A Travelers Guide to Winter in the Florida Keys

If you're looking for a warm winter destination, the Florida Keys are a great option. With plenty of activities and attractions to keep you busy, you'll never have a dull moment during winter getaway down south.

From lounging in your vacation rental home to hitting the beach, there’s a reason the Keys are so popular with snowbirds looking to escape a northern winter.

Here are some tips on how to make the most of your time in this tropical paradise.

Winter Weather in the Florida Keys

The Florida Keys are known for their warm, sunny weather year-round, but that doesn't mean the winter months are immune to a little precipitation. Still, though you may get hit with a quick shower, it’s a negligible amount compared to the actual rainy season.

The temperature during this time of the year hovers around a comfortable 70 degrees during the day and 50 degrees at night. So pack a light jacket for those chilly evening walks on the beach, but otherwise enjoy all the sunshine and warmth that the Florida Keys have to offer during the winter months.

How to Get to the Florida Keys

There are several ways to get to the Florida Keys, but let's start with the most obvious: driving.

If you're driving from Miami, you'll take the Overseas Highway (also known as Route 1) all the way down until you reach Key West. Be prepared for some jaw-dropping views along the way - including 43 bridges connecting each of the keys - before arriving at your tropical destination.

You could also opt for a bus or shuttle service if you don't want to bring your own car.

And last but not least, for those coming from out of state or even out of the country, there are several airports located in both Key West and Miami that offer commercial flights.

Key West International Airport isn't as well-connected from airports around the world but flying into Miami is an easy option. Since Marathon Key is located in the middle of the Florida Keys, either airport is a good one!

Should I Spend Winter in the Upper Keys or the Lower Keys?

If you're looking for a more laid-back, chill winter vacation spot, the Lower Keys are your best bet. The main attractions here are gorgeous sunsets, relaxing beaches, and great fishing spots. Key West is also known for its quirky charm and vibrant nightlife scene.

On the other hand, if you want to stay active during your winter getaway, the Upper Keys offer plenty of opportunities for watersports and outdoor adventures. Plus, they have closer proximity to Miami and other popular cities in South Florida.

Ultimately, it all comes down to personal preference. Do you prefer a quiet island vibe or a bustling city atmosphere? Or opt for a little bit of both, directly in the Middle Keys on Marathon.

Whichever option you choose, you'll be surrounded by stunning ocean views and tropical vibes in the Florida Keys this winter.

Top Winter Activities in the Keys

Crane Point Nature Area - Marathon

Photo Credit: suavis2000 via Instagram

If you're looking for a winter escape that combines sun, sand, and stunning wildlife, look no further than Crane Point Nature Area. Located on the beautiful island of Marathon, this 63-acre park offers hiking trails through mangrove forests, breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico from its old railroad bridge, and even a historic museum.

But it's the diverse array of birdlife that truly sets Crane Point apart. From ospreys to bald eagles to Roseate spoonbills, there's something for every bird watching enthusiast.

And don't worry about braving the chilly temperatures - just pack your binoculars and enjoy spotting these feathered friends from the comfort of one of the park's many covered pavilions.

Ernest Hemingway House - Key West

Photo Credit: Daniela Migliorisi 

If you're a fan of Ernest Hemingway, visiting his beloved Key West home is a must-do during your trip to Florida.

And what better time to do it than in the winter? With the temperatures cooler, you won't have to deal with the sweltering heat and overwhelming crowds that plague the area during peak tourist season.

The house itself offers tons of fascinating insight into Hemingway's life and work. From the pool where he practiced his famous love of swimming to his writing studio filled with personal mementos, every room provides a glimpse into the legendary writer's world.

And don't forget to say hello to the dozens of six-toed cats that call the property home – descendants of Hemingway's own beloved feline companions.

Robbie’s Marina - Islamorada

Photo Credit: lazyllama

It’s difficult to describe Robbie’s Marina to someone who’s never been there. Part marina, part open air flea market, part tarpon tanks, part kayaking, part bars and restaurants, it’s a veritable playground for adults who are into fishing, island life, eating, and drinking.

There’s always something going on at Robbie’s, even during the winter months. Definitely make a stop here when you pass through Islamorada!

Drive the Seven Mile Bridge

Photo Credit: FloridaStock

Ready for a little winter adventure? Take a drive over the Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys. This magnificent bridge connects Knight's Key (part of Marathon), Pigeon Key, Moser Channel, and Little Duck Key to the rest of the islands in the Keys.

With far less traffic to deal with than in the summer, go ahead and crank up your favorite tunes and cruise over this picturesque bridge for some stunning ocean views.

The best part about driving in the Keys during winter is that there is no snow to contend with!

Spend Time with Turtles in Rehab - Marathon

Photo Credit: Andriy Blokhin

Are you a sea turtle lover? Look no further than the Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida. This unique facility rescues and rehabilitates sea turtles that have been injured by boat strikes, fishing gear entanglement, and other human-caused traumas.

Visitors can tour the hospital to see the patients being treated and learn about their stories. In addition to turtle rehabilitation, the hospital also conducts educational programs and beach cleanups to promote ocean conservation.

Explore Duval Street - Key West

Photo Credit: xbrchx

While the rest of the country shivers, Key West is sizzling in the wintertime. And what better place to experience that heat than Duval Street? Known as the heart and soul of Key West, Duval Street offers everything from bars and restaurants to art galleries and boutiques.

Take a stroll down this historic street and stop by Sloppy Joe's Bar, where Ernest Hemingway was known to hang out. Or check out The Green Parrot, voted one of the best live music venues in America.

And don't forget about the shopping! Duval Street is filled with unique local shops selling everything from hand-crafted jewelry to Cuban cigars.

JD Premier Aviation Helicopter Tours - Marathon

Are you tired of the same old winter vacation destinations? Shake up your routine with a helicopter tour from JD Premier Aviation! The Marathon, Florida location offers stunning aerial views of the Keys and Everglades National Park. So forget skiing down a boring mountain - try gliding over beautiful beaches and diverse wildlife instead.

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park - Key Largo

Photo Credit: 4kclips

If you're looking for a winter escape, look no further than John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo. This underwater park offers unique opportunities to explore and appreciate the coral reefs and marine life of the Florida Keys.

Visiting during the winter means avoiding crowded tourist seasons and experiencing beautiful, calm waters ideal for snorkeling and diving. Don’t miss the famed ‘Christ of the Deep’ statue! The park also offers glass bottom boat tours, kayak rentals, and canoeing for those who prefer to stay above water.

But don't let the idea of winter swimming fool you – the water is still warm enough for a refreshing dip. And with an array of colorful fish and other sea creatures, there's plenty to see under the surface.

Bahia Honda State Park - Big Pine Key

Photo Credit: Khairil Azhar Junos

Bahia Honda State Park in Big Pine Key boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the Florida Keys, but it also offers a wide array of activities for visitors of all ages during the winter months.

Take a dip in the crystal clear waters and soak up some sun on the sandy shores. Keep an eye out for various marine life, such as sea turtles and rays, while snorkeling or scuba diving in one of the park's three living coral reef systems.

For those seeking adventure on land, hike through lush tropical vegetation on one of two nature trails or take a stroll on the Old Bahia Honda Bridge for stunning views of the ocean and surrounding islands.

Snorkeling in Looe Key

Photo Credit: William Cushman

Snorkeling in Looe Key might just be the cure to escaping the winter blues. Located within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Looe Key boasts stunning coral reefs teeming with marine life.

Even during the colder months, water temperatures rarely drop below 75 degrees Fahrenheit, making it a comfortable and enjoyable experience for snorkelers of all levels. And with fewer tourists visiting in winter, you may even have your own personal underwater paradise.

Check out Fantasy Fest - Key West

Photo Credit: Chuck Wagner

Fantasy Fest in Key West is not for the faint of heart. This annual festival features outrageous costumes, wild parties, and no shortage of body paint. H

eld every October at the end of the month, Fantasy Fest attracts tens of thousands of visitors to the southernmost city in the United States for 10 days of nonstop debauchery.

The festival began in 1979 as a way to bring tourists to the island during what was traditionally a slow season. Today, it has become one of the biggest events on Key West's crowded party calendar. The festival culminates in a parade down Duval Street where revelers show off their over-the-top costumes and floats made by local businesses.

Although it’s not technically held in winter, we had to include it on our list since it definitely falls in the colder time of year! Plus, it’s so much fun!

Experience Conch Cuisine

Photo Credit: Miami2youPhoto

Are you tired of the same old chicken and beef dishes? Maybe you’ve even begun to grow tired of grouper and wahoo. Spice up your palate with some conch! This lesser-known seafood is a delicacy in the Florida Keys.

From conch fritters to conch ceviche, there are countless ways to enjoy this tasty treat. Be sure to add a visit to a local restaurant serving conch dishes to your winter vacation itinerary in the Keys. Trust us, your taste buds will thank you.

Spend the Evening at Mallory Square - Key West

Photo Credit: Benny Marty

If you're looking for a unique way to spend your winter evening in Key West, look no further than Mallory Square. Located near the waterfront, this popular spot is known for its daily sunset celebration, where locals and tourists gather to witness the beautiful colors paint the sky as the sun sets over the ocean.

But it's not just about the sunset - there's also street performers, food vendors, and local artists displaying their work. So grab a drink, find a spot on the wall or sit at one of the outdoor cafes, and let yourself be entertained as you soak in those spectacular Florida Keys vibes.

And don't forget to stick around after dark - there are often fireworks displays set off from nearby cruise ships adding even more dazzle to the already vibrant atmosphere.

Go Tarpon Fishing

Photo Credit: Maridav

With idyllic temperatures waiting for you in the Florida Keys, take advantage of it with an epic fishing trip. Head down to the Florida Keys for a chance to catch tarpon, one of the most sought-after game fish in the world.

Outfitters in Key West and Islamorada offer guided tarpon fishing charters that will take you to prime spots in the backcountry or on the flats. And just imagine the bragging rights when you reel in a 100+ pound silver king!

A Warm Winter Awaits in the Florida Keys

Leave those boots and puffy jacket at home- the most you’ll need for your trip to the Florida Keys in the winter is a light jacket in the evenings. Boasting warm temperatures that won’t make you break a sweat, this is the perfect time of the year to enjoy the outdoors without having to battle the crowds of summer high season. Throughout the Keys, the perfect winter getaway awaits!