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Whether you’re a local looking for something fun to do or a visitor who’s made your way to the tropical paradise of Key West, there’s nothing quite like a rainy day to put a real damper on things. Lucky for you though, Key West’s treasures aren’t restricted to the great outdoors; and there’s a bunch of exploring you can do despite the less than ideal weather. So grab an umbrella, your sense of wonder, and get ready to have the very best time exploring these rainy day activities in Key West!

aquarium visitors at touch tank with tour guides

Key West Aquarium

Located in Key West’s famous Mallory Square, the Key West Aquarium is an interactive attraction that’s perfect for all ages! Given that Key West is home to the third largest barrier reef in the world (and the largest in North America), our aquarium is the perfect place to see and learn about the fascinating marine life of the Florida Keys! From jellyfish and hermit crabs to stingrays and sea turtles, get up close and personal with a variety of beautiful sea creatures and spend some time learning about the underwater world beneath the surface. Guests can enjoy interactive conservation talks as well as animal feedings. The aquarium’s touch tank features conchs, sea stars, sea urchins, giant hermit crabs and horseshoe crabs. Guests also have the unique opportunity to meet live sharks and stingrays. A couple of fun facts: our aquarium was Key West’s first tourist attraction and also the world’s first open air museum.

truman little white house front lawn

Truman Little White House

For those of you history buffs out there, here’s a rainy day activity you won’t want to miss! Right in the heart of Key West’s Old Town, the Truman Little White House was considered for many years the winter White House of our 33rd president, Harry S. Truman. Today, the Truman Little White House operates as a museum, allowing you to tour the home while embarking on a journey back through time. Enjoy a first-hand look at so many of the former president’s personal belongings and take some time to admire the original furnishings of a home that was once seen as a retreat and place of government business by our nation’s leaders.

Customs House

Rainy days are perfect for browsing through artwork; so if that sounds like something you might enjoy, then make your way over to the Customs House. Located near Mallory Square’s historic marina, the four story award-winning museum includes two whole floors of exhibitions that tell the story of an island in transition. From the Henry Flagler’s Overseas Highway exhibition to one featuring the Ghosts of East Martello, the museum (which was originally home to the Key West’s customs office, postal service, and district courts) is filled with plenty of art and history worth perusing through.

Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory

Rated one of the top things to do in Key West, the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory is another place to add to your rainy-day bucket list. With hundreds of beautiful butterfly and bird species flying around, experience a mini-rainforest of sorts all under a climate-controlled, glass enclosed habitat. Forget about the rain outside and take some time to relax in one of the most magical spots here in paradise.Then head into the gift shop because it’s one of the most popular on the island.

ernest hemingway house yard

Ernest Hemingway House

The six-toed cats! Okay, that’s not the only reason to visit the Ernest Hemingway House. Nestled in the heart of Old Town Key West, tour the home of the famous Nobel-Prize winning author who spent ten years on this island paradise. It’s said that Hemingway wrote some of his best work in this home, so enjoy a tour of his residence and studio where he was motivated to write the books that would become a part of his long-lasting legacy.

tropic cinema signage at night

Tropic Cinema

You know what sounds absolutely amazing on a gloomy rainy day? Enjoying a movie indoors with a giant bag of popcorn! Tropic Cinema, Key West’s non-profit movie theatre, is the perfect place to do just that, offering a diverse movie selection that includes blockbusters, independent films, and cinematic classics. With state-of-the-art digital projection, an art gallery, and concessions that don’t disappoint (wine & beer served), this is where you want to be if you’re looking to escape the rain for a while.

old town trolley driving in front of southernmost point buoy

Old Town Trolley Tour

If all of those activities sound great to you but you’re not really sure how to get there, by far the best way to get around the island is via the Old Town Trolley. These hop-on-hop-off tours stop at 13 different locations and give you the opportunity to see over 100 points of interests.

So there you have it! A few of our favorite things to do on a rainy day in Key West. Don’t let a little weather get in the way of exploring paradise!

Family Fun Earth Day Events

April 4th, 2018

Key West Aquarium Earth Day 2019

Sunday, April 7th – Free Local Sunday* Earth Day Celebration

Monday, April 22 – Earth Day Celebration

Celebrate Earth Day at the Key West Aquarium with locals and other guests on Free Local Sunday*, April 7th. Learn how you can protect the coral reefs with a fun-facts scavenger hunt, various crafts, coloring pages and much more! Activities and events will be taking place throughout the day from 11am – 4pm (included in your Aquarium ticket).

On Earth Day, April 22, the festivities continue for all guests visiting the Aquarium.


In addition, guests can explore the diverse local ecosystem at our touch tank where you can get in touch with conch, horseshoe crabs, sea urchins and most anything that crawls or moves on the ocean floor. There are a wide-range of exhibits to discover featuring sharks, jellyfish, sea turtles & a new isopods exhibit and even alligators!

We can’t wait to see all you Earthlings there!

*Key West residents can enjoy complimentary admission the first Sunday of every month with proof of Monroe County residency and photo ID.

The Florida Keys are one of 15 areas that are part of the National Marine Sanctuary. This program is administered by NOAA and protects 2,900 square nautical miles from Miami to Dry Tortugas. Within the barriers of the Florida Keys Sanctuary you will find that everything from history to living species are protected.

The Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary is home to over 6,000 species of marine life, shipwrecks and treasures, seagrass beds, mangroves and the world’s 3rd largest barrier reef.

Over 2 Million visitors come to the Florida Keys each year. That is a LOT of people to come through an area of  only 2,900 square miles. Of course, I don’t blame them for wanting to come here and enjoy our scenic views and wildlife. We have white sandy beaches, turquoise waters, chickens and iguanas that roam free and the most beautiful sunsets.

During your visit please keep in mind these Do’s and Don’ts:


– Move, remove, take, injure, touch, break, cut or possess coral/ live rock, protected wildlife or historical resources

– Discharge or deposit sewage from marine sanitation devices, trash, and other materials, except for cooling water or engine exhaust.

– Dredge, drill, or alter the seabed in any way including abandoning items on the seabed.

– Operate a vessel in a way to strike or injure coral, endanger life, limb, marine resources, property, seagrass, or other organisms living on the seabed, or cause prop scarring.

– Anchor your vessel on living coral in water less than 40 feet deep when the bottom can be seen. Anchoring on hard-bottom is allowed.

– Anchor your vessel 0n living or dead coral/ any organism attached to the seabed or when a mooring buoy is available.

– (Unless you are in a marked channel) Operate a vessel at more than 4 knots/no wake within 100 yards of shorelines, stationary vessels, navigational aids or within 100yds of a “divers down” flag.

– Dive or snorkel without a dive flag, touch or stand on living or dead coral.

– Damage or remove any markers, mooring buoys, equipment, boundary buoys, and trap buoys.

– Fish, remove, harvest, possess or land any marine life except as allowed by the FWC.

– Release exotic species



– Take pictures

– Pick up any waste/garbage that you find

– Report any mistreatment of living species you witness

– Fish under the regulations allowed by the FWC

– Anchor on a mooring buoy when available

– Observe marine life from a safe, respectful distance

– Visit the Key West Aquarium and the Eco-Discovery Center to learn more on conservation and protection efforts for the ecosystems in the Florida Keys





Part of what makes the Florida Keys such a fascinating place to visit is the abundant natural beauty and wildlife unique to this region. With the Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the Florida Keys are at the confluence of two subtropical ecosystems that are distinctive to the area. If you’re a nature lover hoping to spot unique wildlife while visiting the Florida Keys, here’s what to look for.

In the Sea

Whether you’ve come to fish, snorkel or simply take a dip in the crystal clear waters surrounding the Florida Keys, there’s an abundance of fascinating marine life to discover. The Florida Straits barrier reef stretches 170 miles up the coast and much of it is designated as a protected nature preserve. This is where you’ll find colorful subtropical fish and coral formations.

If you go snorkeling, keep your eyes peeled for yellowtail snapper, blue tang, rainbow parrotfish, angelfish and more. You also have a good chance of spotting sharks and sea turtles, as well as some of the more deep-water, pelagic fish that anglers are trolling for, like grouper, tuna and mahi-mahi. Hiding within the coral formations are the Keys’ own spiny lobsters. The region is also home to a healthy population of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins who often traverse the water in pods. It’s possible to spot them from land and sea.

In the Air

The Florida Keys are a true birder’s paradise. After all, John James Audubon discovered many of the bird species unique to the Florida Keys during his travels in the 1830s. The shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico’s backcountry are characterized by mangrove islands, turtle grass and sandbars, which are ideal nesting and breeding grounds for a wide variety of both fish and birds. Some of the Keys birds are migratory, like pelicans, and others live in the area year round, like kingfishers.

In the backcountry, you’re likely to spot cormorants diving for their lunch or sunbathing on a branch, while frigate birds sail on the air currents high above. Herons, cranes and even flamingos are sometimes found wading through the backcountry. The Keys are home to a wide variety of hawk species, including the bald eagle, but the osprey is the most common. On land, you’ll also spot seagulls, green parrots and pretty pink ibis pecking around for food or flying from one tree branch to the next.

On Land

rooster chickenA simple stroll down the sidewalk in the Keys can lead to some unique wildlife encounters. The Lower Keys are home to Key Deer, a specific breed with unusually short legs. You’ll also spot neon green iguanas in abundance. While they seem to fit into the scenery nicely, they’re actually an invasive species.

If you’re in Key West, there’s no shortage of chickens and roosters roaming freely, as well as cats. They’re part of the history and character of the island. You can also visit attractions like the Key West Aquarium and the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory to discover unique wildlife that’s typically found under the sea or fluttering through the air. Both destinations are excellent places to learn more about these fascinating animals.

Sea Turtle Conservation

October 4th, 2017

Our mission here at the Key West Aquarium is to educate the public about the dangers of these turtles face on a daily basis. The sea turtles in this facility would not be able to survive out in the wild with their injuries. By educating and making the public aware, our hopes are to minimize these senseless encounters and allow the sea turtle population to thrive as they once did.

Some of  the Sea Turtles in our care at the Key West Aquarium are:

Spike the Loggerhead Sea Turtle. Spike was found at roughly 9 inches in length with 3 of her 4 flippers eaten off by an unknown predator. She was treated for her wounds and has resided with us ever since. Loggerheads are an endangered species that inhabit the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian Oceans, and the Mediterranean Sea. They can reach a size of 8-9 feet in length, weigh 900-1000 lbs. and live an average of 60 years.

Lola the Kemps-Ridley Sea Turtle. Lola was found twice entangled in fishing line. The second time the line was so tight on her right front flipper that it had to be amputated. The Key West Aquarium has had her fitted with a prosthetic that she swims with during the day. Kemps-Ridleys are a critically endangered species that inhabit warm waters in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. They are the smallest of the sea turtles and only nest on one beach in Mexico. They average thirty inches in length, weigh up to 100 pounds and the average lifespan is unknown.

Lola trying on her prosthetic flipper she received in 2015.

Rocky the Green Sea Turtle. Rocky was struck by a boat early in his life. This caused the loss of his right front flipper and damage to his shell buoyant. The weights mounted to his shell help him to swim and lie flat when he chooses. Green Sea Turtles are an endangered species that inhabit the worlds tropical and subtropical oceans. They can reach a size of 5 feet, weigh an average of 400 pounds and live up to 80 years.

Hector the Hawksbill Sea Turtle. Hector was part of a head start program during the mid to late 1980’s. Head starting of the sea turtle hatchlings in captivity allowed the sea turtles to acheive a size large enough to avoid most predation. Hector was and remains a part of our educational program here at the Key West Aquarium. The hawksbill is a small to medium-sized marine turtle having an elongated oval shell with overlapping scutes on the carapace, a relatively small head with a distinctive hawk-like beak, and flippers with two claws.

Hunter the Loggerhead Sea Turtle. Hunter, an adult male loggerhead was originally admitted to the Turtle Hospital in Marathon, FL on August 8, 2o12. Hunter was emaciated with lockjaw, 5 fishing hooks were noted on the radiograph. After extensive rehab Hunter was released to the wild December 14, 2013. Hunter was rescued again on November 22, 2015. He had lockjaw and healed prop wounds from a boat strike. Hunter is fully recovered, eating and swimming well and a healthy body weight. He had surgery to remove a partial hook from his shoulder. The remaining two hooks are in areas that are too risky for surgery. Hunter is now placed here at the KWAQ where he can be closely monitored and will hopefully be released one day to the wild once the fishing hooks have degraded and are no longer an issue.

Hunter testing the waters of his new home in 2015.

Confiscated Marine Life

September 20th, 2017

The Key West Aquarium, along with NOAA and The Florida Wildlife Commission, are working hard to protect our environment. Illegal collection and transport of marine  tropicals for the aquarium trade is widely spreading. Without proper permits and transportation documents, marine tropicals are seized by government officials. The seized property is placed in facilities like this one until trial, as part of evidence until the case is settled.

Green bird wrasse, percula clownfish, sailfin tang, yellow tang, blue damsel, bamboo shark, bicolor parrotfish, banded eel, blue chromis, coral beauty angel, brown tang, and orange anthias are all commonly confiscated marine life. You can see these fish at the Key West Aquarium and learn more about them.


Key West’s waters are teeming with dolphins. Nothing compares to the trill of seeing these friendly, playful creatures frolic in the wild. Whether it’s on a dolphin watching excursion, a snorkel trip out to the reef or a sunset sail through the harbor, there’s always a chance of spotting a pod of dolphins surfing through the wake or jumping out of the water near the bow. You can also learn more about dolphins and their Key West habitat by visiting the Key West Aquarium. Read on for some fun facts about dolphins in Key West. Read the rest of this entry »

Whale Shark Awareness

August 24th, 2016

Though Whale Sharks are the largest fish on the planet, these “gentle giants” are filter-feeders and therefore are harmless to humans. Being a filter-feeder means these large creatures (which can reach over 40 ft.) feed on tiny ocean organisms- plankton. These fish have skeletons made entirely of cartilage, rather than bone like the majority of sea animals. The pattern of spots around the gill area on a Whale Shark are unique to each individual allowing researchers to identify individual sharks. The mouth of the whale shark can reach a width of approximately 3 feet.

Whale sharks can be found in waters of over 100 countries, but typically stay in tropical and warm temperate seas, both in oceanic and coastal waters.

Status: Vulnerable

Whale sharks live long lives and therefore mature late- doesn’t produce offspring until 30+ years of age.

Current threats to the whale shark include: habitat loss, coastal development, collision with boats, and disturbance by boats/divers engaged in irresponsible tourism activities.

Key West Waters

Key West’s waters are teeming with fascinating marine life. While the coral reef off the coast of Key West is home to a beautiful array of tropical fish, there are other underwater creatures lurking about. This is where Florida’s stone crabs and spiny lobsters come into play. These crustaceans hide within coral caves or dock pilings with their antennae or claws protruding for a hint at what’s beneath. They’re exciting to see in the wild, especially for fishermen since they’re amongst the water’s most prized catch.  Brush up on these fun facts about Florida stone crabs and spiny lobsters, then try to find them in the wild. Read the rest of this entry »

Queen Conch

June 1st, 2016

The Queen Conch produces a large spiral shell with “spines” on it. These spines are thought to be for protection, but to human touch they are dull and non-threathening. The conch’s shell has a wide lip that has a rich pink color. Inside the shell is where the head stays which has two pairs of tentacles– one provides eyes and the other provides the sense of touch and smell. Visible at the lip of the shell is the conch’s large foot.

Instead of gliding through the sand, the conch performs a “hopping” movement by thrusting it’s foot against the ocean floor which causes the shell to rise, and then throwing itself forward. The queen conch is found to be most active at night to feed on algae.

Once upon a time, the waters of Key West flourished with queen conchs. Unfortunately, due to over-fishing, it is now illegal to commercially and recreationally harvest this animal in the States.

Nowadays, the queen conch’s shell is prized by tourists, but was previously valued for its meat.

When you come to Key West, come on down to Mallory Square and visit the Key West Aquarium where you can interact with a live Queen Conch in our Touch Tank. You can also blow a Conch horn when you travel to the top of the Key West Shipwreck Museum, and while you’re in the square, make sure to check out the Conch Fritter Stand and try our islands favorite food!