Top 24 Fun Things to Do in Key West Historic District

Located at the southernmost tip of Florida, Key West is a paradise for tourists with its tropical climate, stunning beaches, and vibrant culture. It’s no wonder that this small island city is a popular vacation destination for people from all around the world.

One of the most charming parts of Key West is its Historic District, a designated National Historic Landmark. This district is home to some of the city’s oldest and most significant sites, including museums, homes, and theaters that offer a glimpse into the past. Not only that, but this Key West neighborhood also offers a lot of things for tourists to do.

From museums and theaters to ghost tours and iconic landmarks, this vibrant district has no shortage of things to do. In this article, we will take you on a journey through some of the top things to do in Key West Historic District.

Shipwreck Treasure Museum

Start your journey in Key West by exploring the Shipwreck Treasure Museum. This interactive museum brings to life the stories of shipwrecks and treasures found in the waters surrounding Key West. You can even climb aboard a replica of a 17th-century Spanish galleon and experience what it was like to be a pirate! The museum also features a 65-foot lookout tower where you can take in breathtaking island views. It’s an experience not to be missed.

Southernmost House

Take a step back in time and visit the Southernmost House, a beautiful Victorian-style mansion turned museum. This iconic landmark was built in 1896 and has been perfectly preserved with all its original furnishings. Tour the house to learn about its fascinating history and admire the stunning architecture. Don’t forget to snap a photo at the famous “Southernmost Point” marker located right outside.

Key West Shipwreck Museum

One of the top attractions in the historic district is the Key West Shipwreck Museum. This unique and interactive museum takes you on a journey back in time to the 1850s when Key West was one of the richest cities in America due to its thriving shipwreck salvage industry. The highlight of the museum is its lookout tower, where visitors can enjoy breathtaking views of the island and learn about the fascinating history of wrecking.

Sails to Rails Museum

Another museum that should be on your list is the Sails to Rails Museum, located in the historic Key West Seaport. This former railroad station now houses a collection of exhibits and artifacts that tell the story of how Key West became connected to mainland Florida through the Overseas Railway. Visitors can explore the restored train cars and even take a ride on the Conch Tour Train, a popular attraction that takes you on a narrated tour of the island.

Custom House Key West

A visit to the Customs House is a must for art lovers. This stunning building was once used as a customs office and now serves as the home of the Key West Art & Historical Society. Inside, you will find an impressive collection of artwork and historical artifacts that showcase the island’s cultural heritage. The building itself is a work of art, with its grand staircase and beautiful architecture.

Waterfront Playhouse Theater

For those seeking entertainment, the Waterfront Playhouse is a popular spot for live theater performances. This intimate venue has showcased local talent since 1940 and continues to delight audiences with its diverse lineup of shows. From comedies to dramas, something new and exciting is always happening at this charming theater.

Key West Museums

In addition to the museums above, the historic district is also home to several other fascinating museums worth visiting. These include the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum, which displays treasures discovered from shipwrecks in the Florida Keys, and the Lighthouse and Keeper’s Quarters Museum, where you can climb to the iconic Key West Lighthouse for stunning views.

Southernmost Point

No trip to Key West is complete without a photo at the famous Southernmost Point buoy. Located at the island’s tip, this giant buoy marks the southernmost point in the continental United States and has become an iconic symbol of Key West. Don’t forget to snap a picture and add it to your collection of travel memories.

Key West Ghost Tours

For those who are brave enough, the Key West Ghost Tours offer a spine-tingling experience through the haunted streets of the historic district. These walking tours take you to some of the most haunted spots on the island while sharing the chilling tales of their ghostly inhabitants. If you’re feeling adventurous, these tours are not to be missed.

Hogs Breath Saloon

After a day of exploring and sightseeing, head to the famous Hogs Breath Saloon for some delicious food, live music, and refreshing drinks. This iconic bar has been a staple in Key West since 1976 and is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. Its laid-back atmosphere and friendly staff make it the perfect place to unwind and soak in the island vibes.

Key West Historic Memorial Sculpture Garden

Located at Mallory Square, the Key West Historic Memorial Sculpture Garden is a beautiful oasis that pays tribute to the island’s rich history through art. The sculptures depict historical figures, events, and landmarks that have shaped Key West into what it is today. Take a stroll through this tranquil garden and admire the intricate details of these beautiful sculptures.

Key West Cemetery

While cemeteries may seem like an unlikely tourist attraction, the Key West Cemetery is fascinating. This historic cemetery dates back to the 1800s and is the final resting place of many notable figures, including some who died in unusual ways. The cemetery is known for its creative gravestones and quirky epitaphs, making it a unique and interesting stop on your historic district tour.

Key West Lighthouse

For a different perspective of the island, climb to the top of the Key West Lighthouse. This 19th-century lighthouse is a National Historic Landmark and offers stunning views of the city and the surrounding waters. The museum attached to the lighthouse provides insight into its history and information about shipwrecks and life in Key West during that time.

Ernest Hemingway House

Literature lovers will not want to miss the opportunity to visit the iconic Ernest Hemingway House. The famous author once owned this beautiful home, now open to the public for tours. The house is filled with original furnishings and memorabilia, providing a glimpse into Hemingway’s life in Key West.

Audubon House

Head to the Audubon House and Tropical Gardens for a taste of Victorian-era living. This beautifully restored house was once home to Captain John Geiger, a famous wrecker and harbor pilot, and features original furnishings from the 1800s. The lush gardens surrounding the house are also worth exploring, with their exotic plants and stunning views.

Key West Aquarium

Next on our list is the Key West Aquarium, one of the oldest aquariums in Florida. This small but charming aquarium is home to various marine life, including sharks, turtles, and stingrays. You can even touch a live shark or hold a sea cucumber in the touch tank! The aquarium offers interactive programs such as feeding sessions and guided tours for a more immersive experience.

Key West Historic Seaport

No trip to Key West is complete without visiting the Historic Seaport. This bustling area has charming shops, delicious restaurants, and picturesque harbor views. Take a stroll along the boardwalk and admire the colorful boats docked in the marina. You can also book a sunset cruise or fishing excursion from here to make your visit more memorable.

Truman Little White House

The Truman Little White House is another must-see attraction in the Key West Historic District. This historic house served as a vacation spot for President Harry S. Truman during his presidency and is now a museum open to the public. Take a tour of the house and learn about its fascinating history, including its role in Cold War negotiations.

San Carlos Theater

Step into the past when you visit the San Carlos Theater, an iconic landmark in Key West built in 1926. This beautifully restored theater hosts a variety of shows, from plays to concerts and even movie screenings. With its stunning architecture and rich history, this is a must-visit for any theater enthusiast.

Oldest House Museum

Take a walk down memory lane at the Oldest House Museum in Key West. Built in 1829, this house is believed to be the oldest residence in the city. Explore the well-preserved rooms and learn about the families who lived here over 200 years ago. The museum also hosts events and workshops, making it a great place to immerse yourself in Key West’s history.

AIDS Memorial

The AIDS Memorial is a powerful symbol of remembrance and hope in Key West Historic District. These memorial honors those who lost their lives to AIDS and serve as a reminder of the ongoing fight against the disease. Take a moment to pay your respects at this beautiful and poignant monument.

East Martello Fort/ Robert the Doll

For those who love a good scare, the East Martello Fort is a must-visit. This Civil War-era fort is now home to Robert the Doll, a reportedly haunted doll with a fascinating and eerie history. Take a tour of the fort, learn about its role in Key West’s past, and maybe even catch a glimpse of Robert himself.

African American Memorial

The African-American Memorial is a tribute to the contributions and struggles of the African-American community in Key West. Located at Higgs Beach, this beautiful sculpture and surrounding gardens serve as a peaceful and educational spot to reflect on African Americans’ important role in shaping Key West’s history.

West Martello Fort

Last but not least, the West Martello Fort is a must-see for history buffs and nature lovers. This Civil War-era fort has been restored and turned into the Key West Garden Club, where visitors can wander through the gardens and enjoy scenic views of the Atlantic Ocean. The fort also houses a small museum that displays artifacts and information about the island’s military past.

With so many unique and diverse activities, it’s clear that there is no shortage of things to do in the Key West Historic District. Whether you are interested in history and culture or looking for fun experiences, this charming district has it all.

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