The Florida Keys are one of the most popular vacation destinations in the US and for good reason one of the most well-known features of this sunny destination are the beaches. And while the keys are home to some amazing beaches, that’s not all they have to offer. Here are seven things to do on your next trip to the Florida Keys in addition to checking out some of the beaches.
1. Shop At Mallory Square
If you’re visiting Key West, you’ll definitely want to check out Mallory Square. Mallory Square is a historic and well-loved area that is known for its many shops, restaurants, and nightly sunset-watching celebrations. This combination of things makes it a great choice no matter who you are or what you’re looking to do. It’s a fantastic place to Find some stylish clothes and accessories for the rest of your trip or pick up some gifts for those back home. If you’re in the mood for a bite to eat, there are plenty of options for that as well consider El Meson De Pepe for some Cuban cuisine or Bistro 245 for some waterfront dining. Finally – Those sunset celebrations we mentioned earlier. Mallory Square is home to a nightly sunset viewing celebration and not only includes gorgeous views of the sunset, but also a variety of street performers and vendors.
2. Explore Dry Tortugas National Park
While there are some beach-y parts to this national park, it’s included because it offers a whole lot more than just beaches. The park is actually only 1% on land, making boat or snorkeling tours among the best way to experience it. Home to coral reefs and all manner of wildlife, you’ll also want to check out the historic Fort Jefferson. It should be noted that unlike many of the Florida Keys, which are accessible via the overseas highway, this park will require a boat or seaplane to get to.
3. Visit The Dolphin Research Center
The Dolphin Research Center is a nonprofit facility that offers some amazing opportunities to see dolphins and sea lions up close and personal! The center features narrated displays of natural behaviors by both animals and is home to over a dozen dolphins currently. A few more interactive programs, such as feeding the dolphins, are also offered for a more personalized experience.
4. Go On A Trolley Tour Of Key West
Looking for a fun way to get to see more of Key West? Consider booking a trolley tour! Old Town Trolley Tours offers daily trips exploring the island. Better yet, tickets offer unlimited free reboarding (you’ll be able to choose from 1-day tickets to longer-term tickets if you’re staying in the area for a greater length of time). This makes it not only a great way to see some great Key West, but also a fantastic way to get around the island cheaply if you didn’t bring your own car.
5. Visit The Hemingway Home and Museum
Here’s one for book and history lovers alike. You can see (and explore!) Ernest Hemingway’s Florida home yourself. The museum is currently open for daily tours, with no advance reservation required. With tours taking 20-30 minutes, This can make a great last-minute addition to kill a little extra time and learn some interesting facts about the famed author’s lives.
6. Check Out The Nightlife Scene On Duval Street
The Keys actually have some great spots for nightlife – one of which being Duval Street on Key West. This street is home to over 40 bars, and visiting all of them is part of a bar crawl challenge. There’s also a number of bars and music venues.
7. Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge
If you’re looking to enjoy a slice of nature – or to possibly catch a glimpse of some of nature’s most feared predators – consider checking out Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Located on Key Largo, this wildlife refuge is a prime habitat for the currently endangered American Crocodile. While crocodiles might be the titular creature that calls this refuge home though, it’s also a great place for viewing a ton of other animals from birds to deer to snakes.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com