History Attractions in Key West

The colorful history of {0} incorporates shipwreck treasures and artifacts, renowned artists, literary legends, a cigar-making heyday and a vibrant past as a bustling seaport. The area's historic and cultural richness is preserved, spotlighted and celebrated in the island city's many museums. We have included some of our favorite things to do and see that incorporate the juicy, historical flavor of {0}.

For example, Key West is home to the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum, founded by the legendary shipwreck salvor who died in 1998. The museum holds the richest single collection of 17th-century maritime and shipwreck antiquities in the Western Hemisphere - most of them excavated from the waters around the island city.

Just a few steps away stands another structure commemorating a historic highlight: the period in 1832 when artist and ornithologist John James Audubon visited Key West and the Dry Tortugas, sighting and drawing 19 new species for his monumental "Birds of America" folio. It is believed that many of those detailed paintings were conceived in the garden of the 205 Whitehead St. property now known as the Audubon House & Tropical Gardens.

Key West's Cuban heritage is represented by the San Carlos Institute, 516 Duval St. An affiliate to the Smithsonian Institution, the San Carlos was founded in 1871 to preserve Cuban culture and promote the freedom of Cuba. In 1892, it was from the institute that Cuban patriot José Marti united exiles for his drive for Cuba's independence. Today, the San Carlos serves as a museum, library, art gallery, theater and school.

A few blocks away stands the Key West Shipwreck Historeum, 1 Whitehead St., dedicated to aspects of the wrecking or shipwreck salvage industry that was the cornerstone of the island's early economy. The museum combines actors, films, laser technology and actual artifacts from the shipwrecked Isaac Allerton, which sank in Keys waters in 1856. Historeum visitors meet Asa Tift in his 1856 wreckers' warehouse, enjoy a fascinating video on the wrecking industry and hear tales from the families who made their fortunes in wrecking.

Flagler Station Over-sea Railway Historeum

901 Caroline Street

History of Henry Flagler's East Coast Railroad Key West Extension... read more

Harry S Truman Little White House

111 Front Street

Florida's only presidential museum... read more

Key West Shipwreck Historeum Museum

1 Whitehead Street

Shipwreck artifacts and history... read more

Classic Harbor Line - Key West

202 William Street

Historic schooner sailing experience... read more

Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum

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200 Greene Street
Take U.S. 1 to Whitehead St. and turn left on Greene

Spanish galleon treasure and artifacts on display...
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Key West City Cemetery

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701 Passover Ln
entrance at the corner of Margaret and Angela streets

Interesting tour of unique headstones... read more

Key West Lighthouse Museum

938 Whitehead St

Best View in Town... read more

Museum of Art & History in the Custom House

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281 Front Street

Wreckers, pirates and politicians made one of Key West's most-photographed buildings famous!... read more

San Carlos Institute

516 Duval St

Historic building, historic exhibits... read more

expert pick

Dry Tortugas National Park

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Garden Key

Offshore National Park and preserve in the Gulf of Mexico... read more
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