Full of sunshine and white-sand beaches, the Florida Keys is a dreamy destination in the South of Florida. With so many different islands and areas though, choosing where to stay in the Florida Keys isn’t always simple for travelers.
One of the top travel destinations in the Southeast USA, the Florida Keys offer plenty of interesting and unique towns, areas, and neighborhoods. Each island shows off a different facet of the archipelago with new experiences around every corner.
Many of the best areas in the Florida Keys are on the largest islands of Key West and Key Largo. Staying on smaller islands such as Marathon, Islamorada, and Big Pine Key, on the other hand, will give you a quieter vibe away from the busier city centers.
On the lookout for the best hotels in the Florida Keys? Find the islands’ top lodging options with this complete guide to the best places to stay in the Florida Keys.
Best places to stay in the Florida Keys
With its stunning views of Florida Bay and its soft sandy beaches, the Florida Keys is a dream vacation for many. All the islands deliver spectacular sunset views, with many of the top Florida Keys hotels offering views over the turquoise water and horizon.
Looking for art, culture, and dining? Book your stay on Key West or Key Largo. As you get closer to the Lower Keys, you’ll reach Islamorada and Big Pine Key. Both have opportunities to relax or partake in watersports for more adventure. Even though they’re a little further drive from mainland Florida, you’ll get exquisite views of the water as you drive along the Overseas Highway.
If you’re traveling with children, Marathon is the top choice for your Florida Keys accommodation. Around Marathon, there are ample opportunities to see dolphins, go snorkeling, and explore historic sites. Many of the beaches here also have shallow water and outdoor playgrounds that are perfect for kids.
The best areas to stay in the Florida Keys are:
✓ Best area to stay in the Florida Keys for first-time visitors
If it’s your first time staying in the Florida Keys, Key West has all the amenities you need to enjoy your beach vacation. The chain’s westernmost island, Key West is home to many of the most popular tourist attractions in the Florida Keys and is the most-visited of the islands.
If you get tired of the beach and sun, head to Mallory Square, the main waterfront area in Key West. Not far away, the small Key West Historic District, also known as Old Town, is another popular Key West hotspot with plenty of shopping, dining, and drinking choices.
To experience the heart of Key West, carve out time to explore Duval Street. The pubs and saloons on & around Duval Street are among the top tourist attractions in Key West for adults. To keep the kids entertained, you’ll find several cool places to check out including the Key West Aquarium and the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum.
For a taste of nature, visit the Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden. These tropical gardens are the perfect place to see Key West’s diverse native plant life in its natural habitat. In the historic center, the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory is another favorite haunt for nature lovers.
The Southernmost Point of the Continental United States is also located in Key West. The buoy and fishing pier are great places to see the calm water. Be sure to line up to snap a few selfies with this famous landmark.
As you might expect with its popularity, the prices for the top hotels in Key West can get steep, especially during the high tourist season. Be sure to book your accommodations well in advance for the best prices and availability.
If you’re looking to save money on your vacation, move your Florida Keys accommodation search outside of the center of Key West. On the eastern part of the island, you should be able to find some good lodgings deals.
Recommended hotels in Key West
For a calm stay in Old Town West, book your room at Simonton Court Historic Inn & Cottages. It’s in a prime location, just one block from Duval Street and three blocks from Mallory Square. The hotel offers a secluded garden, four swimming pools, and tennis courts.
Located just a block away from Duval Street, this 3-star hotel is lined with beautiful palm trees. The rooms are spacious with large beds and small private balconies. Make sure to take advantage of the continental breakfast, complete with french pastries and fresh-squeezed orange juice.
Set in a lush tropical landscape, the Orchid Key Inn is one of the top hotels in Key West. Amenities include a heated pool, sun deck, and full-service spa. The inn is within walking distance of the Ernest Hemingway House and the historic Key West Lighthouse. Water sport equipment rentals are also available right outside the lobby.
Looking for perfect views of the Gulf in Key West? Every room in the Ocean Key Resort & Spa has direct ocean views. All the furniture in the rooms is hand-painted and the wall hangings are all made by local artists. Visit the spa for a variety of services including facials, massages, and body wrap treatments.
✓ Best place in the Florida Keys for watersports
If your main vacation goal is to do adrenaline-pumping watersports, reserve a room in Key Largo. The gateway to the Keys, Key Largo is famed for its snorkeling and diving. In fact, the island is often touted as the diving capital of the world!
Want to hit the water? Dunk in at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. One of the top tourist attractions in Key Largo, this lovely marine park lets you explore the depths of the Atlantic Ocean on snorkeling or diving excursions. You can also admire its beauty from the surface by renting paddleboards for the whole family.
Besides Key Largo’s main town center and nature parks, Tavernier is another top-notch choice on the island. The area is full of must-see places like the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center and the Old Settler’s Park. Harry Harris Beach and Park offer one of the only public beaches in Key Largo with a boat ramp and barbecue facilities.
Watersport rental places are found all over the main streets and outside many of the top hotels in Key Largo. You can rent kayaks, paddleboards, scuba diving gear, and fishing gear if you have a license.
Recommended hotels in Key Largo
Searching for an adult-only hotel? Azul del Mar is one of the top places in Key Largo for a romantic and tranquil vacation. The hotel offers complimentary kayak and paddleboard rentals as well as daily snorkeling excursions and sunset cruises. You’ll love relaxing on the private beach and tropical gardens.
Located just off the Overseas Highway in Tavernier, Atlantic Bay Resort sprawls three acres and offers a serene tropical setting away from the main parts of the island. If you’re searching for seclusion and privacy, this resort should be your top choice. Enjoy the outdoor swimming pool, beach views, and complimentary breakfast.
For a luxurious stay in Key Largo, spend your nights at Playa Largo Resort & Spa. It’s across the Overseas Highway, just a short drive from John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and the Heritage Trail. The resort is completely secluded with private beaches. With a restaurant, diner, and bar on-site, you can spend your entire vacation relaxing here.
Located on southern Key Largo, this luxury resort has numerous water activities. At Baker’s Cay Resort, you can scuba dive, parasail, catamaran sail, or deep-sea fish. For the days you just feel like relaxing, lay out on a beach hammock or swim in one of the two waterfalls.
✓ Best neighborhood in the Florida Keys to stay with kids
If you’re taking a family vacation, consider laying down your head in Marathon. Draped across 13 different islands, Marathon is home to several family-friendly attractions and pristine shorelines.
Spend time on Sombrero Beach, one of the most popular Florida Keys beaches. At Sombrero Beach, the kids can swim, play in the playground, or run in the nearby park.
If your children are interested in wildlife, they’ll love the Turtle Hospital, the Dolphin Research Center, and the Florida Keys Aquarium. At Crane Point, the whole family will love checking out the bird rescue center and the natural history museum.
Nature lovers will find plenty to do around Marathon, too, including Curry Hammock State Park and the Florida Keys Wildlife and Environmental Area.
Bike rentals are available throughout Marathon, as well as kayaks and paddleboards. There are also plenty of attractions for adults along the main city strip, including unique bars and pubs.
Recommended hotels in Marathon
With spacious guest rooms with views of the crystal blue water, Fairfield by Marriott Inn & Suites Marathon sits in a prime location. The hotel is home to a tiki bar and restaurant on-site with fantastic views of the ocean and outdoor swimming pools. Free breakfast is included in your stay as is access to the 24-hour fitness center.
Searching for the best outdoor pool in Marathon? Courtyard by Marriott Marathon charms guests with its lovely pool area, replete with canopies and a hot tub. The hotel is located just a few blocks away from the Dolphin Research Center and the Turtle Hospital. In your downtime, enjoy the large fitness center or have a cocktail at the open-air bar.
Offering a large private beach and panoramic views of the vibrant blue water from every room, suite, and balcony, Isla Bella Beach Resort & Spa is one of the top places to stay in Marathon. The amenities are endless, including 5 outdoor swimming pools and a beach bar. The resort also runs scheduled jet-skiing trips as well as bike and kayak rentals.
✓ Best island in the Florida Keys for adult-only vacations
Also known as Purple Island, Islamorada is one of the most popular islands in the Keys for solo travelers and couples. The endless nightlife and bar choices make it a top destination for an unforgettable adult-only vacation.
Islamorada is also home to many different local breweries. On your visit, you can sample craft beers or do a distillery tour. Florida Keys Brewing Company and Islamorada Brewery and Distillery are the most popular choices on the island.
Water lovers can swim with dolphins, jet ski, or take cruise and boat tours. You will love lounging on the sands of Anne’s Beach or playing beach volleyball in Founders Park.
For history buffs and travelers looking for more water activities, head to the Indian Key State Historic Site or Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park.
Recommended hotels in Islamorada
For a quiet and quaint stay, check into the Sands of Islamorada. They’re one of the only pet-friendly hotels in the area; if you plan to bring your dog along, it’s the perfect place to book a room. Amenities at the hotel include an outdoor swimming pool and a hot tub, both with clear ocean views. There’s also a boat launch and a fishing pier.
To stay like a local in Islamorada, Pines & Palms Resort offers oceanfront cottages with full kitchens and spacious bedrooms. The resort also has heated swimming pools, a tiki bar, and a boat ramp with no docking fees. All the cottages are surrounded by tall palm trees and show off stunning views of the water.
Situated on a wide stretch of white sand, Islander Resort has gorgeous rooms with tropical decorations. The resort features a beachside bar and lounge on-site offering dinner and happy hour specials every day. Enjoy the saltwater pool, hot tub, snorkeling, and biking.
Big Pine Key
✓ Top region in the Florida Keys for isolation and relaxation
Want to be far from the hustle and bustle of tourists? Settle down on Big Pine Key. Located between Key West and Marathon, Big Pine Key is known for its tranquil environment and untouched scenery. On this pristine island, you can snorkel, fish, or scuba drive uninterrupted.
Looe Key is also located in Big Pine. One of the largest and clearest reefs in the Keys, Looe Key is one of the area’s top snorkeling spots for both amateur and experienced divers. The sea life here is unmatched and includes turtles and hundreds of fish species.
If you’re bringing the kids, Big Pine Key has numerous attractions perfect for the whole family, including Theater of the Sea and National Key Deer Refuge.
For even more adventure, venture eastward to Bahia Honda State Park. Located along the Overseas Highway on Bahia Honda Key, the seaside park is one of the most beautiful state parks in the Florida Keys. You’ll love frolicking in its turquoise waters and traipsing through its nature trails.
Recommended hotels in Big Pine Key
Big Pine Key Resort offers beaches on the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. The waterfront resort has a rooftop pool, community grills, fishing piers, and boat docks. Planned activities occur throughout the week, offering a perfect way to make friends and interact with the community.
Located on Little Torch Key, Parmer’s Resort offers many different lodging options. Choose from cottages, suites, or small studios. Kayak or paddleboard through the Pine Channel canals or visit the nearby Bahia Honda Key State Park. The resort also offers boat tours or boat rentals, if you have a license.
This boutique-style bed & breakfast occupies a perfect location in the heart of Key Deer Refuge. The beach is small but clean, gleaming with soft white sand. With only four rooms, Deer Run on the Atlantic never gets crowded or loud. Staying here, you can spend your days relaxing in the sun, kayaking, or paddleboarding.