Key West Travel Guide
The circa-1891 Key West Museum of Art & History at the Custom House features a dripping-with-malice portrait of Truman Capote, waving a 1976 American Bicentennial flag and pistol, a Vote for the Man sign and a bloody young couple in the foreground: it was done by Capote’s fellow all-star of w
This recently renovated hotel restaurant hosts its very own cabaret; men in drag do nightly impersonations of celebrities like Madonna and Cher at the Crystal Room. Skip the overpriced poolside restaurant for a fresh mojito on the black-and-white-marble patio.
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 gallery. The small collection of contemporary Cuban artists includes vibrant canvases by Luis Abreux and painted wooden folk carvings by Mario Sanchez.
Catch an art film at the nonprofit Tropic Cinema (founded, in part, by writer Jean Carper and George Cooper, a retired law professor and author).
Self-proclaimed environmental artist Nancy Forrester is the mastermind behind this oasis off Simonton Street. Like a patch of rainforest, it has dense foliage, squawking birds, and plenty of hidden nooks.
Cuban cigars are embargoed in the United States, so buy a legal version at this warren-like shop directly across from Mallory Square.
Owned by a Key West native who stocks her well-appointed accessories boutique with candles from Diptyque and Tocca, antique clocks, spicy red pepper–flavored Belgian chocolates, and enough Dr. Hauschka and Kiehls beauty products to keep you moisturized for life.
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.