15 Best Things to Do in Key West: Top-Rated Attractions 2022
Located at the southern end of US Route 1, the longest highway in the country that runs north to south, Key West is an iconic Florida city mainly known for its remoteness, abundant natural beauty, and picturesque charm and its history dating back more than two centuries.
The waters of Key West are world-renowned destinations for deep-sea anglers, who come to entangle themselves with the massive Marlin that call the surrounding seas home at different times of the year.
Key West was also a meeting place for famous author Ernest Hemingway, and his home and writing studio are now a museum.
Below are 15 things to do in Key West.
1. The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum on Whitehead Street is one of the most visited historical attractions in the city and was the first residence of Hemingway and his wife in 1931.
The house is still filled with many of Hemingway’s possessions and is a mecca for literary types and aspiring writers looking for a bit of inspiration.
Many of Hemingway’s classics were written during his time in Key West, and the descendants of his famous six-toed cat still roam the grounds with the same glut of fingers as their famous ancestor.
Stopping at the house and museum first is a great way to start your exploration of the island.
2. Harry S. Truman Little White House
Although less well known than the Hemingway Museum, Harry S. Truman’s Little White House is another fascinating slice of local history with national appeal.
In the late 19th century, Key West was home to a naval station that played an essential role in the Spanish-American War. Right after WWII ended, the building became Harry Truman’s winter retreat.
Later presidents also used the house as a refuge, which was prevalent during the Cold War years. Now, it is a museum open to the public. For those wanting the inside scoop, it’s wise to sign up for a guided tour.
3. Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservancy
Key West’s subtropical climate is perfect for a wide variety of species of native and non-native, and the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservancy on Duval Street is a perfectly serene escape destination nestled between the bars and the music from the city center.
The conservation is home to dozens of species of butterflies and exotic birds, as well as beautiful, fragrant flowers that provide insects and birds with both habitat and food.
It’s close to many of Key West’s most popular attractions, making it convenient to see them in conjunction with others, and there’s also a great gift shop on-site.
For Jimmy Buffet fans and those familiar with island culture and laid-back Florida Keys vibe, Margaritaville needs no introduction. Although the restaurant is now part of a chain, the Key West location was original and opened in 1985.
It is not the biggest or the newest, but it is still the only one for music lovers and parrot heads. Located close to many other bars and restaurants on Duval Street, it is an ideal stop for a pub, serving a variety of traditional bar food and seafood, as well as offering plenty of live entertainment.
5. US Coast Guard Cutter Ingham Museum
With more than six decades, the Coast Guard Cutter Ingham has undoubtedly earned its retirement. The robust ship is now a museum dedicated to preserving the area’s rich nautical heritage and the Coast Guard’s role play. In maintaining the coast of the nation.
The museum’s exhibits include equipment, weapons, uniforms, and first-hand accounts of those who served on the ship in both wartime and peace. Many visitors discover a significant amount of fascinating history that is new to them. Most guests end up spending a little over an hour.
The Vandenberg was an outdated Navy ship that was sunk off the coast of Key West in 2009 to create an artificial reef, which has since become home to an astonishing variety of marine life that attracts divers up close and personal. From far.
The Vandenberg served various naval warfare functions and is now in about 150 feet of water that is part of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, about eight miles offshore.
There are several tour and diving options available, but those who want to dive under the waves will need an up-to-date DIVE certification, so be sure to do your research before heading out.
7. Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center
Located on East Quay Road in Key West, the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center is a part aquarium and marine sanctuary. Present a variety of native sea creatures in large aquariums that have been built to resemble natural environments.
The Discovery Center is a massive hit with visitors of all ages; even adults have observed that they continually felt involved while on-site and learned a lot about the natural world.
In addition to its exhibits, the center offers educational and interactive activities led by a fun and knowledgeable staff, so check their website for more information.
8. Sloppy Joe’s Bar
Sloppy Joe’s is one of Key West’s most iconic bars and has been a favorite with the Republic of Concha residents since its founding in 1933.
Not surprisingly, it was the favorite drinking destination of the famous Ernest Hemingway and his henchmen for much of its existence.
Sloppy Joe’s has televisions that are popular with the NFL crowd, and there is often live music on its large stage that stays open with the bar until closing time at 2 PM.
If you’d rather avoid noisy crowds and loud music, consider a happy hour visit in the afternoon when the atmosphere tends to be softer.
9. Azur Restaurant
Located in the heart of historic Key West, Azur Restaurant is known for its vibrant Mediterranean cuisine and contemporary yet comfortable atmosphere.
There is an indoor dining room, and when the weather is nice, you can enjoy the covered terrace, which is the perfect place for a cold drink, a hot main dish, or both.
Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Azur is a slight step up from many of the area’s restaurants that tend to attract noisy crowds of drinkers.
Many of Azur’s dishes include fresh Florida seafood, and all items are prepared and presented with a modern twist that gives them a unique fusion feel.
10. Audubon House and Tropical Gardens
Audubon House and Whitehead Street Tropical Gardens have a history dating back to the 1840s and were once home to a family of wealthy Floridians.
In the mid-20th century, the house fell into disuse and disrepair but has since undergone several renovations at the hands of historically-minded philanthropists and local organizations. Now, it is one of the most visited attractions on the island.
The cultivated gardens are vibrant and idyllic, and the home is filled with vintage art, furniture, and household items that were opulent by the standards of the time. Admission is cheap, and most guests spend a few hours.
11. Key West Garden Club
The Key West Garden Club on Atlantic Boulevard is a local attraction known for its fantastic ocean views, beautifully cultivated gardens, and the Civil War-era citadel perched on the grounds.
Unlike many local attractions, the Garden Club is free to visit. In addition to its aesthetics and photos, it is steeped in history that most visitors find interesting and enlightening.
With orchids, palm trees, and a pond full of water lilies, it is one of the most picturesque areas of the island; there is even a waterfall and many viewpoints that are great places to relax in the sun and enjoy all the splendor.
12. Key West Historic Seaport and Harbor Walk
Located in a famous Key West marina, close to various historic attractions, shops, and food and drink establishments, the Key West Historic Harbor and Bay Walk is free to visit, often ending up taking up more time than you, the visitor had initially been assigned.
The harbor is full of commercial and private fishing and pleasure boats; many of the latter are fabulously opulent and expensive and owned by wealthy people across the country.
The harbor promenade is a trendy destination in the afternoon and evening; You can often see fishers posing with their catch, and restaurants and bars overlooking the water offer happy hour food and drink specials.
13. Dry Tortugas National Park
Historic Fort Jefferson is the centerpiece of the Dry Tortugas National Park and one of the most impressive surviving examples of the type of military architecture that was common among coastal defense installations in the 18th and 19th centuries.
More than 60 miles west of Key West, it is far from the most convenient of the area’s attractions. Still, for those with solid legs of the sea, plenty of time, and a yearning for views they won’t see anywhere else, the Park National Dry Tortugas deserves a coveted spot on your itinerary.
Most visitors choose to see the park as part of a tour that includes round-trip transportation and historical narration while on site.
In this National Park, you will find one of the best beaches in Key West, Dry Tortugas Beach.
14. Latitudes at Sunset Key
Sunset Key is a short boat ride from Key West, and while Key West is an escape destination in its own right, some visitors yearn for even more remote locations.
For those who do, Latitudes on Sunset Key would be the perfect place to spend an afternoon or evening listening to the rustle of palm trees and island music while sipping rum cocktails and gazing out at the vast expanse of sea that stretches before them.
Latitude’s dress code is known as “island casual,” which means there are no bottleneck shirts, cut-off jeans, or “I’m With Stupid” shirts.
Their menu is filled with fresh and local seafood options and steaks, soups, and salads, many of which have an island flair.
15. Sunset Pier
Few places boast of such amazing sunsets as Key West. For people looking to capture the essence of their visit, there is no better place to do so than at Sunset Pier, just as the sun is sliding under the waves.
Sunset Pier is part of the Ocean Key Resort and Spa and offers guests first-class restaurants, pleasant walking areas, and many unrivaled views.
For those who decide to dine, the restaurant is known for its fresh seafood, and oysters are a particular favorite when in season. There is often live music too, but it’s much more relaxed and low-key than many of the louder bars on Duval Street.
Frequently Asked Questions: Best Things to Do in Key West
What is Key West best known for?
Key West, the southernmost point in the United States, is famous for watersports, lively nightlife, beaches, historic sites and its pastel, conch-style architechture.
Is 2 days enough in Key West?
How many days do you need to visit Key West? 2 to 3 days are enough for Key West. With an extra day in the city you can either visit one of the national or state parks on a day tour. Or pick more water sports.
How many days do you need in Key West?
How Many Days Do You Need in Key West? Key West is worth a day trip, but the more time you have, the better! You could easily spend a week in Key West, but 3-4 days is optimal if you want to do it all and still have time to relax.
IS Key West worth the trip?
So, is Key West worth visiting? Yes, it is because you can experience and enjoy so many different activities here and it’s a great location for adults and children. In Key West you can enjoy beautiful beaches and sunsets, discover local wildlife and immerse yourself in maritime, literary and political history.
How long is the bridge to Key West?
Just southwest of Marathon, a family-friendly community known for its environmental attractions, lies the undisputed jewel of the Overseas Highway: the Seven Mile Bridge, which stretches a stunning 6.79 miles across open water.
Can you swim with the dolphins in Key West?
Of course, you will be very glad to know that there is also the chance to enjoy Key West dolphin swimming! Dolphin swims are available throughout the year and visitors will find that the Structured Shallow Water Dolphin Swims create a moment in a lifetime opportunity.
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