Not packed in a bus. Not herded with a group. Self guided walk is the SAFEST way to sightsee!

East Key West Walking Tour (Self Guided), Key West

East Key West is the southernmost place in the USA. It is just 90 miles from Cuba. In this area you have the best beaches, a historical park, Key West Light which indicates the southernmost point of the USA and lots of other attractions. This self-guided tour will lead you through the eastern part of Key West showing to you some of its unique attractions and landmarks.
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East Key West Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: East Key West Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » Key West (See other walking tours in Key West)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.9 Km or 3.7 Miles
Author: vickyc
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Fort East Martello Museum & Gardens
  • Smather's Beach
  • Key West AIDS Memorial
  • West Martello Towers / African Cemetery
  • Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory
  • The Southernmost Point
  • Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park
Fort East Martello Museum & Gardens

1) Fort East Martello Museum & Gardens (must see)

Situated on the south coast of Key West, the Fort East Martello Museum is the best-preserved example of the Martello style of military architecture in the country and features exhibits of local history and art. The museum is housed in an old fort and also has a lookout tower. Displays include ships and nautical items, military memorabilia, a garden with an 80-year-old playhouse, Robert the Doll (a supposedly haunted doll belonging to the late artist Robert Eugene Otto), as well as art galleries with the state's largest collections. There is also a citadel built from granite dating back to the time of the Civil War.

Why You Should Visit:
For a small museum, they sure do have a lot to see! The original fort is interesting on its own and you can take the circular iron staircase up a few floors to look out on the ocean-scape and the airport (which is immediately behind this structure).

It doesn't take very long to go through the exhibits, so take the time to at least read about each item.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9:30am–4:30pm
Smather's Beach

2) Smather's Beach

Smather's Beach is in the east of Key West. It is the largest public beach in Key West. It is approximately a half mile long. It is a free, public beach, the largest in Key West, very beautiful, sandy and with palm trees. It is crowded during the day and people have a lot of fun. Early morning walks along the beach offer magical sunrise moments.

On September 2, 2013, long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad arrived on Smathers Beach after swimming 110 miles (166 kilometers) from Havana, Cuba. It was the first time a person had ever swum from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage.
Key West AIDS Memorial

3) Key West AIDS Memorial

Key West AIDS Memorial is located in a splendid place, near the ocean, on the eastern coast of Key West. It is dedicated to people from Key West who died of AIDS. The memorial is beautifully built and overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. A memorial plaque contains the names of the dead and three poems. Nearby is a pier that juts into the sea from where you can enjoy spectacular sunsets.
West Martello Towers / African Cemetery

4) West Martello Towers / African Cemetery (must see)

The historic West Martello Towers were built to protect the island during the Civil War. They are now housing the Key West Garden Club – a beautifully landscaped tropical treasure in Key West, nicely shaded with so much foliage that it's a perfect hideaway from the scorching midday sun and all the busy tourist areas. The butterfly area is beautiful as well as the area along the water.

The towers and gardens can be visited together with the African Cemetery at Higgs Beach which contains the graves of Africans who died after being rescued in 1860 from captured slave ships. The cemetery was discovered in 2002 using ground-penetrating radar. On June 26, 2012, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9:30am-5pm
Free admission, donations are welcome
Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory

5) Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory (must see)

The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory is a butterfly park that houses from 50 to 60 different species of live butterflies from around the world in a climate-controlled, glass-enclosed habitat. It is a genuine educational experience as guests can get a close-up view of a variety of live caterpillars feeding and developing on their host plants. Also, there are flowering plants, trees and waterfalls, along with several species of free-flying "butterfly-friendly" birds, such as red-factor canaries, zebra finches, cordon-blue finches and "button" or Chinese painted quail.

Best to go in the morning while everything is out and moving. You will love it!
You can spend as much time as you like, but be sure to follow the tour guide to get the lowdown on everything in the enclosure. The self-guided tour has signs and descriptions explaining all of the different types of butterflies otherwise.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-5pm (last admission: 4:30pm)
The Southernmost Point

6) The Southernmost Point (must see)

The Southernmost Point of the continental USA is marked by a concrete buoy in Key West. It was originally just marked with a sign, which was often stolen. In response to this, the city of Key West erected the now famous concrete buoy in 1983. The concrete buoy is actually an old sewer junction that was dug up in the area and found too heavy and large to move, so it was painted up to look like a buoy. This is the most popular attraction in Key West and it is always crowded during the day (be prepared to queue up for about 30-40 mins for the photo op). If you don't like crowds, you can come here early in the morning and admire the unforgettable view of the sun rising from the Atlantic.

It's the journey, not the destination for this one...
Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park

7) Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park (must see)

Designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1973, this popular 87-acre (352,000 m²) state park is anchored by a famous Civil War fort housing the nation's largest collection of Civil War cannons, which plays host to several special events throughout the year – including week-long Civil War reenactments. On the weekend preceding Halloween, it is transformed into a haunted fort, much like a haunted house but on a grand scale and with a distinctive Civil War theme. For its time, the fort was an engineering marvel, with sanitary facilities flushed by the tide and a desalination plant that produced drinking water.

The beach here is shaded by several acres of Australian pine trees so it's always a bit cooler than the rest of Key West. It's also less crowded, with good deep water swimming, restrooms, showers, a concession stand, and picnic tables. Best snorkeling from the shore in the Keys, too, with protected water for kids!

Why You Should Visit:
The entire beach seems like an island paradise, instead of one minute from the city center. A must-see beach with great sunsets, ready to enjoy!

If you're a history lover, make sure to take the daily guided tour starting at 11am at the Fort. Be prompt – they start on time.

Opening Hours:
8am until sundown, 365 days a year (Fort closes at 5pm)

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Travel Distance: 2.4 Km or 1.5 Miles
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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
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