If some of your favorite things include warm, sunny days, glorious beaches, laid-back atmospheres, literary figures and history, then Key West is the ideal vacation spot for you.
Once you arrive in this Florida city, your tension will instantly melt away as you spend afternoons saltwater or deep sea fishing, sampling the local cuisine at the various restaurants, hiking through the backcountry or exploring the underwater world of coral reefs as you dive and snorkel.
Key West is also home a wonderful literary history where you can learn about and experience a variety of writers, playwrights and poets including, most famously, Ernest Hemingway. However, Tennessee Williams, Robert Frost, Shel Silverstein and Wallace Stevens also made their mark on this Florida hub.
There's something to please everyone here in Key West whether you like to spend your vacation days exploring and having adventures or you prefer to lounge about letting your mind and body relax. Either way, you're sure to have a wonderful time here while you soak up the sun.
Things to Do in Key West
- Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum: Lovers of literature and Hemingway fans must put a visit to the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum on their list of things to do in Key West. The home served as Hemingway's residence during the 1930s and was the first on the island to have indoor plumbing. Notable features included a built-in fireplace and a swimming pool. Surrounding the home are the gardens, which are stunning in their own right. Tropical plants, lush greenery and colorful florals are lovely to see. One of the most unique and fun features - especially for animal lovers - are the 40 to 50 cats that live here, about half of which are polydactyl (six-toed). Hemingway was given a polydactyl cat by a ship captain and some of the current cats are descendants of that original feline, Snowball.
- Dry Tortugas National Park: Spend some time exploring nature through the almost 70 miles of Dry Tortugas National Park that's mainly open water surrounding seven small islands. Here you'll find sparkling blue waters, Fort Jefferson, amazing coral reefs and a collection of birds flying overhead. Whether you're looking to spend some time bird watching, snorkeling, hiking, kayaking, fishing or a little bit of everything, this national park is one of the best places in Key West to do so. Dry Tortugas got its name from the plethora of turtles found in the area, so keep an eye out for loggerhead, hawksbill, green and leatherback turtles in the waters.
- Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory: Enjoy the magic and wonder of colorful creatures and beautiful flora and fauna at the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. You'll find an expansive collection of flowering plants, birds, waterfalls, trees and hundreds of stunning butterflies. There are 50 to 60 different species here, as well as more than 20 exotic birds. It's a lovely place to slow down and let stress melt away, and kids will have a great time chasing the butterflies and marveling at their patterns.
- Saint Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum: Ahoy, mateys! Take a break from scouring the seven seas and step back in time to find out if the pirate life is for you at the Saint Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum. Here you can peruse more than 40 different exhibits featuring the biggest and most authentic collection of pirate artifacts, including Blackbeard's original blunderbuss, gold pieces from his warship - Queen Anne's Revenge, one of three remaining authentic Jolly Roger flags, and Thomas Tew's original treasure chest. There are even hands-on opportunities to see what it's like to fit the wind as you steer the ship and find out what a real cannon feels like.
Dining in Key West
- Blue Heaven Restaurant: For a casual Key West dining experience head to Blue Heaven Restaurant where you can dine indoors or out, watch live entertainment and sample Caribbean (or vegetarian) cuisine. In keeping with the animal theme, cats and chickens roam the premises and add extra fun to your meal. The restaurant is one of the most popular in Key West and favorite dishes include blueberry pancakes, carrot and curry soup, scallops provencale and miso-marinated eggplant salad. Be sure to save room for some of the island's best key lime pie!
- Sloppy Joes: Dining at Sloppy Joes is a Key West tradition. Since 1933, this has been the place to find a welcoming, hospitable staff and a great place to enjoy a night out. Sandwiches, wraps, salads and pizza dominate the menu in addition to a great beer, wine and drink menu. Starting at noon, live entertainment kicks off and continues through the wee hours of the morning, making for a thrilling place to spend time and let your hair down. Sip cocktails while you tap your toes along to the music, or dine on a delicious meal while you enjoy your travel companions' company in this cool setting.