There’s never been a better time to get a more intimate experience around Key West! With today’s new normal keeping large crowds away from the island, you can discover the Conch Republic like never before. It’s important to know exactly what’s open when creating your list of fun activities worth exploring. So we took the liberty of putting together a list of our favorite Key West spots that will surely bring some island style fun to your Key West vacation. Even better, you won’t have to worry about asking what’s open around town.
Iconic Key West Spots
Paradise offers a variety of exciting activities for all types of people. But there’s no question that these iconic Key West landmarks are an absolute must see when visiting the island!
Southernmost Point of the Continental U.S.
Standing as big as day on the corner of Whitehead & South Streets, is a decoratively painted, hulking mass of stone known as the Southernmost Point marker. Fashioned to look like a buoy, this popular Instagram landmark provides the perfect backdrop of Key West’s turquoise sea that stretches for “90 miles to Cuba” behind it. A lot happened around this seawall back in the day from vendors hawking seafood to a Bahamian guy known as the Bishop who once entertained passers-by with his exceptional ‘conch-playing.’ He is remembered fondly with a bronze statue located here.
The Shops at Mallory Square
For the best shopping experience in paradise, there’s no better place than the Shops at Mallory Square. Stroll through the air-conditioned building and discover some of the finest Key West treasures, novelty gifts, and souvenirs. Pick up something special for your favorite history fan at the Harry S. Truman Little White House Pop-Up Shop, featuring items from the Little White House Signature Collection. Then drop by the Cigar Factory and enjoy a hand rolled cuban leaf cigar. Make sure to step into Nature’s Treasures and view their unique selection of gold and silver jewelry. And if you need a sweet pick me up, try one of the delicious treats at Sweets of Paradise.
Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square (with Social Distancing)
Make sure to cap off your day at Mallory Square by experiencing their legendary sunset celebrations. The Key West Sunset Celebration invites everyone to partake in watching the glowing pink and red sun sink into the Gulf of Mexico horizon. The nightly festival hosts visitors from all over. Magicians, jugglers, clowns, psychics, local musicians, artists, and food vendors combine for this incredible cultural experience.
Mile Marker 0
The northbound corridor of United States US Route 1 stretches and winds for almost 2,500 miles to the edge of the Canadian border. And its origins are located right here in Key West. A selfie at this photo spot is a rite of passage and a must-have for your island-friendly Instagram. The iconic green and white ‘Mile 0’ sign became so popular that an opportunistic t-shirt shop owner was able to trademark it after a lengthy and expensive court battle.
Key West Historic Seaport
Brimming with Old World charm, Key West’s Historic Seaport offers something different to visitors of all ages, budgets and tastes. The hub for the island’s maritime industries for more than 200 years, the area is now also home to many of Key West’s premier destinations. The Historic Seaport hosts numerous restaurants serving some of the island’s freshest seafood and several one-of-a-kind watering holes. You will also find boutiques, art galleries and engaging museums that highlight Key West’s history.
Get Out On The Water
Discover the crystal clear waters of Key West with these exciting activities around paradise!
Fury Water Adventures
Discover a different side of Key West! Explore a secluded oasis in the Florida Keys backcountry with an Island Adventure eco tour. Snorkel the backcountry, kayak through an array of mangroves, glistening turquoise waters, and shallow sandbars. Our experienced and friendly staff provides insight into the ecosystem and surrounding marine life. Or maybe you’re looking for something a little faster? Enjoy a birds-eye-view of paradise with an exhilarating Parasail tour. Zip through the crystal clear waters of the Conch Republic with a thrilling Jet Ski excursion. Or explore the ocean at your pace with a private group charter. Customize your adventure and party through paradise in a private catamaran with friends and family. Whatever water adventure you seek, our team has it covered!
Higgs Beach Pier
Higgs Beach offers the quintessential Key West beach experience complete with tropical palms casting their long shadows across the sand. The romantic setting is a popular destination for locals and visitors who dream of a Key West beach wedding. Relaxing on the white sand provides the ideal spots for working on your Florida tan. And the beach offers umbrella rentals for those who prefer a shaded oasis while enjoying the sea breeze. In addition to a restaurant and picnic tables, the shallow waters, volleyball courts, playground, and water sports at Higgs Beach keep the young ones occupied while you soak up some rays.
Boasting a half-mile stretch of soft, white sand, Smathers Beach is one of the most popular destinations in Key West. This man-made beach is great for children because they can wade a considerable distance from the shoreline without the risk of a sudden drop off or a strong undertow. There is also a spot for snorkeling. Lined by beautiful palm trees, the beach has plenty of shade. Nets are available for beachgoers who want to play volleyball.
Things To Do On The Island
Explore a different side of the island with some of our favorite things to do around the Conch Republic!
Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
One of the most fascinating places to visit in Key West is the home where legendary author Ernest Hemingway lived and worked for more than ten years. The famed author was known to have an affinity for the island life and spent many days fishing out on the open water. Lovers of his work will want to make sure this is on their itinerary. The home and gardens are visited by thousands of people each year, offering a glimpse into Hemingway’s life and a chance to meet some of the descendants of his beloved six-toed cat, Snowball.
Conch Tour Train
Experience the train tour that’s been entertaining visitors to the Island City of Key West, Florida since 1958. The Conch Tour Train is one of Florida’s most popular attractions, and for good reason. Their expert ‘engineers’ and friendly staff have delighted over 15 million guests. Get to know Old Town Key West, from the Front Street Depot to Mallory Square and everything in between, including live onboard commentary from a professional tour conductor. See where Ernest Hemingway used to relax and find out why President Harry Truman used to spend so much time on the island. Your children will delight riding the Conch Tour Train and getting a conch’s eye view of all the wonderful Key West attractions.
Key West Aquarium
The Key West Aquarium has delighted visitors since 1934. Come join us and see for yourself the beautiful indigineous sea-creatures of Key West and the Florida Keys. Enjoy guided show tours, petting & feeding, Touch Tank, friendly & knowledgeable guides and more. This is one of the best attractions in Key West for kids who love marine life and interactive exhibits. The welcoming Key West Aquarium is a popular attraction where nature and animal lovers of all ages can learn about the marine inhabitants and their biodiverse habitats.
Harry S. Truman Little White House
A place where an array of leaders, legendary inventors, dignitaries, visionaries, and many prestigious visitors were drawn to throughout its history, Key West’s Harry S. Truman Little White House holds a special place in the history of America. Constructed in 1890 to serve as the naval station’s command headquarters during the Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II, this historic site later became the second White House. Today, a visit to the Harry S. Truman Little White House treats guests to a journey back to the era of President Harry Truman and a view of many of his personal belongings. Explore where Truman met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, worked on the Marshall Plan and wrote the Truman Doctrine. See where he dined and discover original furnishings, personal effects, and much more. Visit Florida’s only Presidential museum and give your child an unforgettable historic experience.
Ghosts & Gravestones
There’s nothing better than a spooky adventure with the team at Ghosts & Gravestones. Their creepy Ghost Hosts take guests on an exciting and spine chilling tour through the grim history of Key West, in search of the forgotten souls. A chilling trip through the paranormal is a unique and fun experience for all fans of ghosts and ghouls. This ghostly tour will show you exactly why Key West is considered one of the top ten, most haunted cities in America.
Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory
The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory is a unique experience you won’t soon forget. Take a tour inside to witness these graceful creatures in their natural habitat. Wander through an enclosed tropical paradise and observe more than 50 different species of these multi-colored creatures at the Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. The climate-controlled indoor habitat is also home to a variety of colorful birds and flowering plants set against a background of lush vegetation and sparkling waterfalls.
Ripley’s Believe it or Not!
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! offers a great collection of the world’s strangest oddities with over 500 exhibits and 13 galleries on two floors including a section on Amazing Acts and Unbelievable Stunts, a rotating tunnel and Ernest Hemingway displays. Discover incredible eye-popping exhibits where you can pose with the world’s tallest man, lose yourself in some mind-boggling visual illusions, and even see a vampire kit!
Places to Eat & Drink
Exploring paradise will surely work up an appetite. Grab a bite at some of our favorite places to eat around Key West!
Located on Elizabeth Street, in the Historic Seaport a few blocks away from Mallory Square, this Key West classic features a charmingly nostalgic ambience and delicious local cuisine. Serving up island favorites with a modern twist, this walk-up eatery is the rebirth of an old local favorite, where conchs came to swap stories and catch up on the news of the day. Make sure to grab a bite of their delicious lobster tacos before continuing to discover paradise!
El Meson de Pepe
For over 30 years, El Meson De Pepe has been serving the most delicious Cuban cuisine on the island. This vibrant and welcoming latin restaurant is considered by many to be an iconic staple near Mallory Square. If the beautiful artistic murals and live music don’t make you want to stay all night long, then their delicious mojitos will. And cap off the night with a hand rolled cigar from their shop as you enjoy the breathtaking sunset from their outside bar. Get a real taste of authentic Cuban dishes located just 90 miles away from where it all started.
Conch Republic Seafood Company
Located in the Historic Seaport, the Conch Republic Seafood Company is a salty, open-air waterfront restaurant with lots of character. There’s a wrap-around bar with a giant aquarium in the center of the restaurant and live music at happy hour. Grab a table in the spacious dining room and order up all the classic Key West seafood dishes you’re craving including conch fritters, conch chowder, mahi sandwiches, and their house favorite Key West pink shrimp! They’ve got it all in just the right setting!
Half Shell Raw Bar
The Half Shell Raw Bar offers a taste of old Key West you can’t experience anywhere else. As you head inside, you’ll notice the local fishermen unloading the day’s catch into the Half Shell’s Fish Market. Laid back, friendly and casual, the Half Shell Raw Bar is the original Key West seafood restaurant. Enjoy an ice cold beer in this open air setting and indulge in such delights as broiled garlic oysters, a basket of fish and chips, steamed middleneck clams, chilled Key West peel and eat shrimp, and the ultimate treat, Half Shell’s conch ceviche.
Salute! On The Beach
Salute! On The Beach is a Key West treasure combining the lovely beach-side cafe atmosphere with island-style Italian flavors. Locals love their lighter, Caribbean-influenced takes on Italian classics served with fresh breads, vegetables, and local seafood. And don’t forget to save room for their delicious Key Lime Pie dessert. Salute! On The Beach is a Key West tradition for locals and visitors alike.
Hard Rock Cafe
For a mix of rock and “rolls” there’s no better spot than the iconic Hard Rock Cafe Key West. This legendary restaurant features an authentic dining and world-class entertainment ambiance unique in its own right. After a delicious meal of freshly prepared authentic American fare, take a stroll through musical history with a collection of rock n’ roll memorabilia you can only find at Hard Rock Cafe Key West. With outdoor seating to enjoy the fresh breeze, discover the perfect place to eat, drink, and unwind during your visit to the Conch Republic.
Key West First Legal Rum Distillery
Located on Simonton Street, in a former Coca Cola bottling plant, you will find Key West First Legal Rum Distillery. Discover the various rums made on site in custom-made copper pots during this uniquely Conch Republic tour experience. Step in, taste some great rum, and learn a little bit more about Key West’s rich history.
Southernmost Beach Café
The Southernmost Beach Café serves up local flavor and boat-to-table freshness with a little twist. This beachside cafe offers a unique angle courtesy of head chef Matt Slattery, a self-professed asian-fusion aficionado and the brains behind the Café’s menu. Only here can you find a seamless blend of Caribbean and Asian cuisine made with locally-sourced ingredients, beautifully incorporated into each menu. Play cornhole on the sand as the tropical breeze and renowned flavorful dishes clear your mind of all the stresses in the world.
Now that you’ve finished reviewing our list of “what’s open” around the island, it’s time for you to start exploring. Pick out your “must do’s” and create your custom itinerary with this handy guide. Get the most out of your island getaway and see a different side of the Conch Republic, away from the crowds and tourists. Enjoy the sunshine and fresh island breeze as you explore all of these fun and exciting spots around Key West.