Things to See and Do in Key West
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There are plenty of things to see and do in Key West, from exploring Hemingway’s house to visiting the Florida Reef. There are also plenty of watersports options, such as fishing, sandbar trips and snorkeling.
Another fun activity to do in Key West is visiting a parrot sanctuary. It’s a fun way to learn more about these intelligent creatures.
1. Duval Street
Stretching from Mallory Square at the north end to the Atlantic Ocean on the southern end, Duval Street is the heart and soul of Old Town Key West. It has a rich history and offers plenty of attractions to keep you entertained.
It’s also a hotspot for bars and nightlife. Its famed ‘Duval Crawl’ is one of the wildest pub crawls in the country.
The Cuban influence in Key West is evident with the many cigar stores along the street. During the post-Civil War construction boom, a large Cuban population poured into the city.
The street is also a major tourist destination thanks to the numerous hotels and resorts that line it. The southern end of the street is home to the Ernest Hemingway House and Museum, where the Pulitzer Prize-winning author lived for most of his life.
2. Mallory Square
Mallory Square is the heart of Key West and a great place to start your visit. It offers shopping, restaurants and hotels as well as many of the island’s most popular attractions.
The area is also home to a number of museums, including the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum and the Shipwreck Treasures Museum. It is also the location of the famous Sunset Celebration, which is one of the top tourist attractions in Key West.
A long-range master plan for Mallory Square is underway. It is based on the results of a recent survey and interviews with community stakeholders. It is being developed by Sasaki, an award-winning Boston architectural design firm.
3. Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory
No land-bound spot in Key West is more magical than this enchanting garden filled with hundreds of butterflies, birds and babbling brooks. A block from the Southernmost Point, this tropical greenhouse feels a million miles from the crazy clamor of Duval Street.
A climate-controlled glass-enclosed habitat, this conservatory is home to more than 50 butterfly species from around the world. It also offers a Learning Center that teaches visitors about anatomy, physiology and the life cycle of these colorful winged creatures.
In addition to the lush tropical gardens, the conservatory also houses a stunning gallery of butterfly art. Founded by artist Sam Trophia, this gallery features unique butterfly compositions that preserve the beauty of butterflies in beautiful artwork.
4. Gato Village
As part of Key West’s Gilded Age history, a Cuban patriot named Eduardo Gato migrated to the island and developed a booming cigar industry. His enterprise fueled the growth of the city during the 1880s and helped it become Florida’s largest town.
This historic house was built in 1894 as a tribute to his success and wealth, though he only occupied it for a short time. It stands as a reminder of the intertwined history between Cuba and Key West, which began with Spain’s failed revolution in the 1860s.
It was here that Gato established a cottage community around his factory, which attracted the best cigar makers to the area. He created a billiards hall, bakery, laundry and grocery store. Today, this small pocket park contains a plaque denoting Gato’s legacy and a half-smoked Cuban cigar sculpture.
5. The Southernmost Point
The Southernmost Point is one of Key West’s most iconic landmarks. Located at the intersection of Whitehead and South Streets, it marks the spot where the United States and Cuba meet.
While the concrete buoy is a must-see, you may be surprised to learn that it isn’t actually the southernmost point of Key West or even America. The actual southernmost part of the island that’s accessible to civilians is the beach area of Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, which is about 500 feet farther south than the marker. The iconic yellow, black and red concrete buoy is one of the most photographed landmarks in all of Key West. It was erected in 1983 as a tourist attraction.