From lounging under a palm tree to catching a sunset from Mallory Square, Key West has a lot to offer both visitors and residents. For such a small place it’s got a helluva lot of interesting history, and there are many museums worth a visit in Key West. Read ahead for some local tips on stingrays and swashbuckling pirates, polydactyl cats and presidential homes.
At one point in his life world-famous author, Ernest Hemingway had over 50 pet cats in his home. If you want to find out more interesting and random facts about the life and times of Hemingway, head to his home of 10 years in Key West. Set in glorious gardens, the home is a step back in time and a glimpse into the life of Papa Hemingway, with his writing studio still exactly how he kept it. There are tours available every 15 minutes and the descendants of his pets can be spotted running around the grounds. Recommended by local insider Alli Griffiths
Filled with original furnishings and memorabilia from the days Truman vacationed here, the Little White House offers a glimpse into the life of a president. To make the most of your trip, book a tour with a knowledgable guide who will walk you around the home and fill your brain with presidential history and personal stories of Harry S Truman. Pleasant grounds and a well-maintained home make this a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours. Presidents are still allowed to stay here so pictures are not allowed. Recommended by local insider Alli Griffiths
Deep dive into the history of all things sea life at the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum. With exhibitions featuring cannons, pottery, objects of everyday life and gold bars from the depths, it offers an insight into one of the most famous shipwrecks in Florida – the Spanish galleon, Atocha. The conservation lab is open throughout the week for a behind-the-scenes tour of restoration projects. Recommended by local insider Alli Griffiths
Custom House weaves together the art, culture and people of Key West, offering a unique insight into the history of the area. Across the four floors of this attractive building, you’ll find exhibitions on famous painter Tennessee Williams, junk enthusiast Stanley Papio and the Overseas Railroad. A must for anyone interested in the extensive history of the area. The museum is well located to explore other key sites of Key West during your time here, once you’ve browsed the contents of the house head to Mallory Square for sundowners. Recommended by local insider Alli Griffiths
Tropical fish, stingrays, sharks and starfish all call the Key West Aquarium home, along with 100 other species of sea life. In the Touch Tank, you’ll have the chance to get up close and personal with horseshoe crabs and starfish. Interactive conservation and animal feedings will keep the whole family entertained at this watery exhibition. It’s a fairly small aquarium so make sure to include the presentation (held every half an hour) to maximize your visit, and learn about the conservation projects they run. Recommended by local insider Alli Griffiths
Take the 88 steps to the top of the lighthouse for unrivaled views of Key West and the chance to pretend you are a lighthouse keeper. Explore the belongings, words and photographs of those that kept the role, including, unheard of for its time, a woman in 1848. Learn the story of this key part of maritime history from its upgrades and extensions and browse antique memorabilia of Key West. The museum is wheelchair accessible, but the lighthouse is not. Recommended by local insider Alli Griffiths
With over 50 years of service, the Ingham is a portrait of life at sea between the ’30s and the ’80s. Built originally to adapt to changing missions; from dealing with opium smuggling to piracy and search and rescue, this cutter has seen it all. The floating museum hosts artefacts, memorabilia and stories illustrating its fascinating past and should be high on the list of anyone interested in maritime history. Recommended by local insider Alli Griffiths