Last updated on March 1, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, following extensive travelling in Florida, Keys & Miami

Florida Keys itinerary 3 days – five options with things to do based on your type of holiday

It can be quite difficult to plan an itinerary for 3 days in Florida Keys.

Florida Keys is a 137.3 square miles (356 sq km) archipelago with over 1700 islands and 42 bridges connecting the keys.

The following article provides all you need for enjoying an itinerary for three days in the Florida Keys, no matter if you’re a beach lover, a family or a couple looking for a romantic getaway, an action & sport person or just want to do it all.

Let’s get started without further ado

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Florida Keys itinerary 3 days – in a nutshell

With only three days in Florida Keys, you won’t be able to see everything in the archipelago, as you might imagine. 

My recommendation is to stay either in Key West or one of the other keys.

I would not suggest moving between two accommodations, as this will eat up in your short available time

Best islands to stay in Florida Keys
Best 5 islands to stay and visit in Florida Keys – Check out my shared Google Map that you can use on your trip
  • Florida Keys itinerary 3 days for couples: Key Largo is surely the best destination if you are after a full on diving 3 days experience, however, if this is not the case, then you should stay in Key West and explore from there, with activities, beaches, bars and restaurants literally next door. Read more below on a full romantic itinerary
  • Florida Keys itinerary 3 days for families: Marathon is a great destination to be based for a family trip. You will find beaches for a relaxing time and nearby activities to take your kids too. Moreover, you could drive to the nearby Islamorada for more options or Key West for a snorkelling fun-day tour. Read more below on a family itinerary
  • For beaches: This is a hard choice one. There are so many beaches around. In saying that, Key West offers some of the best beaches in the Florida Keys, easy to access, all mostly within walking distance of the old centre. However, I suggest driving one day out of Key West to experience other beaches in Marathon, Islamorada or the secluded Big Pine Key. Read more below on a 3 days beach itinerary in Florida Keys
  • For sport and action: Although Key Largo has some of the best diving in the Florida Keys, I suggest staying in Key West and from there, drive to Marathon for an adrenaline day and experience two days of sports in and around town, with plenty of fun in the water. Read more below for the history 3 days plan
  • For a bit of everything: Marathon Island, right in the center of the Florida Keys is the perfect base to explore the area, from Key West and its many activities to Key Largo and its unique Scuba Diving or crocodile spotting. Read below for more details

In this post I suggest also a few organised tours and trips.

I usually book all well in advance, especially if travelling during the school holiday.

Then I cancel what I don’t need or if I change my plans (free of charge up to 24 hours prior to the experience), a great peace of mind.

Florida Keys itinerary 3 days for couples

If you want to create special memories with your loved one, bond and go on exciting adventures together.

With beaches, dolphins, and romantic cruises, Key West has it all. Base yourself there to experience all

Here is how you can plan your three days there:

Day 1 (night in Key West)

Start things on a high – literally, with Parasailing Flights for you and your significant other.

Get that adrenaline rush as you take to the skies and look down the emerald blue sea waters – and you can even fly at the same time.

Meet at the Fury booth on the pier behind Opal Key Marina, and departures are every hour – so you can start at a time convenient to you.

In the afternoon, head on over to the Key West Aquarium and get hands on with the marine life.

End your day on The Party Cat” 2-hour cruise with some live music and an open bar as you watch the famous Key West sunset over the Gulf of Mexico .

Day 2 (night in Key West)

Beach time!

Spend your day at Smathers Beach and enjoy the therapeutic rolling waves- and remember to bring your sunscreen with you.

Plenty to do here, from kayaking, tubing, and even learning to windsurf.

Don’t want to get wet?

Go into the kayak and sail around the harbour as you check out the marine life.

Still have some energy?

Then a 3-hour guided Food Tasting and Cultural Walking Tour will be a great addition to your diary as you explore the sights and sounds of the city.

Day 3 (night in Key West)

What better way to tie off your 3 days Florida Keys itinerary than with a Catamaran Tour with Snorkeling & Water Activities.

You will get to do some amazing sailing, great snorkelling at the reef and finally you will arrive at a water park.

And this is when the fun begins, with an inflatable castle and the possibility of taking a kayak or a SUP to paddle around.

For sunset, you have two options.

Stay local and go to the Mallory Square, the most popular place to watch the sun going down.

Otherwise, close the trip off with a Sunset party cruise by Catamaran where you get to dance the night away.

One of the best way to experience the Caribbean nightlife by the sea.

Accommodations and experiences:

Another lovely old house of Key West
Lovely colonial old house in Key West

Florida Keys itinerary 3 days for families

Marathon is packed with aquariums, dive centres and dolphin encounters – and of course the sandy beaches, colourful reefs and clear waters for your family to enjoy.

Marathon Island is the best place to find your accommodation and explore from there. Let’s get on with it:

Day 1 (night in Marathon)

Go on a scenic drive across the Seven Mile Bridge connecting Little Duck Key and Knight’s Key.

While at the Knight’s Key, visit the Dolphin Research Center and interact with dolphins, sea lions, and check out the tropical birds.

Spend your afternoon on Sombrero Beach.

Have a picnic with your family, play some beach volleyball, watch the kids enjoy the clear waters and get wet yourself too – and you can even go fishing!

Day 2 (night in Marathon)

Interact with marine life at Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters through guided tours and touch tanks – and for the family members willing to get wet, go snorkelling in the coral reef. 

Alternatively, drive to Key West and sign up for the Dolphin Watch and Snorkel Eco Tour, where you’re taken to natural habits of bottlenose dolphins, with a professional guide accompanying you.

Your family will be safe on the aquatic journey atop the catamaran as you check out the turquoise waters of Key West.

Day 3 (night in Marathon)

Start your day with a visit to the kid-friendly Crane Point Museum and Nature Center, where even the little ones as young as 6 get to enjoy interpretative displays of sea animals, from turtles to whales.

Head on over to Captain Hook’s Marina & Dive Center and pick up equipment for a day with the waters – from scuba and snorkelling gear, right up to chartering a boat.

Alternatively, drive to Key West and take the 12-Stop Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour and explore the different points of interest at your own pace.

Tickets last for an entire day, and there are frequent pick-ups at each of the 12 stops, such a great fun for kids

Accommodations and experiences:

Snorkelling trip from Key West
Snorkelling trip from Key West

3 days in Florida Keys for beaches

Particularly keen on getting some sun n’ sand?

There are different beaches to pick for your trip, and you can check them out with this plan.

I would suggest staying in Key West and explore from there.

There is some driving involved but well worth the effort

Day 1 (night in Key West)

If you are driving from Miami to Key West, then have a stop at Harry Harris Beach and Park in Key Largo.

Parking is free, and there’s less of a crowd during the week.

Go snorkelling in the bay area, enjoy a picnic on the sand and check out the sheltered cove.

It’s great for kids too – so bring the whole family along.

Alternatively, if you are in Key West, join this full day watersport adventure aboard a double-decker catamaran.

This action-packed day has 12 different watersports to try out – from parasailing, to jet skiing and kayaking. 

Lunch and beers are included, which makes the day tour a great deal

Day 2 (night in Key West)

Spend the day at Sombrero Beach in Marathon Island that’s got plenty of areas to relax on since it’s one of the larger beaches in the Keys, calm waters, some beach volleyball, restrooms, foot wash stations and picnic spots.

It’s pet friendly too.

At the end of the day, catch the beautiful ocean side sunset.

If you are not into driving, head to Smathers Beach in Key West, the longest and widest on the island.

You will not be alone though, being probably the most popular beach in the Florida Keys.

Day 3 (night in Key West)

Close off your trip with a visit to the Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park Beach.

Start things off with a visit to the Fort Zack Army fort, complete with the cannons and weaponry and learn more of its history – then hit the beach for swimming, snorkelling and fishing.

There are plenty of picnic tables that have been set up under the trees, and lots of space whether you want to stay out in the water or on the sand.

Remember to take with you water sandals to make your life easier in the sea (a few rocks here and there)

Another nice beach, although on the smaller side, is at the Higgs Memorial Beach Park, on the west side of the island.

Accommodations and experiences:

An empty and beautiful Smathers Beach in Key West
An empty and beautiful Smathers Beach in Key West

Three days of sport & action in Florida Keys

Key Largo is probably the most famous and popular island for scuba diving, however, Key West is surely the best base for sport and action.

From there you can drive to Marathon Island for some wake boarding and spend the remaining part of the holiday in Key West, where you can find plenty of awesome activities.

Day 1 (night in Key West)

Start your itinerary by driving to Marathon island at the Keys Cable Park.

Here you can spend the day wake boarding, drinking a few cold beers and listening to some live music.

It is going to be the best start of your holiday.

If you have still some energy, book in advance a sunset 2 hours paddleboard (SUP) tour at Paddlin’ Madeleine just outside Key West, the best way to finish your first day.

Day 2 (night in Key West)

In the morning, have a walk in the old center and head to the Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, where you can also have a swim at the beach.

Leave the afternoon for this action pack Jet Ski Island Tour that will take you all around the island, a 28 mile (45km) ride in turquoise water.

Another great thing is that the second rider is free, making an amazing deal for couples and friends that want to share a jet ski.

Day 3 (night in Key West)

The best way to close your action holiday is with this full-day Watersports Adventure Tour that includes all the sports you expect from such a beautiful Caribbean place: sailing, snorkelling, kayaks, parasails, jet skis and surely I forgot something.

By the way, breakfast and lunch are included in this tour, as well as drinks.

Accommodations and experiences:

Strolling through the old streets of Key West is an experience by itself
Strolling through the old streets of Key West is an experience by itself

For a bit of everything

Want to do a ‘marathon’ of activities where you get to have a feel of just a bit of everything that the Keys have to offer?

From wildlife to beaches and museums, this is your Florida Keys itinerary in 3 days.

Book your accommodation on Marathon Island, central to the Florida Keys

Day 1 (night in Marathon)

This day is all about marine life.

Head out to the Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters for up-close interactions with tropical fish, stingrays, and even sharks.

Visit the Dolphin Research Center, home to dolphins and sea lions, and learn about the lives of the amazing creatures.

You can also check out the Turtle Hospital and see how the injured ones are rehabilitated and released back into the wild. 

Alternatively, go on a Self-Guided narrated Tour via app, driving from Key Largo to Key West.

The tour app is a guide, audio tour, and a map all rolled into one.

It takes you across the iconic sights and sounds of Florida Keys across scenic routes.

Day 2 (night in Marathon)

On the second day, go full-on with the sun n’ sand experience.

Plenty of beaches to work with here, from the Sombrero Beach with its turquoise waters and gentle waves to some hidden gems like the Oceanfront Park, great also for some shoreline fishing.

Alternatively, head to Bahia Honda State Park in Big Pine Key (drive there or take the bus), another more secluded beach

Day 3 (night in Marathon)

More sights and sounds await you, and on this day, you can start with the Crane Point Museum & Nature Center with its natural history and beautiful nature trails – where you can even snag a fish pedicure.

Check out the Marathon Air Museum to touch, feel, and learn about planes and aviation facts – with some pilots on standby to give you great stories. 

An afternoon at the Marathon Community Park for some tennis, basketball or shuffleboard will be great to unwind with – and this is a must-visit when there is a music festival.  

Accommodations and experiences:

Sunset in Marathon Island
Sunset on Marathon Island
The tropical beach of Dry Tortugas, reachable by boat from Key West
The tropical beach of Dry Tortugas, reachable by boat from Key West
The iconic Alligator Reef Light House of Islamorada
The iconic Alligator Reef Light House of Islamorada
Another lovely beach in Islamorada
Another lovely beach in Islamorada
Islamorada has some amazing beaches to explore
Islamorada has some amazing beaches to explore
Another sunset on the lovely Islamorada
Another gorgeous sunset on the lovely Islamorada
Coast along the Key Largo, in the north of the Florida Keys
Coast along the Key Largo, in the north of the Florida Keys
South, North, East, West....The Florida Keys are far away from the business time in the cities
South, North, East, West….The Florida Keys are far away from the business time in the cities
It's not uncommon to spot iguanas in the Florida Keys
It’s not uncommon to spot iguanas in the Florida Keys
The old bridge connecting the Keys
The old bridge connecting the Keys
One of the new 42 bridges connecting the Florida Keys
One of the new 42 bridges connecting the Florida Keys
Sailing is another great thing to do in the Florida Keys
Sailing is another great thing to do in the Florida Keys
The best way to close this post....with another beautiful sunset
The best way to close this post….with another beautiful sunset sailing and drinking
Stefano Ferro - MEL365.com Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of MEL365.com, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

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