Key West’s Top Things To Do In August

Key West’s Top Things To Do In August

Key West, with its vibrant culture, turquoise waters, and tropical climate, is a fantastic destination to explore in August. While the summer heat is at its peak, the island offers a plethora of activities that cater to a variety of interests. From water adventures to cultural experiences, here’s a comprehensive guide to things to do in Key West in August.

Check Out Key West’s Famous Beaches

Key West may be small, but it boasts some beautiful beaches perfect for unwinding and soaking up the sun. Smathers Beach is the largest and most popular beach on the island spanning over a mile long. The soft white sand and gentle surf make it ideal for swimming, while the many picnic areas with BBQ grills are perfect for a beachside cookout. Nearby, South Beach located in the Southernmost Point of the US is a little smaller but also more secluded. For something a bit more off the beaten path, try Fort Zachary Taylor State Park Beach which has more natural surroundings and snorkeling opportunities with its rocky shores. No matter which beach you choose, be sure to arrive early to claim your spot of paradise for the day.

Wander Through Key West’s Historic Streets

Key West has a unique history and charm. Explore its best preserved historic streets and areas like Duval Street, Mallory Square, and Bahama Village to see some of the city’s oldest and most iconic landmarks and buildings. Pop into quaint shops, art galleries, and eateries housed in Conch-style architecture built by early settlers. Key West has more than 800 historically significant structures, including the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum where the famed author lived and worked in the 1930s. For a dose of kitsch, make sure to stop by the Southernmost Point buoy to snap a photo at the continental USA’s southernmost tip. Discover the history that gives Key West its distinctive culture.

Relax at a Key West Sunset Celebration

One of the best ways to spend a Key West evening is watching the sunset at Mallory Square. Nightly Sunset Celebrations take place here with street performers, artists, and musicians creating a lively sunset spectacle. Buy a drink and wander around the square as you take in the sights and sounds. Look for talented buskers like the tightrope walking cat man. The sunset view overlooking the Gulf of Mexico is always stunning. Stay late to experience Key West’s famous nightlife around Duval Street.

Go Fishing for Mahi Mahi, Marlin, and More

August is prime time for deep sea and backcountry fishing in the waters around Key West with prolific mahi mahi, sailfish, and marlin runs. Book a fishing charter to try your hand at catching these battling sportfish as well as snapper, grouper, tarpon, and more. Slow trolling, kite fishing, and live baiting are popular techniques for targeting offshore game fish. If you prefer inshore fishing, flats fishing charters will take you to catch redfish, sea trout, jacks, and barracuda in the backcountry. No fishing experience is required, as the knowledgeable captain and crew will provide instruction, licenses, bait, tackle, and equipment.

Snorkel or Dive the Living Coral Reefs

The only living coral reef in the continental US is located right off the shores of Key West. Snorkel or scuba dive to experience these vibrant reefs teeming with tropical fish and marine wildlife. Popular spots like Sand Key, Looe Key, and Eastern Dry Rocks have clear water with shallow reefs perfect for snorkeling right from the surface. For scuba diving, join a charter trip to reach wrecks and reefs farther offshore. Expect to see angelfish, parrotfish, sea turtles and maybe even a shipwreck while exploring underwater. Certification courses are also available in Key West for beginners.

Party on Duval Street

After the sun goes down, Key West comes alive on the world-famous Duval Street. The mile-long stretch of road contains the island’s best restaurants, bars, live music venues, and nightclubs. Sing along at Sloppy Joe’s Bar where Hemingway was known to frequent. Dance the night away at nightclubs like Aqua and Bourbon Street Pub. Or check out live bands ranging from rock to blues to country performing along the street into the wee hours. The nightlife energy is electric and a great way to mix and mingle with both locals and tourists.

Go Dolphin Watching and Eco-Tours

Seeing dolphins swim and jump in their natural habitat is one of the best ways to spend a day on the water in Key West. Dolphin watching boat tours depart daily, taking passengers into the backcountry and ocean to find pods of bottlenose dolphins frolicking in the wake. As an added bonus, it’s common to spot sea turtles, sharks, stingrays, and other marine life on a dolphin cruise. For a more eco-focused tour, glass bottom boat tours offer peeks at the reefs and shipwrecks below without having to get wet. Mangrove tunnels boat tours are also popular daytime adventures.

Bike Along the Overseas Heritage Trail

One of the best ways to take in the scenery, architecture, and personalities of Key West is by bicycle along the Overseas Heritage Trail. The trail spans the entire length of the island from the Southernmost Point to Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. Ride by mile markers counting down to zero, Key West’s “Conch Republic” flags, Cuban restaurants, and street sculptures. Make stops along the way at landmarks that catch your eye. Rent a bike by the hour or day to customize your own self-guided tour. The flat terrain makes pedaling easy. Don’t forget your camera and comfortable walking shoes if you plan to stop a lot.

Explore the Dry Tortugas National Park

Around 70 miles west of Key West lies Dry Tortugas National Park, one of the most remote and least visited national parks in the USA. Reachable only by boat or seaplane, a day trip to Dry Tortugas makes for an unforgettable island getaway. Tour Fort Jefferson, a massive 19th century coastal fortress taking up one of the seven small islands. Snorkel the protected coral reefs or walk the island beaches to spot birds and marine life. Kayaking, camping, and scuba diving opportunities are also available. The ferry ride out takes around 2.5 hours each way.

Take a Food Tour

Key West is a haven for fresh seafood, Cuban cuisine, and Caribbean flavors. The best way to experience all the island’s culinary offerings is through a food tour. These typically travel by foot or trolley making stops at restaurants and eateries to sample bite-sized portions that may include key lime pie, conch fritters, Cuban sandwiches, Bahamian fare, tapas dishes, island barbeque, locally caught shrimp and lobster, rum cake, and of course, key lime pie. Tours run 2 to 4 hours and include 8 to 12 different tastings. They’re a great way to discover new favorite restaurants in Key West.

Visit the Key West Butterfly Conservatory

Escape the August heat by ducking into the air-conditioned Key West Butterfly Conservatory to see dozens of exotic butterflies from around the world. The glass-enclosed habitat lets over 50 butterfly species fly freely amongst lush tropical plants and flowers. Walk the pathways and watch butterflies feed, rest, and flutter around you. The most dazzling species is the bright blue Morpho butterfly. Go early to catch them most active as the heat makes them more docile. Kids and photographers will love watching and capturing images of these winged beauties.

Tour the Key West Shipwreck Museum

Learn about Key West’s maritime history and the importance of shipwrecks at the Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum. Highlights include artifacts, treasures, and Interpretive exhibits from ancient Spanish galleons, slave ships, and wreck salvage operations. Don’t miss the museum’s crown jewel: a full-size replica of the ill-fated HMS Wasp, a British Navy warship that sank in 1812. Climb aboard the ship replica to see where the sailors worked and lived. Fun interactive elements like touching real pirate treasure make it engaging for all ages.

Watch the Sunset from Mallory Square

No visit to Key West is complete without watching at least one sunset from Mallory Square. As the sun approaches the horizon each evening, hundreds flock to the waterfront plaza to view the vivid colors and celebrations. Street performers put on a nightly show as the backdrop switches from blue to fiery orange and pink hues. Watch tightrope walkers, musicians, and food cart vendors. Sunset cruises and schooner rides depart from the nearby seaport. Stay until after dark when the lights illuminate and nightlife energy buzzes.

Go on a Literary Pub Crawl

As home to famed authors like Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, and Robert Frost, Key West has a rich literary legacy. Honor it by embarking on a literary pub crawl. These tours stop at bars and hangouts where famous writers lived, drank, and were inspired. Hear stories and anecdotes while sipping a drink at their favorites spots like Sloppy Joe’s, Captain Tony’s Saloon, and the Key West Lighthouse. There are several structured tours, or you can make one up on your own.



Key West in August offers a blend of water adventures, cultural events, and culinary delights. Embrace the island’s laid-back atmosphere, immerse yourself in its rich history, and savor the natural beauty that makes Key West a captivating destination year-round. Whether you’re seeking relaxation or adventure, Key West has something for every traveler in the warm embrace of its summer charm.

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