Florida is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States. In fact, did you know that over 130 million people from all over the world visited Florida in 2019 alone? I particularly have been to Key West tons of times and I loved it. That’s why I decided to list seven of the best tourist attractions in Key West that you should visit. Learn everything you need to know about attractions in Key West.
There are dozens of vacation destinations in the Sunshine State, but one of the best is none other than the southernmost point of the country, Key West. And within Key West are dozens more attractions to choose from!
If you’re planning a vacation to the Conch Republic, you’ll need to have a must-see list in advance; otherwise, you might miss something amazing! To help you do just that, we’ve compiled a list of 7 of the most spectacular attractions to see when visiting Key West.
Also, if you want to know the best sunny beaches in the US, I have a full blog post about it. Make sure you check it out!
Keep reading to learn more!
Top 7 Best Attractions in Key West
Shipwreck Treasure Museum
For the pirate and maritime history enthusiasts out there, the Shipwreck Treasure Museum is an absolute must. In the 1800s, salvaging cargo from shipwrecks was a major part of the economy in Key West.
Wreckers would stand at the top of observation towers (similar to the one featured in the museum), watching for sinking ships. The first wreckers to arrive at the shipwreck claimed the largest portion of the profits.
Upon your arrival, you’ll enter through the doors of a 19th-century wrecker’s warehouse replica. Inside you’ll find artifacts from shipwrecks, educational storytelling shows, and film and videos on everything to do with the dangerous wrecking industry.
Tortugas National Park
If you’re in search of the ultimate water adventure, look no further than Tortugas National Park. Here you’ll discover snorkeling and kayaking tours, as well as glass-bottom boat excursions.
Tortugas National Park is an archipelago, meaning it’s made up of many small islands – seven, to be exact. When they were discovered by Ponce de Leon in 1513 and were given the name “tortugas”, the Spanish word for turtles, due to the astounding number of sea turtles he saw in the area.
Though you can find discounted stays at Disney’s Key West through Old Key West DVC, you won’t find anything like the natural wonders of the real Key West in Orlando.
Key West Aquarium
The nearly century-old Key West Aquarium is a unique experience, as it was one of the first open-air aquariums built in the United States. A roof has since been added to control the algae in the exhibits, but the structure still has that open-air feel.
There are several outdoor holding pens containing the largest of the sea creatures, and inside you’ll find a wide variety of local marine life, such as puffer fish and barracuda. The children (and the young at heart) in your group will love the touch tank exhibit, and if you’re brave, you can even get up close and personal with a nurse shark!
The town of Key West is known as the southernmost point in the continental United States. But if you want to be able to say you went to the exact southernmost spot, head down to the red, yellow, and black concrete marker on the corner of Whitehead and South streets.
And no, you won’t be going just to see a concrete cone, though it does provide an excellent photo opportunity. This street corner is also full of vendors and performers selling their wares and showing off their talents.
For another photo op, head over to the US1 Mile 0 marker. This spot marks the beginning of Highway 1, which runs all the way from Key West to Maine, stretching almost 2,400 miles along the way.
Key West Lighthouse
No historic seaside town is complete without a lighthouse, and Key West is no exception. Be sure to include the Key West Lighthouse on your list of what to do in Key West, as it’s truly a sight to behold.
Built in 1847, this 86-foot-tall structure provides stunning views of the ocean. Though it ceased operation in 1969, the keeper’s quarters and lens remain intact. And inside, you’ll find furniture and household items that reflect those that once belonged to that faithful 19th and 20th-century lighthouse keepers.
Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory
If you’re traveling with family, you can’t miss the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. This glass conservatory houses more than 50 different species of butterflies, as well as over 20 species of exotic birds, all of which you can walk among freely.
Children will have fun learning about metamorphosis as they enjoy the caterpillar viewing area, where they’ll see real caterpillars going through their transformations to butterflies.
Ernest Hemingway Museum
When you need a break from the Florida heat, take a trip to the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum. The home was built in 1851 and the renowned author purchased it in 1931. Hemingway spent nearly every penny he had on the superb home, which features a tropical garden and saltwater pool.
The interior has been restored and displays the 17th and 18th century furniture Hemingway used to decorate his home. On the grounds, you might see a cat or two, as more than 40 descendants of Hemingway’s house cats still call the property home.
Key West, Florida is packed with amazing things to see and do. With all of the attractions in Key West, it can be tough to choose which ones to include in your trip! And if you’re someone who loves the water, you can check out Key West boat rentals to take your adventure up another level.
When making your must-see list, start with these 7 spots. You’ll get a taste of a little bit of everything Key West has to offer, including some hidden treasures of this gorgeous beach town.
For more travel tips and tricks, take a look at our blog!