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Things to do in Key West

Things to do in  Key West

Welcome to Key West

Colorful Key West combines a tropical island vibe with a laid-back lifestyle for a Caribbean-esque vacation at the southernmost tip of the United States. History buffs will want to take a sun break to visit Ernest Hemingway’s Home and Museum, President Harry S. Truman’s Little White House, and the Key West Shipwreck Museum. Water lovers can explore on guided cruises, snorkeling or kayaking tours, Jet Ski rides, or quiet evening sails. Sunset is a major event each evening, with crowds gathering at Mallory Square to watch the show and enjoy street performances. Most people also visit festive Duval Street to explore the bars, restaurants, and art galleries.

Top 15 attractions in Key West

Mallory Square

Overflowing with Key West quirkiness, Mallory Square draws a crowd at sunset thanks to its many restaurants, street performers, and daily Sunset Celebration. During the day, visitors come for some of Key West’s best shopping and to admire the open-air sculpture garden, which pays tribute to famous local residents.More

Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

Nestled among towering palm trees on Key West, the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum allows you to see where one of the United States’ most famous writers and greatest thinkers lived and worked. The Hemingway Home is a National Historic Landmark and Literary Landmark, and recorded at the Library of Congress as an Historic American Building.More

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

Encompassing 2,900 square miles (4,667 square kilometers, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary protects an underwater world that’s home to the world’s third-largest barrier reef and more than 6,000 marine life species. Plus, several shipwrecks pay homage to the maritime heritage of the Atlantic.More

Southernmost Point of the Continental USA

The Southernmost Point of the Continental USAmonument is a quick but must-do photo op while vacationing in Key West. The iconic buoy-shaped concrete marker indicates that you’re in the southernmost point of the continental United States, just 90 miles (145 kilometers) to Cuba. Snap a pic and then get busy enjoying island life in this legendary Florida destination.More

Key West Lighthouse and Keeper's Quarters Museum

The Key West Lighthouse is one of the island's oldest structures. It was first built in 1825 to help ships navigate the dangerous reefs of the Lower Keys. The lighthouse that stands today dates back to 1847, and the 92-foot (28-meter) building offers some of the best views in town, as well as a maritime museum in the keeper’s house.More

Fort Zachary Taylor

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park spans 54 acres (22 hectares) sits on the tip of Key West and is popular for both its military history and its current recreational opportunities. It is also the location of one of Key West’s favorite beaches, a stretch of sand with turquoise water sometimes called “rocky beach.”More

Harry S. Truman Little White House

American President Harry S. Truman used this 1890 landmark as a winter White House, visiting 11 times over the course of his presidency. Now a presidential museum, the house preserves Truman’s legacy with original furnishings, personal items, and memorabilia. Guided tours of the museum uncover personal stories from Truman’s time here.More

Key West Aquarium

Situated on Key West’s Mallory Square, the Key West Aquarium brings visitors up close to some of the Florida Keys’ aquatic wildlife. Exhibits feature guest favorites such as sharks, stingrays, American alligators, and jellyfish. The Atlantic Shores exhibit houses a living red mangrove ecosystem, a critical habitat in the Keys.More

Dry Tortugas National Park

Florida’s Dry Tortugas National Park spans 100 square miles (25,900 hectares) of open water, protected coral reefs, and seven small islands in the Gulf of Mexico only accessible only by boat or air. Dry Tortugas is famous for its blue waters, wildlife, and Fort Jefferson—a 16-acre (6.5-hectare) coastal fortress.More

Duval Street

Duval Street, running from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, is Old Town Key West’s main strip, offering a mix of restaurants, bars, boutiques, live music, kitschy souvenir shops, and theaters. Walk the street at your leisure, or plan to attend a Duval Crawl; the street hosts some of the wildest pub crawls in the United States.More

Smathers Beach

Palm trees line this prime stretch of Key West beachfront, where you can stake out the perfect stretch of white sand, lounge in the shade, or try one of many activities. Calm water makes Smathers Beach a favorite for snorkeling and swimming, and it’s great for families looking for a day by the shore.More

Mel Fisher Maritime Museum

Treacherous waters off Key West have brought down a trove of shipwrecks carrying gold and silver for centuries. The Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum puts those treasures on display alongside cannons, swords, and other artifacts dredged from the bottom of the sea. Wrecks from the 1700s and 1800s are the heart of the museum collections.More

Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum

A veritable ode to a bygone era, the Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum helps visitors step back into time and immerge themselves in the nautical and maritime heritage of what once was the richest city in the United States of America. Unusually so—Key Westers became extraordinarily wealthy by savaging treasures and luxury goods in the numerous and frequent wreckages, a questionable habit that provided for the livelihoods of the early pioneers on the island. Wrecking masters would then control the salvage operation and later on auction off their finds in wrecking courts, with each good being awarded a profit depending on how long or dangerous the salvage operation had been.Actors, films and artifacts tell the story of the treacherous Florida Keys reef and the many wrecks it caused, including the infamous 1838 Isaac Allerton vessel. The ship was 137 feet long and weighed 594 tons and served as merchant ship in and around the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean for almost 20 years, before it was caught in a hurricane off Saddlebunch Keys in 1856. Visitors are invited to discover the perils of shipwrecking and to climb the 65-foot lookout tower—where they can alert the authorities in case of a wreck and watch out for Spanish galleons!More

Key West Cemetery

Key West Cemetery is a massive cemetery in Key West that dates back to 1847. The cemetery was created that year due to the 1846 hurricane that destroyed the old cemetery on Key West and even unearthed bodies. Since its inception, it is estimated that over 100,000 people have been buried in Key West Cemetery.While walking around the 19-acre Key West Cemetery you’ll come across a variety of gravestones, vaults and crypts. In addition, you’ll learn that there are different sections of the cemetery, including a Catholic and Jewish section plus a section called the Los Martires de Cuba for those who died while fighting to free Cuba during the Ten Years War. There is also a monument for those who died during the USS Maine explosion of 1898. Prominent people from Key West who are buried in the cemetery include Ellen Mallory, one of the first female settlers of Key West, and William Curry, Florida’s first millionaire.More

Hard Rock Cafe Key West

The Hard Rock Cafe is famous for its many locations in cities around the world, and its Hard Rock Key West is the Southernmost member of the chain in the continental United States. The cafe is primely located in the center of the action on Duval Street, and features the American cuisine and rock ’n’ roll memorabilia of its other restaurants — but with a tropical twist. Boots from Jimi Hendrix, a velvet jacket from Stevie Nicks, and a Les Paul guitar that was broken in concert by the band Nine Inch Nails are showcased, among others.It’s particularly evident how special this Hard Rock Cafe is when dining al fresco on their patio, where you can feel the ocean breeze. Whether you go for a fruity cocktail or a full dinner, the Hard Rock Cafe Key West blends seamlessly into its surroundings. Accompanied by music playing from the stereo or one of the live entertainment acts, it may be the ultimate cheeseburger in paradise.More
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Trip ideas

How to Spend 3 Days in Key West

How to Spend 3 Days in Key West

How to Spend 2 Days in Key West

How to Spend 2 Days in Key West

5 Best Weekend Getaways from Key West

5 Best Weekend Getaways from Key West

Top activities in Key West

Key West Sunset Sail with Full Bar, Live Music & Hors D'oeuvres
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Half-Day Key West's Ultimate Sandbar Adventure with Mangrove Kayak Eco Tour
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Key West Sunset Dinner Cruise with Tropical Buffet Dinner
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Half-Day Cruise from Key West with Kayaking and Snorkeling
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Shark and Wildlife Viewing Adventure in Key West
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Key West Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley Tour

Key West Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley Tour

Sunset Sip and Sail with Open Bar, Live Music, and Appetizers from Key West
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Key West Dolphin Watch Sunset Sail with Premium Wine, and Tapas Pairings
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Key West Mangrove Kayak Eco Tour

Key West Mangrove Kayak Eco Tour

Sunset Sail in Key West with Beverages Included
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Key West Sunset Champagne Catamaran Cruise
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Key West Premium Sunset Sail aboard Schooner with Full Bar
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All about Key West

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People Also Ask

What should I not miss in Key West?

Don’t miss the Old Town in Key West, a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood full of restaurants, bars, galleries, and shops. After a walk along Duval Street, check out the Key West First Legal Rum Distillery, Hemingway Home and Museum, and Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park.

What is the best time to go to Key West?

There are several attractive times of year to go to Key West. The winter months of December, January, and February are known for mild temperatures. Travelers who want to see the rowdy side of Key West may want to visit for Fantasy Fest in October or Mardi Gras in March.

What attractions are there in Key West?

Key West is home to several attractions including the Hemingway Home and Museum, Truman Little White House, and Key West Lighthouse. It also offers a range of smaller attractions such as the southernmost point in the continental US, Key West Aquarium, and Audubon House and Tropical Gardens.

Is it worth going to Key West for a day?

Yes. It is worth going to Key West for a day. The pastel-hued Old Town is fairly compact and can be explored on foot. Check out the Hemingway Home and Museum, Truman Little White House, and Key West Lighthouse. Don’t leave town without going for a stroll along Duval Street.

What is there to do in Key West for teens?

Teens in Key West can take a Jet Ski tour, rent bikes to explore the Old Town, or catch rays on the beach. Other fun things to do include visiting the Key West Shipwreck Museum, going on a ghost tour, and getting a bird’s-eye view of the ocean while parasailing.

What do locals do in Key West?

Locals in Key West get outdoors to soak up the area's natural beauty. Join the locals for a swim at Smathers Beach, a fishing expedition, or a stroll through the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. More options include a kayaking excursion or a bike ride followed by happy hour.


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