If you’re new to the Florida Keys (and even if you’re not), you’ve probably been told about all the things you have to do during your visit. Like, take pictures at mile marker 0 and the Southernmost point, go snorkeling, watch the famous Sunset Celebration, experience nightlife on Duval street and eat a slice of real key lime pie.
But another thing you should put down on your to-do list is to drop inside museums. There are several! And inside of this post is a list of some to start with.
Oldest House Museum & Garden
You can’t visit Key West without stopping in the oldest house on the island. Well, you could. But, why would you want to? This conch cottage built in 1829 was home to the wrecker Captain Francis B. Watlington, his wife Emeline and their daughters. On the property are three buildings, including the main house, kitchen house, and an exhibit pavilion.
The Ernest Hemingway House
You can find the former residence of esteemed American novelist Ernest Hemingway on the corner of Whitehead and Olivia Street. Hemingway and his wife Pauline first visited the island in the late 1920’s and knew immediately they wanted to stay forever. Not only was it unlike any other place they’d ever been to. But, it was also where Hemingway found the most writing inspiration. And they felt it was the best place to be on any given day.
Take a docent tour of the home and see for yourself why it is considered one of the top attractions in all of Key West. Here you will get an intimate look at the Author’s life and a glimpse of the famous 6-toed cats in the outdoor garden.
Key West Lighthouse
For the best view of the island, head to the Key West Lighthouse and climb 88 iron steps to the observation deck. This is the second lighthouse in its place. The original lighthouse was built in 1825 to help all ships entering the port avoid dangers on the reef. After it’s collapse in 1846 during the Great Havana Hurricane, it was replaced with the current lighthouse which remained in operation until it was decommissioned in 1969. It has been open for public viewing since 1989. It is an excellent historical site with many artifacts of the era and stories of the keepers that lived there.
Fort East Martello Museum
If you’re looking to see early island artifacts, an eclectic display of folk art, and some lost treasures from the sea, the Martello has it all. And if you’re into creepy, supernatural things? This stop has an added bonus for you: Robert the Doll. He’s one of the strangest and most photographed exhibits because of the cursed legend that accompanies him.
Whatever you do, make sure to ask his permission before snapping a picture. Those who haven’t asked for permission are said to have met “post-visit misfortunes,” including broken bones, car accidents, divorce, job loss, and much, much, more. And still, those who have asked, end up with odd streaks of light through their picture. So, enter only if you dare.
Key West Shipwreck Museum
In the 19th century, Key West was one of the richest cities in the United States of America. And the salvaging of ships run on the reef was a big business. Here you will learn all about the 400 years of shipwreck salvage, climb the lookout towers, and learn about the men who risked their lives. This museum is fun and educational for the whole family.