Key West, on the southernmost tip of the continental United States, is a culturally-rich area that offers fantastic Caribbean- and Southern-inspired cuisine in addition to its compelling history. There are plenty of activities and unusual landmarks to explore while you are visiting, or you can enjoy some downtime outdoors and relax by a pool or one of the local beaches. While you attempt to find the perfect balance of exploration and relaxation, here are five things you must do on your visit to Key West.
Enjoy the Historic District
Everything on Key West is walkable, especially around the historic district. In many areas of the town, you will find colorful and statuesque architecture, and many impressive buildings are open for the public to explore. Additionally, some private homes have been turned into living museums, and downtown Duval Street is filled with galleries and shops. Some of the popular landmarks worth visiting include the Ernest Hemingway home, the Key West lighthouse, the “Little White House,” and the beautifully preserved Audubon house, which features a gorgeous tropical garden.
The museums of Key West showcase the rich history and culture of early life in the Florida Keys. Take time to explore some of these converted private homes and buildings — from the building which now houses the Customs House to the haunted East Martello Museum, all are incredible. One of the most unique and spectacular sights at a Key West museum is the Atocha, a sunken Spanish galleon, which can be found at the Mel Fisher Heritage Museum. Both the galleon and museum showcase some incredible treasures found in the local waters off the Florida Keys.
Sample the Cuisine
If you are ready to try some delicious cuisine, don’t forget to sample some of the wonderful seafood delicacies sourced directly from the local waters around Key West. Nearly every food venue in the city has a variety of stunning shellfish and fresh fish to choose from. If you’re feeling adventurous, try some of the famous stone crab, pink shrimp, conch fritters, and lobster. Sampling fresh local seafood off of various restaurants’ menus is a perfect way to enjoy the island’s food scene.
An ideal way to finish a day in Key West is to watch the sunset along the Mallory Square waterfront. The harbor area of Mallory Square is festive in the late afternoon and evening, with a plethora of street performers, as well as bars and restaurants with live music. Finding a nice viewing spot along the waterfront is easy, and the Key West sunset, which fronts Sunset Key, is always beautiful and dramatic. Afterwards, you can find a variety of restaurants for dinner or enjoy some late-night shopping in the galleries and souvenir shops along Duval Street or the waterfront.
Walk in the Park
Spending some time at the beach at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park and exploring the well preserved fort is a fun way to visit a historic site. The naval fort was an active Union base during the Civil War and was also used during the Spanish-American War. While you walk around the fort, it’s worth stopping to examine the massive cannons and cannonballs placed strategically along the perimeter of the Atlantic-facing wall.
With a fascinating history and rich cultural treasures to explore, there is no shortage of exciting and fun things to see and do around Key West. But even with all these choices, make sure you reserve some time to simply wander and enjoy the beautiful outdoor areas and coastal views on the island.