Florida Keys And Key West Attractions You Won't Want To Miss
There are so many different Florida Keys and Key West attractions that it seems almost impossible for a place this small, to have this much to do.
You'll find that your biggest worry won't be trying to fill up your day with Key West events and Florida attractions.
Instead, it'll be wondering how you're going to see and do everything you want.
Below you'll find highlights of some of the more favored Florida Keys attractions and Key West events.
Key West itself is the premier destination when it comes to events, and attractions, so you'll find that the majority of listings focus around this part of the Conch Republic.
You'll also find links to detailed pages that cover extremely popular Florida Keys attractions like the African Queen, and John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo FL.
Yachts At Key West Bight Marina, Key West Seaport
Plus you'll find information on the can't miss Key West hot spots such as Mallory Square, Duval Street Key West FL, Bahama Village, Key West Seaport and Harborwalk, and of course the nightly Sunset Celebration.
Key West Coupons And Discounts
The whole idea behind Key West vacations is to get out and experience as many wonderful things you can. However, going, seeing and doing also involves spending money.
If you can save money
on the Key West attractions you were planning on doing anyway, that's great. If you don't have to spend time standing in long lines to get your tickets, that's even better!
Spectacular Key West Sunset
Courtesy of My Key West Photograph
Trusted Tours is a large national company that specializes in tours, packages, and Key West attractions. They can help you get cheap prices and Florida Keys discounts on many of the major tours, charters, Key West museums and other attractions you'll visit while in Conch Republic territory.
The Grounds At Truman's Little White House, Key West
This tour company can save you money on tours and attractions including dolphin watch and snorkel trips, the ferry ride to the Dry Tortugas, fishing and diving charters, discounts to the Ernest Hemingway House, the Truman Little White House, trolley tours, and so much more.
You'll find that getting your tickets in advance for the various attractions you'll be visiting will save you valuable time, and money. Why not do more and see more on your Key West vacation if you can?
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Fun Key West Attractions!
Exploring The Florida Beaches
Since you're in this glorious tropical paradise that is surrounded by incredible hues of water, you'll want to see the Florida Keys beaches. So while you're planning your Florida Keys vacation, visualize yourself on these beautiful Florida Keys beaches!
You'll find that all of the Florida beaches found in the Conch Republic are worth checking out. However, if you're in Key West FL, you should plan on taking an early morning stroll on Smathers Beach or Rest Beach. Watching the sun as it slowly peaks it's head over the distant horizon of the Atlantic Ocean is unspeakably beautiful.
Pavilions at Rest Beach
Don't forget Fort Zachary Taylor either. Known as one of the more interesting Key West attractions, here you can experience a piece of Florida Keys history, perhaps spot a few Key West ghosts, and enjoy one of the beaches in Key West that's highly favored by the residents.
If you're Florida Keys vacation takes you further up the Lower Keys, you'll want to hang out for a few hours at beautiful Bahia Honda State Park. From here you can then plan on heading north to explore the beauty of Sombrero Beach in the Marathon Florida area.
If you enjoy a more secluded and natural setting, you'll also want to visit popular Anne's Beach in Islamorada. Plus if this is a Florida Keys family vacation, plan on spending time at the family oriented Harry Harris Park in Tavernier.
The good news is that with all these great Florida beaches, if you can't fit them all in during this holiday, you'll have a perfectly good excuse for coming back for more fantastic Florida Keys vacations.
Historic Key West Attractions
Two of Key West's unique features are it's zany, irreverent zest for life, and the vast expanse of ocean surrounding it. Therefore, it's only fitting that a trip to historic Key West Seaport and Harborwalk at Key West Bight top your Florida Keys things to do list for Key West attractions.
The Key West Seaport and Harborwalk runs 2 miles from Front Street to Grinnel and is filled with shopping and dining venues. There's also a marina, and a number of Florida Keys fishing, boating and scuba diving charters you can go out with.
Schooner America Moored at
Historic Seaport and Harborwalk, Key West Bight
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, Dale M. McDonald Collection
Some of the Key West Florida attractions you'll visit will fall into the typical Key West tourist attractions category because you'll want to develop a sense of where you are.
The best way to capture the flavor of this fun and eclectic town is to take a step back in time. A visit to any of the Key West museums will help put the people, their lifestyles and Key West's odd and boisterous past into perspective.
The broad spectrum of Key West museums cover a range of themes from the botanical to the nautical. Worthwhile possibilities include the Martello Towers, The Little White House, The Customs House, Mel Fisher's Martime Museum, and the Aububon House.
Key West Customs House Museum
Of course the larger than life Ernest Hemingway lived here for a number of years. The Ernest Hemingway home and beautiful gardens are a must see, especially for a literary or cat lover.
Churches are also great Key West attractions. The different architecture used in the construction, and the inner beauty of the chapels are soul stirring. One particularly noteworthy stop is the beautifully constructed St Paul's Church located at 401 Duval St.
Originally built of coral rock in 1838, this was the first Key West church. After a Florida Keys hurricane destroyed the place of worship in 1846, a wooden frame chapel was built in it's place. It too met with ill fate and was destroyed by fire in 1886.
In 1909, the church once again met with disaster when another
Florida hurricane pummeled it's way across the island. After so many disasters and forced reconstructions, St. Paul's was finally built out of concrete and adorned with beautiful, stained glass windows.
Today you see the church in it's hopefully last form. It stands tall and strong as a testament to the hardship of the area, and the never say die spirit of those who live in Key West FL.
St Paul's Church in Key West Florida
Another one of the attractions in Key West Florida worth visiting, is St. Mary's Star of the Sea Church, located at 700 Truman Avenue and Windsor Lane.
This church now has 2 distinctions. It recently was awarded the designation as a minor basilica by the Vatican. This places it as the 5th church in Florida and the 73rd church in the United States to have been honored with this ranking.
As part of the process, the Church has received a coat of arms that reflects the nature of the Florida Keys by including a conch shell in the design.
The Church is also well known as the home to another of the Key West attractions, Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine. This shrine was built by Sister M. Louis Gabriel with help from the nuns at her convent.
When they'd completed their task, Sister Gabriel blessed the Key West grotto with these words:
"As long as the grotto stands,
Key West will never experience the full brunt of a hurricane."
St Mary's Grotto in Key West
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, Dale M. McDonald Collection
Throughout the years, locals and visitors alike have made a pilgrimage to the shrine to light candles and petition for safety. Set in a beautiful garden, the area and the grotto exude a peaceful serenity that is palpable.
Sister Gabriel's blessing has held up to the test of time and strong Florida hurricane force winds. With the exception of a Florida Keys hurricane in 1948 and another 50 years later, the island has escaped a direct assault.
Perhaps there's another, even greater testament to the grotto, the faith of the people, and Sister Gabriel. As of the beginning of the 2012 hurricane season, not one person has died because of a hurricane passing through the area.
War Memorial Statute And Mausoleum At Key West Cemetery
The Key West Cemetery at 701 Passover Lane is also one of the more unusual, and very popular Key West attractions. In typical Conch Republic style, those interred here are an eclectic mix of people including Sloppy Joe Russell, Captain Watlington, the owner of the
Oldest House, and Thomas Romer who died at 108 and lived 65 of those years as a good citizen.
The Key West cemetery is also widely believed to be home to a number of Key West ghostly apparitions, some of which can be rather abrupt or disgruntled when they feel you are being less than respectful.
If you're brave enough, the ghost tours are another of the popular Key West attractions you won't want to miss experiencing.
Visitors to the Key West cemetery will also notice two rather different features. Most of the graves are above ground, and many are marked with 'unusual' head stones.
It seems befitting that even in death, Key Wester's maintain their often irreverent sense of humor. My personal favorite headstone marks the grave of a woman considered the local hypochondriac. It simply reads "I told you I was sick."
I Told You I Was Sick
Is A Popular Photographed Key West Cemetery Placard
Fun And Hot Key West Attractions
Without a doubt, one of the biggest Key West attractions in Old Town is not so much an attraction as it is a place. Loaded with tons of things to do, and famous for being the party place, is Duval Street Key West.
Of course there's also the Duval Street Crawl that fatefully develops after spending more than a bit of time at some of this stretch's famous drinking establishments.
However, imbiber or teatotaller, Duval Street is not to be missed. There's plenty of things to see and do, even if you just poke your head inside some of the zany
Key West bars to get a sense of Key West history.
One of the Key West attractions that's been a popular drinking spot for years, and sports an unusual history is Captain Tony's Saloon. Located at 428 Greene Street, this is the original Sloppy Joe's and was the favorite haunt of Ernest Hemingway from 1933 - 1939.
Captain Tony's Saloon is The Original Sloppy Joe's
From Captain Tony's Saloon you'll want to continue across the street, and go half a block to one of the more popular Duval Street Key West attractions, Sloppy Joes Key West bar at 201 Duval Street.
Sloppy Joe Russell originally owned Captain Tony's Saloon before a landlord dispute. The end result occurred one night when in a fit of anger, he took all of the bar paraphernalia, fixtures and patrons to this new location.
Sloppy Joe was the good and stalwart friend of the writer, and it was Ernest Hemingway who was responsible for providing Joe Russell's bar with it's much catchier name.
Another of the hot Key West attractions is
Bahama Village which is more than just an unusual place to look for interesting gifts and gadgets. It's also a vibrant community that provides a spicy island twist to life in Key West Florida.
Key West Tourist Attractions
Another one of the Key West attractions that's rather touristy but is almost compulsory, is the Southernmost Point of the Continental United States.
When you see this over sized red, white, yellow and black striped concrete buoy, it's hard to believe that Miami is about 160 miles away and Cuba is only 90 miles away.
The blue expanse of ocean that is the backdrop for the marker acts as a magnet. Your eyes are drawn to the horizon and your mind immediately conjures up pictures of a not so distant land and it's people.
Southernmost Point Marker Buoy, Key West Florida
The faces of hundreds of refugees who were more afraid of their country than they were of a horrible fate at sea, are hauntingly visible. Many of those fleeing, died before they could reach the land of freedom they had so desperately sought. In memory of those who perished, a plaque commemorating their struggle stands next to the buoy marker.
Towering just feet from the marker is the colorful Bed and Breakfast, the Southernmost House of the Continental United States. The outside wall surrounding this superb Bed and Breakfast in Key West is lushly draped with colorful vines and foliage, and provides the perfect setting for a great Key West photo opportunity.
Musicians Playing Against The Setting Sun At Mallory Square Key West
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, Dale M. McDonald Collection
One of the most popular Key West attractions is
Mallory Square. This is the heart of Key West in so many ways. It's also the hub of most things fun, and is a good starting and finishing point for the day. It's also a great place to just hang out for a while on your Key West vacation, and admire the gleaming cruise ships docked nearby.
Certainly attending the nightly waterfront Sunset Celebration at the Mallory Square Pier will be one of the Key West Florida attractions you'll want to take in at least once while you're in the Conch Republic.
Several hours before the sun dips it head beneath the glimmering Gulf of Mexico, locals and vacationers gather to celebrate another glorious day in paradise. Added to the mix are an eclectic group of artisans and entertainers plying their wares and services.
Key West Theater And The Arts
Other Key West attractions worth investigating are the arts and various versions thereof.
One example of what once was, is the old Strand Theater. In the past, this was a popular venue in Key West that has undergone a substantial change.
Much to the dismay of residents and tourists alike, the beautiful old Strand Theater has changed occupations. Instead of playing shows, it now dispenses pharmaceuticals in it's new form as a Walgreens pharmacy in Old Town Key West.
The Beautiful Old Strand Theater in Key West Is Now A Walgreens
But theater and the arts are in the city's blood. Key West Florida after all has been either a permanent or temporary home to a broad group of well known people.
Notable figures include Tennessee Williams, Ernest Hemingway, Robert Frost, Jimmy Buffet and even politicians like Harry Truman. Others like Zane Grey and James Audubon spent considerable time in the area.
In fact, one of the Key West attractions that is technically unofficial, is Tennessee Williams' home located at 1431 Duncan Street. Unlike many of his cohorts, this home has not been turned into a museum. It remains a private home and as such, is not open to the public.
However, if you've seen "A Streetcar Named Desire," "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof", "The Glass Menagerie", or any of his other great works, you may want to stop by to take an outside photo of this well preserved Bahamian cottage.
The artistic leanings of those who live and visit here, have given rise to several other interesting Key West attractions. There's the 5 day Key West Songwriter's Festival that's worthwhile taking in. Plus throughout the year there are different performances held at the various Key West theater venues.
One venue is The Red Barn Theater which is a small, yet professional theater with a national reputation that keeps growing.
Capable of accommodating only 88 guests, over the years this Key West theater has presented the classics and tested the water with new and brilliant work. Appropriately situated in the midst of Key West's hustle and bustle, the Red Barn Theater is located at 319 Duval Street.
Waterfront Playhouse In Key West
Another popular entertainment venue is the Waterfront Playhouse at 310 Wall Street, Key West. This long standing company has been named the Best Professional Theater in Florida several times. Larger than the Red Barn, the Waterfront Playhouse can accommodate up to 150 attendees.
A third entertainment venue is the Tennessee Williams Theatre, located at 5901 College Road.
Unlike the Red Barn and the Playhouse, this is not just a theater. It's a multi-functional center that includes an array of entertainment platforms that include Broadway shows, concerts, dance theater groups, and comedians.
The Theatre also hosts conferences, parties, fund raisers and other Key West events throughout the year.
Another Key West theater is the A Key Encounter Nature Theater and Planetarium.
Located in the Clinton Square Mall, Upper level at 291 Front Street, this non-profit Key West venue provides programming that's free of charge.
In the Theater, which boasts three large screens, they feature 20 minutes of different footage. Theme focused, you'll see programming on the endangered
Florida Key deer, the fish of the Florida Keys and an amazing underwater video.
There's also a 20 minute program in the Planetarium, a Jungle Walk, and an onsite Gift Shop.
Dedicated to showing the world the beauty of God's work, the Wildlife Theater is free of charge and is open Sunday - Thursday 11:00 - 5:00 and Fridays in the winter from 11:00 - 3:00.
For additional information you can contact them direct at 305-292-2070.
Florida Keys Attractions
Key West doesn't have the monopoly on fun things to do either. The whole chain of islands host a variety of events and activities scheduled throughout the year.
The Bogart Film Festival in Key Largo, the Marathon Seafood Festival, and the Underwater Music Festival at Looe Key are just some of the fun and uniquely special Florida Keys things to do.
Florida Keys calendar of events gives you a good overview of all sorts of things to do. You'll find that your Florida Keys vacation will be chocked full with Key Largo to Key West events and attractions.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo FL
In Key Largo, you'll want to take a cruise on the beautifully restored and iconic African Queen. Picture in your mind Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn aboard this very vessel as they plied the dark waters of the Nile.
You'll want to spend time exploring the many wonders that John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park offers, on both land and sea.
There's also the area's numerous Wildlife Refuges that provide tremendous opportunity for bird watching and observing the area's wildlife such as the tiny key deer in their protected environments.
No matter where you go though, you'll find Florida Keys and Key West attractions are as varied as the people living on this beautiful chain of islands. You'll also discover that you could spend a life time trying to take in all of the things the area has to offer.
Perhaps that's why so many people have come and never left. It's hard to abandon paradise - especially when there's still so many Florida Keys things to do.