We stayed at a hotel named Angelina Guest House which is a lovely combination of blue, white and cream colors. It's only two blocks from Duval street (more about it later). They have a heated lagoon style pool, hammock for relaxing (sounds of the water fountain can make you sleep), good breakfast, and a porch swing to cheer anyone up 🙂
Now let's talk about the must-see places and best things to do while you are in Key West.
Take a shot with the Southernmost Point of the Continental US:
It’s one of the most popular and Instagrammable places in Key West. Perfect spot for a photo shoot although you have to stand in a line for taking pictures. So take a shot with this colorful buoy marking the Southernmost Point of the United States.
Visit the Harry S. Truman Little White House:
If you want to know more about Truman, you must go to his little white house, built in1890 as the naval station's command headquarters during the Spanish-American War. These headquarters were also used for World War I and World War II.
Truman used to spend his winter vacation in this house, also known as the “Winter White House." Many other presidents also spent their holidays here. Currently, this house has turned into a museum and is open to the public. Even if you go to the visitor center, you will get to know more details about Truman. I had to take this shot to get the Presidential vibe 😉
Shopping & Dining at Duval Street:
As I mentioned before, it was only two blocks from where we stayed. So we walked down there twice. It’s the most happening place surrounded by outdoor cafes, boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, bars, etc.
We went there during the 4th of July holidays and Duval Street was fully crowded. We had so much fun exploring the downtown, tasting delicious seafood and Key West’s unique key lime pie, shopping, watching live music and dancing, etc.
Taste Key West’s signature dish:
One must try a signature dessert of Key West called "Key Lime Pie” This delicious dish is named after Key limes, and you can get this at many restaurants and bars. Its made of fresh key lime juice, sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, and the white topping is made of egg whites. We tried it at Caroline’s Cafe.
Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square:
This is one of the most popular things to do in Key West. At the end of the day, head to Mallory Square to watch the beautiful sunset and experience the "Sunset Celebration" which occurs about two hours before sunset. Every afternoon this place gets fully crowded to see the art festivals, enjoy local musicians, watch street performers like clowns and magicians, eat foods from the outdoor vendors, and shop from the hawkers.
View from the top of the Lighthouse:
The Key West Lighthouse was initially built in 1825 to protect the ships from the hazardous coral reefs while entering the port. Today visitors can climb up the 88 steps to see the outstanding view of the island and the belongings of the lighthouse keepers. You can also take a look at the former Lighthouse Keeper’s headquarters on the ground.
Mile Marker 0:
Thousands of travelers come to this place to take a shot with the US1 mile marker 0 sign. This sign indicates that you have reached the beginning of the road. So you must take a selfie or ask someone to take a picture of you with it while you are in Key West.
Tour the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum:
The Hemingway house is one of the main tourist attractions in Key West. This house was built in 1851 and is located in the heart of the Old Town, across from the Lighthouse. Hemingway and his wife Pauline moved here in 1931. This museum is open for visitors 365 days a year (includes holidays) from 9 a.m to 5 p.m. You can take the guided tour, and it can take about 30 minutes. Right now they accept cash only. It costs $14 for adults and $6 for kids (6-12), and it’s free for children (5 and under).
Explore the beaches:
If you are a beach lover like me, then you must spend a day at Smathers beach, a vast stretch of sand. You will see swaying palm trees and a beautiful combo of blue water and dazzling white sands. There are plenty of activities such as beach volleyball, water sports rentals, mini sailboats, etc. You can also grab your picnic basket and eat lunch at the beach sitting on a beach towel while enjoying the spectacular view of the ocean.
South Beach is also a popular spot for wading in Key West. It’s located at the end of Duval Street and is a short walk from the Southernmost Point. One can easily access the beach and enjoy sunbathing sitting on a rented chair underneath umbrellas. If you are up for activities, you can hire a snorkel or kayak from the vendors. Don’t forget to take a shot with the sign indicating “South Beach is the southernmost beach.”
Drink coconut water from a real coconut:
I would highly recommend drinking coconut water while you are on the island. It’s refreshing and helps to beat the summer heat.
Fun fact: I actually had a dream of having a coconut sitting by the sea on an island. Luckily, I found a store where they were selling coconuts in Key West. I was thinking about how I’m going to cut open the coconut if I get one. But I was amazed to see their technique. They just used a drilling machine to make a hole and put a straw into it. Easy Peasy! Isn’t it?!