Walking on Sunshine: A First Timer’s Guide to the Florida Keys

Imagine a picturesque tropical location without ever having to leave the country.Here’s truly something for everyone in the Guide to the Florida Keys.Now that you know a bit about the area, it’s time to planning your trip.

Palm trees lining the beaches. The sun beaming down on you. Fishing, diving, swimming, and snorkeling to your heart’s content. 

If this sounds like a dream come true, it’s time to book a Florida Keys vacation.

The keys are a string of tropical islands chock full of possibilities. Whether you prefer lazing on the beach or adrenaline-filled days while diving at one of the best spots for scuba diving in the United States, the keys are a perfect Florida travel hot spot. 

Keep reading to learn the need-to-knows before embarking on your Florida Keys vacay. 

Guide to the Florida Keys

Guide to the Florida Keys

Florida Keys Lodging

Before choosing your resort or hotel, you’ll need to decide what region (or regions) you plan to visit. I recommend you that you choose a vacation rental, a good option is the Stock Island Marina Village.

There are five main choices — Key West, The Lower Keys, Marathon, Islamorada, and Key Largo.

Key West is the place to go if you’re looking to party. It’s not unheard of for parties to last all night long here. Don’t let its wild nightlife fool you, Key West has plenty of history attached to it, too. 

Marathon is halfway between Miami and Key West. Its made of several small islands and keys. Marathon is often the busiest, but it’s worth considering for its plentiful activity options. 

The Lower Keys is a quiet region, perfect for people looking to relax or families. It has many beautiful beaches, shopping options, and unique dining experiences. 

Islamorada is the most popular of all the Florida keys. It’s just 90 minutes from Miami and is one of the most popular spots for families. 

If you’re looking to escape city life, Key Largo is perfect. Key Largo is the place to be for water sports like diving, sport fishing, or spotting dolphins.

Once you know where you’re which keys you’re going to visit, you can begin your hunt for lodging. The keys cater to people of all ages and lifestyles, finding the perfect place to stay should be a cinch. 

If you want to connect with the locals, book an Airbnb. 

If you prefer a resort experience, there are plenty of those to choose from. 

Are you hoping to score a quaint cottage or villa? There’s no shortage of those in the region, either.

You won’t find many big-name hotels on the keys, but we prefer it that way.

Things to Do in the Keys

The keys are chock full of exciting excursions for people of all ages and lifestyles. 

You’ll be in your element if you love water. You must add snorkeling in the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park to your travel bucket list. Here you’ll see beautiful coral reefs, fish, and maybe even a stingray or two. 

Glass bottom boat tours are a great way to see water wildlife without having to physically enter the water. These tours are available in several areas of the keys including Key Largo and the John Pennekamp Park. 

Spend an evening at the Mallory Square Sunset Celebration in Key West. Beginning two hours before sunset, the celebration features buskers, food vendors, and local musicians and artisans. Don’t forget your camera — the sunsets here are stunning. 

If you’re a bit of a party animal, you’ll love the nightlife in the keys. You already know that Key West is the partying hot spot, but there are great bars and clubs all over the keys. 

If you’re a bit of a history buff, be sure to check out the Seven Mile Bridge Tour. This tour not only takes you to the Seven Mile Bridge, but also the historic Sombrero Lighthouse. 

If you plan on visiting several (or all) of the keys, make Islamorada or Marathon your “base camp.” These keys are conveniently located smack dab in the middle, providing easy access to the rest of the regions. 

We recommend pre-booking your excursions if you’re traveling during the high season. This ensures you will be able to experience everything you hope to on your vacation. 

Is a Florida Keys Vacation Right for Everyone?

The truth is that everyone can enjoy a trip to the keys. 

There are many family-friendly activities if you’re looking to travel with children. We do recommend doing your research before booking your trip, however. There are some cities in the keys that attract the partying type which you may not want to subject your children to. 

The keys are a great vacation destination for anyone looking for a good time, no matter how you define “good time.” Whether you prefer adrenaline-pumping activities, sunning on the beach, or clubbing all night long, the keys have it all. 

You don’t need to be young and spry to enjoy the region, either. There are plenty of activities and resorts that cater to senior populations. 

Weather in the Keys 

The best time to visit the keys depends entirely on your vacation style. 

Do you want to escape the snow and relax under the sunshine? Visiting during the winter months will be a dream for you! 

Of course, you’re not going to be the only person with dreams of escaping a winter snows cape. The crowds can be heavy during these months, so take that into account before booking your vacation. 

The heat during the summer months can be quite stifling. If you’re not a sun bunny, you’ll need to research Florida sun safety before traveling. 

It doesn’t hurt to familiarize yourself with the Florida Keys monthly weather averages before booking. Look at the average temperatures and precipitation amounts to determine the best time to visit.

Enjoy Your Vacation to the Keys

There’s truly something for everyone in the Florida keys. Now that you know a bit about the area, it’s time for the fun part – planning your trip.

Keep reading our blog for more travel advice and inspiration.  

Last Updated on May 15, 2023

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