If you have an idea to visit Key West, one of Florida’s most beautiful destinations, we’ll tell you the best places to visit in Key West, Florida, as well as the most interesting things you can do in there. Then, let’s start our tour of Key West.
1. Duval Street
Duval Street is one of the best places to visit in Key West, Florida. You can find many restaurants and shops along the street. Also, you can find historic homes and some of the city’s most popular tourist attractions along the street. You can either start your journey from here or end your busy day of sightseeing.
This area hosts several events and festivals throughout the year as well. The Hemingway Days Festival, which is held in summer is one of the most popular events. We recommend you get the Conch Tour Train to travel around the area. This tour visit not only Duval Street, but also Old Town, Hemingway’s House, and the waterfront area. This 90-minute tour is the best way to get a good overview of the area and its history.
2. Ernest Hemingway Home
Ernest Hemingway, a legendary author lived here from 1931 to 1940. This Spanish Colonial house has a lush tropical garden and a salt-water pool. You have the opportunity to visit the mansion and see the restored interior. You can also see the writer’s collection of 17th- and 18th-century Spanish furniture. The author has written many novels when he was living there such as A Farewell to Arms, Death in the Afternoon, and For Whom the Bell Tolls. You must aware that they don’t accept debit or credit cards. They only accept cash. Therefore you need to prepare before heading. It’s better to visit here as early as possible.
- Visit: 907 Whitehead Street, Key West
- Official website: www.hemingwayhome.com
3. Nature Conservatory
Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory are one of the best places to visit in Key West, Florida. If you travel with your kids, they will love this place for sure. You have a chance to walk among more than 50 species of butterflies in the natural garden habitat of a glass conservatory. Not only butterflies but also more than 20 species of exotic birds live here. If you visit to the Learning Center, you can learn about the life cycle of butterflies by watching an educational film. You can also see the exhibits that explain those stages in detail. If you visit the live caterpillar viewing area, you can see real butterflies going through their transformations.
- Visit: 1316 Duval Street, Key West, Florida
- Official website: www.keywestbutterfly.com
4. Mallory Square
Mallory Square is a former warehouse area and one of the best places to visit in Key West, Florida. Watching the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico and catching live entertainment here will bring you an amazing experience. You will feel that you are in a carnival because of jugglers, vendors, musicians, and other street performers. Dog unicycling, cats on a tightrope, and straightjacket escapes are just a few unique performances you can see here. There are many shops are located on and around Mallory Square. Visit the famous “Key West Sponge Market” store, which is situated in the surrounding Mallory Square Market along with other unique shops, if you’re seeking a souvenir.
- Visit: 400 Wall Street, Key West, Florida
- Official website: www.mallorysquare.com
5. Tortugas National Park
Dry Tortugas National Park, an archipelago of seven reef islands located around 65 miles southwest of Key West is one of the best places to visit in Key West, Florida. Snorkeling lovers should visit this site. Catamaran Boat Excursions to the Dry Tortugas are the best way to access the park. It includes snorkeling and snorkeling equipment, as well as lunch. Explorer Ponce de Leon named this area Tortugas Park. Because there were many turtles and Tortuga means turtle in Spanish. Later, the “dry” part was added to the name to refer to the lack of fresh water on the islands. Garden Key is one of them. It is home to the 19th-century Fort Jefferson.
The U.S. government constructed it to guard and manage the Gulf of Mexico shipping canal. Dr. Samuel Mudd, who was imprisoned for his alleged involvement in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, also resided in this fort. As well as it operated as a prison for Union deserters during the Civil War. George Bush modified the status of the property from Fort Jefferson National Monument to its present-day park status in 1992. The National Park Service now manages the area.
- Visit: 40001 SR-9336, Homestead, Florida
- Official website: www.nps.gov/drto
6. Mel Fisher Maritime Museum
The Mel Fisher Maritime Museum is one of the best places to visit in Key West, Florida. The museum tells the story of diver Mel Fisher, who discovered several shipwrecks. In 1972, an English ship was found about 35 miles west of Key West as the first discovery. Later the ship was identified as the Henrietta Marie. It was a slave ship that disappeared in 1700 shortly after selling 190 African Captives in Jamaica. This ship did not carry a wealth of gold and jewels. But there were invaluable artifacts that show the history and conditions of the maritime slave trade. The oldest slave shipwreck ever found is Henrietta Marie.
In 1980, Fisher’s dive teams discovered the wreck of a 17th-century Spanish ship named Santa Margarita. They found many valuable objects, from gold and silver bars and coins to elaborate jewelry from the wreck. The Mel Fisher Maritime Museum displays numerous artifacts from these wrecks and others.
- Visit: 200 Greene Street, Key West, Florida
- Official website: www.melfisher.org
7. Little White House
The restored Harry S. Truman Little White House is one of the best places to visit in Key West, Florida. It was built in 1890 and used as the headquarters for the naval command through World War II. In 1946, Harry S. Truman visited here for the first time. Later, the building was used several times as a vacation retreat during his presidency. If you visit there, you can see the original furnishings and decor which belong to the Truman era. For example, you can see Truman’s piano and the desk he used during his “working vacations”. You can have a self-guided tour to see the home interior. Don’t forget to visit the botanical gardens after you are finished inside.
- Visit: 111 Front Street, Key West, Florida
- Official website: www.trumanlittlewhitehouse.com
8. Martello Towers
These two brick fortifications were built in 1858 to protect Fort Zachary Taylor from the east. The fort never saw hostile action. A stunning panoramic view of Key West’s Atlantic coast may be found from the center tower. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the West Martello Tower and Garden Center in 1860.
In 1955, the Key West Garden Club took possession of the dilapidated fort. Later, they started to clean this fort and plant it to beautify it. Now you can see many beautiful things here such as gardens, romantic pathways, arches, a waterfall, and a water lily pond. The East Martello Tower houses the Martello Gallery -Key West Art and Historical Museum. It was originally built as a complement to Fort Zachary Taylor to protect the region. If you visit to the museum, you can see an amazing collection of local art and sculpture and other exhibits related to the development of Key West.
- Visit: 1100 Atlantic Blvd, Key West, Florida
- Official website: www.kwahs.com
9. Audubon House
The Audubon House was built by ship carpenters for Captain John Greiger in 1840. In the 1960s, Colonel Mitchell Wolfson restored the building. The house and its beautiful gardens and grounds attract many tourists. Therefore we can include it on our list of the best places to visit in Key West, Florida. The home has 18th- and 19th-century period furnishings. If you visit to the gardens you can see a variety of tropical plants, including birds of paradise, hibiscus, and different palms. If you have an idea to visit there, you can have a guided tour and explore the area.
- Visit: 205 Whitehead Street, Key West, Florida
- Official website: www.audubonhouse.org
10. Fort Zachary Taylor
Fort Zachary Taylor was built between 1845 and 1866. It protected this part of Florida’s coast during the Civil War. Today, it is a State Park and National Historic Landmark, as well as one of the best places to visit in Key West, Florida. There are many fun things to do here. The park hosts a variety of annual events, such as concerts, boat races, pirate festivals, and sculpture contests. Also, you can enjoy the park’s nature trails, beautiful swimming beaches, and dedicated snorkeling areas. Fort Zachary Taylor is one of the best places to see Key West’s famous sunsets as well.
- Visit: 601 Howard England Way, Key West, Florida
- Official website: www.fortzacharytaylor.com
11. The Oldest House
The Oldest House, which was built in 1829 is one of the best places to visit in Key West, Florida. It was the former home of Francis B. Watlington. This building was originally built by Richard Cussans in a different location. Later it moved to Duval Street. This house may not be as extravagant or as lovely as some of the city’s other historical houses that are open to the public.
But this house has its unique charm and is a good place to learn about the history of Key West. If you visit there, you can see some original furnishings and family portraits. Also, you can learn about ship models and information on the history of the industry in the area. Its garden and cookhouse make this place even more attractive.
- Visit: 322 Duval Street, Key West, Florida
- Official website: www.oldesthousemuseum.com
12. Key West Aquarium
The Key West Aquarium is one of the first open-air aquariums in the U.S. It was opened in 1934 and now it is one of the best places to visit in Key West, Florida. There are several tanks which home to local marine life, such as puffer fish, snappers, and angelfish. There are also tanks with sharks and barracuda. The “touch tank,” kids’ favorite is home to conch, starfish, and other invertebrates. “Atlantic Shores” and the large outdoor holding pens are other highlights of the aquarium. You can also see the sharks are fed. If you like they give you the chance to touch a juvenile nurse shark as well.
- Visit: 1 Whitehead Street, Key West, Florida
- Official website: www.keywestaquarium.com
13. Shipwreck Treasure Museum
The Shipwreck Treasure Museum is one of the best places to visit in Key West, Florida. It is housed in the replica of a 19th-century wrecker’s warehouse. If you like to learn about the history of the salvage industry in the area, the museum is a great place for it. The practice of salvaging cargo from the various ships that perished along the Florida reefs used to be a major part of Key West’s economy. Wreckers would keep an eye out day and night from atop observation towers like the 65-foot model on display here at the museum for ships in distress and rush to the scene.
According to special “wrecking courts,” whoever arrived earliest might compete for the right to the largest share of the salvage profits. In this museum, historical-costumed actors tell the tale of Isaac Allerton, which sunk in 1856. Also, it shows the experiences of the brave wreckers who put their lives in danger to rescue those who had been killed by the reefs as well as recover the treasure.
- Visit: 1 Whitehead Street, Key West, Florida
- Official website: www.keywestshipwreck.com
14. Key West Cemetery
Key West’s cemetery is one of the best places to visit in Key West, Florida. It was founded in 1847 after the island’s original cemetery was destroyed by a hurricane. Key West cemetery has several religious and memorial sections like dedicated Jewish and Roman Catholic areas. Also, the Los Martires de Cuba memorial has been built to commemorate the Cuban martyrs who were killed during the 1870s independence movement. There is a plot dedicated to the sailors who died when the USS Maine sank in 1898 as well.
- Visit: 701 Passover Lane, Key West, Florida
15. Key West Lighthouse
The Key West Lighthouse which stands 86 feet high is one of the best places to visit in Key West, Florida. It was built in 1847 and opened in 1848. The Key West Art and Historical Society adopted the Lighthouse and it turned into a military museum. Later it was it restored to reflect life here at the beginning of the 20th century. If you go there, you can see the original furnishings, and pictures of the several keepers. If you climb up its 88 steps, you can see a great view of the area. You can also watch a short video presentation that shows the history of the Key West Lighthouse.
Those are the most attractive places in Key West, Florida. If you plan to tour to Key West, don’t forget to visit these places. You will be able to get an amazing experience in Key West.
Hotels to stay in Key West
If you visit Key West, you can stay in the below highly-rated hotels. They are close to the most attractive places in Key West.
- The Ocean Key Resort & Spa: Located at the end of Duval Street near Mallory Square, features waterfront rooms with balconies and an oceanside pool
- Pier House Resort & Spa: Has a private white-sand beach and a pool overlooking the water
- The Gardens Hotel: Located just a block off Duval Street, features lush gardens surrounding a pool
- Best Western Hibiscus: Located in the quieter southern section of Key West, features a very large pool
- Kimpton Winslow’s Bungalows: A charming boutique hotel, housed in two buildings
- The Ibis Bay Beach Resort: Has a shuttle to downtown, close to restaurants and grocery stores
- The Laureate Key West: Located three miles from downtown, feature beautiful views out over the water, there is no shuttle, and no restaurants are nearby
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Frequently Asked Questions
What area of Key West is the most visited?
Duval Street, the major street of downtown, runs north and south from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean and is arguably one of the most well-known locations on the island of Key West.
What is the fame of Key West?
The southernmost point of the United States, Key West, is known for its beaches, historic attractions, lively nightlife, watersports, and pastel conch-style architecture.
Where in Key West is it most expensive?
Key West’s most expensive neighborhoods are The Meadows, Old Town, Casa Marina, and Truman Annex. The smallest of these is The Meadows. The Meadows was a grassy area with a few houses, a number of cigar factories, a few shops, and the Key West dairy in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
How long do you need to spend in Key West?
A day trip to Key West is worthwhile, but the longer time you have there, the better. Although 3–4 days are ideal if you want to see everything and still have some down time, you could easily spend a week in Key West.
When is Key West at its best?
The months of March through May are the ideal times to visit Key West. The weather is very similar to the delightful 70s and 80s of winter, the crowds will start to drop out, and hotel rates will drop.
when shouldn’t you go to Key West?
Due to a significant probability of rain during the yearly Caribbean hurricane season, August and especially September are the worst months to visit Key West. Winter is a fantastic time to travel if you enjoy ground activities. Those who enjoy water sports might choose to travel between late spring and early summer.