Key West’s clean shores and beautiful foliage doesn’t just attract tourists! This southernmost location is home to a diverse range of Key West wildlife, and we’ve found the best ways to interact and learn about it! Let our list of eco-inspired activities get you started on a wild adventure during your Key West visit.
Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory
The Key West Butterfly Conservatory is a magical experience for adults and children alike! Walk amongst a beautiful habitat of colorful birds, exotic flora, and thousands of friendly butterflies. Learn about the migration and life-cycle of these graceful creatures or visit the gift shop for a unique Key West butterfly keepsake.
The Florida Keys offer unique opportunities for bird watchers! Over 200 species of birds appear in the Keys due to the seasonal migrations including several types of raptors and songbirds. Enjoy the magnificent frigate birds (Whose feathers weigh more than their skeletons!) as they float effortlessly over the Overseas Highway, or check out the osprey that nest on the utility poles in the early months of Spring. No matter the time of year, there are always rare birds to be found during your Key West visit!
Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center
Educate yourself about our fragile ecosystem at the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary! Explore over 6,000 square feet of interactive and dynamic exhibits including a mock-up of Aquarius, the world's only underwater ocean laboratory. This is a great chance to learn about the Key West ecosystem... and did we mention it's free?
Turtle Kraals Museum/Key West Turtle Musuem
This tiny museum has an deep story to tell. Although Key West has a history of turtle processing and canning, it is now home to the only sea turtle museum in the world! An enthusiastic tour guide will take you through the exhibits and explain the importance of preserving the environment, and by the time you leave you'll be just as passionate as they are.
Key West Audubon House and Gardens
The beautiful setting and the twenty-eight different First Edition Audubon works available for viewing at this Key West Audubon house will surely impress nature lovers. The site boasts impressive tropical gardens with native and exotic plants as well as the works of world-renowned ornithologist, John James Audubon.
The Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden
Don't miss the only "frost-free" botanical garden in the continental United States. The tropical environment with ample rain allows most trees to retain their leaves in the dry season (December through late May). It is home to many endangered and threatened flora and fauna. Tropical forests of the world hold at least half of all the variety of life on Earth. Moreover, the species found with the Caribbean are among the richest in plant and animal life on the planet.
Key West Aquarium
The Key West Aquarium is home to sharks, turtles, stingrays, other tropical fish found in the beautiful waters of Key West. It is actively involved in conservation of the delicate eco-system of the Florida Keys. Come interact with the aquatic wildlife, and if you're lucky you'll get to see them feed!
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
The first undersea park in the U.S., John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park encompasses approximately 70 nautical square miles and was established in 1960. Visitors enjoy the view of the reef from a glass-bottom boat tour, but the adventurous can get a closer look by scuba diving or snorkeling and canoeing and kayaking through the park's waters are popular activities. Be sure to check out the visitor center’s 30,000-gallon saltwater aquarium!
Dolphin Research Center
Spend a day playing with Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins and California Sea Lions at the Dolphin Research Center! They offer a variety of terrific programs, including Trainer for a Day, Researcher for a Day, Dolphin Encounter, and Dolphin Dip, all of which can all be reserved in advance and online. This is a once in a lifetime experience for anyone who loves aquatic animals. The DRC is located on Grassy Key, about 1 hour north of Key West; it is open 7 days a week; advance reservations are needed for Interactive Dolphin programs.