Add these 10 Key West hidden gems to your bucket list

There's not place quite like Key West in the United States. (Image by Michael Draeger from Pixabay)

If you’re looking for a tropical getaway with a twist, Key West is the place to be. This island city in Florida is famous for its laid-back vibe, colourful architecture and rich history. But there’s more to Key West than meets the eye. Here are 10 under-the-radar experiences you can have in Key West that will make your trip unforgettable.

Explore a Civil War-era fort

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park is a hidden gem in Key West. This 87-acre park is home to a massive brick fort that was built in the 1800s and played a role in the Civil War and the Spanish-American War. You can tour the fort and learn about its history, or enjoy the park’s other amenities, such as a beach, a picnic area and a nature trail.

Visit the quirky Key West Cemetery

The Key West Cemetery is not your typical burial ground. This cemetery, which dates back to 1847, is full of humorous and eccentric epitaphs, such as “I told you I was sick”, “Devoted fan of singer Julio Iglesias” and “At least I know where he’s sleeping tonight”. You can also find some interesting monuments, such as a grave shaped like a hypodermic needle and a tombstone with a slot machine.

Meet the descendants of Ernest Hemingway’s cats

Ernest Hemingway, the Nobel Prize-winning author, lived in Key West for many years and left behind a legacy of literature and cats. His former home, now a museum, is inhabited by about 50 cats, many of whom have six toes and are descendants of Hemingway’s original feline companion, Snow White. You can tour the house and see Hemingway’s belongings, as well as pet and feed the friendly cats.

Walk among butterflies and flamingos

The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory is a magical place where you can see hundreds of butterflies of different species and colours fluttering around you. You can also admire the tropical plants and flowers that create a lush habitat for the butterflies, as well as watch the resident flamingos, Rhett and Scarlett, who are inseparable.

Discover sunken treasures at the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum

Mel Fisher was a treasure hunter who spent years searching for the wreck of the Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha, which sank off the coast of Key West in 1622 with a cargo of gold, silver and jewels. He finally found it in 1985 and recovered millions of dollars worth of artifacts. You can see some of these treasures at the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum, as well as learn about the history and archaeology of shipwrecks.

Feed sharks at the Key West Aquarium

The Key West Aquarium is one of the oldest aquariums in Florida and offers a unique opportunity to interact with marine life. You can feed sharks, touch stingrays, hold sea stars and watch sea turtles. You can also learn about the conservation efforts of the aquarium and its partners to protect the fragile ecosystem of the Florida Keys.

Hotels in Key West

Snap a photo at the Southernmost Point Buoy

The Southernmost Point Buoy is a landmark that marks the southernmost point in the continental United States. It is also only 90 miles away from Cuba, making it closer to Havana than to Miami. The buoy is painted with the colours of the American flag and has a sign that says “90 Miles to Cuba.” It is a popular spot for tourists to take pictures and selfies.

Taste some rum at the Key West Legal Rum Distillery

The Key West Legal Rum Distillery is a craft rum producer that uses local ingredients and a unique distillation process to create high-quality spirits. You can take a free tour of the distillery and see how rum is made, as well as sample some of their products, such as coconut rum, key lime rum and vanilla rum. You can also buy some bottles to take home or as gifts.

Visit the oldest house in Key West

The Oldest House and Garden Museum is a historic house that was built in 1829 and is the oldest surviving structure in Key West. It was the home of Captain Francis Watlington, a naval officer and a prominent citizen of Key West. You can tour the house and see how people lived in the 19th century, as well as enjoy the beautiful garden that features tropical plants and a gazebo.

See where presidents stayed at the Harry S. Truman Little White House

The Harry S. Truman Little White House is a historic site that served as the winter residence and vacation spot for President Harry S. Truman and other presidents, such as Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Jimmy Carter. You can take a guided tour of the house and see the rooms where important decisions were made, as well as view memorabilia and artifacts related to the presidents and their visits.

ENS Editors

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