No trip to the Florida Keys is complete without a visit to Key West. People come from all over the world to experience fun in the sun with the taste of the island life this destination offers its visitors. From the bars and museums to the endless celebrations, here is a list of eleven popular attractions to put on your itinerary when visiting Key West, Florida.
1. Drink Cocktails on the Bars of Duval Street.
Duval Street is a must when visiting Key West. Countless bars line both sides of the street and the celebrations here remain reason enough to visit the island. Most visitors come here to let loose and enjoy themselves. Of course, all of the bars make for a great time, but a few favorites include Sloppy Joe’s (Hemingway’s haunt), Hog’s Breath Saloon, Irish Kevin’s, and the Smallest Bar in Key West.
Live music can be heard across most of the bars on Duval Street too, but for those true connoisseurs the best place to listen to quality musicians remains the famous Green Parrot. Located just a few walkable blocks from the main stretch of the Duval Street scene, this is a must-stop for those wanting to spend time listening to the best bands that visit Key West.
2. Taste the Cuisine — Drink a Cuban Coffee & Eat Key Lime Pie
Popular for being just 90 miles from Cuba, Key West shares a deep connection to the massive Caribbean island famous for its strong and sweet coffee. Considered one of the best in town, Cuban Coffee Queen gets creative with its coffee options, but the classic coloda to share among friends remains the best way to truly enjoy the Cuban coffee experience.
Key Lime Pie was invented in Key West. As birthplace of this famous dessert, the delicious delicacy is found on nearly every restaurant menu and also has shops dedicated solely to it. One of the island’s favorite, Kermit’s Key West Lime Shoppe is a great way to get a needed Key Lime Pie fix, but it’s always best for tourists to decide which is best by sampling as many slices as possible.
3. Take the Southernmost Point Photo
There are plenty of photos to take in Key West, including the ones you will probably wish you didn’t share on social media from the prior night out. But regardless of how many photos you take, everyone needs to pose in front of the Southernmost Point. Normally, visitors will find a line in front of the classic red and black buoy which many argue is an inaccurate landmark, but the photo is an experience where you’ll meet others from around the world that are waiting for the same photo.
Another recommended must-take image is at the “end of the road.” Here you can take a photo with mile marker 0 (mm 0).
4. Visit the Little White House
Many Presidents today spend their vacation time in Martha’s Vineyard, but Harry Truman scores points in the eyes of many holiday-goers since he spent his time enjoying key lime pie and playing poker in Key West. Now a historical museum, the “Little White House” remains a quick view into late 1940s Key West and the Truman Presidency.
5. Tour the Hemingway House
One of the most popular attractions year after year in Key West, the Hemingway House is a must for fans of the American writer. On the tour, guides share many classic Hemingway moments including arguments with his wife over the construction of the pool, which books he wrote in the residence, and also tell the stories of the polydactyl cats, six toes on each paw, still cared for on the property.
6. All Aboard the Conch Tour Train
All first timers need to climb aboard the 70 minute conch train and ride through town. The long train is engineered for a fun, festive ride through Old Key West. The guide will detail the architecture, history, and character of the destination with stories to delight and entertain. With four stops, the open air trains depart every 30 minutes.
Another option, the Old Town Trolley, has 13 different stops. Patrons can easily hop-on and hop-off during the length of the ticket and visit them all. The trollies provide a bigger tour circle leaving Old Key West and exploring more of the island.
7. Visit the Butterfly Conservatory
Key West is not solely for adults; families can also make Key West a holiday destination. One place to take younger kids is the Key West Butterfly Conservatory. Inside, visitors walk among hundreds of butterflies in an enclosed environment complete with a small waterfall in a tropical setting.
Access also includes an art gallery with unique “wings of imagination” art made from expired butterflies available for purchase.
8. Visit the Maritime Museums
The Key West Shipwreck Museum combines films and artifacts to share the stories of the “era of the wreckers” and how in the 1850s, trade and commerce ruled Key West. The multi-level museum also provides outside access to a captain’s observatory designed to view the distant reefs for wrecks, but today allows unobstructed views of Key West in all directions.
Another worthy shipwreck museum is Mel Fisher Maritime Museum. Inside, visitors can find many of the artifacts of earlier Spanish Galleon Wrecks and stories of the early days of sailing around the Florida Keys Reefs.
9. Take a Historic Beach Day
Although not known as a beach town, for those in town longer than a weekend, it is a good idea to spend a day at the beach. Plus, it is not everywhere a beach day coincides with visiting a historic landmark. At Fort Zachary Beach, one of the best beaches in the Florida Keys, visitors can snorkel steps from the sand and also tour a mid-1800s fort.
10. Celebrate the Mallory Square Sunset
Plenty of festivals fill the Key West calendar, but one festival occurs daily at Mallory Square. The sunset celebration remains a must for one evening while in Key West. Enjoy the street performers, browse the local artist stalls, and toast the sunset with a cocktail available for sale on the pier.
11. Taste the Local Rum
We all know Ernest Hemingway called the Florida Keys home and his bold adventurous spirit is claimed to be captured in Papa’s Pilar. Take a tour and taste the rum on-site. Another rum favorite can be found at the Key West First Legal Rum location. All distilling tasks are performed by hand on-site and the rums are aged in salt cured barrels with tropical flavors. A visit here can bring out a little of the pirate in all of us.
Well there you have it — eleven reasons to visit to Key West, with eleven popular attractions to put on your Key West vacation itinerary.
By Craig Zabransky
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