacy.
- The Buzzards Roost – Serving quality food and refreshing cocktails at a waterfront location, there is bound to be something on the menu for even the fussiest of eaters.
- Hobo’s Café – All the food is sourced locally and has made a name for itself serving up popular American dishes that are full of flavour in a casual setting.
- Mrs Mac’s Kitchen – a locals favourite using orginal recipes, with some dating back to the 1940s. Serving all day from breakfast to dinner, you will be greeted with a warm welcome here.
READ MORE: 13 Travel Tips for the Florida Keys
Where to stay in Key Largo
Key Largo is one of the best places to stay in Florida Keys…
- Playa Largo Resort & Spa – For those seeking ultimate luxury, look no further. Set on the shoreline in 14.5 acres, this spa resort allows you to relax in sumptuous surroundings with stunning views while enjoying a pamper at the same time.
- Coconut Palm Inn – Nestled in a quiet lagoon setting, this is a quieter 19 bed house located on a secluded beach front.
Key Largo is definitely the place to visit for a more relaxing beach escape.
Slightly different to both Key West and Key Largo, Marathon is set across 13 separate islands and is home to some of the best fishing and boating activities along with some of the sandiest beaches. You’ll find some of the best beaches in the Florida Keys here. People come here to spend their days on jet-skis, kayaks or paddleboards before heading to one of the many waterfront restaurants for a relaxing evening.
Things you must do when visiting Marathon
- There are many environmental attractions to visit, including the rainforest areas of Crane Point Hammock. This is a 64 acre reserve where pre-Columbian artefacts have been found and is currently home to the Museum of National History which is well worth a visit.
- For those wanting a beach escape, no visit to Marathon would be complete without a visit to Sombrero Beach. This is also where you will find the Turtle hospital.
- Those that enjoy nature should also visit Curry Hammock State Park, and Bahia Honda State Park.
- Wander the famous 7-mile bridge on an old disused railway line that is completely surrounded by water while learning about the history of Pigeon Key Island.
Where to Eat in Marathon
- Burdines Waterfront – Located on the waterfront at the marina this is a great place to watch the sunset. The food is also exceptional and the atmosphere isn’t bad either.
- Lighthouse Grill – Located in the shadow of the historic lighthouse, this is a restaurant where you can relax in a beautiful setting while enjoying fresh seafood and other local favourites. They also have a veranda bar where you can gather with friends for cocktails.
Where to stay in Marathon
Marathon is one of the best places to stay in Florida Keys…
- Isla Bella Beach Resort – A contemporary hotel right on the waterfront at the foot of the iconic 7-mile bridge and ideal for those looking for a quiet break away.
- Tranquillity Bay Beach House Resort – Located on 2.5 acre of private beach, this private, white clapperboard beach house is so welcoming you will not want to leave. Looking out over the Gulf of Mexico this is a tropical sanctuary located on powder soft sand.
Marathon is a beach lover’s paradise!
Islamorada is a very quiet and peaceful but has become renowned for its sports fishing. Water sports are clearly popular here with snorkelling, kiteboarding, wakeboarding and paddleboarding in particular standing out.
Things to do in Islamorada
- There is not one, but three different breweries to visit including Islamorada Beer Company, Heartbreakers Brewhouse and The Florida Keys Brewing Co. It’s therefore far to say that is it is a beer-lovers haven.
- Visit the Indian Key Historic State Park to seek out the shipwreck remains from the 1800s.
- Those who want to visit the famous beaches of the area must include trips to Anne’s beach or Library Beach to relax on the white sand and cool off in the crystal clear waters.
- View a real treasure chest from the 16th century at the History of Diving Museum
- For animal fans, a visit to the Dolphin research centre at Grassy Key will obviously be high on the list.
Where to eat in Islamorada
- Mangrove Mike’s Café – For those seeking a great breakfast, a spot here will not disappoint with one of its dishes also known as a hangover helper along with the usual array of breakfast options and a few for the more adventurous.
- Square Grouper – This is a option that promotes innovative and eclectic dining experience where you can enjoy fresh seafood and prime steaks along with craft cocktails and a fantastic wine list.
Where to stay in Islamorada
Islamorada is one of the best places to stay in Florida Keys…
- Amara Cay Resort – this laid back hotel setting is proud of its carefree atmosphere that has become famous in Islamorada. It is a resort that seamlessly blends recreation with relaxation with hammocks dot the sandy shoreline, palm trees sway in the breeze and a shimmering oceanfront pool beckons early risers.
- Postcard Inn Beach Resort & Marina – this one is for both beach lovers and boaters alike and as you walk through the door you will be thrown back in time with its retro, laid back atmosphere that will have you reminiscing about simpler times, although on this occasion there are plenty of modern twists to allow you to relax in a modern way.
Islamorada could well be your top choice if you enjoy a much more laid back vibe.
Where you decide to base yourself in the Florida Keys you’ll get glorious sunshine, beautiful beaches, great food and incredible hotels. The places to stay in the Florida Keys are some of the world’s best, trust me!