22 Fun Things to Do in Downtown, Key West

Downtown Key West, where sunny skies, crystal clear waters, and charming streets lined with colorful buildings await you. Located at the southernmost tip of Florida, this vibrant area of Key West is a must-visit destination for tourists looking for a quintessential Florida experience. With its rich history, diverse culture, and endless activities, Downtown Key West has something for everyone. With its unique blend of Caribbean and American cultures, there is no shortage of things to do in downtown Key West and see. Let’s explore some of the must-do activities downtown Key West.

The Hemingway Home and Museum

Located on Whitehead Street, the Hemingway Home and Museum is a must-see attraction for literature lovers and history buffs alike. This beautiful Spanish colonial-style home was once the residence of famous author Ernest Hemingway. Today, it serves as a museum filled with the writer’s artifacts, photographs, and personal belongings. Visitors can take a guided tour of the house and learn about Hemingway’s life in Key West while admiring the lush gardens and resident cats.

Mallory Square

Mallory Square, located on the waterfront, is a popular gathering spot for tourists and locals. This lively square is best known for its nightly Sunset Celebration, where visitors can watch street performers, browse local art vendors, and witness one of Key West‘s famous sunsets. During the day, Mallory Square offers plenty of boutiques, cafes, and restaurants to explore, making it a hub of activity in Downtown Key West.

Southernmost Point of the Continental U.S.A.

A trip to Key West isn’t complete without visiting the iconic Southernmost Point Buoy. Located at the southern end of Whitehead Street, this brightly painted buoy marks the southernmost point of the continental United States. Visitors can snap a photo with the buoy as a unique souvenir and take in the stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Truman Little White House

History buffs will enjoy a visit to the Truman Little White House, which served as President Harry S. Truman’s winter retreat during his presidency. This historic building now serves as a museum and offers guided tours that give visitors insight into Truman’s life and presidency. The lush gardens and scenic views add to the charm of this must-visit attraction.

Key West Aquarium

The Key West Aquarium on Front Street is a great place to get up close and personal with some of Florida’s marine life. This interactive aquarium offers touch tanks where visitors can pet stingrays and small sharks and daily shark and alligator feedings. The knowledgeable staff also offers educational talks and demonstrations throughout the day, making it a fun and informative experience for all ages.

Key West Lighthouse

For panoramic views of Downtown Key West, head to the top of the Key West Lighthouse. This historic lighthouse was built in 1847 and is now open to visitors who can climb the 88 steps to the top for breathtaking views of the city and surrounding waters. Visitors can also explore the Keeper’s Quarters and learn about the history of this iconic landmark.

Audubon House and Tropical Gardens

Nature lovers will stroll through the Audubon House and Tropical Gardens, located on Whitehead Street. This restored 19th-century home is now a museum that showcases the works of famous naturalist John James Audubon. Visitors can explore the house and gardens while learning about the plants and animals that inspired Audubon’s art.

West Martello Tower

History meets nature at the West Martello Tower, a Civil War-era fort turned botanical garden. Located on Higgs Beach, this tranquil spot is home to over 300 species of tropical plants and offers stunning ocean views. Visitors can take a self-guided tour through the gardens, featuring sculptures and an observation deck.

Key West Firehouse Museum

For a unique museum experience, check out the Key West Firehouse Museum, located on Grinnell Street. This small but fascinating museum showcases the history of firefighting in Key West, with displays of antique fire trucks, equipment, and uniforms. Visitors can also learn about the devastating 1886 fire that destroyed much of the city.

Key West Pub Crawls

No trip to Downtown Key West is complete without experiencing the lively nightlife scene. And what better way to do so than with a pub crawl? These guided walking tours take visitors to some of the best bars and pubs in the area, where they can sample local drinks and learn about the city’s history. It’s a fun and social way to explore Downtown Key West after dark.

Mel Fisher Maritime Museum

History buffs will also want to visit the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum on Greene Street. This museum is dedicated to the Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha, which sank off the coast of Key West in 1622. Visitors can see artifacts and treasures recovered from the shipwreck and learn about the fascinating history of this famous maritime disaster.

Key West Cemetery

For a unique and slightly spooky experience, take a self-guided tour through the Key West Cemetery. This historic cemetery on Frances Street is known for its unique grave markers and colorful epitaphs. Visitors can also learn about the city’s history and notable residents while exploring this peaceful and picturesque spot.

Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center

Start your exploration of downtown Key West with a trip to the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center. This interactive museum showcases the diverse ecosystem and wildlife of the Florida Keys through hands-on exhibits, educational displays, and aquariums filled with local marine life. Learn about the delicate balance of this unique environment and how to preserve it for future generations. The center is perfect for visitors of all ages and is a great way to kick off your downtown Key West adventure.

Dry Tortugas National Park

If you’re looking for a day trip from downtown Key West, then make sure to visit the stunning Dry Tortugas National Park. This remote island paradise is only accessible by boat or seaplane and offers an unspoiled natural experience. Explore the pristine beaches, historic Fort Jefferson, and beautiful coral reefs perfect for snorkeling and diving. Don’t forget to bring your camera, as the views of this hidden gem are breathtaking.

Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

Escape the hustle and bustle of downtown Key West and step into a tranquil tropical paradise at the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. Take a stroll through the lush gardens with hundreds of exotic butterflies and vibrant birds. Learn about the life cycle of these beautiful creatures and their importance in our ecosystem. This is a must-visit attraction for nature lovers and a peaceful retreat from the busy downtown area.

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park

History buffs will love exploring Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park at the southernmost tip of downtown Key West. This Civil War-era fort is filled with fascinating artifacts and offers a glimpse into the city’s past. Take a guided tour, explore the museum, and relax on the beautiful beach surrounded by crystal-clear waters. Don’t forget to snap a picture at the iconic Key West buoy that marks the southernmost point of the United States.

Key West Historic Seaport

For a taste of the nautical life, head to Key West Historic Seaport, where you can stroll along the boardwalk and admire the stunning sailboats and yachts. This lively area is full of restaurants, shops, and live entertainment, making it the perfect place for a day or evening out in downtown Key West. You can also book a fishing charter, take a sunset cruise, or simply sit back and watch the boats go by.

Papa’s Pilar Rum Distillery, Hemingway Rum Company

No trip to Key West is complete without sampling some famous rum. At Papa’s Pilar Rum Distillery and Hemingway Rum Company, you can take a tour and learn about the process of making this delicious spirit. Sample different varieties, including Papa’s Pilar Dark Rum and Hemingway Rum Co.’s Key West First Legal Rum, and pick up some souvenirs to bring home. Cheers to a fun and spirited experience!

Waterfront Playhouse

Catch a show at the Waterfront Playhouse, a popular community theater in downtown Key West’s heart. This intimate venue offers a wide variety of productions, from musicals to comedies to dramas, and showcases the talents of local actors. Take a break from the beach and immerse yourself in live entertainment for an unforgettable evening in downtown Key West.

Key West Firehouse Museum

For a one-of-a-kind museum experience, visit the Key West Firehouse Museum. Located in a historic fire station, this museum contains intriguing artifacts, including antique fire trucks and equipment. Learn about the history of firefighting in Key West and even have the chance to slide down a real fire pole! This interactive museum is perfect for families and offers a fun and educational experience.

Key West Pub Crawls

Known for its vibrant nightlife, downtown Key West is the perfect destination for pub crawls. Join a guided tour, create your itinerary, and hop from bar to bar, sampling local drinks and cuisine. From lively bars on Duval Street to hidden gems tucked away in alleyways, there is no shortage of options for a memorable night out in the town.

Duval Street

Last but certainly not least, no visit to downtown Key West is complete without a stroll down the famous Duval Street. This iconic street is lined with bars, restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues, making it the perfect place to soak in the lively atmosphere of this charming town. From street performers to local vendors, there is always something exciting happening on Duval Street.

With so many unique and exciting things to do in downtown Key West, it’s no wonder this small city has become a top vacation destination. From literary history to stunning sunsets, from nature walks to lively pub crawls, there is something for everyone in this vibrant and historic part of the island. 

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