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What to See and Do in Key West - a guide to notable attractions and landmarks

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Key West boasts a quirky, independent spirit plus an array of sights and attractions that will keep you inspired for days on end. A strong love of culture is laced through the city – this is a place that's long attracted writers, artists, and free spirits – so you'll have several art galleries and museums to wander. Historic forts, wide open green spaces, and lively nightspots round off the holiday nicely.
Mel Fisher Heritage Museum

 

 

Take a short 15 minute walk north from the Fort - along the golden-sandy coast - and find the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum. Amble across the red-stone, tree-shaded courtyard, past the cannons, and enter the museum, where you'll be transported back to a time of pirates and plunder. The museum showcases extensive artifacts from 17th century shipwrecks, such as the Henrietta Marie slave ship and the treasure-laden Santa Margarita galleon. On display are silver coins, gold bars and beautiful colored beads discovered in the wrecks, each offering a unique glimpse into American, European and African history.

 

The Ernest Hemingway House

 

 

Lovers of literature won’t want to miss out on paying a visit to the Ernest Hemingway House, the stately Key West retreat where the great American writer used to scribble out his sentences. Kept in pristine condition, the house now operates as a museum, commemorating his action packed life. Inside, you can even see Hemingway’s round wooden writing desk and typewriter, and marvel at his vast library of hardback tomes. While you stroll around this historic haven, say hello to the many black cats that live on the premises - descendants of Hemingway’s famous 6-toed cats.

 

Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden

 

 

Just walking around the city’s tranquil, palm-lined streets transports you to a tropical paradise, but why not head along to Key West’s Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden, and experience an even more eden-like setting? These well-maintained gardens - located in a vast green space on the island’s east - are open daily. The paved footpaths lead you through arching almond and black olive trees, past bright locustberry flowers and over deep green ponds, where butterflies and dragonflies glide over the rippling water.

 

Smathers Beach

 

 

No trip to Key West would be complete without spending a day or two unwinding on the glowing coast. Head to Smathers Beach, the largest public beach in the city, and enjoy half a mile of pure, sweeping sands. The beach is lined with towering coconut trees, providing pools of cool shade for when the honey-like sun heats up. The beach offers many water sporting activities - including parasailing, kayaking, and wind-surfing - for those seeking some excitement in the aquamarine ocean.