An island city in Florida, United States, Key West is just a little away from Cuba. Known for its diverse marine life, tropical plant and animal species, sandy beaches and entertaining lifestyle, this city is home to many historical places. Numerous museums and famous personalities’ homes along with surreal gardens are some of the many places which can be seen on a trip here. Listed below are the top tourist attractions in Key West which ought to be visited at least once!
Let's explore Key West points of interest and 15 best things to do in Key West:
1. Experience The Charm Of Europe At The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum
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Commonly known as the Hemingway House, this mansion is located on Whitehead Street. The famous literary genius moved into this house in 1931 and turned it over! A huge expansion and renovation transformed it completely. Animal trophies, a pool, animal skin scattered around the house and Hemingway’s European antiques still decorate this mansion. Interestingly, the writer’s cat’s progenies now roam all around the place so beware of them when you visit this museum!
2. Visit The Audubon House
Key West’s oldest surviving structure, the Audubon House has remained in an excellent state even though it was built in the 1840s. This visit will leave you with a better understanding of a wealthy lot of the 19th century. Inclusive of over 200 orchids, a colony of butterflies and a Cook House, this House also features original lithographs of John James Audubon, the famous naturalist.
3. Spend A Leisurely Evening At Key West Garden Club
Fondly known as the West Martello Tower, the Key West Garden Club is open to the public, its free wherein volunteers have the whole responsibility of maintenance. Through this initiative, people learn the importance of civic duties and preserving nature. The Garden has arched courtyards, lush tropical plants, a lily pond and a waterfall. Located on the Atlantic Boulevard, the garden is too mesmerizing to miss out on!
4. Play With Butterflies At Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservancy
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Who doesn’t like butterflies? At the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservancy, you can feel at ease amongst 60 species of amazing butterflies and over 20 exotic bird species. Add to this experience the sweet-smelling flowers’ display-it truly will leave you wonderstruck! There is also a small gift shop with lovely little items to purchase! This lovely space is located on the Duval Street.
5. Visit The Dry Tortugas National Park
About 70 miles from Key West lies this marvellous park which is a must-visit! It comprises of seven small islands, Fort Jefferson and numerous coral reefs which are hard to miss. Migratory and tropical birds frequent the island, and one can participate in exciting adventures such as swimming and snorkelling! Visit to have fun or to gain knowledge about the Fort’s historical significance but do visit for sure.
6. Visit The Henry Flagler’s Overseas Railroad
Henry Flagler contributed immensely towards the growth of South Florida in the 1900s. One such structure built by this railroad magnate was the Overseas Railway. Immaculate use of available technology, this railroad was unfortunately destroyed by a powerful hurricane in the 1930s. However, as a tribute to this legendary personality, the Overseas Railroad still exists, or rather what’s left of it, and can be seen from the Overseas Highway.
7. Visit The Basilica of Saint Mary Star of the Sea
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A stunning Catholic cathedral, the Basilica of Saint Mary Star of the Sea is located on Truman Street. With its charming landscape and stately interior, it impresses the best of us. Moreover, it’s totally free, and one can certainly spot a cat or chicken roaming the grounds aimlessly! Just casually wander the grounds, or play with those cats and chickens, but do visit this place at least once!
8. Watch the Dolphins At Dolphin Research Center
Dolphins are by far one of the friendliest of mammals. At the Dolphin Research Center, you can pay a visit to see sea lions and dolphins. They are kept in a humane environment, and the local public too loves to view them, it’s an open-public facility so almost anyone can go after paying a small admission fee.
9. Visit the The Southernmost Point
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90 miles between capitalism and communism- the Southernmost Point lies between Cuba and the United States. It is an anchored concrete buoy and has been a landmark ever since its inauguration in 1983. People from all over the States visit this place to click photographs; it most certainly is the most photographed location in Key West. When in the city, one just cannot miss stopping here for some time!
10. Visit cafes, galleries and boutiques at Duval Street
The Duval Street is renowned for its vibrancy and energy. It’s as if Key West comes to life through the Street’s exquisite cafes, pubs, boutiques, art galleries and much more! You can pet a shark, stop by Ripley’s Believe it or Not and touch real treasure and at this mile-long street. There are also world famous bars and local eateries present here where one can surely enjoy to the fullest!
11. Visit The Key West Lighthouse
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Key West has always served the marines and the naval army during great wars. As a tribute to this heritage, the Key West Art & Historical Society maintains the Key West Lighthouse & Museum. This rustic lighthouse has existed ever since the 1800s. While inspecting the area, tourists often enquire about Barbara Mabrity, the only woman in history who looked after a lighthouse during the 19th century!
12. Spend Time At The Nancy Forrester’s Secret Garden
Talkative parrots, beautiful macaws resting amidst the creativity of nature are what one can expect out of this vigorous environmental artist’s ‘secret garden’. This Parrot Sanctuary was started by Nancy to educate and inspire people on these birds’ lifestyle. She is an ardent lover of these creatures and has been rescuing them for the past 30 years! A highly cherished place for children where you can even interact with these intelligent birds directly.
13. Enjoy An Evening At Mallory Square
To sink in the dying beauty of Key West’s sunsets, there’s no better location than the Mallory Square! It faces the Gulf of Mexico due to which one can witness breathtaking sunsets here. Not only this, a wide variety of vendors stand nearby with delicious snacks and crafts. To keep the tourists entertained street performers, such as musicians, clowns, jugglers and magicians, can often be seen displaying their commendable skills!
14. Visit The Harry S. Truman Little White House
History isn’t everyone’s forte, but those who are left fascinated by this subject will find this resting house-cum-museum quite enjoyable! Initially, it served as the headquarters for the naval station during the Spanish-American War and both the world wars, though later it acted as the winter White House of President Harry S. Truman. Owing to his frequent visits, the place has now transformed into a public museum. Informative documents on the President’s meetings, his visits and such details are officially available here.
15. Experience Marine Life At The Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center
Are you an animal enthusiast? Wouldn’t you just love to see aquatic animals and plants native to a particular area? If yes, then you should go to the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center. Marine ecology is exhibited at its very best at this centre which also has a replica of the world’s only underwater ocean laboratory, Aquarius. Beach dunes, pine trees, hammocks, seagrass flats, mangrove shorelines and coral reefs are the prime exhibits of this outstanding marine sanctuary.
Key West indeed has one of the best natural landscapes across Florida. Not only museums, parks and recreational centres, one can hope to find quite amusing and mysterious destinations here! In any case, this splendid island city should be visited at least once in our lives. Do let us know if we missed out on anything!