Best Key West Attractions And Points Of Interest
Here are the the stellar Key West attractions that are perfect for any type of travelers including families. You will be thrilled at Mallory Square while watching the Sunset Celebration and you can stroll down Duval Street. You can view the home of the American iconic writer Ernst Hemingway or visit the Oldest House Museum. You can view incredible shipwrecks while you scuba dive or snorkel or you can stroll through the Key West Aquarium. There are hundreds of artifacts on exhibit at the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum and you can indulge in living history at the Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum. Just getting to Key West is fabulous when you drive the Overseas Highway and you can visit Dry Tortugas National Park by seaplane. Whether you are looking for outdoor activities or history, Key West has something for everyone that will leave lasting memories.
Dry Tortugas National Park
If you want to view an incredible fortress as well as stunning marine life in its own natural habitat, then the best Key West attraction for you is to plan a trip to Dry Tortugas National Park. Located 68-miles to the west of Key West in the Gulf of Mexico, the Dry Tortugas National Park features seven islands and the massive but unfinished Fort Jefferson. Dry Tortugas National Park is home to the least disturbed Florida Keys coral reefs, numerous shipwrecks and an abundance of incredible marine life. Fort Jefferson is considered the centerpiece of the park and consists of the largest brick masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere with more than 16 million bricks forming the encampment. The area surrounding the seven islands is a haven for scuba divers and snorkelers that can view several shipwrecks, colorful coral reefs and thousands of tropical fish. This popular Key West attraction can only be accessed by boat or seaplane which means you won’t see many people making this one of the most sought after secluded national parks within the U.S.
Key West Aquarium
If you like viewing marine life without getting wet, then the ideal Key West attraction for you is to visit the Key West Aquarium. Located in Mallory Square, the Key West Aquarium was constructed in the 1930s as a Works Project Administration attraction that was intended to bring tourists to Key West and the surrounding area. The Key West Aquarium is one of the oldest aquariums in Florida. The Key West Aquarium features exhibits on several unique animals that call Florida home such as the American alligator, the marine life of the Atlantic shores and the Jellyfish exhibit is illuminated making them look transparent and scary. Other exhibits include a shark feeding tank, a sea turtle conservation area and a touch tank where you can touch starfish, hermit crabs and even the tail of a shark. The Key West Aquarium is an ideal stop for families and children will be thrilled to see all of the glorious marine life without getting wet.
When you want to experience the true culture of Key West, then the perfect Key West attraction for you is to plan a trip to Duval Street. Located in downtown, Duval Street runs 1.25-miles in length from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean. Along Duval Street you will be pleased with the Bahamian and Spanish influenced Victorian homes that grace the street. These former homes now house some of the best restaurants, art galleries and shopping venues on the island. You can indulge in great food at DJ’s Clam Shack, Sloppy Joe’s which was Ernst Hemingway’s favorite eatery and La Trattoria for pleasing Italian cuisine. If you are looking for nightlife then try the Aqua Nightclub or the 801 Bourbon Bar. You can also browse a plethora of Key West attractions such as art galleries from the Wyland Galleries to Savlen Gallery and you can explore shopping at the fascinating Mel Fisher’s Treasures.
Key West Lighthouse and Keeper's Quarters Museum
If you like viewing incredible structures from the past, then the best Key West attraction for you to visit is the Key West Lighthouse and Keeper’s Quarters Museum. Located at 938 Whitehead Street, the Key West Lighthouse and Keeper’s Quarters Museum is the 15th oldest lighthouse in the U.S. that is still standing. Originally constructed to a height of 65-feet in 1825, the lighthouse was destroyed during an 1846 hurricane. Later rebuilt in 1847 to a height of 46-feet the lighthouse was extended to 85-feet in 1894. When you visit the grounds you will be delighted to be able to climb the 88 steps and be rewarded with a spectacular view of the Atlantic Ocean. Also within the grounds is the perfectly restored Keeper’s Quarters which is furnished with period era furniture. There are several exhibits that explain the construction of the lighthouse as well as the everyday life of the keeper who was on duty during perilous weather whether that was the sun and heat or a hurricane bearing down on the island.
Photo by Kirby Collins
If you like to mingle with the locals and view incredible artisan work as well as some tasty food, then an ideal Key West attraction for you is to go to Mallory Square. Located at 400 Wall Street, Mallory Square is home to dozens unique artisan shops and restaurants that spring to life each evening two hours before sunset. The Sunset Celebration is a great Key West tradition where locals and visitors get together and watch the sunset while enjoying numerous pieces of artwork on display by local artisans. During the celebration there is live music, street performers and plenty of incredible food to eat. Another interesting activity within Mallory Square is the Memorial Sculpture Garden which boasts 36 bronze busts of the most famous and influential people who have lived on Key West from Ernst Hemingway to Harry S. Truman to Asa Tift. When you visit Mallory Square you can also include a stop at the Key West Aquarium which is home to alligators, conchs, hermit crabs and you can even touch a live shark on the tail.
Photo by Sam Howzit
Harry S. Truman Little White House
One of the more fascinating and presidential Key West attractions to visit is the Harry S. Truman Little White House. Located in Old Town Key West, the Harry S. Truman Little White House is situated within a former U.S. Naval base and home that was constructed in 1890. The Harry S. Truman Little White House is now famous for being the White House headquarters for President Harry S. Truman for 175 days of his 11 years as president and was included on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. President Truman was not the first U.S. President to stay in the house though with William Howard Taft residing there in 1912 and even Thomas Edison perfected several underwater weapons at the house during World War I. Since President Truman’s stay at the residence other U.S. Presidents from John F. Kennedy to Jimmy Carter to Bill Clinton have vacationed on the property. When you visit this Key West attraction today, you will be thrilled to view the period furnishings that adorns the house as well as numerous photographs from the various presidents that have spent time at this beautiful location.
Hard Rock Cafe Key West
When you are ready to view some great rock-n-roll memorabilia and eat some food, then the perfect Key West attraction for you to visit is the Hard Rock Cafe Key West. Located at 313 Duval Street, the Hard Rock Cafe Key West is situated in a three-story Victorian style house that is presumed to be haunted by the original owner who was Robert Curry. The Hard Rock Cafe Key West is the southernmost outpost of this classic American restaurant chain and serves food that reflects the culture of Key West. Along with good food and drinks, the restaurant also displays a smashed guitar from Nine Inch Nails, boots worn by Jimi Hendrix and a velvet jacket of Stevie Nicks as well as a Vince Neil snakeskin belt. The Hard Rock Cafe Key West also is known for hosting live musical events which adds to the great ambience you will find on Duval Street.
Fort Zachary Taylor State Park
If you like to view and learn about Civil War era forts, then an ideal Key West attraction for you is to visit the Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. Located at 601 Howard England Way on the southern tip of Key West, Fort Zachary Taylor State Park is situated on 87-acres and was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1973. Fort Zachary Taylor State Park was constructed beginning in 1845 and was not completed for over 10 years due to hurricanes, disease and lack of supplies. The fort became a mainstay during the Civil War and was the headquarters for the U.S. Navy’s East Gulf Coast Blockade Squadron who was in charge of deterring Confederate ships leaving ports from the Gulf of Mexico. One of the more interesting items about Fort Zachary Taylor State Park is in later years when the grounds were excavated archeologists found the largest concentration of Civil War cannons known and the fort is recognized as having the largest collection. Another interesting Key West attraction to visit is Truman Beach that was developed by the Secret Service during the time of Harry S. Truman’s presidency. This stellar stretch of white sand is now popular with tourists looking to cool off and play in the surrounding blue waters.
Photo by Eric Kilby
Mel Fisher Maritime Museum
If you are interested in treasure hunting legends and want to view one of the best Key West attractions, then you need to visit the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum. Located at 200 Greene Street, the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum is the only accredited museum in the Florida Keys and also serves as a research and archeology facility. Once you enter the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum you will be pleased with the thousands of pieces of underwater artifacts that Mel Fisher has recovered discovered and put on exhibit. You can view stellar artifacts from shipwrecks like the Henrietta Marie, Santa Margarita and Nuestra Senora de Atocha. As you browse the exhibits you can view gold, silver and the many jewels retrieved from the sunken ships that Mel Fisher has discovered. You can see exhibits that tell tales of real pirates as well as real history when you view the artifacts of a slave ship as well as a Key West African Cemetery exhibit which highlights the atrocities of the transatlantic slave trade. An added bonus at this research museum is that you can even take an excursion of the lab which processes the incredible pieces of history and culture that have been retrieved from numerous shipwrecks.
If you are interested in driving one the most outstanding engineering marvels in the world, then the ideal Key West attraction for you is take a trip on the Overseas Highway. Located along the old Florida East Coast Railway, the Overseas Highway encompasses 113-miles roadway with 42 bridges that allow access from southern section of U.S. Highway 1 to the Florida Keys from mainland Miami. The original railway line was destroyed in 1935 and subsequently sold the state of Florida. The Overseas Highway was completed in 1938 and gives motorists an excellent view of the turquoise colored waters and numerous coral reefs while driving. While you are driving you can see some of the original railway bridges like Bahia Honda Bridge and Long Key Bridge which are now use as fishing piers. You will be thrilled with the Florida culture that is on display with plenty of picturesque islands and roadside stands selling unique Florida items. This Key West attraction is an once-in-a-lifetime drive and was named a National Scenic Byways in 2009 which is one of only 30 such roads in America.
White Street Pier
If you are a morning person and like to watch incredible sunrises, then the ideal Key West attraction for you is to visit the White Street Pier. Located at 1899 White Street, the White Street Pier is constructed from concrete and reaches far into the Atlantic Ocean. The white Street Pier is perfect for an early morning walk with your dog or a refreshing early morning bike ride. When you reach the end your sight view goes for miles. At the beginning of the pier you will notice an AIDS Memorial and once at the end you will be pleased with the extra space that occurs which gives you ample of room to take in the gorgeous sights of the surrounding ocean. Take your time and talk the local fishermen that are always looking for that days fresh seafood meal.
Photo by Florida Keys--Public Libraries
Ripley's Believe It or Not Key West
When you want to view some of the strangest things you can, then the best Key West attraction for you and your family is to plan a trip to the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Key West. Located at 108 Duval Street, the Ripley’s Believe or Not! Key West is situated within 10,000 square feet of space that contains some of the weirdest things you can ever imagine. The two-story building contains over 500 exhibits within 13 galleries which include outdoor balconies. The Odditorium houses such items as an 8-foot tall Captain Jack Sparrow statue that is made from recycled car parts. Other interesting items within the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Key West is a man-eating shark, a one-of-a-kind landscape carving made out of camel bone and shrunken heads as well as a white buffalo. The Ripley’s Believe It or Not! makes a great Key West attraction when combining with the museum with Mallory Square and the Hard Rock Café.
Photo by Florida Keys--Public Libraries
Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center
One of the best Key West attractions for you to learn about the intricate eco-system of the surrounding waters is the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center. Located at 35 East Quay Road on Key West, the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center is situated within 6,000 square feet of space that features numerous exhibits and learning stations on the eco-system of the Florida Keys. Once you enter the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center you will be pleased with learning about the different habitats that exist within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary that range from upland pinelands to hardwood hammock to beach dunes. The center is an ideal place to learn about seagrass, the hundreds of tropical fish in the area and the colorful coral reefs. You can also view a 2,500 gallon reef tank that exhibits living coral and numerous tropical fish. An added bonus is a 17-minute film by Bob Talbot entitled Reflections of the Florida Keys that explains much of the area in a detailed but exciting way.
Photo by Ben Beiske
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
When you want to visit some of the most pristine underwater places in the world, then the best Key West attraction for you is to take a trip to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Located in the waters surrounding the Florida Keys, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is situated within 2,900 square nautical miles of waters which includes parts of the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and the Florida Bay. The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary was established in 1990 and includes the only barrier coral reef in North America. The sanctuary is also important because the area is the world’s third largest coral barrier reef in the world as well as being the largest seagrass bed in the world. There are mangrove-fringed islands within the sanctuary that protect some 6,000 species of marine life. Also within this Key West attraction are hundreds of shipwrecks which boast incredible archeological treasures. When you visit the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary you can indulge in some of the best scuba diving, fishing, swimming and snorkeling in the entire world.
Photo by National Marine Sanctuaries
Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
One of the most popular Key West attractions is the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum and is a perfect place for travelers to view the lifestyle of this iconic writer. Located at 907 Whitehead Street in the middle of Old Key West, the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum was originally constructed in 1851 and was purchased by Hemingway in 1931. The home was built by Asa Tift and it assumed that his 14 slaves were the primary labor force who quarried the white limestone by hand. The house is the second highest point on Key West at 16-feet above sea level. Hemingway lived in the home until he moved to Cuba around 1940. His wife Pauline and two sons continued to live in the house until Pauline died in 1951. The interior of the house has not been changed and continues to display the furniture and fixtures that the Hemingway’s put in place. After Pauline’s death in 1951 and Hemingway’s in 1961, the home was purchased by Bernice Dixon who lived in the main house until 1964 when she decided to move into the rear guest house. At this point the main house was opened as a museum and tribute to this legendary American writer. The cats that reside on the property are descendants of the Hemingway’s original 40 cats.
Photo by faungg's photos
Southernmost Point Buoy
One of the most photographed Key West attractions is the Southernmost Point Buoy and is an ideal place for lasting memories of your trip to Key West. Located on South Street and Whitehead Street, the Southernmost Point Buoy marks the southernmost point of the continental United States. This point was originally marked with various signs that would be moved or stolen by the general public. The City of Key West constructed this concrete buoy in 1983 and has since been a mainstay for visitors to photograph. The Southernmost Point Buoy has also been featured in many literary novels such as Callahan’s Key and Key Weirder. The buoy also is inscribed with a round number of miles to Cuba which is 90 miles away to the south.
Photo by arctic_whirlwind
If you are a scuba diver then the best Key West attraction for you is to take a dive at the USNS Vandenberg wreck site. Located seven south of Key West, the USNS Vandenberg is situated within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. This 522-foot long ship was originally used as a military troop transport vessel and later commissioned as a missile tracking ship. The ship was sunk on May 27, 2009 with the purpose of helping take the pressure off of the nearby coral reefs that had been suffering from over diving and fishing. The USNS Vandenberg rests some 140-feet underwater on the ocean floor and provides needed habitat for thousands of tropical fish as well as newly formed coral. The site was chosen with input from 18 different groups which decided to sink the ship in an area where there was no coral reefs present. The shipwreck is now one of the more sought after places for scuba divers to visit and attracts hundreds of scuba divers weekly.
Photo by Wikimedia
Key West Garden Club
If you are looking for one a free Key West attraction that is dedicated to educating the public on the various tropical plants that thrive on the islands, then you should visit the Key West Garden Club. Located at 1100 Atlantic Boulevard on Higgs Beach, the Key West Garden Club is situated within an old Civil War fort at the West Martello Tower where White Street runs into the Atlantic Ocean. The Martello Towers were constructed in 1863 as part of Fort Taylor and were used by Federal troops who were in charge of the blockading Confederate ships during the Civil War. The West Martello Tower Garden Center was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. Today the Key West Garden Club is housed within the space and is supported only by volunteers who have been tending the gardens here since 1955. The volunteers plant tropical species of flora as well as fauna and offer educational tours of the gardens. This Key West attraction has a library which is ideal for people to learn about how to tend to their gardens in the Florida Keys.
Photo by Dieter Gora
Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory
One of the best Key West attractions for families and travelers who want to view and learn about butterflies is the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. Located at 1316 Duvall Street in Key West, the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory is situated within a glass-enclosed climate controlled building which is home for over 50 species of butterflies from around the world. The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory features a natural habitat within the glass walls such as waterfalls, trees and flowering plants. Butterflies fly freely within the open space along with 20 exotic butterfly friendly bird species such as cordon-blue finches, Chinese painted quail, zebra finches and red factored canaries. There is a learning center onsite that allows you to understand the anatomy, lifecycle, feeding and migratory pattern of butterflies. You can watch live caterpillars develop around their host plants as they turn themselves into the brightly colored butterflies that we all like to watch fly around.
Photo by Elizabeth Nicodemus
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
The St. Paul’s Episcopal Church is one of the most incredible buildings in South Florida and a perfect Key West attraction to visit. Located at 401 Duval Street, the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church was established in 1832 and the current building was completed in 1919 with services beginning in the same year. The church has a great Gothic-style architecture with several towers and the interior boasts tremendous stained glass work that is a pleasure to view. The church is the oldest operating church in South Florida and there is also a historic cemetery that you can view. In the evening the locals believe that the cemetery is haunted and is a perfect place to spend a night listening to the haunting sounds of the dead. The church also hosts several concerts and community events throughout the year for residents as well as for visiting travelers in the area.
Photo by inazakira
Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum
If you want to step back in time and learn the unique history and heritage of Key West, then the best Key West attraction for you and your family is the Key West Shipwreck treasure Museum. Located at 1 Whitehead Street, the Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum boasts a living history type atmosphere where you can view artifacts from the shipwreck of the vessel Isaac Allerton. The Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum offers a unique learning experience of the Isaac Allerton which sank in 1856 along the coral reefs of the Florida Keys. The museum boasts live actors who portray people like Asa Tift who ran a wrecking business in Key West for decades. During the shipping heyday of Key West there would one ship a week that fell victim to the coral reefs that surround Key West. You can climb a 65-foot observation tower which is a replica of what Tift and other wreckers would use to identify shipwrecks along the reefs. There are several interactive exhibits which display hundreds of artifacts from several shipwrecks with a large concentration of artifacts from the Isaac Allerton as well as audio and film exhibits.
U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ingham Maritime Museum
When you want to walk inside one of the most decorated boats in U.S. Coast Guard history, then the perfect Key West attraction for you is to visit the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ingham Maritime Museum. Located along Southard Street, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ingham Maritime Museum showcases one of only two Treasury class cutters that have been preserved and open to the public. The Ingham was officially commissioned in 1936 and is the only U.S. Coast Guard Cutter afloat today that has received two Presidential Unit Citations as well as the last cutter to sink a German U-Boat during World War II. This 327-foot cutter was instrumental in protecting convoys during World War II and sank the German U-626 on December 15, 1942 while crossing the Atlantic Ocean. The Ingham also played an important role in the Pacific war theater as an amphibious flagship that made three campaigns transporting troops as well as providing security for convoys. Today the Ingham is a great Key West attraction to learn about the history as well as the importance of the U.S. Coast Guard and was chosen to be a National Historic Landmark in 1992.Stefano F
Audubon House & Tropical Gardens
If you want to view beautiful architecture, a garden as well as first edition books from the legendary birder John James Audubon, then the best Key West attraction for you is the Audubon House and Tropical Gardens. Located at 205 Whitehead Street, the Audubon House and Tropical Gardens are situated on 1-acre of manicured landscaped gardens. The house was constructed during 1846 and 1849 by one of Key West’s wealthiest men Captain John Huling Geiger. The Audubon House has an incredible American Classic Revival architectural design that is befitting of a king. The house is constructed of the now-extinct Dade County Pine tree which is highly termite resistant and was a sought after wood for construction which led to the extinction of this particular tree. The house contains period furniture and fixtures as well as a large collection of 28 first edition works of John James Audubon who discovered 18 new species of birds while visiting Key West and the Dry Tortugas in 1832. The garden area is perfect with brick walking paths that highlight 200 orchids, bromeliads and other tropical plants as well as an herb garden.
Photo by Roger W
Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden
If you want to view some of the nation’s champion trees as well as view incredible wildlife and tropical plants, then the ideal Key West attraction for you is a trip to the Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden. Located at 5210 College Road on Stock Island, the Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden is situated on 11-acres of land which includes several species of National Champion Trees. The Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden is the only frost free botanical garden in the continental United States. The garden is home to several National Champion Trees such as the Locust-berry and Wild Dilly which have won this distinction based on the height, crown spread, trunk circumference as well as physical condition of the tree. Notable native and plants from around the world include poisonwood, black ironwood, Spanish stopper, sea grape and tamarind as well as pigeon plum. This Key West attraction is great place to bring a picnic lunch and spend the day within this superb natural environment.
Photo by ALAN SCHMIERER
Key West Historic Seaport
If you are interested in spending the day reliving a historic seaport that mixes the old with new then a superb Key West attraction for you is to visit the Key West Historic Seaport. Located at Key West Bight Marina, the Key West Historic Seaport is situated within a historic district that combines the both of best old and new worlds. The Key West Historic Seaport has a plethora of things to do like fishing, kayaking in a glass bottom kayak, shopping at one of the many stores along the Harbor Walk and you can book a boat sail as well as fishing. Other attractions within the Key West Historic Seaport are the Turtle Museum, the Fort Jefferson Museum and the Flagler Station Over-Sea Railway Historeum Museum. You will be pleased with the variety of dining choices from the Half Shell Raw Bar to Mac’s Sea Garden to the Schooner Wharf Bar. There is a wide variety of excursions you can book from scuba diving to fishing to sunset cruise and you can even ride a ferry to nearby Marco Island. No matter what type of activity you are looking for your family, you will find something at the Key West Historic Seaport.
Photo by Richard Lopez
The Oldest House Museum
If you like viewing incredible history of yester year combined with beautiful architecture then the ideal Key West attraction for you is to plan a trip to the Oldest House Museum. Located at 322 Duval Street, the Oldest House Museum was constructed around 1829 and is a beautiful one-story building. Richard Cussans relocated to Key West from Nassau in the Bahamas and constructed this home for his family. The Oldest House Museum is a tribute to the early days on Key West and reflects this attitude with many pieces of period furniture and artwork. The Oldest House Museum offers excursions with docents who are very knowledgeable of the house, the family and early Key West. When you tour the property you will be pleased to view the only surviving Cook House in South Florida. An added bonus to this Key West attraction is the tranquil garden that volunteers care for on a daily basis and is a wonderful place to enjoy a picnic lunch.
Photo by Roger W
Fort East Martello Museum
When you are ready to learn more about the early culture and history of Key West within a unique former military installation then the perfect Key West attraction for you is the Fort East Martello Museum. Located at 3501 South Roosevelt Boulevard, the Fort East Martello Museum is housed within the best preserved example of Martello style military architecture in the country and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. Besides exhibiting superb architecture the Fort East Martello Museum is home to many displays that explain the early days of Key West from sponging to fishing to early settlement to Cuban influence on the island. The museum also has detailed exhibits about artists and writers like Ernest Hemingway. The East Martello Museum is also known for its doll named Robert the Doll which was once owned by the late Robert Eugene Otto. Other artists that have work on exhibit include folk artist Mario Sanchez and Stanley Papio who is famous for turning junk into masterpieces.
Photo by Bjorn Watland
If you like to watch sunsets with lots of interesting people and view arts and crafts from local artists, then the Sunset Celebration is perfect for you. Located within Mallory Square along the waterfront adjacent to the cruise ship port, the Sunset Celebration is a nightly event that features street performers, food carts and numerous art exhibits from local Key West artists. This nightly exhibit of art and fun starts about two hours before sunset every evening of the week and is attended by numerous people from locals to tourists. The sunset Celebration is a perfect gathering of culture that has influenced the daily lives of people who live on Key West. From live bands to jugglers to great food, the Sunset Celebration is a great way for family and friends to spend a relaxing evening.
Photo by anutkak43
Memorial Sculpture Garden
If you want to see some of the best sculptures that have been created in place in the world, then a superb Key West attraction for you is to plan a visit to the Memorial Sculpture Garden. Located in Mallory Square, the Memorial Sculpture Garden tells the story of Key West through 36 bronze sculptures that depict the islands most famous residents. Opened in 1997, the Memorial Sculpture Garden is an ideal place to these magnificent pieces of art that depict famous people like Ernest Hemingway, Asa Tift, John Bartlum, Sandy Cornish, Lena Johnson, Ellen Russel Mallory and Harry S. Truman. The sculptures and maintenance of the area is funded by people buying engraved bricks to help remember family members or relatives that once called Key West home and attracts more than 1 million guests every year.
Photo by Pietro Valocchi
Basilica of Saint Mary Star of the Sea
When you want to visit an older church for services or just to get a glimpse of stellar architecture as well as beautiful stained glass, then the perfect Key West attraction for you to visit is the Basilica of Saint Mary Star of the Sea. Located 1010 Windsor Lane, the Basilica of Saint Mary Star of the Sea is the oldest Catholic parish of the Archdiocese of Miami and is situated within the Key West Historic District that was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. Constructed in 1905, this beautifully designed American Victorian style building has elements on the interior of Romanesque and early Renaissance design that includes incredible stained glass. The exterior features louvered shutters, gothic arches, rounded arches and lunettes. The buildings material used during construction include oolitic limestone rock and the concrete is an aggregate of coral and beach sand. Today this Key West attraction is the fifth oldest Catholic Parish in the state of Florida and housed the first Catholic school in the state of Florida which is still continually operated by the Parish.
Photo by arctic_whirlwind
Key West Wildlife Center
When you want to view the incredible wildlife that resides in Key West, then an ideal Key West attraction is the Key West Wildlife Center. Located at 1801 White Street, the Key West Wildlife Center is situated on 7-acres of land within the Indigenous Park. The Key West Wildlife Center offers rehabilitation services for rescued animals with a main emphasis on birds. The center helps over 1,400 birds yearly and has been instrumental in preserving, rescuing as well as placing thousands of feral Key Wes chickens that reside on the island. The Key West Wildlife Center has a beautiful nature trail where you can watch hundreds of migratory birds within the two onsite aviaries. Birds that can be found at the center include Barn owls, short-eared owls, Broad-winged hawks, Cooper’s hawks, brown pelicans, bald eagles, American white pelicans and double crested cormorants. There is also a freshwater pond that helps attracts birds throughout the year and has a wonderful viewing area with benches.
Key West First Legal Rum Distillery
If you want to taste some of the world’s best rum, then the only Key West attraction for you is a trip to the Key West First Legal Rum Distillery. Located at 105 Simonton Street, the Key West First Legal Rum Distillery is situated in the former space of historic Jack’s Saloon. The Key West First Legal Rum Distillery boasts a unique distilling method that uses the humidity, high weather temperatures and pressure that produces smooth tasting rum. The distillery is the brain child of Paul Menta who is a former kite boarding champion as well as a well-known chef in Key West. The distillery uses two cooper stills that were custom made in Kentucky. You can take a tour of the processing and distilling plant that is located in an old Coca-Cola factory on Key West. The Key West Legal Rum Distillery offers eleven different flavors that range from a Raw and Unfiltered to the 105 proof Simonton to a Key Lime with Green Coconut flavor as well as traditional style rums like white and even a Duval St. Spiced Rum. After you take an excursion of the facilities sit back and sip some of the finest rum made in the world.
Key West Art & Historical Society Custom House Museum
When you want to learn more about the history and culture of Key West, then the ideal Key West attraction for you is the Key West Art and Historical Society Custom House Museum. Located at 281 Front Street, the Key West Art and Historical Society Custom House Museum is situated within the historic Custom House which was added the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. The Custom House was constructed between 1889 and 1891 with a splendid Richardsonian Romanesque design which sports clean lines and plenty of intricate details. Once inside you will be treated to a variety of interactive exhibits about the local shipping, wrecking and maritime history of Key West. The Key West Art and Historical Society Custom House Museum also features exhibits on well-known people that have called Key West home like Ernest Hemingway and displays many pieces of art from the local artisans that live in the community today. The museum also hosts a variety of events that include the popular Papio Kinetic Parade.
Key West Firehouse Museum
If you like the history of old fire houses and the people that have helped save thousands of structures, then the best Key West attraction for you is to visit the Key West Firehouse Museum. Located on the corner of Grinnell and Virginia Streets in Key West, the Key West Firehouse Museum is situated in the Fire Station No. 3 that was constructed in 1907. The Key West Firehouse Museum is a fascinating look back over time about the heroism of the first 12 paid fire fighters on Key West. The firehouse is constructed of Indian Blocks which is a hewn concrete highly resistance to flames and can be traced to one of the oldest in Florida when these men and 200 volunteers used horse drawn steamers and hose carriages. The museum houses several interactive exhibits that relay the daily activities of these men as well as the challenges they faced after hurricanes hit the island of Key West. Also within the museum is believed to be the oldest coal pit that was used to fire up the steam engines before racing off on the horse drawn carriages to fight the blazes.
Nancy Forrester's Secret Garden
One of the best Key West attractions that offer an in-depth look into parrots and macaws is the Nancy Forrester’s Secret Garden. Located on 518 Elizabeth Street, the Nancy Forrester’s Secret Garden is situated on 1-acre of tropical paradise and houses numerous parrots as well as macaws. The garden boasts an educational program daily called Parrot 101 in which guests learn about these birds and the necessary habitat that is needed for them to thrive in the wild. You are invited to take photographs with the birds as well as touch and hold these feathered animals. You can watch the birds dance and even sing to some of your favorite music. Nancy and her friend Steve Snyder will take you through an interesting learning session of to help these remarkable and endangered birds that are colorful and a joy to be around.