Home of the southernmost point in the continental United States, Key West brings visitors to the absolute bottom while making them feel like they’re on top of the world. The Southernmost Point is noted by a massive buoy, a spectacle you won’t want to miss. Have your photograph taken with the iconic landmark, and enjoy the number of attractions surrounding the Southernmost Point after arriving on an Old Town Trolley Tour. Stand 90 miles from the island of Cuba, and witness the most beautiful sunset you could imagine over the waters where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Gulf of Mexico. A special place noted by a unique landmark with a fascinating history, the Southernmost Point Buoy eagerly awaits your visit.
History of the Southernmost Point Buoy
Back before there was the grand buoy of today, Key West marked the southernmost point of the continental United States with a series of wooden signs reading, “The Southernmost Point of Southernmost City Key West FLA.” These signs were frequently in need of replacement throughout the 1970s, as they were often stolen by tourists. So, in 1983, as a solution to the fleeting nature of the wooden signs, they were replaced with the iconic concrete buoy tourists of Key West have come to know and love. While the Southernmost Point Buoy represents the southernmost point in the continental United States, it is not an official point of navigation. Its placement in Key West is symbolic, and has been visited by thousands upon thousands every year.
Southernmost Point Fun Facts
The Southernmost Point Buoy’s claim to fame is being one of the most visited and photographed landmarks in the United States since its establishment in 1983. As noted on the text written along the buoy, the Southernmost Point is situated a mere 90 miles from the island nation of Cuba, where many residents of Key West and all of South Florida once called home. Southernmost Point Key West is also famous for its picturesque sunsets. Widely regarded as the home of the finest sunsets in all of the East Coast, Southernmost Point gives visitors an uninterrupted view of the sun dipping just behind the horizon — one of the many benefits of standing at the lowest latitude of the contiguous North American states. When visiting and taking your photograph with the Southernmost Point Buoy, know that you are standing next to 20 tons of solid concrete!
Know Before You Go
When planning your trip to the Southernmost Point Key West, keep in mind that this is a very popular attraction. Plan to arrive early to beat the crowds. Also, be sure to pack your best camera. The picturesque landmark offers some of the best views of the waters surrounding Key West. Not to mention, you will be at one of the most photographed landmarks in the United States. Take home your piece of it with the best pictures you can take.
Other Attractions Nearby
Ernest Hemingway House and Museum
This Key West gem is very close to the Southernmost Point and is a can’t miss landmark for fans of American literature. The Hemingway House and Museum gives guests an inside look at the inspiration for some of Ernest Hemingway’s most influential works, which undeniably shaped American literature in the 20th century. Boasting gorgeous waterfront views of the setting of the author’s masterpiece, The Old Man and the Sea, visitors can pop into the gift shop once their tour is complete and leave with an array of Hemingway’s finest works. And, if the writings aren’t enough to make you feel close to the late writer’s legacy, perhaps the descendants of Hemingway’s very own pet cat roaming the grounds will.
Key West Lighthouse
Maintained by The Key West Art & Historical Society, the Key West Lighthouse was built in 1823 to assist U.S. military and commercial ships with docking safely in the reef-laden waters of Key West. Today, this museum is a time capsule depicting the unique way of life of a lighthouse keeper and their family. Learn about the history of the lighthouse keepers of Key West, the first of which was a woman, an anomaly in the early 19th century. Due to technological advancements, the U.S. Coast Guard decommissioned the Key West Lighthouse in 1969, and it has stood as a memorial to the brave men and women who kept that light burning in some of this country’s most trying times. Guests can climb the 88 steps to the top and get an exclusive view of the tranquil sea just off the coast of Key West.
Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park
Named for former President Zachary Taylor, Fort Zach Key West is an exemplary attraction for tourists and locals alike. Widely regarded as the home of the best beaches in all of Key West, Fort Zachary is a can’t miss destination located just near the Southernmost Point. The perfect launching off point for a number of ocean activities, like snorkeling, paddle boarding and more, the waters surrounding Fort Zachary Key West are home to bustling reefs with all kinds of marine life to enjoy. Embark on a hiking trip on one of three nature trails the park has to offer and learn about the history of the fort itself, having played a major role in a number of historical events that shaped the United States. After all that, cast a line off the west-end rock jetties while taking in a sunset like no other at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park.
Key West Aquarium
Less than 10 minutes driving from Southernmost Point Key West is a shrine to the myriad of marine life inhabiting the waters surrounding the island city. The Key West Aquarium is a vast facility that guarantees visitors face-to-face encounters with some of Key West’s most coveted wildlife, like sea turtles and numerous species of sharks. A perfect place to take the family, get up close and personal the safest way possible with Key West Aquarium’s touch tank, or learn all about the most fascinating invertebrates in the sea at the jellyfish exhibit. With a number of tours and exhibits available, a trip to the Key West Aquarium is one you and your family will never forget.
The Shops at Mallory Square
The best shopping destination in all of Key West, the Shops at Mallory Square are the perfect place to ensure you leave Key West with something to remember it by for years to come. Housed in one of the most historic buildings in Key West (a former Key West naval station), no cultural tour of Key West is complete without a stop at the Shops. A popular stop along both the Old Town Trolley Tours of Key West, as well as the iconic Conch Tour Train, the Shops at Mallory Square are easily accessible and a guaranteed good time.
Explore the Island with Fury’s Key West Bike Rentals
With so much to see outside of the established tourist attractions, Fury’s bike rentals allow visitors to take in all the nuance of Key West at their very own pace. Enjoy the sun at every opportunity while pedaling through the serene island city. Start at the Southernmost Point Buoy and get lost with nothing but a sense of adventure to drive you as you explore and uncover the many hidden gems scattered throughout Key West. With the wind in your hair and a smile on your face, Fury’s bike rentals put you in the driver’s seat of your very own Key West adventure.
What time of day is best to visit the Southernmost Point Buoy?
Seeing that the Southernmost Point is home of the sunset, dusk is widely regarded as one of the best times of day to visit. However, seeing that it is open 24 hours, and crowds can become very large, dawn is also a good time to visit. Imagine the photographs one could capture of a beautiful sunrise!
How long has the Southernmost Point Buoy been at this location?
Throughout the 1970s, wooden signs were used to mark the Southernmost Point. However, they were frequently stolen. In 1983, the 20-ton concrete buoy was built to alleviate this problem.
Can you take a photo with the buoy?
Absolutely! The Southernmost Point Buoy is the most photographed landmark in all of Key West and one of the most photographed in the United States.
What other activities are near this location?
Home to many iconic Key West attractions, such as the Ernest Hemingway House and Museum, the Key West Lighthouse and Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, the Southernmost Point is also a great launching point for any number of water excursions, like snorkeling, kayaking or paddleboarding. Key West being one of the most popular fishing destinations in the world, the Southernmost Point is also a great destination for a day of casting off into the sea.
What is the meaning behind the Southernmost Point Buoy?
The Southernmost Point Buoy symbolizes a unique physical location: the lowest latitude land of the contiguous North American states. However, the buoy itself is not a navigational beacon. Its positioning is only symbolic.