Tips for First-Time Visitors to the Florida Keys: What You Need to Know Before You Go (2024)


The Florida Keys are a chain of islands that stretch for over 100 miles from Key Largo to Key West, and they offer visitors an opportunity to experience a unique blend of tropical paradise and American culture.

If you’re planning your first trip to the Florida Keys, here are some tips to make the most of your visit:

Plan Your Route

When planning a trip, it’s important to plan your route to make the most of your time and see all that the islands have to offer. Here are some tips for planning your route:

Determine Your Starting Point

The Florida Keys are a chain of islands that begin at Key Largo and extend all the way to sandbar Key West.

You’ll need to determine your starting point and plan your route accordingly. If you’re flying into Florida, you may want to start your trip in Miami or Fort Lauderdale, both of which are within driving distance.

Choose Your Mode of Transportation

The most popular way to explore the Florida Keys is by car, and the Overseas Highway offers stunning views of the ocean and the islands. You can also rent a bicycle or scooter to explore some of the smaller islands.

Another option is to take a boat tour, which will give you a unique perspective of the islands from the water.

Decide on Your Route

The Florida Keys are connected by a series of bridges, including the famous Seven Mile Bridge. You’ll want to plan your route carefully to ensure you see all of the islands and attractions that interest you.

Some of the must-see destinations include Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, and Key West.

Check Traffic and Road Conditions

The Florida Keys can be crowded during peak season, and traffic can be heavy on the Overseas Highway. Make sure you check traffic and road conditions before you go, and plan your route accordingly. You may want to avoid driving during rush hour or on weekends when traffic is heaviest.

Book Your Accommodation Early


This is a popular vacation destination, and accommodations can fill up quickly, especially during peak season. It’s important to book your accommodation early to ensure you get the best possible price and availability. Consider staying in a hotel or resort, or rent a private home or apartment on one of the smaller islands.

Bring Sun Protection

The Florida Keys have a tropical climate, which means the sun can be intense, even in the winter months. Make sure you bring plenty of sunscreens, a hat, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays. You’ll also want to wear light, breathable clothing to stay cool in the heat.

Try the Local Cuisine

When visiting this amazing place, you’ll want to make sure you try some of the local cuisines. The region is known for its fresh seafood, conch dishes, and key lime pie, and there are plenty of restaurants and cafes serving up delicious food. Here are some of the top local dishes and where to find them:

Conch Fritters

Conch fritters are a classic dish made from minced conch meat mixed with flour, egg, and spices, and then deep-fried. You can find conch fritters at many seafood restaurants throughout the Keys, including the Conch Republic Seafood Company.

Grilled Fish


Freshly caught fish is a staple, and it’s often served grilled with a variety of seasonings and sauces. You can find grilled fish at many restaurants throughout it, including the Lazy Days Restaurant in Islamorada.

Key Lime Pie

Key lime pie is a must-try dessert when visiting this place. The pie is made from the juice of limes, which are smaller and more acidic than regular limes, and a graham cracker crust. You can find lime pie at many restaurants and cafes throughout it, including the Blond Giraffe.

Cuban Sandwich

The Florida Keys have a strong Cuban influence, and the Cuban sandwich is a popular local dish. The sandwich is made with ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard, and is often served on Cuban bread. You can find Cuban sandwiches at many cafes and restaurants throughout it, including the Old Town Bakery.

Explore the Water

They are surrounded by crystal-clear waters, which offer plenty of opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. There are also plenty of water sports and activities available, such as kayaking, paddle boarding, and jet skiing. Make sure you take advantage of the water while you’re visiting this place.

Visit the Local Attractions


They are known for their stunning beaches, clear waters, and laid-back atmosphere, but they also offer visitors a variety of unique attractions that are worth exploring.

Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or nature, there’s something for everyone. Here are some of the top attractions you should consider visiting during your trip:

Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is located and is the former residence of the famous author. The home is now a museum and offers visitors a chance to see where Hemingway lived and worked. The museum also features many of Hemingway’s personal belongings, including his writing desk and typewriter.

Dolphin Research Center

The Dolphin Research Center is located in Marathon and is a non-profit organization dedicated to the study and conservation of dolphins and other marine mammals. Visitors can watch dolphin shows, take part in interactive programs, and learn about the center’s research and conservation efforts.

Turtle Hospital


The Turtle Hospital is located in Marathon and is a rehabilitation center for sea turtles that have been injured or sick. Visitors can take a tour of the facility and learn about the hospital’s efforts to rehabilitate and release sea turtles back into the wild.

Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory is located in Key West and is home to over 50 species of butterflies and exotic birds. Visitors can walk through the conservatory’s lush gardens and see the beautiful butterflies up close.

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is located in Key Largo and is the first undersea park in the United States. The park offers visitors a chance to snorkel or scuba dive in the park’s coral reef, which is home to a variety of marine life.



In conclusion, the Florida Keys offer visitors a unique blend of tropical paradise and American culture. By following these tips, you can make the most of your first trip to the Florida Keys and create memories that will last a lifetime.