Explore Key West

Learn about things to do on land in Key West, including beaches, historic sites, Key West History, maps, museums, news & happenings, parks, points of interest, and shopping.

old-illustration-of-key-westWith so much history, beauty, and revelry, it’s no wonder that Key West is at the top of many traveler’s lists.

There really is something for everyone in Key West – regardless of your interest. For a majority of visitors, the water is the biggest draw. For others, it’s the incredible history and architecture of the island. And many just want to be where Hemingway was inspiried.

So when you are not on the beach, or enjoying the many, many bars, here are the many fun things to check out and do:

Key West Firehouse Museum

Key West Firehouse Museum

Key West’s Old Town neighborhood is the largest collection of historic wooden structures in the United States. These treasured buildings, each dry as kindling, have survived for almost two-hundred years thanks to the brave and hard work of Key West’s fire departments. The newly opened Key West Firehouse Museum, in the historic Firehouse No. 3…

Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden

Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden

Just a few miles from Old Town Key West is a treasure of nature known as the Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden. Started in the 1930s, this 8.5 acre lush garden serves as an educational and interpretive center for native plants and wildlife of the Florida Keys and Caribbean. Here you can take…

End of US1 – Mile Marker 0

End of US1 – Mile Marker 0

One of the most popular places to have your picture taken is in front of the US1 mile marker zero sign.  Every day, hundreds, if not thousands of visitors, smile for the camera and commemorate visiting the southernmost point of the United States. Stretching from upper Maine to Key West, US 1, known locally as…

Southernmost Point

Southernmost Point

Key West is the southernmost point in the continental United States. And a visit to the island almost necessitates recognizing this unique geographical fact. Every day, hundreds of visitors have their photo taken next to the large painted cement buoy that sits on the corner of Whitehead Street and South Street. Years ago, a beloved…

Flagler Station & Overseas Railway Historium

Flagler Station & Overseas Railway Historium

In 1905 Henry Flagler, one of the wealthiest men in the world, announced his plan to build a railway from Miami to Key West. Some laughed, some scoffed, and most agreed that it could not be done. Eight years, three hurricanes, thirty million dollars, and hundreds of lives lost, Flagler proved them wrong. Visit the…

Mallory Square

Mallory Square

Few places in the world offer the sheer brilliance, the majesty, and the peacefulness of the Keys when it’s that special time for the sun to disappear below the horizon. Sunset in Old Town is a time honored happening when hundreds of people gather on the docks of historic Mallory Square. That’s where you’ll see…

Wyland’s Whaling Wall

Wyland’s Whaling Wall

Marine artists Wyland & Guy Harvey teamed up to repaint the faded Wyland mural on Key West’s now-closed Waterfront Market (a brewery is planned to occupy that space). Wyland has painted many of these murals thoughout the world in hopes of raising awareness and appreciation of the ocean. Location: Foot of William Street (by the…

Custom’s House

Custom’s House

Built in 1891, this magnificent red brick building, known locally as the Custom House, is a 3 ½ story Romanesque style landmark which first served as the city’s Federal Building during the wrecking era. The waterfront building’s bright red roof is iconic and easily spotted from a distance, especially by boaters. We highly recommend a…

Shipwreck Museum

Shipwreck Museum

At one point in it’s history, Key West was the richest city in the United States of America. Wrecking, or the salvaging of ships run aground on the reef, was big business in the 19th century. Meet the men who risked their lives and fortunes as you enter the unique world of an 1856 wrecker’s…

Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center

Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center

A terrific educational facility with over 6,400 square feet of exhibits, including a 74-seat movie theater. Highlights of the Center include an interactive map of the Keys, a replica of the Aquarius underwater laboratory, and an underwater video camera that allows guests to observe coral spawning, assess damage from a boat grounding or monitor the…

Mel Fisher Maritime Museum

Mel Fisher Maritime Museum

World famous treasure salvor Mel Fisher uncovered the 1622 wreck of the Spanish galleon Atocha in 1985, after an exhausting search which took over 18 years and cost him the life of his son, a professional diver. The world of shipwreck archaeology is the theme of this awesome museum where you will see the ropes…

Oldest House Museum & Garden

Oldest House Museum & Garden

This conch cottage is known as the oldest house on the island and was built in 1829. It was home to the wrecker Captain Francis B. Watlington, his wife Emeline, and their nine daughters. The property has three buildings, the main house, the kitchen house, and the exhibit pavillion which face a garden with benches.…

San Carlos Institute

San Carlos Institute

Key West and Cuba have always had a close relashionship – being only seperated by 90 miles. And no building represents more Cuban history than the San Carlos building on Duval Street. Built in 1890 by the San Carlos Institute, an organization dedicated to supporting Cuban culture and values. In 1892, Jose Martí  famously made…

Turtle Kraals Museum

Turtle Kraals Museum

In the mid to late 1800s Key West was the center for turtle processing and canning. At that time, turtle soup was considered a delicacy in parts of the United States and especially in Europe. Turtles caught throughout the Caribbean were shipped to Key West, kept alive by cruelly placing them on their backs aboard…

Pan Am Headquarters

Pan Am Headquarters

For those aviation buffs out there, visit Kelly’s Bar & Restaurant (started by the actress Kelly McGillis), the original home to Pan Am airlines. Pan Am, originally named Pan American, was the largest airline in the United States from 1927 to 1991.  And it all started in little Key West when the small airline began regular passenger…

Key West Cemetery

Key West Cemetery

The Key West City Cemetery was established in 1847 following the disastrous hurricane of October 11, 1846. According to prominent attorney and port inspector Stephen Mallory, “The effects of the hurricane were terrible. The grave yard of this town on a high sand ridge on the Southern part of the Island was entirely washed away,…

Hemingway House

Hemingway House

Located at the corner of Whitehead and Olivia St. is the former residence of revered American novelist Ernest Hemingway. Hidden behind a fortress-like old brick wall is this grand home where he wrote many of his most famous works. Well versed docents lead regularly scheduled tours through the house filled with priceless mementos and out…

Casa Antigua

Casa Antigua

“Casa Antigua” was built in 1919 as “The Trev-Mor Hotel” with the island’s first car dealership, “Trev-Mor Ford,” on the first floor. In April of 1928, Ernest Hemingway and his wife arrived in Key West, on an oceanliner, for the very first time. The were expecting to pick up a new Ford he had ordered…

African Cemetery at Higgs Beach

African Cemetery at Higgs Beach

Among modern Key West’s greatest characteristics is its inclusiveness. But you may not realize that Key West has historically been an oasis of diversity. During the Civil War, Key West remained in the United States despite Florida having joined the secession. African Americans on the island lived as free men long before it became the…

Southernmost House

Southernmost House

One of the most striking buildings in all of Key West is the Southernmost House & Museum. The structure is an impressive example of Queen Anne Victorian architecture and sits proudly overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The house a collection of important and interesting documents, many of which are signed by presidents of the United States,…

Flagler Station

Flagler Station

In 1905 Henry Flagler, one of the wealthiest men in the world, announced his plan to build a railway from Miami to Key West. Some laughed, some scoffed, and most agreed that it could not be done. Eight years, three hurricanes, thirty million dollars, and hundreds of lives lost, Flagler proved them wrong. Visit the…

Curry Mansion

Curry Mansion

The ornate Curry Mansion, a lovely all-white Victorian structure, is built on the site of the 1855 homestead of Florida’s first millionaire, William Curry. The stiking facade, complemented with pillars and balconies, was added at the turn of the century by Curry’s son Milton. Inside are beautifully proportioned high-ceiling rooms, antique furnishings. The mansion offers…

Truman’s Little White House

Truman’s Little White House

Harry Truman found this tropical island the perfect winter getaway. He chose this West Indian style dwelling to be his working winter “White House” for his vacations from 1946-1952. Truman loved being outdoors in Key West. In the morning he would often go to the beach. Also, he was an avid fisherman and whenever he…

Key West Lighthouse & Keeper’s Museum

Key West Lighthouse & Keeper’s Museum

Built in 1847 to 46 feet high, the Key West lighthouse was later extended to 85 feet in 1894 . This Key West icon originally ran on oil, but in 1927 was converted into an “electric torch” beacon. By 1969, the lighthouse was decommissioned  and after changing hands with the local historical society, opened to the…