Like many other destinations in Florida, Key West offers plenty of ways to enjoy its coastal location and unique culture. Most architecture is Caribbean, but others came directly from the Bahamas, where they were dismantled, shipped and then re-assembled here in the Keys. The local cuisine leans towards Afro-Caribbean and Spanish, and there is a certain laid-back, Bohemian feel to the town. Besides outdoor pursuits like snorkelling excursions and kayaking tours, there are also many historical sites to explore. For your next trip out here, here are the best things to do in Key West Florida.
1. Check out Duval Street
Duval Street is Key West’s main tourist street. Lined with restaurants, shops and popular attractions, it is the place to begin exploring Key West. If you’re short on time, a great way to get an overview of the area is on the Conch Tour Train. It visits Duval Street, as well as Old Town, Hemingway House, and the waterfront area. You can hop on and off as and when you like. The narrated tour offers insight into the railroad days, the depression, as well as WWII and how they relate to Key West.
2. Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
The Hemingway Home in Key West is where legendary author Enest Heingway lived between 1931 and 1939, and where he wrote To Have and Have Not. Wander around the lush gardens and largely preserved rooms filled with Hemingway memorabilia. Another important part of Hemingway’s life: his cat! Hemingway was given a white, six-toed cat named Snow White. Around 40 to 50 of the cats that currently live on the grounds are believed to be Snow White’s descendants. They tend to stick to the shade in the garden and don’t mind the visitors.
3. Smathers Beach
Key West isn’t best known for its beaches but the most popular one is Smathers Beach. It’s clean, peaceful, and has everything you need for a full day out: food trucks, chairs and umbrellas, paddleboards and jet skis for rent and of course, bathrooms. It’s completely free to visit, but make sure to avoid it during Spring Break when it turns into a party hotspot.
4. Dry Tortugas National Park
Dry Tortugas is a national park located right in the middle of the ocean. It is an archipelago of seven reef islands – great for outdoor adventuring, learning and soaking in the crystal clear waters. The best part? It is one of the least-visited national parks in America, meaning no crowds and an extra special experience! Top activities include snorkelling and the Windjammer wreck site if you’re an experienced diver. If you love birdwatching, keep your eyes open for over 300 species of bird known to circle the area!
5. Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park
A history buff? Fort Zachary Taylor dates back to 1845 and is home to the largest collection of Civil War cannons in the United States. Apart from a dose of history through tours and self-guided exploration, you can also sunbathe, hike, bike and fish. And though the sand is not as powdery soft as other beaches in Florida, it does offer some great snorkeling opportunities!
6. Harry S. Truman Little White House
The Little White House was built in 1890 as housing for naval officers. In 1946, President Harry Truman started using this house as his winter home and it became known as the Little White House. Since Truman’s days, many other presidents have also vacationed here, including Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. In 1990, the home was restored to its former 1940s appearance and opened as a state historic site & museum. Today, regular guided tours take place and visitors can enter the rooms where the Trumans lived, worked and relaxed. Items such as President Truman’s briefcase, books, telephone, and his famous “The Buck Stops Here” sign are still at his desk.
7. Southernmost Point
The Southernmost Point is what it says it is – the southernmost point of the United States (though there is some debate). Getting a photo here is one of the most popular things to do in Key West. Although it is crowded with folks looking to get that Instagram shot, the line does move pretty quickly. To beat the rush, come early or late in the day. If you can catch a sunset, all the better! But do keep in mind that the street near the landmark will start to flood when the high tide rolls in, so you might wanna check for low tide times.