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Things to do in Key West

It would be simple enough to come to this island getaway and eat conch fritters, drinks margaritas and check out the sunset every evening at Mallory Square—and have a great time doing just that. But to dig a little deeper into the magic and history of this place, where are some great things to do in Key West. Take a ferry ride first: The Yankee Freedom II takes visitors the 70 miles (about two hours) from Key West to Dry Tortugas National Park, then you’ll have about four hours to enjoy some of the best snorkeling in the world at Fort Jefferson and the Dry Tortugas beaches. (You can even camp here if you bring your own gear.)

One of the most classic things to do in Key West, Papa’s House, is always worth it. The official tours start every 10 minutes and are led by a ramshackle group of stand-up comics turned literature lovers. If you don't have a half-hour to spare, see the ancestors of his cats (bred to have extra toes, also known as polydactyly) and his sons' room, where photos of the author on his many vacations (Africa, Paris, Cuba) give new meaning to his literary works. Key West has attracted its fair share of vacationing presidents (Eisenhower, Kennedy and Carter among them), and the memorabilia displayed at Truman's former winter residence turned museum, the Little White House, immortalizes every presidential visit. The free two-room exhibit has photos and videos; for more, take a 45-minute tour of the president's personal quarters, furnished with his desk and custom-made poker table. One great option, if you’re wondering what to do in Key West with kids, is the 6,000-square-foot Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center. You’ll learn about North America's only living contiguous barrier coral reef, and kids can get hand-son with a fun yellow submarine.

  • Alonzo's Oyster Bar

    Yacht owners tie up their boats and grab seats on the wraparound porch at this marina bar and slurp Key lime–garlic oysters during happy hour (4–6:... More
  • Bésame Mucho

    Owned by a Key West native who stocks her well-appointed accessories boutique with candles from Diptyque and Tocca, antique clocks, spicy red peppe... More
  • Butterfly & Nature Conservatory

    A popular area activity, the Butterfly & Nature Conservatory has more than 50 species of butterflies and 20 species of exotic birds all housed unde... More
  • Dana Point Yacht Club

    Don't miss the summer regattas held here. More
  • Dry Tortugas National Park Ferry

    The Yankee Freedom II takes visitors from Key West to Dry Tortugas National Park. The 70-mile excursion aboard this high-speed-catamaran takes a li... More
  • Florida Keys Eco Discovery Center

    The National Marine Sanctuary–owned museum, devoted to the largest coral reef in North America, opened in January 2007; permanent exhibits highligh... More
  • Fort Zachary Taylor

    Spend the day at the 1850s park (don’t miss the fascinating antique desalination plant). Here, you’ll also find one of the few beaches in Key West ... More
  • Gallery On Greene

    The Museum of Art & History at the Custom House occupies a prime location on the port, but for Art Basel–quality work, head to this one-room galler... More
  • Green Parrot

    A jazzy live band accompanies the rough-looking bartenders, who serve $3 brews to a wide range of characters beneath twinkling green lights. Cre... More
  • Harry S. Truman's Little White House

    Key West has attracted its fair share of vacationing presidents (Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Carter among them), and the memorabilia displayed at Trum... More
  • Hemingway Home and Museum

    It's a shame to come to Hemingway's tropical hideaway and not take the official tour, which start every 10 minutes and are led by a ramshackle grou... More
  • House Key

    Almost every item in this ocean-themed shop is covered in seashells. There are handmade sand dollar– and starfish-rimmed mirrors and frames, along ... More
  • Island Style

    Pick up cartoonlike sculptures (fish in red high heels, anyone?) and bright beachscape-painted tables and chairs at this boutique filled with handm... More
  • Kermit's Key West Key Lime Shoppe

    The famed shop produces a frozen version, dipped in chocolate and eaten from a stick, lolly-style. More
  • Key West Heritage House Museum

    The museum dates to 1834. Since the 1930’s, the property has been owned by the Porter family, one of the founding clans of Key West: Robert Frost w... More

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