Historic Sites in Key West Florida
** Affiliate disclosure. This web site is supported by its awesome audience. When you click or purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Located 90 miles north of Cuba, Key West is an island city that’s part of the Florida Keys archipelago. It’s famous for its pastel-hued conch-style houses. But the island is also known for its coral reefs.
Whether you are a history buff or just looking for a tropical island getaway, Key West has historic sites to explore. From pirates to Indians to sunken treasure, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Key West.
The Ais tribe is said to have left behind charred fish bones and pottery in the waters surrounding Key West. Several other wrecks can be visited on snorkeling trips.
Fort Jefferson is the largest masonry structure in the western hemisphere. You can explore the historic site on a day trip or stay overnight. It is also home to a beautiful beach for swimming. You can also visit the San Carlos Institute for a look at Cuban heritage.
The Cuba Museum is free to enter. You can learn about the island’s history from the Cuban-American community, see a Cuban refugee raft, and find out about Cuba’s independence movement. It is also home to several artifacts from the Civil War. The museum is closed on Mondays.
The Los Martires de Cuba memorial commemorates the Cuban independence movement and those who died in the sinking of the USS Maine in 1898. It also features an exhibit of the artifacts found on the ship.
The Conch Tour Train is a 90-minute narrated tour that visits the waterfront, Old Town, and Duval Street. This tour is a good way to learn about Key West’s history.
The Key West Art and Historical Society is home to a museum, gallery, and museum gift shop. They have exhibits, a short video presentation, and photos of keepers. You can also explore the museum’s collection of original furniture and artifacts.
Known as the Overseas Highway, it is one of the most scenic drives in the world. The road connects Miami with Key West and covers 113 miles of road through the Florida Keys. It is a popular tourist destination, with more than three million visitors visiting the islands every year. The road also offers travelers amazing sunsets and colorful seascapes.
The road is a toll road, meaning you pay a $1 for an automobile, plus 25 cents per passenger. Toll booths are located on Big Pine Key and Lower Matecumbe Key. The road opened in 1928.
The highway is a two-lane road, with concrete median barriers to keep motorists from crashing into each other. It also features a 35 mph speed limit in some areas. The mile markers are small green signs with white numbers.
Several bridges cross the road, including the world-famous Seven Mile Bridge in Marathon. It is the longest bridge on the highway, measuring a full 6.79 miles long.
The Overseas Highway is also home to a number of other interesting sites, including a state park with sandy beaches and clear blue water. The park is open 365 days a year. You can take a tour of the park, and you can even build a sandcastle. The park is also known for its spectacular sunsets.
The Overseas Highway has been upgraded to become one of the main coastal highways between Miami and Key West. The road also offers travelers access to the largest coral reefs on the U.S. mainland.
Shipwreck and Treasure Museum
Located in Key West, Florida, the Shipwreck and Treasure Museum is a tribute to an era of wreckers that made Key West the richest city in the United States. The museum combines films, real artifacts, and live actors to portray the history of the wrecking industry.
The museum is a two-story re-creation of a 1850s warehouse, with artifacts from salvaged cargo. The basement contains a cistern that once was used to catch lobsters.
The museum also features a 65-foot lookout tower, which offers visitors a 360-degree view of Key West. Guests can also view the wreck of Guerrero. The museum is a popular spot for families because it offers both a pirate-themed experience and an educational look at the pirates of the past.
Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum is open year round, and features two floors of shipwreck artifacts. Visitors can also find treasures recovered from Spanish fleets. There is also an audio-visual presentation and a video presentation, as well as actors wearing period costumes.
The museum also has a dollhouse replica of the Hemingway House, which Ernest Hemingway stayed in when he lived in Key West. It is also home to movie memorabilia from films such as “Reap the Wild Wind,” starring John Wayne.
The Key West Shipwreck and Treasure Museum also offers a haunted tour of Key West. It features a trolley that passes the spookiest spots on the island, including a haunted African Slave Cemetery.
Oldest House Museum and Garden
Located on Duval Street in Key West Florida, the Oldest House Museum and Garden is one of the oldest houses in southern Florida. Built in 1829, this wood frame vernacular house was the home of Captain Francis Watlington and his family. The house is filled with documents that tell the history of old Key West. It also features period pieces and ship models. It has been preserved for more than 60 years and serves to sustain Key West’s culture.
Captain Francis Watlington was one of the most well-known sea captains in Key West. He also served as a member of the Florida House of Representatives. He was a wrecker and was paid handsomely for his efforts. In 1840, he and his wife Emeline moved to Key West from New York. He later became captain of his own ship.
The Watlington family lived in the house for over 140 years. It was the social center of Key West during this time. They had seven children. One daughter, Lilie, never married and lived in the house until her 80th birthday in 1936.
The Watlington House is a wonderful example of Caribbean colonial architecture. It was built as a two-story cedarwood clapboard house. It is also a wonderful example of a tropical garden. The house contains artifacts from the 19th century and is a great place to learn about wrecking history.
The house has several rooms and the gardens are full of native tropical foliage. It is a great place to hold a wedding or other celebration. The grounds can accommodate up to 300 guests. The museum is free to visit and there are volunteer docents who will guide you through the history of the house.
During the early 1900s, Henry Flagler had a vision of building a railroad that would connect the Florida Keys to the rest of the world. His railroad would make the Keys easily accessible and provide an excellent transportation link between Key West and the rest of the country. He built the Overseas Railroad in Key West Florida in 1912 and operated it until 1935.
In 1912, Flagler’s Overseas Railroad was completed and connected Key West and Miami. At the time, the Panama Canal was under construction and Key West was considered the closest deep sea port to the new canal. Flagler had a vision of turning Key West into a key trade and shipping port.
The railroad was a feat of engineering. It used steel trestles and concrete viaducts to connect Key West with the rest of the world. It took seven years to build, costing fifty million dollars, and required seventeen million cubic yards of material.
During construction, several hurricanes passed through. Some of the more memorable ones included the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, which killed 400 to 700 people. The hurricane destroyed much of the Overseas Railroad’s infrastructure.
The Overseas Highway to Key West was the third largest PWA project in the U.S. The railroad was one of the most notable, and was a true engineering feat. The highway was built over the old railroad path and has served Key West since the 1930s.
Those who love fishing in Key West, Florida have plenty of options to choose from. The Keys offer both inshore and deep sea fishing.
One of the best things about Key West fishing is the unique reefs that lie off of the island. The reefs are covered with sand, corals, and sponges. This makes them excellent spots for tarpon and bonefish.
The Florida Keys is also home to several types of Mackerel. These fish are long, slender, and are often found in schools. They are often found near floating debris offshore.
Another great fish to catch in the Keys is the sailfish. These fish run in small schools, and can reach 30 to 60 pounds. They are one of the most coveted game fish in the Keys.
In Key West, Florida, the best time to fish is in the spring. This is when the reefs are at their optimum and the water temperature is warm. In addition, the weather is not as windy and can provide for more enjoyable fishing.
For the most part, you will need a saltwater fishing license to fish in the Florida Keys. This can be purchased online or at a local bait and tackle shop. A good fishing report in Key West will also mention the various fishing seasons. Some of the fish in the Keys move down the east coast from mid-March to mid-May, while others migrate in the fall. This will help your captain determine the best time to fish.