Key West

Key West Travel Guide

At the improbably first-rate theater, local boy Richard Wilbur once helped out with Molière translations.

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 with showers and picnic tables. Tip: bring waterproof sandals—the beach is pebbly.

The National Marine Sanctuary–owned museum, devoted to the largest coral reef in North America, opened in January 2007; permanent exhibits highlight the Keys' 11 habitats, the living reef, and local weather patterns.

A popular area activity, the Butterfly & Nature Conservatory has more than 50 species of butterflies and 20 species of exotic birds all housed under the glass dome greenhouse.

Don't miss the summer regattas held here.

Pick up cartoonlike sculptures (fish in red high heels, anyone?) and bright beachscape-painted tables and chairs at this boutique filled with handmade crafts by Floridian artists. All evoke a cheery Key West sensibility.

This two-room bookstore feels and smells like an attic, but the collection of mostly used books is worth a visit. Peruse the teetering stacks for Cuban literature and biographies of local luminaries: Harry Truman, Ernest Hemingway, and Tennessee Williams among them.

This annual arts exhibit of contemporary, large-scale outdoor sculptures and installations started in 1995 as an informal exhibit. Now, it showcases emerging and established artists from around the world.

The famed shop produces a frozen version, dipped in chocolate and eaten from a stick, lolly-style.

Key West natives take their nightlife seriously, though not literally, as many begin their reveling at 3 p.m. Join the party early at this indoor-outdoor martini bar; three-man bands and solo guitarists serenade fortysomethings under a shimmering disco ball.

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 immortalizes every presidential visit.

The Mel Fisher Maritime Museum celebrates its namesake's 1985 discovery of the hull of a 1622 Spanish Galleon named Atocha, uncovered about a one-hour boat ride from Key West that divers and the Fishers still explore.

The museum dates to 1834.

Almost every item in this ocean-themed shop is covered in seashells. There are handmade sand dollar– and starfish-rimmed mirrors and frames, along with gorgeous sea-glass chandeliers, all of which come wrapped in tissue paper decorated, yes, with shells.

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 group of stand-up comics turned literature lovers.