Key West is an island city in Florida with more activities to do than you could possibly handle in a single vacation. You’ll want to do some careful planning before you head out to guarantee that you make it to your favorite spots. Try on the following itinerary for size as you plan your Key West vacation.

Morning: Eat a Legendary Breakfast

Before you head out for a big day exploring the Keys, you’ll need to load up on a scrumptious breakfast. Don’t go to any chains; instead, dine at one of these local favorites to fuel up:

  • Banana Cafe: Arguably the best breakfast and lunch spot in Key West, this eatery is famous for its crepes and other comfort foods.
  • Blue Heaven: Go here for at least one breakfast during your vacation. This spot serves delicious Floridian-Caribbean fare and is popular partly for its atmosphere. Breakfast may be a bit too early for the famous Key lime pie — did you know that you have the Florida Keys to thank for this dish? — so plan on doubling back for dessert at some point during your adventure.
  • Cuban Coffee Queen: Another spot that won’t disappoint, Cuban Coffee Queen is known for its Cuban food. The smoothies here are also a wonderful way to get going in the morning.
The Key West Lighthouse.

Late Morning: Explore Some Parks and Historic Landmarks

With a full stomach, you’re ready to start exploring some of the island’s many landmarks. If you’re into national parks, you’re in for a treat at Dry Tortugas National Park. This park is distinctive in that it’s mostly water. The park comprises seven islands and a 19th-century fort, and it hosts a variety of flora and fauna. You may spot some seabirds and turtles passing by, and you’ll get some excellent views of the Loggerhead Key Lighthouse. A shipwreck in the water attracts many divers to the area.

If you’re more into history and literature than nature (although you certainly don’t have to choose one or the other in the Keys), get ready for an amazing experience. You can visit Ernest Hemingway’s studio and garden at the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, take a guided tour at the Harry S. Truman Little White House, and learn more about the author of “A Streetcar Named Desire” and other plays at the Tennessee Williams Key West Exhibit.

If you want to make sure you snap some amazing photos on your trip, plan a stop at the Southernmost Point Buoy and Key West Lighthouse. As the name suggests, Southernmost Point Buoy marks the southernmost point in the continental United States.

Truman little white house
Harry S. Truman Little White House.

Afternoon: Make Way for Lunch

After an active morning of sightseeing and learning, your appetite will be back with a vengeance. Satiate it with a meal at one of the top lunch spots in Key West. For a special experience, try dining at Latitudes. This spot is distinctive because you’ll have to ferry out to Sunset Key for your meal. The trip is absolutely worth the effort, as you’ll soak up some sun and spectacular views along the way. Latitudes serves unforgettable American cuisine such as lobster bisque and pan-roasted cobia.

If you want to stay on the main island, go to Caroline’s Café. This spot serves up American food like po’boys. Try a conch fritter for dessert.

Smathers Beach in Key West.

Before Dinner: Enjoy an Afternoon of Fun in the Sun

With the afternoon sun overhead, it’s time to get in the water. Go to Smathers Beach, a public space, to dip your toes in the sand, play some volleyball, or try your hand at some watersports. Windsurf and jet ski rentals are available here.

If you want to get farther out in the ocean, make a reservation with Dolphin Safari Charters. The knowledgeable captain on your intimate boat ride will fill your head with wisdom about Key West history and the habits of the dolphins and other wildlife that you spot along the way. Snorkeling equipment is included, and the boat will stop at some insider spots so that you can get a closer look at these animals.

With so much to do in the Keys, we couldn’t get to dinner on our itinerary without going overboard on recommending places to see. Indeed, boredom is impossible here. Even being lazy is a fine way to spend a day in Key West.

One final tip: Ask the locals about their favorite spots. This great bit of advice can help you to avoid crowds and have the most authentic experience possible in Key West. No matter what you do, you’ll love your time here — even if all you plan to do is be a beach bum.