Plan an Unforgettable Bucket-List Trip to the Florida Keys

Whether you are looking to plan your first visit or this is already your favorite destination, the Florida Keys never disappoint. But planning a trip to the Keys can feel overwhelming.

How do you choose which ones to visit? What is there to do? Where on your Florida Keys map should you begin? We understand; we felt overwhelmed on our first trip, too. But don’t worry - we have you covered. Get ready to plan the trip of a lifetime!

Where Are the Florida Keys?

Florida Keys Aerial Photo

Any Florida Keys map will show the Keys are located on the southern coast of Florida. The islands are along the Florida Straits, the east side of the Atlantic Ocean, and the northwest side of the Gulf of Mexico.

Key vs. Island: What’s the Difference?

While some may see them as one and the same, they are completely different. Islands are formed by rocks and other earth materials. Keys are formed by the activity of living corals as they build a reef. The Florida Keys were created thousands of years ago when sea levels were much higher and the area at the time was sandbars and coral reefs.

As the earth continued to change and the sea level began to drop, the reefs were exposed and began to fossilize, eventually creating what we know as the Keys today.

How Many Florida Keys Are There?

Florida Keys, Florida 3-D Nautical Wood Chart, Medium

There are 800 Keys that stretch over 180 miles, meaning there is something for everyone in the Keys. Our Florida Keys map is one of our favorite wood maps.

Points of interest on our Florida Keys wood map include:

  • Key West
  • Boca Chica Key
  • Cudjoe Bay
  • Big Pine Key
  • Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge

Key West

Famous for watersports, beaches, nightlife, and historical sites, Key West has continued to be a destination site for tourists year-round. The most populated of all the Keys, it is a 4x2-mile islet. During your visit, take a stroll down Duval Street and have a drink at Sloppy Joe’s world-famous bar. One of our favorite things about Key West is the sunsets.

Grab your Florida Keys map and head to Mallory Square, where you can watch the most unforgettable sunsets. While our Key West wood map couldn’t highly every amazing thing about the area, we also like to note that several famous writers called Key West home, including Ernest Hemingway and Robert Frost. Don’t forget to commemorate your trip with our Florida Keys wood map!

The History of Ernest Hemingway & the Florida Keys

Hemingway Home

Ernest Hemingway had a home in the Keys in the 1930s. Located on the southern coast, The Hemingway Home & Museum was auctioned off in 1964 after the deaths of family members. While the original intention of the owners was to occupy the house, it was converted into a private museum due to the interest of visitors day after day. The home is the most popular tourist attraction in Key West.

However, if you have an allergy to cats, this may not be the place for you. Hemingway had dozens of cats that he named after celebrities. Some would disappear for years and eventually find their way back, while others never left. Known as the Hemingway cats, if any of them are lingering, you may be lucky enough to get a shot with them. While we don’t have an Ernest Hemingway House wood map, we can’t say it hasn’t crossed our minds. 

Boca Chica Key

At first glance, a map of Boca Chica will highlight it being home to the largest Naval Air Station in South Florida. However, it is also home to several other popular destinations, including Biscayne National Park. Ninety percent of visitors enter the park by boat. If you choose to drive, you will only make it to the visitor center, as 95% of the park is underwater. For those using their Florida Keys map as a guide, we suggest navigating to the visitor center before embarking on the next leg of your trip.

For our water lovers, Biscayne National Park is a dream destination. Our Biscayne wood map highlights some of our favorite spots. Try your hand at fishing and lobstering, or grab a canoe or kayak to explore and learn about this stunning coral reef. Unsure what to do but don’t want to miss anything during your visit? Check out our guided eco-adventures!

Cudjoe Bay

Cudjoe Key

Popular for fishing and boating, Cudjoe Bay is a stunning community. After being directly hit by Hurricane Irma, a category four storm, Cudjoe Key had to rebuild just about everything from the ground up. While many Florida Keys maps will highlight Cudjoe Bay, a map can’t do this place justice.

It is also well-known for the Cudjoe Gardens Marina, an eco-friendly family-run place that also provides access to the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. The Cudjoe Gardens Marina offers fishing, diving, kayak and boating rentals, fishing guides, and charters. Don’t waste another minute and book your trip today.

Big Pine Key

Take the 7-mile bridge to enter a scenic oasis. If you take a closer look at your wood map, you may be able to spot the bridge. With a population of around 5,000, this quiet island has stunning scenery and is home to many outdoor activities. Whether you plan on seeking out wildlife or walking and biking, Big Pine has something for everyone. Your Florida Keys map and travel guide will highlight everything you won’t want to miss.

Big Pine is excellent for diving and snorkeling and is known for having one of the clearest and best reefs in the Keys. Check out the variety of coral, a beautiful sunken ship, and the 150 species of fish that live in the waters. After spending the day in the water, grab a bite at Big Pine Rooster, a local favorite, before calling it a night.

Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge

Great White Heron

While this isn’t one of the specific keys, we highlighted it on our wood map for a reason. The Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge is part of the United States National Wildlife Refuge System and was established to protect wildlife in 1938. The refuge is open 24/365 for several activities including boating, fishing, photography, and wildlife viewing. With 375 miles of open water, you could spend days boating around and taking in the sights.

Located in the lower part of the Keys, many surrounding areas will offer a full boating tour of the refuge, something we highly recommend. The tour guides have extensive knowledge of the wildlife and will advise the best times to go. These tour experts have memorized everything there is to know about the Keys, from the basics on their Florida Keys map to the best hidden gems. If hustle and bustle isn’t what you’re looking for, the refuge offers a sense of calm as you sail through it.

9 Activities to Add to Your Florida Keys Bucket List:

  • John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
  • The African Queen
  • Wild Bird Sanctuary
  • Flyboard
  • Feed Tarpon
  • Support locals
  • Turtles
  • The Green Parrot
  • Stay in paradise 

Spend the Day Paddle Boarding at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

The first stop on our Florida Keys map is Key Largo. Known for several popular activities, including boat rides, snorkeling, kayaking, and even sunbathing, the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park has it all. With activities for adults and children, the whole family can join in on the fun. Explore the mangroves and take a glass-bottom boat ride for unforgettable views.

Hitch a Ride on the African Queen

The next stop on your Florida Keys map should be the African Queen, a famous steamboat that offers canal and romantic dinner cruises. So, if you’ve been looking to cruise along the water while you relax, look no further. The African Queen is docked at the Marina Del Mar in Key Largo. The captain and staff work together to make it a memorable cruise for all who join. 

Check Out the Wild Bird Sanctuary in Key Largo

Our final stop in Key Largo is the Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary. Just a short walk from the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, this wild bird sanctuary is highlighted on every Florida Keys map. While we highly recommend this bucket list item for all our bird enthusiasts, even non-bird lovers have raved about their visit to the sanctuary. Admission is free, but donations are accepted, and all donations go to caring for the wounded birds. 

Try Your Hand at Flyboard Riding


This one’s for all our adventure seekers constantly looking for their next thrill. Start by picking your fun, a jetpack or hoverboard that propels you into the air above the water. If you’ve ever wanted to see what flying feels like, Islamorada is the place to go. If you look at your Florida Keys map closely, you will notice that Islamorada is a straight shot from Key Largo.

Take a Trip to Robbie’s Marina & Feed the Tarpon 

Another stop that you don’t want to skip in Islamorada is Robbie’s Marina. When you visit their shop, you can feed Tarpon! More than 100 Tarpon show up daily, waiting to be fed by visitors. These fish are breathtaking, and many say the experience is amazing. Tarpon mouths can be as large as a 5-gallon bucket!

Support the Local Economy of the Keys

Shops in Florida Keys

While you are visiting the Keys, don’t forget to support the local economy. If you haven’t picked up a Florida Keys map, we highly suggest it. Many of the Florida Keys maps that are handed out highlight iconic places, local favorites, and more. While shopping at the local boutiques is a great way to support the local economy, don’t forget to grab some food and drinks.

The Florida Keys Brewing Company is all over the Keys and has 20 of its own personal beers on tap. Unsure which beers to try? They have a 10-beer sampler that has your name on it. Our wood maps don’t only provide memories and act as souvenirs from special trips; you are also supporting locals when you buy from us.

When it comes to local food favorites, we recommend Keys Fisheries. Known for its Lobster Reuben, this tiny place packs a big punch. Some of our favorite things about Keys Fisheries include the sign at the window when you order that is solely used for counting how many Rubens they’ve sold since they started selling them. Last we checked, it was over 300,000!

The other great thing about the restaurant? They never ask for your name. Instead, they ask fun questions, like “what’s your favorite color?” or “What’s your favorite day of the week?” We are waiting for them to ask us what’s our favorite point on our Florida Keys wood map! 

Visit the Turtle Hospital [We’re Serious!] or Dolphin Research Center

Turtle Being Treated in Conservation Center

Ok, hear us out. The Turtle Hospital may not be on our wood map, but everyone should visit a turtle hospital at some point in their life. The Turtle Hospital is a non-profit organization that works hard to rehabilitate sea turtles while bringing resources and education to the public about these creatures.

Each visit is guided by our experienced educators and lasts about 90 minutes. Once you’ve completed your tour, you have the option to feed the center’s long-term turtles. Don’t forget to grab some turtle swag on the way out to support your new favorite sea creature!

Wanting to add another sea creature experience to your bucket list? The Dolphin Research Center is everything you’ve been looking for and more. Sign up for an interactive class with the dolphins.

Does anyone else see a Flipper movie remake starring you? Us too. Established in 1984, this is one of the most unique research centers you’ll find. While your Florida Keys map may not mention these places, we don’t want you to miss out.

Grab a Friend & Have a Drink at the Green Parrot

One of the most notable places to grab a drink in the Keys is The Green Parrot in Key West. Once a grocery store, this bar has been a staple since the ‘40s. The Green Parrot is known for its daily live music, ukulele nights, and signature décor.

Stay at Southernmost House

Looking for a relaxing stay while visiting Key West? The Southernmost House has it all. Its ideal theme is a tropical paradise with a taste of history mixed in.

This majestic hotel doubles as a museum with pieces of history sprinkled throughout the property. Built in 1897, The Southernmost House has hosted over 20 presidents while still offering modern amenities. Who says you can’t do it all?

The property is adults-only and books up quickly. On top of everything it has to offer, it sits just minutes from Duval Street and is right on the ocean. You won’t experience anything else like it, so book your trip today. Don’t forget to buy our Florida Keys wood map. It’s the perfect gift for a friend, or even yourself. 

Other Notable Florida Keys Destinations:

Bahia Honda State Park

We could talk about the Florida Keys all day long. Like we said before, our Florida wood maps are extremely popular. With so much to see and experience, we recommend planning at least a few trips so you don’t have to sacrifice any of your bucket-list items. If you are coming from another state or starting your trip from a different part of Florida, don’t forget to check out our wood map collection. You can start collecting wood maps from every state to make a wall every traveler will envy.

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