Key West attractions

Key West attractions

Author Anne Plau

Cruise ships bound for the southern United States or the Caribbean often call at the small town of Key West. In 2019 - before the Covid 19 pandemic - 417 ship arrivals and 965.000 passengers were registered. This is not comparable to Miami or Fort Lauderdale, but German ports such as Bremerhaven, Hamburg, Kiel or Warnemünde would consider themselves lucky to have such figures. Key West captivates and enchants with a clear cityscape, many pastel-colored houses in the conch style and the subtropical vegetation.

Key West - surrounded by water


Key West - surrounded by water


Key West - lush greenery


Key West - lush greenery 


Ships can dock at three locations in Key West. From our point of view, the most beautiful berth is at Mallory Square. Not far away are the Pier B Docks. Both berths are within walking distance to the center. The Navy Mole Pier is a little further away near Fort Zachary Taylor and is part of the Marine Restricted Area. When ships call, passengers are taken to Mallory Square by shuttle bus.

Key West - Pier B


Key West - Pier B


Mallory Square with cruise ship


Mallory Square with cruise ship 


Key West is one of those destinations where you should disembark unmolested by excursion programs and let yourself be carried away by the town, its museums, shops and bars. Most attractions are located in the Historic District, the historic part of Key West.

Significant places, squares and vantage points 

The historic part of Key West measures only 2 ½ by 2 ½ kilometers. A good two kilometers separate Mallory Square on the Gulf of Mexico and Southernmost Point on the Atlantic.

Southernmost Point of the Continental USA 

The southernmost point of the continental USA is marked by an oversized red and yellow buoy. The buoy is constantly besieged by people wanting to take a picture of this glaring landmark. It is correspondingly difficult to photograph the Southernmost Point without a single person.

Traffic jam at Southermost Point in Key West


Traffic jam at Southermost Point in Key West


Southernmost Point


Southernmost Point 


Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park 

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park is 22 acres and is located at the tip of Key West. The Fort Taylor Museum houses the largest collection of Civil War-era guns. The area of ​​the state park is also known for its outdoor activities. Tree-lined paths lead through the park. The beach to the south of the park is considered Key West's finest sandy beach and is popular with swimmers and divers. There is a fee to visit the park.

Key West Lighthouse 

The lighthouse was built in 1847. It is Florida's oldest lighthouse and is located across from the Hemingway Home. A spiral staircase with 88 steps leads to the top. From there, visitors can enjoy the view of the city and the sea.

Key West Lighthouse

Key West Lighthouse


Mallory Square 

Mallory Square is actually not a tourist attraction. During the day Mallory Square is just a beautiful place by the sea. Here are the tour boats, yachts and cruise ships. You stroll, you look at the sea. But sunset is celebrated every night, and has been for decades. The Sunset Celebration begins long before dusk begins. Mallory Square becomes a party mile with jugglers, singers, musicians and dancers. The multicultural spectacle is a must for all ages.

Key West - Mallory Square

Key West - Mallory Square


Museums and Historical Sites 

No visit to Key West would be complete without visiting one of the many museums. We present a selection.

Key West Shipwreck Museum 

The hallmark of the Shipwreck Museum is the 20 meter high wooden observation tower. He can be seen from afar. In the museum, the industry of the wreckers of earlier times is impressively shown.

Key West Museum of Art & History 

The red brick building has historically served as a customs house, post office, courthouse and administrative office. Today the works of the artists Mario Sanchez and Paul Collins are exhibited there. Furthermore, a permanent exhibition is dedicated to the life of Ernest Hemingway.

Key West Shipwreck Museum


Key West Shipwreck Museum


Key West Museum


Key West Museum 


Mel Fisher's Maritime Museum 

The museum displays finds from shipwrecks that have lain off the Florida coast since the 16th and 17th centuries. Objects from the Spanish galleon "Nuestro Senora de Atocha", which sank in 1622, are particularly worth seeing.

Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum 

The house and museum give an insight into the work and life of the American author, who lived in this house from 1931 to 1939. His vintage typewriter and a view of Key West's first swimming pool are among them. The well cared for offspring of the legendary Hemingway cats will also be presented. Cat lovers will like this.

Hemingway Home

Hemingway Home


Key West Audubon House and Tropical Gardens 

A house named after painter and bird expert James Audubon. The house is one of the most beautiful villas in Key West. Inside are rare prints of James Audubon's artwork. The tropical garden is worth seeing. Visitors can get a good idea of ​​how wealthy Key West citizens lived in the 19th century.

Truman Little White House 

This house served as the official residence of former US President Truman during the winter months. Today's historical museum can be visited on guided tours.

Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory 

This place is home to a variety of butterflies and other insects, as well as birds and plants. Visitors can stroll through a covered pavilion and see the butterflies up close.

Key West Aquarium 

The aquarium is located in Mallory Square. It was furnished in 1934. In 1983 a thorough renovation followed. It presents the animal world of a coral reef in a species-appropriate environment.

Key West Aquarium

Key West Aquarium


St. Paul's Episcopal Church 

Located at 401 Duval Street. The parish has existed since December 23, 1832. The construction of the first church took place in 1938. Seven years later, the small structure fell victim to a hurricane. A second wooden church was destroyed by fire. Then a third again by a hurricane. The fourth structure was built of concrete and still stands today.

Key West Cemetery 

The cemetery was established in 1847, a year after a devastating hurricane. Some of the tombstones have incredibly ironic inscriptions. An example: "At least I know where he's sleeping tonight".

Cult eatery Sloppy Joe's 

There are many cafes, restaurants and bars in Key West. Some of them for decades. Like Sloppy Joe's. The cult bar has been a well-known establishment on the corner of Duval and Green Streets since 1937. Sloppy Joe's was one of Hemingway's favorite bars.

Key West Historic Memorial Sculpture Garden

Located near Mallory Square, this small complex has been home to bronze busts of key West figures since 1997. The facility is financed, among other things, by foundations and the sale of paving stones and memorial stones. In the small garden there is also a life-size monument of the "Wrecker".

Key West - Historic Memorial Sculpture Garden


Key West - Historic Memorial Sculpture Garden


Key West - Historic Memorial Sculpture Garden


Key West - Historic Memorial Sculpture Garden 


Walk to Key West or take the Conch Train 

The city's street layout makes it easy to explore Key West's attractions on a four-kilometer loop. The path leads from Mallory Square down Whitehead Street and back up Duval Street, which runs parallel one block to the east. Incidentally, Duval Street connects the Caribbean Sea with the Atlantic.

The Conch Tour Train is available as an alternative to walking. Rail trains run every half hour from Front Street (across from the Key West Shipwreck Museum) and terminate at Mallory Square in about 90 minutes.

Key West - the Conch Tour Train

Key West - the Conch Tour Train


You'll loop through historic Key West. Stops with stays are made. The ride touches on all the major sights. It can be interrupted and continued with another move. Tickets are sold at the stops. 

Update January 2023