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    25 Best Things To Do In Tulum, Mexico

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    Best Things To Do In Tulum, Mexico!
    Tulum, Mexico
    Once an idyllic sleepy village, Tulum has been transformed into a celebrity vacation playground. From cenotes to chilling on the beach — here are the best things to do in Tulum, Mexico!
    Home to an ancient Mayan city, Tulum was once called Zama or “City of Dawn”.
    Facing the sunrise, this tropical paradise destination along Mexico’s Riviera Maya has beautiful sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. It’s also a scuba diver’s paradise with many cenotes and caves to explore. 
    Tulum is a place where the ancient and the modern world blend together. Today you’ll find a mix of ancient Mayan ruins, yoga retreats, shopping, restaurants, and plenty of famous people who flock here to refresh their mind, body, and soul.
    I’ve spent a lot of time in Tulum over the years while living on and off in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, and wanted to put together a guide on what to do in Tulum for first-time visitors.
    My Tulum itinerary is completely free! I’ve worked hard putting it together for you. If you find it useful, please use my affiliate links when you book hotels, rental cars or activities. I’ll get paid a small commission, at no extra cost to you! Thanks.

    Table Of Contents

    Mexico Travel Restrictions 2021
    Mexico is open to most travelers again, including American tourists. However you do need proof of your COVID-19 vaccination(s) or a negative test result before being allowed entry.
    Many hotels, attractions, and private tours are open with new health & safety protocols in place, and you still have to follow certain guidelines.
    You can find the latest updates on traveling to Mexico here.

    Mexico’s Riviera Maya
    Tulum Mexico Travel Guide
    1: Visit The Tulum Ruins (Archeological Site)
    Tulum’s Ancient Mayan Ruins
    The Tulum Archeological Site is an impressive 13th-century cliff-top Mayan city which is the highlight of any trip to Tulum. Set 12-meters high overlooking the shimmering Caribbean sea, the ruins are the perfect backdrop for photos.
    The 5-meter tall walls that surrounded the city, may have something to do with the name Tulum, which is the Maya word for fence. 
    Some important structures at the Tulum ruins are the Templo Dios del Viento or Temple of the God of the Wind, Pyramid El Castillo, Temple of the Descending God, and the Temple of the Frescoes. 
    Gates open at 8 AM, but the lines here are so long that you should get here 1 or 2 hours earlier to actually get in right as it opens. 
    ➜ Read My Guide To Visiting Tulum’s Ruins Here

    Tour Of Tulum & Coba
    Explore 2 archaeological sites in one day, as well as a Mayan village and swimming in a cenote.

    2: Explore Tulum Pueblo (El Centro)
    Tulum Pueblo
    Tulum is actually split up into 3 different areas, all commonly described as “Tulum”, which can make things a bit confusing for first time visitors.
    Tulum Town (aka Tulum Pueblo, or El Centro) is where locals in Tulum actually do business. Here you’ll find grocery stores, local restaurants, and other Mexican shops.
    Tulum Beach (aka Tulum Hotel Zone) is where all the beaches, resorts, and tourist shopping is. This is actually a 5-10 minute drive away from Tulum Town. Walking this distance would take about an hour (not recommended). A bike or taxi should be used instead.
    And finally there are the Tulum Ruins, which I described above. The ruins are located North of both the town and the beach.
    A few good places to stop in Tulum Town to get a feel for local Mexican life include La Chiapaneca for street tacos, Del Cielo for breakfast or brunch, and Huerto del Eden if you love fresh juice and coffee.

    3: Relax On Tulum’s Best Beaches
    Beautiful Playa Paraisao
    Tulum has so many lush beaches with soft sands and dazzling waters, it’s difficult to choose which beach to get some sun at. Here are our top choices amongst Tulum’s white sandy beaches. 
    Playa Paraisao – Powder white sands, clear shallow waters, beach bars and coconut palms. Playa Ruinas – The climb down the cliff face to this isolated beach is worth it. Pack some snacks because you won’t find any here. Ziggy’s Beach – A private beach that you pay $35 to enter, but includes use of a lounge chair. This family friendly beach is perfect for some quiet time with family.  Santa Fe Beach – This relaxing public beach north of Playa Paraisao, and just South of the ruins, is dotted with tiny shacks to grab a bite or drink.Sunrise Beach – if you’re looking for some real quiet, visit this beach. Especially at sunrise.

    One thing most people don’t know is that Tulum can sometimes get hit with a sargassum seaweed invasion, making the pristine white sand beaches — a little less pristine. The seaweed comes and goes each year, and if you’re unlucky, it may be around during your visit.
    Hotels and resorts try to clean it up from the beaches when they can, but sometimes it can overwhelm an area. The seaweed is harmless, but it can start to rot and smell bad if it isn’t removed right away.
    4: Sian Ka’an Biosphere
    Exploring Sian Ka’an Reserve
    Sian Ka’an means “gate to heaven” or “origin of the sky”. The Sian Ka’an Biosphere is located just south of Tulum, and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987. 
    Sian Ka’an covers 5280 km² and is home to over 300 species of birds, 120 km of coastline, diverse flora and fauna, coral reefs, a lagoon and around 23 Mayan archaeological sites.
    A popular activity is to book a Sian Ka’an boat tour or kayaking tour to explore the jungle mangroves and saltwater lagoons. There are also snorkeling trips too. It’s possible to see dolphins, turtles, manatees, and all kinds of bird life on these trips.

    5: Swim (Or Scuba Dive) In Cenotes
    Cenote Taak Bi Ha
    You can’t visit Tulum, Mexico and not visit a cenote. The Tulum cenotes are natural sinkholes that over time filled with water developed marine life. Some of the cenotes also include underwater archaeological sites and relics. 
    With the Riviera Maya being home to the largest underground cave system in the world, connecting at least 226 different cenotes, there are many beautiful underground caverns and caves to explore. Some of my favorite cenotes near Tulum include:
    Gran Cenote – The most popular cenote in Tulum with waters that are considered sacred, it’s the entrance of the Sistema Sac Actun.Casa Cenote – Surrounded by mangroves with a tunnel that heads right out to the sea.Dos Ojos Cenote – Called Two Eyes Cenote, this one has great snorkeling and cave diving (if you’re a licensed scuba diver).Calavera – Looks like a skull from below, and holds pottery relics.Cenote Aktun Ha – Nicknamed Carwash Cenote, it was once used for washing cars. It’s perfect for swimming or diving in its underground cavern. Cenote Zacil-Ha – A family friendly cenote with restaurants and cabanas nearby.

    6: Take A Yoga Class
    Yoga Classes at Sunrise
    Tulum is a bit of a hippie and new-age destination, and as such, you’ll find plenty of yoga retreats, music therapy sessions, and other kinds of health and wellness activities.
    If you’re looking to unwind and immerse yourself in some yoga sessions during your visit, check out Naga Tulum.

    7: Climb The Mayan Ruins Of Coba
    The Mayan Ruins of Coba
    About 45 minutes away from Tulum you’ll find Coba. Tall pyramids look out over the surrounding jungle. Once inhabited by almost 50,000 souls, these ruins date back to the Middle and Late Classic periods (500 to 900 AD) of the Mayan civilization. However, Coba has been inhabited as far back as 50 BC.
    The most visited sites at Coba include the Nohoch Mul Pyramid, Sacbe, Coba Group, Coba Stelae, Macanxoc Group and Conjunto de Pinturas. One of the unique features of this Mayan site is the ability to actually climb the main pyramid — something you can’t do at other ruins.   
    8: Visit Yal-Ku Lagoon
    Yal Ku Lagoon & Cenote
    About 33 minutes drive from Tulum, the Yal Ku Cenote is popular for snorkeling and bathing. 
    What’s different about Yal Ku? 
    It’s a cenote that flows in a lagoon that is also an inlet for the sea. Because of the mix of sea water and fresh water, the lagoon is the perfect snorkeling spot. The shallow waters near the cenote teem with small fish, while the deeper waters near the sea are filled with turtles, rays, and bigger fish. 
    There are stores near the ends that offer snacks and snorkeling and diving gear on rent.  

    Shopping in Tulum
    Tulum is a popular shopping destination. Boutique shops sell souvenirs, traditional Mayan clothing, and even some eclectic Western designs.
    Some popular stores to visit are Wanderlust, Pura Vida Tulum, Arte Sano, and La Troupe. You’ll also find great buys at the street-lined stalls. Be prepared to pay Western prices though!
    10: Eat At Local Restaurants
    Fresh Fish Anyone?
    You don’t have to visit the best restaurants in Tulum, Mexico to get a taste of local food. Grab someamazing bites some of the local shacks instead. Here are our favorites. 
    Matcha Mama – Serving plant based smoothies, kombuchas and acai bowls, they’re very popular on Instagram. Burrito Amor – The best burritos in Mexico!Raw Love – A vegan cafe with a hippie vibe that’s popular for raw chocolate and vegan delicacies.  The Dining Experience – If you’re above 18, you can eat at their communal table where you’ll enjoy a 7-course dinner and free-flowing alcohol while the hosts explain the food to you.Origami – Go here for the best gelato!Hartwood – Topping the list of the best restaurants in Tulum, you’ll enjoy wood-fire cooked meals made with local ingredients. Flor de Michoacan – They make fresh fruit popsicles that look and taste amazing!
    11: Check Out The Nightlife!
    Mexican Mezcal
    The nightlife is Tulum is happening, and beach bars are full almost every evening with weekends getting quite crowded. Here are some of the best bars in Tulum. 
    Gitano – Grab drinks at this open air jungle bar while snacking on appetizers!Papaya Playa Project – Popular for the full moon and weekend parties. Todos Santos – Good vibes and spectacular cocktails!Batey – Mojito & Guarapo Bar – Popular for the blue-colored beetle parked outside, this bar is famous for its local cocktails using fruits like the prickly pear! 
    And don’t forget to drink Mezcal at any of the local bars. It’s an agave liquor that you’ll find in many Mexican cocktails. 
    12: Visit A Mexican Adventure Park
    Rio Secreto Adventure Park
    Throughout the Riviera Maya you’ll find a series of outdoor adventure theme parks that were built to take advantage of the natural landscape in the Yucatan Peninsula.
    Some of the most popular ones are Xcaret, Xel Ha, Xplor and Rio Secreto. They’re like organized adventures that will take you zip-lining through the trees, swimming in caves, driving ATVs, or snorkeling with colorful fish.
    A great way for families to spend a day in Mexico, but adults will have a good time at these theme parks too. I think my favorite was Rio Secreto, because it feels a little more authentic and less touristy.
    13: Water Sports Activities
    Kiteboarding in Tulum
    The crystal clear waters of Tulum are perfect for water sports. Paddle boarding, canoeing, kayaking, wind surfing, and boating are popular. So are river tubing, and snorkeling and diving in the cenotes. But the most touristy thing to do is kite boarding or kite surfing. 
    On land, there are also jungle tours, zip lining and rappelling adventures in nearby ranches. 
    14: Find Tulum’s Famous Instagram Spots
    Ven a La luz Sculpture
    Some of the architecture in the Hotel Zone is not to be missed. Hotel Azulik looks like something from a movie. Ahau Tulum has a giant wooden sculpture that invites you into its bosom. The Macondo restaurant in Nomade looks like a Moroccan Dream. 
    And then there are the murals by local artists that can be found all around Tulum Town. It’s an Instagram addict’s dream come true!
    Ven a La luz sculpture (Ahau Resort)The Tulum SignCrooked Palm Tree (Playa Paraiso Beach Club)Beach Swings (Coco Tulum)Matcha MamaFollow That Dream Sign
    15: Join A Temazcal Ceremony
    Get Your Sweat On!
    One very unique thing to do in Tulum while getting a taste of Mayan culture is take part in a Temazcal ceremony. This traditional Mayan ceremony of purification takes place in a tiny hut made of stone or wood. You strip down to your underwear (or swimsuit), and enter the sweat lodge which is heated with hot rocks & water, turning it into a steamy sauna.
    The ceremony is led by a local shaman, who conducts the ritual and takes care of participants. The temazcal ceremony takes place in complete darkness, as the shaman pours water over the hot rocks, chanting and using different herbs to summon spirits.
    Temazcal was performed since ancient times, and seen as a purification ceremony that cleans the body, mind, and soul. As your body is sweating in the tiny hut, you enter a deep state of meditation, enhanced by the shamanic chanting.
    16: Laguna De Kaan Luum
    Laguna Kaan Luum
    Looking like the blue hole in Belize, the Laguna Kaam Luum is one of the best kept Tulum secrets. The waters of the lagoon supposedly have magical properties and you’re allowed to take a swim for 100 pesos. For an extra 300 pesos you can also fly a drone here. 
    Kaan Luum is also perfect for diving with the deeper area cordoned off to prevent entry to swimmers. 
    17: Drive To Chichen Itza
    The Famous Ruins of Chichen Itza
    One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s also the most visted Mayan ruins in Mexico.
    The massive city complex built by the Mayans thrived from 525 AD to 1200 AD. Entrance costs about 80 + 417 pesos.
    One of the most popular places to visit while staying in Tulum, Yucatan, it’s a two hour drive from Tulum Town in a rental car, but there are also many organized tours that will take you there. 

    Chichen Itza Tour
    Skip the line at Mexico’s most famous archaeological site, visit a colonial town, and swim in a cenote.

    18: Rent A Bicycle
    Exploring Tulum by Bicycle
    Hire a bike and wander around Tulum on your own. A bike’s also handy to visit most beaches and restaurants that are about 30 minutes bike ride from Tulum Centro. 
    Or take a bike tour to explore local culture or old ruins while traveling along the Mayan back roads and hidden paths. 
    19: Visit Pablo Escobar’s Beach House
    Casa Malca Resort
    Pablo Escobar was a Colombian drug lord who founded the Medellin Cartel and was shot dead in 1993. His mansion in the Tulum jungle was bought by art collector Lio Malca in 2012 and turned into an art hotel called Casa Malca.
    Stop by to see contemporary pieces of art from Leo Malca’s collection as well as vintage furniture. But remember, if you’re not actually a hotel guest and would like to visit — you’re required to spend at least 1000 pesos (about $50 USD) on drinks, food, etc. 

    20: Check Out The Muyil Ruins
    Muyil Pyramid
    Located inside the Sian Ka’an Biosphere, the Muyil Ruins displaying Peten architecture date as far back as 350 BC. Set along an old trade route to Coba, the ruins also known as Chunyaxché are very close to the Sian Ka’an Lagoon.
    Apart from the main ruins such as the 17-meter tall Castillo, you can also climb to an observation deck to see the surrounding countryside. 

    Seasonal Seaweed on Tulum’s Beaches
    Best Time To Visit Tulum
    January – April
    Excellent weather, with lots of sun and mild temperatures in the 80’s F. However this is also the high season, so there are many more tourists. Lots of Canadians and Americans come down for the winter.
    May – October
    These are the hottest and rainiest months of the year. The heat and humidity can be too much for some people. September and October is also hurricane season for the area. Far fewer tourists though.
    November – December
    This is my favorite time to visit Tulum, because the weather isn’t super hot, hurricane season is over, but the high season for tourists hasn’t started yet.
    Frequent Traffic Jams in Tulum
    Getting To Tulum
    Most people get to Tulum after flying into Cancun International Airport. Search for the cheapest flights to Cancun on From the airport, you can book a private shuttle or take the public ADO bus (much cheaper). Buses leave every 30 minutes and cost about 300 pesos ($15 USD).
    NOTE: Traffic is terrible along Tulum’s beach road. A crowded mix of taxis, supply trucks, and tourists on bicycles makes it a mess. Be VERY careful on the road here, and don’t expect to get anywhere fast in a car during the high-season.
    Rental Car
    The best site to book your car is with Discover Cars. They search both local and international car rental companies to help you find the best possible price. This is the easiest way to rent a car and drive in Mexico.
    Renting a car offers the best flexibility to explore more remote and less touristy spots on the Yucatan Peninsula. It’s my favorite way to get around!
    Tulum Taxis
    There are no Ubers in Mexico, but there are taxis. Taking a taxi is what most tourists do, but beware that the Yucatan has a “taxi mafia” that charges high prices whenever they think they can get away with it. Always settle on the price before getting in.
    Cycling is a popular way to get around locally. For about USD 10 (Mex$200) you can rent a bike for the entire day. Your hotel should have bikes on hand. If not, pick bikes from Ola Bike Tulum or IBike Tulum. 
    There are a bunch of airport shuttle services offering rides from Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen, and they’ll be sure to harass you at the airport exit. The most popular one is probably Cancun Airport Transportation. 
    ADO Buses
    Buses in the Yucatan Peninsula are run by the ADO bus company. You can use these buses to get from Tulum Town or Tulum Centro to the Tulum Ruins or Tulum Zona Arqueológica, or literally anywhere in the Yucatan Peninsula. You can buy tickets in advance if you want to, but most times you’ll be fine buying a ticket just before entering the bus. 
    Other local buses include the Mayab that goes to the Coba ruins where ADO doesn’t reach.
    Colectivos are local minivans that transport a group of people to and fro. This is the cheapest way to get around Tulum and the Yucatan Peninsula. These are what the locals use to get around the city, but routes can be confusing if you don’t speak Spanish.
    Best Hotels in Tulum
    Where To Stay In Tulum
    Accommodation in Tulum can range from backpacker friendly to luxurious. The best areas to stay are Col Huracanes for the pubs and nightlife, Tulum Playa for the beaches, or Tulum Pueblo for something budget friendly.


    Tulum Travel Tips & Advice
    Tulum regularly has a seaweed problem, where stinky green stuff washes up and covers the beautiful white sand beaches. Resorts try to clean it up, but aren’t always successful.Pay in pesos instead of dollars so you don’t get ripped off. Skip January to March as it’s super crowded and June to October is rainy. To avoid the crowds, best visit during November and December. Be prepared not to have internet access in Tulum since WiFi is really slow in most places.If you’re staying at the luxury hotels, take advantage of the free spas and complimentary wine. There are only a few free public beaches in Tulum. The best beaches will require you to pay for entrance at a beach club.

    I hope you enjoyed my guide on what to do in Tulum, Mexico! Hopefully you found it useful. Here are a few more wanderlust-inducing articles that I recommend you read next:

    Have any questions about things to do in Tulum, Mexico? What about other suggestions? Drop me a message in the comments below!



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    img#mv-trellis-img-1::before{padding-top:66.666666666667%; }img#mv-trellis-img-1{display:block;}img#mv-trellis-img-2::before{padding-top:66.666666666667%; }img#mv-trellis-img-2{display:block;}img#mv-trellis-img-3::before{padding-top:150%; }img#mv-trellis-img-3{display:block;}img#mv-trellis-img-4::before{padding-top:150%; }img#mv-trellis-img-4{display:block;}img#mv-trellis-img-5::before{padding-top:125%; }img#mv-trellis-img-5{display:block;}img#mv-trellis-img-6::before{padding-top:66.666666666667%; }img#mv-trellis-img-6{display:block;}img#mv-trellis-img-7::before{padding-top:66.666666666667%; }img#mv-trellis-img-7{display:block;}img#mv-trellis-img-8::before{padding-top:66.666666666667%; }img#mv-trellis-img-8{display:block;}img#mv-trellis-img-9::before{padding-top:66.666666666667%; }img#mv-trellis-img-9{display:block;}img#mv-trellis-img-10::before{padding-top:66.666666666667%; }img#mv-trellis-img-10{display:block;}img#mv-trellis-img-11::before{padding-top:66.666666666667%; }img#mv-trellis-img-11{display:block;}img#mv-trellis-img-12::before{padding-top:66.666666666667%; }img#mv-trellis-img-12{display:block;}img#mv-trellis-img-13::before{padding-top:66.666666666667%; }img#mv-trellis-img-13{display:block;}img#mv-trellis-img-14::before{padding-top:66.666666666667%; }img#mv-trellis-img-14{display:block;}img#mv-trellis-img-15::before{padding-top:66.666666666667%; }img#mv-trellis-img-15{display:block;}img#mv-trellis-img-16::before{padding-top:66.666666666667%; }img#mv-trellis-img-16{display:block;}img#mv-trellis-img-17::before{padding-top:150%; }img#mv-trellis-img-17{display:block;}img#mv-trellis-img-18::before{padding-top:150%; }img#mv-trellis-img-18{display:block;}img#mv-trellis-img-19::before{padding-top:66.666666666667%; }img#mv-trellis-img-19{display:block;}img#mv-trellis-img-20::before{padding-top:66.666666666667%; }img#mv-trellis-img-20{display:block;}img#mv-trellis-img-21::before{padding-top:66.666666666667%; }img#mv-trellis-img-21{display:block;}img#mv-trellis-img-22::before{padding-top:150%; }img#mv-trellis-img-22{display:block;}img#mv-trellis-img-23::before{padding-top:150%; }img#mv-trellis-img-23{display:block;}img#mv-trellis-img-24::before{padding-top:66.666666666667%; }img#mv-trellis-img-24{display:block;}img#mv-trellis-img-25::before{padding-top:66.666666666667%; }img#mv-trellis-img-25{display:block;}img#mv-trellis-img-26::before{padding-top:66.666666666667%; }img#mv-trellis-img-26{display:block;}img#mv-trellis-img-27::before{padding-top:66.666666666667%; }img#mv-trellis-img-27{display:block;}img#mv-trellis-img-28::before{padding-top:150%; }img#mv-trellis-img-28{display:block;}img#mv-trellis-img-29::before{padding-top:150%; }img#mv-trellis-img-29{display:block;}img#mv-trellis-img-30::before{padding-top:171.42857142857%; }img#mv-trellis-img-30{display:block;}img#mv-trellis-img-31::before{padding-top:171.42857142857%; }img#mv-trellis-img-31{display:block;} Best Things to Do in Rome, Italy! Rome, Italy Rome’s Baroque and Renaissance churches, towering temples, hidden catacombs, and mythical fountains make Italy’s […] More

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    Mysteries Of Matera: Italy’s Stone-Age City Of Caves

    Exploring the Cave City of Matera Matera, Italy The town of Matera, Italy has a long and fascinating history. And I mean . It is one of the oldest continually inhabited settlements in the world, estimated to be settled in the 10th millennium BC (that’s about 10,000 years ago!). And sporadically settled for … So […] More

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    15 Things To See & Do In NYC On A Budget (Plus Money-Saving Tips!)

    Best Things to do In New York New York is an amazing city to visit as a tourist. I’ve been a handful of times now, and always look forward to it. There’s so much to do! But it’s also expensive. Today, my friend & travel author Matt Kepnes shares tips for things to do in New York City on a budget after living there for many years. Tips are his, photos are mine. Here’s Matt: New York is one of my favorite cities. In fact, I love it so much I lived there for close to five years. I can never get enough of it! To me, NYC is the center of the world, with people, foods, and cultures from everywhere. It has a wild nightlife scene, and there’s a never-ending list of things to see, do, and experience. You can never be bored in NYC.  But, as awesome as it is, it can easily break the most hardened of budgets without proper planning. Tourists often decry New York’s cost, but this is also place of starving artists and underpaid interns. To be a local is to know where the deals are.  Despite what most people think, it’s actually possible to have a fun, budget-friendly trip to the Big Apple without breaking the bank — if you know where to look. So, if you want to take it in without spending a fortune, here are the bestthings to do in New York on a budget: Table Of Contents 1: Take A Free Walking Tour Anna & I Walking Around New York The first thing I do in a new destination is take a walking tour. They’re the best way to orient yourself, see the main sights, and interact with an expert local guide who can answer all your questions.  If you’re on a tight budget, I recommend Free Tours by Foot. Just make sure to tip your guide at the end! For paid tours, go with Take Walks, which has specific ones that focus on art, food, and history; they are pretty affordable too (starting at $60 USD). 2: Wander Central Park Exploring Central Park with Poofy The heart of New York City, Central Park spans over 150 square blocks (840 acres). You can easily spend all day relaxing and wandering around. During the summer, there are often free concerts and theater productions (arrive early for tickets to Shakespeare in the Park). From the late spring to the early fall, there also are free guided walks organized by the parks service on Saturdays. Central Park is the best place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Bring a book, pack a lunch, and come lounge the day away.  3: Walk The High Line Check Out High Line Park This is one of my favorite things to do in New York. Made from a converted elevated train track, the High Line is an urban walking park on the west side of town. The path stretches over twenty blocks (1.45 miles) and is extremely popular in the summer. Lined with overlooks, gardens, public art, and food stalls, this linear park is one of the best things to do on a nice day. Just avoid the weekends, when it gets extra busy! 4: See The Statue Of Liberty Meet Lady Liberty! Visiting the Statue of Liberty up close will cost over $20 USD and involve waiting in a long line. If that doesn’t sound appealing, simply hop on the free Staten Island Ferry. It crosses the harbor and provides a decent view of both the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline. The ride takes about 25 minutes. 5: Visit Trinity Church Built in 1698, Trinity was originally a small parish chapel constructed by the Church of England. When the British seized New York after George Washington’s retreat during the Revolutionary War, it was used as a British base of operations. In 1776, a massive fire swept through New York and consumed the original church (as well as 25% of the entire city). The new building was consecrated in 1790 and was regularly attended by George Washington and Alexander Hamilton.  The graveyard has many a famous American buried in it, such as Hamilton and his wife Elizabeth, Francis Lewis (a signatory of the Declaration of Independence), John Alsop (a Continental Congress delegate), Horatio Gates (a Continental Army general), and Lord Stirling (also a Continental Army general). 6: See The 9/11 Memorial 911 Memorial & One World Trade Center This memorial was built to commemorate the nearly 3,000 people who died in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. There are two massive reflecting pools where the Twin Towers once stood, along with the names of all the victims. There is a museum as well, with all kinds of multimedia exhibits about the attacks, including survivor stories and artifacts. While the memorial is free, admission to the museum is $26 USD.  7: Attend A Broadway Show For Cheap Check Out a Play on Broadway You can’t go to Manhattan and not see a Broadway show, of which there is a wide variety, from modern musicals to Shakespeare to quirky, offbeat plays. There’s nothing better than live theater, as it’s such an integral part of life in New York. If you’re on a budget, don’t settle for full-priced tickets. Instead, visit the TKTS booth in Times Square to get half-price tickets. You’ll need to wait in line, but you’ll save a ton! 8: Wander Times Square Hang Out in Times Square As touristy as it is, no visit to NYC is complete without a stop at Times Square. No matter when you go, it will be packed with people (usually other tourists). If you aren’t shopping or eating or seeing a show, there isn’t much to do in the area (and no locals hang out there), but it’s still a neat place to people-watch and get a feel for just how vast and bustling the Big Apple is.  9: Visit The Museum Of Modern Art New York’s Museum of Modern Art The Museum of Modern Art is home to some beautiful (and weird) modern art. Personally, I dislike that style (call me old-fashioned, but I just don’t get it), but the MoMA also has Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” as well as other impressionist and post-impressionist art. So, even if you’re not a modern-art fan, it’s still worth a visit. And if you do love contemporary and modern art, this is (apparently) one of the best places in the world to experience it. To keep your budget afloat, on Fridays after 4pm, the museum is free! More Free Museums In NYC New York City is full of some of the best museums in the world. In addition to MoMA, many offer pay-what-you-wish entry on certain days of the week. Whitney Museum of American Art (Thursdays)The Guggenheim (Saturday Afternoons)Cooper-Hewitt National Museum of Design (Saturday Nights) 10: Relax In Battery Park Explore Battery Park Battery Park is where the Dutch built Fort Amsterdam in 1625 to defend their settlement. Located on the southern tip of Manhattan, the fort’s cannon battery (hence the name) wasn’t used until 1776, when American forces seized it after declaring independence. The fort was destroyed during the Revolutionary War; however, the battery was expanded afterward. Today, there are over 20 monuments and plaques in the park, covering everything from the War of 1812 to the War of Independence to immigration and much more. 11: Visit The Bronx Zoo Visit the Zoo! Admission to the Bronx Zoo is free on Wednesdays at one of the oldest and biggest zoos in the United States. Opened in 1899 and now welcoming over 2 million visitors each year, it encompasses almost 300 acres and is home to over 650 different species, including gorillas, birds of prey, tigers, elephants, anacondas, bison, and much more! It’s a great place to visit, especially with kids. 12: Attend A TV Show Taping Be a TV Audience Member If you’re planning your trip in advance, try getting tickets to a TV taping. Shows like Saturday Night Live, The View, Late Night with Stephen Colbert, The Daily Show, Last Week Tonight, and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon all offer free tickets. But they need to be reserved in advance, as there is a limited number, so be sure to submit requests for multiple shows to increase your chances of securing one or more. See each show’s website for details and to make reservations. 13: See Federal Hall Federal Hall is one of the most overlooked museums in town. Originally built in 1700, it is where George Washington took his oath of office (you can see the Bible he was sworn in on). It was also the site of the US Customs House in the late 1700s and was the first capitol building of the United States. The original building was demolished in 1812; the current one dates to 1842. I especially love the old vaults. Best of all, admission is free! 14: Walk The Brooklyn Bridge Walking along the Brooklyn Bridge The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the world’s most iconic sights. It offers an easy 25-minute stroll into (or out of) Brooklyn, though expect to spend closer to 40 minutes if you stop to snap photos. You’ll get a wonderful panorama of Manhattan as you make your way across — especially if you go at night when the skyline is all lit up. (There are fewer crowds then too.) 15: Explore Grand Central Terminal Grand Central Station in NYC Aside from being a transit hub, Grand Central is also a landmark and an attraction unto itself. The main concourse is 88,000 square feet, which on sunny days is bathed in sunlight from its giant arching windows. The terminal’s 12-story-high ceiling is painted with stars and gilded zodiac constellations. This station also has incredible food and drink options, including its famous oyster bar and The Campbell Bar (a cocktail bar).  Extra Money-Saving Tips For NYC Saving Money in New York City To help you save a few extra bucks during your visit to New York City, here are some money-saving tips to keep your budget under control: Get a MetroCard -You’ll be taking the subway a lot in New York, and fares can add up. Get an unlimited MetroCard and save yourself a bundle. A week’s pass pays for itself after 11 trips, which you can easily make, even if you are only visiting for a few days.Hit happy hours -NYC is awash in $1-2 oyster happy hours, $4 drink specials, bottomless brunches, and much, much more. Some of my favorite spots include: The Mermaid Inn, Jeffery’s Grocery, Carroll Place, Ofrenda, and The Frying Pan.Eat cheap – Between the food carts, dollar-a-slice pizza shops (literally $1 for a cheese slice), kebab joints, and ethnic eateries, you can eat really affordably in New York. Some of my favorites are The Dead Rabbit (cheap oyster happy hours), Percy’s Pizza ($1 slices), Noodle Q (Chinese food in big portions), and Gray’s Papaya (cheap hotdogs).Get a discount pass -If you’re planning on seeing a lot of the main attractions, get a discount pass. The CityPASS, the Explorer Pass, and the New York Pass all offer discounts to the main sights, such as the Empire State Building, Top of the Rock (the observatory at Rockefeller Center), the 9/11 Museum, the Met, and more. Passes start around $100 USD, so you’ll need to make sure you’re going to see a lot to get your money’s worth. Embrace the sharing economy -NYC has a huge Couchsurfing community. As long as you send your request well in advance, you shouldn’t have a problem finding someone to host you for a couple of days. This will drastically cut down on your accommodation costs. If staying with a stranger isn’t your cup of tea, there are also plenty of fun, cheap hostels too. While it’s an expensive destination, there are tons of free and cheap things to do in New York that won’t blow your budget. Follow the list of above, fill your days (and nights) with fun, and leave with memories…and not an empty wallet. ★ Travel Planning Resources For New YorkPacking GuideCheck out my travel gear guide to help you start packing for your trip.Book Your FlightReady to fly? Here’s how I find the cheapest airline flights.Rent A CarDiscover Cars is a great site for comparing car prices to find a deal.Cheap AccommodationLearn how I save money booking hotels & vacation apartments.Protect Your TripDon’t forget travel insurance! Protect yourself from possible injury & theft abroad. Read why you should always carry travel insurance. READ MORE UNITED STATES TRAVEL TIPS I hope you enjoyed this guide on the best things to do in New York City! Hopefully you found it useful. Here are a few more wanderlust-inducing articles that I recommend you read next: Awesome New York City Helicopter FlightThe Best Of Key West, FloridaCanoeing Minnesota’s Boundary WatersMy Asheville North Carolina Travel GuideExploring Hawaii’s Grand Canyon Have any questions about things to do in New York City? What about other suggestions? Drop me a message in the comments below! SHARE TWEET PIN More

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    25 Best Things To Do In Key West Florida

    Best Things To Do In Key West, Florida!
    Key west, Florida
    The highlight of the Florida Keys Islands, Key West is situated at the very end of Florida’s Overseas Highway. Here’s what to do in Key West to have an amazing trip.
    Popular for its sunny days, quirky residents, wild nightlife, pastel colored homes, and beautiful coral reefs — Key West, Florida is the perfect road trip destination from Miami for people looking to escape winter.
    First explored by Ponce de Leon in 1521, Key West became a US territory in 1822, and has since been an island home to greats like Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams.
    The self-proclaimed Conch Republic is probably the best known island of the Florida Keys. After multiple trips to the Florida Keys, I’ve found that there are many cool things to do in Key West that most people miss…
    If you’re planning to spend some time in Key West, I wanted to recommend some of my favorite fun and unusual things to do, no matter what time of year you visit.

    Table Of Contents

    Best Things To Do In Key West Guide
    1: Ernest Hemingway House & Cats
    Earnest Hemingway’s House
    Built in 1851 in the French Colonial style, the home of the famous author Ernest Hemingway is located near the Key West Lighthouse at 907 Whitehead Street. It was turned into a museum after his passing and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1968.
    Hemingway owned a polydactyl (six-toed) cat named Snow White, given to him by a ship’s captain. These days the house is full of 6-toed descendants which can be seen lounging around the grounds!
    Visiting the house, and these odd cats with six toes, is one of the most popular things to do in Key West.
    2: Climb The Key West Lighthouse
    Built in 1848, visiting the Key West Lighthouse and climbing up the 88 steps to check out the view from the top is one of the top things to do in the Keys. When it first opened with a female lighthouse keeper, it was quite a 19th century rarity.
    While it hasn’t been used as a functioning lighthouse since 1969, the museum stands testament to the maritime heritage of the island. And you can visit the Keeper quarters which are now home to a museum.

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    3: Take A Sunset Sailing Cruise
    Key West has Amazing Sunsets!
    One of the most popular things to do in Key West is book a sunset sailing cruise, and have a few drinks while sailing around the harbor watching one of Key West’s legendary colorful sunsets.
    You can join a large catamaran style party boat, or charter a private experience on a smaller sailing yacht. Either way, it’s a worthwhile experience. Some of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen were here in Key West.

    Sunset Sailing Experience

    Sail around Key West at sunset, enjoying the cool ocean breeze while sipping a cocktail (or two).

    4: Ride The Conch Tour Train
    Ride the Conch Train!
    This world famous train starts at Front Street Depot and the train engineers delight guests with popular legends and stories on a 75-minute journey through Old Town Key West.
    Running since 1958, the train is one of the most popular things to do in Florida Keys. It’s a bit cheesy, but you learn a lot about the history of the area.
    5: Eat Like A Local
    Florida is the home some delicious food like oranges, Key Lime Pie, Conch Fritters, Stone Crabs, Dole Whips, and fried Gator Bites. Which is why you can’t skip eating any of these popular foods while in Key West. Some great restaurants in Key West you’ll definitely want to check out include:
    Sloppy Joe’s
    The Green Parrot
    Louie’s Backyard
    Blue Heaven
    Schooner Wharf
    Cuban Coffee Queen
    Bo’s Fish Wagon
    Better Than Sex Desserts
    And make sure you don’t miss the Key Lime Pie Company. Or just take one of the local Key West Food Tours that give you a taste of seafood and Cuban food at the old ‘mom and pop’ type eateries. 

    Key West Food tour

    Explore the intoxicating flavors of Key West’s food. Sample the island’s best while guided by a local foodie.

    6: Check Out Fort Zachs Beach
    Fort Zach’s Beach in Key West
    Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, locally called Fort Zachs or Fort Taylor is a historic landmark from the Civil War era named after US President Zachary Taylor.  
    Built between 1845 and 1866, the fort is home to excavated armaments and other Civil War exhibits. It’s also home to a beach that’s perfect for snorkeling and a large park covering 54 acres.
    Other popular beaches in Key West include:
    Smathers Beach is the largest Key West beach at half a mile long, it’s also the most crowded, but perfect for water sports and biking.
    Higgs Beach is where you’ll find the African Refugee Cemetery. 294 refugees were buried here after being rescued from slave ships in the 1860’s.
    Rest Beach (or CB Harvey Memorial Rest Beach) is a 300-yard strip of beach backed by some sand dunes and vegetation. Parking is free, and there’s shade!
    7: Bar Hopping Duval Street 
    Famous Duval Street
    If you ready to party and experience Key West’s famous nightlife, Duval Street in Downtown is where to go. This popular street in Key West Downtown is filled with local shops, restaurants, bars and live-music clubs.
    One of the most popular tourist activities in Key West is spending time bar hopping on Duval Street. The nightlife here is legendary, with amazing live music and some weird & funky bars.
    Sloppy Joe’s Bar was a favorite hangout for Ernest Hemingway. First called the Blind Pig, then the Silver Slipper, it opened on December 5th, 1933 — the same day prohibition ended in the United States.
    The Green Parrot
    Schooner Wharf
    Bull & Whistle Bar (Garden of Eden)
    Bourbon St. Bar
    Hog’s Breath Saloon
    8: Mile Marker Zero
    The End of the Road!
    You can’t visit Key West without stopping to get your photo (along with thousands of other people) with the Mile Marker 0, which marks the end of the 2,369 mile long US 1 Highway.
    Stretching from upper Maine to Key West, US 1, known locally as the Overseas Highway, connects most major cities in the eastern U.S. The highway officially starts here, in Key West!
    9: Harry S Truman Little White House
    Built in 1890 and located in the Truman Annex section of Old Town, the house has been home to President William Taft, and later a vacation home to President Truman. Even Thomas Edison stayed here while contributing to the WWI efforts. 
    The house has also hosted the likes of General Eisenhower, President Kennedy, President Carter, Colin Powell, President Clinton, and more. Nicknamed as Florida’s only Presidential Museum, you’ll be able to see many historic records and photos. 
    10: Dry Tortugas National Park
    Dry Tortugas National Park
    About 109 km west of Key West, seven islands form Dry Tortugas National Park. It’s home to beautiful coral reefs, abundant sea life, tropical birds, and some submarine banks. It was named Tortugas by Ponce the Leon in the 16th century because of the number of turtles or ‘tortugas’ found on the islands. 
    The highlight of the park is the unfinished Fort Jefferson, that covers 16 acres on Garden Key and is made of over 16 million bricks. The park is a great place to go picnicking, swimming, diving, snorkeling, boating, bird watching, or hiking.To get here, most people take the Yankee Freedom III high speed ferry from Key West. But if you’re looking for an even more unique adventure, arriving by seaplane is also an option!

    Dry Tortugas Day Trip

    Take a boat over to Dry Tortugas National Park, and spend the day swimming, snorkeling, or sunbathing in the crystal clear waters.

    11: Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum
    Colorful Fishing Buoys
    The Mel Fisher Maritime Museum features exhibits on piracy and the slave trade, along with a collection of artifacts from 17th century shipwrecks of the Spanish slave ship Henrietta Marie and the treasure ship Nuestra Señora de Atocha.
    Artifacts from other ships such as the Guerrero & Nimble, Santa Margarita, and Santa Clara are also present. The onsite conservation lab also offers tours showing how items recovered from wrecks and other artifacts are preserved. It’s pretty cool!
    12: Sunset Parties At Mallory Square
    Street Performances at Mallory Square
    Mallory Square is another popular hangout in Key West. It’s perfect for shopping for crafts and souvenirs, or relishing food at the local eateries. 
    Every evening there is a sunset celebration where crowds gather to watch some of the best sunsets ever over the Gulf of Mexico.
    Try to get to the square about two hours before sunset to watch live performances from musicians, clowns, magicians, jugglers and other artists from across the globe. 
    13: Visit The Southernmost Point Buoy 
    The Southernmost Point in Key West
    The line to get photos at this red, yellow and black colored buoy are pretty long. Why? This concrete “buoy” is the Southernmost point in the continental USA, and everyone wants evidence that they’ve been here. Go really early to skip the lines. 
    The signage on the buoy reads “The Conch Republic, 90 Miles to Cuba, Southernmost Point Continental U.S.A., Key West, F.L., Home of the Sunset”.
    14: First Legal Rum Distillery
    Originally started as Jack’s Saloon in the year 1900, the people at Key West First Legal Rum Distillery consider themselves chefs first and distillers second. Apart from “Chef Distilled” rums, they also sell mouth-watering rum cakes. Take a tour here to taste their Cuban Coffee Rum, Vanilla Brûlée Dark Rum, and the famous Key West First Legal Rum. 
    Other rum distilleries you can visit include the Papa’s Pilar Rum Distillery to taste Papa’s Pilar, the rum that Hemingway drank; and the Key West Trading Co for their famed Temple Pent’s Revenge Blacklisted Rum. 

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    15: Attend Key West Fantasy Fest
    Key West’s Annual Fantasy Fest!
    Fantasy Fest is a weird and wild annual costume festival held in Key West that attracts thousands of people every year. I attended a few years ago, and it was one of my favorite festivals ever!It’s basically a 10-day costume party that’s like a combination of Burning Man, Mardi Gras, and Halloween on a tropical island. Body painting and elaborate costumes are on show, along with a lot of skin… its definitely an adult celebration.
    16: Visit The Key West Aquarium 
    The Key West Aquarium is home to many species of fish, alligators, sting rays, jelly fish, turtles, and sharks. If you’re traveling with kids, the Touch Tank has sessions where the kids can pet conchs, sea stars, slate pencil sea urchins, sea cucumbers, giant hermit crabs and horseshoe crabs.
    17: Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden
    The only “frost-free” tropical garden in the US, this garden also serves as a wildlife refuge and arboretum. Called the “keeper of the trees”, it opened in 1936 and covers 63 hectares on Stock Island.
    You can stroll through 2 butterfly habitats and 2 wetland habitats, and see exotic trees and tropical as well as subtropical plants, Neo-tropical birds, and other rare finds. 
    18: Explore The Historic Seaport 
    A sailor’s delight, the Key West Historic Seaport is home to hundreds of yachts and boats. The marina is full of shopping stores and restaurants such as the Schooner Wharf where you can enjoy a meal.
    There are also rental stores where you can rent boats for whale watching, cruising, sailing, or hire equipment for fishing, parasailing, jet skis. It’s a lively place, and well worth spending some time wandering around.
    19: Go Snorkeling Or Scuba Diving!
    Snorkeling in Key West
    Right beside Key West you’ll find the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, making it wonderful destination for snorkeling and scuba diving. Scuba diving is a big deal around here, and many divers come down specifically to dive the famous Shipwreck Trail.The Shipwreck Trail includes 9 historic shipwrecks scattered along the coral reefs and buried in the sand a few miles off shore. The best snorkeling in Key West can’t be done from the beach, you’ll need to book a boat to take you out to the local offshore reefs.
    20: Fort East Martello Museum & Gardens
    The Fort East Martello Museum opened in 1862 and displays exhibits of military effects, Cuban and early settlement artifacts, sponging  and fishing exhibits, junk art by Stanley Papio, and local folk art. 
    The museum is also home to the haunted Robert the Doll which used to belong to eccentric artist Robert Eugene Otto. The doll is said to have moved voodoo figurines around a room, caused car accidents, broken bones, and other misfortunes. 
    If you’re truly up for a challenge, go on one of the Haunted Museum and Civil War fort ghost tours.
    21: The Oldest House In Florida
    The Oldest House in Florida?
    Called the Oldest House in South Florida, it was built in 1829 by Captain Francis Watlington, a famous wrecker. Wrecking is the practice of taking valuables from shipwrecks, which there were many of around Key West.These days the home is a museum that showcases life in the 19th century through portraits and furnishings as well as colonial architecture found in the Caribbean. At one time, Key West was the richest city in the United States!
    22: Nancy Forrester’s Secret Garden
    Play with Parrots at Nancy’s Secret Garden
    Key West local Nancy Forrester has been rescuing and caring for orphaned parrots for 35 years in her backyard garden. Visitors can interact with, feed, and pet the bright and colorful parrots and other birds while learning more about them.
    23: Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory
    Flamingos at the Butterfly & Nature Conservatory
    The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory is home to about 60 species of butterflies and 20 species of exotic birds. Walk through a magical and inviting environment filled with hundreds of the most beautiful winged creatures in nature (including pink flamingos!)Their “Wings of Imagination” art exhibit offers original works by artist Sam Trophia. Acrylic shadow boxes depict the butterfly’s beauty preserved and suspended in art form in a spectrum of colors, shapes and sizes.
    24: Ghost Hunting In Key West!
    Key West is filled with ghost stories. From lost lovers to ghastly murders, the island has a long history of haunted tales. The most famous is probably Robert The Doll. A gift from a Bahamian servant skilled in voodoo, the doll is said to have turned over furniture, screams, and talks.Captain Tony’s Saloon has a long history of death. The former site of a morgue, the building has seen many hurricane deaths, and the tree growing in the middle of the bar has been used for 17 hangings. They say a Lady in Blue, who was hung from this tree, still haunts the Saloon to this day.
    Transportation Around Key West
    Most people get to Key West by driving down from Miami, Florida. It’s an awesome little road trip on the overseas highway through multiple islands in the Florida Keys. However there is also a ferry, as well as a small airport.
    Rental Car
    The best site to book your car is with Discover Cars. They search both local and national car rental companies to help you find the best possible price. This is the easiest way to rent a car and drive down to Key West from Miami.Renting a car offers the best flexibility to explore more remote and less touristy spots in the Florida Keys. It’s my favorite way to get around!
    Taxi Or Uber
    You can book taxis in Key West using Uber, Lyft, or TaxiASAP.
    The main attractions in Key West are very close to each other, with most of them within a 2 mile radius of Old Town. So you could get almost everywhere walking. 
    If you don’t want to take a cab, but don’t want to walk either, bicycles are the perfect answer. The most popular variety are the one-speed bikes locally known as Conch Cruisers. 
    These bicycle rickshaws are often seen in Old Town areas, but are a tad expensive at about $1.50 a minute. 
    There are trolleys that run through different areas in Key West and cost above $20 for a day-pass. 
    Duval Loop
    Run by the city, these pink and blue colored buses circle historic stops in the Old Town quarter and are free to hop on and off. 
    Chilling by the Beach for Sunset
    Where To Stay In Key West
    Key West has tons of accommodation options available for tourists, everything from budget backpacker hostels to luxury hotels. Below you’ll find suggestions for good places to stay during your trip to Key West depending on your budget.



    My Favorite Coffee Place in Key West
    Key West Travel Tips & Advice
    Pick up a Key West Sightseeing Flex pass for deals on water sports activities like jet skiing and paragliding.
    Download the Florida Stories App created by the Florida Humanities Council and take one of their free walking tours around the island.
    If you need one, pick up a free paper map of Key West from any of the Visit Florida tourist centers.
    Try to avoid traveling to Key West during Spring Break – usually March and April. Unless you want to deal with drunken college students creating havoc.

    I hope you enjoyed my guide on what to do in Key West! Hopefully you found it useful. Here are a few more wanderlust-inducing articles that I recommend you read next:
    Have any questions about things to do in Key West? What about other suggestions? Drop me a message in the comments below!

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