A day in Key West

A day in Key West

Author Anne Plau

Annually, millions of people invade Key West, the southernmost point of the continental United States. Among them are more than 950.000 cruise ship passengers. We have been to Key West repeatedly. Our Opinion: Although the city of more than 25.000 residents lacks anything spectacular, it's always a pleasure to navigate the strictly geometric streets of Key West. Key West is a very endearing city.

Key West

Key West


Our walking tour 

Not much is asked of cruise ship passengers who disembark in Key West. You don't have to do any special preparation. You can just walk into the place and let yourself be carried away. We will only be in Key West for a few hours and have planned a walking tour.

Key West - Flag of the Conch Republic


Key West - Flag of the Conch Republic


Pelican grooming


Pelican grooming 


From the ship's dock at Mallory Square, we walk about a mile down Whitehead Street to Southernmost Point and down Duval Street, parallel one block east, back to Mallory Square. Duval is busier than Whitehead Street. The traffic of US Highway 1 rolls through them. There are many sights along our way. You can find the details on this in our post Key West attractions.

An aquarium, many museums and Florida's oldest lighthouse 

First we pass the Key West Aquarium in Mallory Square. The underwater world of a coral reef is presented. The aquarium dates from 1934 and was completely renovated in 1983. Since then, the exhibits have been presented in a species-appropriate manner. The Key West Shipwreck Museum, just a short distance away, is also worth a visit. You can recognize it by the high wooden observation tower. The museum focuses on the era of sailing ships and the dangers associated with sailing. And the visitor learns why Key West was able to rise to one of the richest communities in the USA in the 19th century through the exploitation of shipwrecks.

Key West Aquarium
Shipwreck Museum
Key West Museum
Naked in front of the Key West Museum

The Key West Museum of Art & History and the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum follow. Both are absolutely worth seeing. A kilometer further on we reach the house where the writer Ernest Hemingway lived from 1931 to 1939. Not only literature lovers are drawn to the Hemingway Home and Museum. The house provides a deep insight into the life and work of the reporter, author, world traveler and womanizer. A cat lover was Ernest Hemingway as well. Cat lovers will delight in the offspring of the legendary Hemingway cats, which are well cared for on the property. Opposite is the Key West Lighthouse. It is the oldest lighthouse in Florida. An 88-step spiral staircase leads to the top and we enjoy the view of Key West and the ocean.

Hemingway Home


Hemingway Home


Key West lighthouse


Key West lighthouse 


The southernmost region of Key West 

At Southernmost Point we have done about half of our walk. We don't fail to explore the Southernmost Point region. A huge buoy marks this place. Despite the crowds, a photo from Southernmost Point is a must. A lot of things are “southernmost” here. The Southernmost House Grand Hotel and Museum (JFK slept here), the Southernmost Beach (where Tennessee Williams took a dip every morning), the Southernmost Hotel, the Closest Gift Shop to Cuba, and more.

Key West - the Southernmost Point


Key West - the Southernmost Point


Key West - Southern Most House


Key West - Southern Most House 


Butterflies, a white church and well-known restaurants 

Our way back is through Duval Street. We make the first stop at the Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. About 1500 butterflies live in a climate-controlled glass pavilion with subtropical vegetation. There are also matching bird species as well as fish, flamingos and turtles. A little paradise.

Like Whitehead Street, Duval has nice shops, restaurants, bars and small hotels. Here we find the Hard Rock Cafe Key West and the cult eatery Sloppy Joe's. The one- and two-story wooden houses in pastel colors create an eye-catching setting. St. Paul's Episcopal Church, a mighty white church, is also a real eye-catcher in the colorful scene. We relax in a small street café.

Key West - Mallory Square

Key West - Mallory Square


Around Mallory Square 

We really like the Key West Historic Memorial Sculpture Garden. The small complex is located near Mallory Square. Since 1997 bronze busts of important figures from Key West have been erected there. The facility is financed by foundations and the sale of memorial stones. In the spring of 2012, the busts were decorated with crochet work. It looked strange, but fits in with Key West and Mallory Square.

Key West Historic Memorial Sculpture Garden


Key West Historic Memorial Sculpture Garden


Key West Historic Memorial Sculpture Garden


Key West Historic Memorial Sculpture Garden 


Sunset is celebrated every night at Mallory Square. The party starts long before the sun goes down.

It's too early for that today. It's still quiet and tranquil on Mallory Square. Around the square are restaurants, bars and shops. A boardwalk connects the historic harbor front and Mallory Square. Everywhere there are shady and sunny places with a view of the sea.

Cruise ship berth at Mallory Square

Cruise ship berth at Mallory Square


We have finished our tour. In total, we covered almost seven kilometers and were on the road for almost five hours. A beautiful day.

Update January 2023