Monroe County is located at the southern tip of Florida and is best known as the country that includes the Florida Keys. Bordering Miami-Dade and Collier Counties, the islands stretch 100 miles into the Straits of Florida separating the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.
Monroe County was established in 1823 from a portion of St. Johns County and named for President James Monroe, fifth president of the U.S. In 1513, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon sailed past the keys. For the next three centuries, the keys became a haven for pirates and adventurers. Many English-speaking settlers came to the keys from the Grand Bahamas, and by 1821, when the U.S. acquired Florida, Key West was the state's most populous city.
Bahia Honda Key, is an island that helps to form the beautiful tropical destination that is the Florida Keys. The island is home to the park itself making Bahia Honda State Park one of the southern most state parks in the country. The park is everything you could expect from a Florida Keys tropical destination. Come visit the clear ocean waters of the island and enjoy scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing, boating, hiking and much more.
Dry Tortugas National Park is a 100-square mile park of seven small islands and open sea. It is about 70 miles west of Key West and is only accessible by boat or seaplane. The main destination of the park is the beautiful Fort Jefferson, one of the largest forts built in the 19th century in the United States built on Garden Key. Visit the island to explore the fort and stay the night in the island's campground. 3 miles away is Loggerhead Key, where you can see the lighthouse and the historic Carnegie Laboratory for Marine Ecology. The national park is also home to a huge variety of marine life and coral reefs. In fact, the park was named for the sea turtles who call this area home. Here you will find some of the best snorkeling and diving in the state.
The Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail is a 106 mile trail that runs throughout the Florida Keys from Key Largo to Key West. The trail is suited for pedestrians and bicyclists alike and parallels U.S. Highway 1. Carrying such designations as a National Scenic Highway and All-American Road. Park-goers and trail-goers can experience a wide range of activities such as skating, sightseeing, paddling, mountain biking, and boating to name a few.
The Fort Zachary Taylor Historic Park is a great site for history buffs, beach lovers, and more. The Fort Zachary Taylor Historic Park touts Key West's favorite beach and is home to the largest collection of Civil War military memorabilia. Civil War reenactments are held every third weekend of the month at The Fort Zachary Taylor Historic Park. If you cannot make it on the third weekend either the tour guides or the interpretive panels tell how important The Fort Zachary Taylor Historic Park's role was in the Civil War and Spanish-American War. In addition to the the Civil War historical offerings, the park provides concession and restaurant, paddling, snorkeling, swimming, and fishing. Whether you want to learn about the Civil War on lounge around on the beach, The Fort Zachary Taylor Historic Park has something just for you.
Indian Key Historic State Park is a small island only accessible via boat. It can be an ideal location for those looking to swim, sunbathe, and hike along with other activities. Open year round starting at 8am to sundown, this historic park sits on 11 acres and only 1/2 mile off shore. Back in the 1800's it was business salvaging cargo for the Florida Keys. It is a great visit for a day of animal watching and kayaking in which you can easily see a stingray and maybe even a shark.
Underwater and spanning 70 nautical miles, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is unlike any other park in Florida. Like many parks it offers picnicking, fishing, canoeing, swimming at the beach, and tropical hammocks. What sets it apart is the coral reef resting just below its waters. For those looking to get a view of life under the waves there are tours with glass bottomed boats and kayaking tours available. But adventure-seekers wanting to see up close what this sunken site has to offer have access to snorkeling and scuba-diving. Anyone who is interested in the park but not getting wet can view the many nature videos and salt-water aquariums on the park's campus.
Named by the afluent Miami chemist William J. Matheson, Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park is an island of hardwood hammock forests spared from the increasing industrialization of nearby areas. The island is only accessible via boat tours or private boat rentals.
Monroe Public School District is small school district in Florida that contains 20 schools that together serves a student population that is a little over 8,000. It should be noted that the school district is accredited by AdvancED and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement.
Naval Air Station Key West lies on Boca Chica Key, an island 1 mile east of the island of Key West, Florida. Located near the southernmost point of the continental USA, the NAS Key West website states that, “Naval Air Station Key West's national security mission supports operational and readiness requirements for Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, National Guard units, federal agencies and allied forces.”
Alexander’s Guesthouse is an LGBT guesthouse that has been a safe space for gay and lesbian couples for decades. It is still a favorite locale for LGBT people and allies visiting Key West. It is also a popular place for weddings for all kinds of couples.
Blue Heaven is one of Key West's best casual places to grab a bite to eat. Delicious, well thought out food is enjoyed al fresco in an environment that showcases visual art and live music. Come for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert!
Books & Books is a Florida-based book store with locations all throughout South Florida (and one in the Cayman Islands). The first location opened in Coral Gables in 1982. Now it is a premier location for all your reading needs. 3 of the locations, the Adrienne Arsht Center shop, the Coral Gables shop, and the Coconut Grove shop, also have a cafe where you can find yummy snacks as well as beer and wine.
Boyd’s Key West Campground has been a premier location for keys camping since it opened in 1963. It has sites for RV and tent camping. The family owned campground focuses on giving you that southern hospitality to make your stay the best it can be. Staying here will also give you access to the campsite pool, the game room, kayak and paddleboard rentals, a boat ramp, and so much more.
The Braille and Talking Book Library is a library dedicated to providing reading materials to blind and visually impaired residents. Its headquarters is located in Daytona and it has nine subregional locations in Coca, Ft. Myers, Ft. Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Clearwater, Miami, Orlando, Pensacola, and Lake Worth to serve residents throughout the state.
Café Solé is a cafe with a French flair using locally caught seafood and other local ingredients. In addition to their seafood specialties, they also have an extensive vegetarian menu and an award winning key lime pie.
Caroline’s Cafe is a casual restaurant and bar in Key West with a variety of foods to choose from including classic America dishes and island fare. If you're a burger lover, Caroline's is a must visit spot. They have one of the best burgers on the island!
Get your caffeine pick-me-up with authentic Cuban coffee at Cuban Coffee Queen. There are two locations on the island where you can get coffee as well as breakfast foods, sandwiches, smoothies, and more.
DePoo Hospital's goal is to unite families, friends, and neighbors by showing them the value that DePoo Hospital provides to them. As the community's only hospital, DePoo plays a critical role in Key West.
Eaton Street Seafood Market is a seafood market in Key West where you can buy the freshest caught seafood on the island. You can take it home to cook it for yourself, or select your catch and have someone prepare it for you on the spots.
Ernest Hemingway is one of the most famous former residents of Key West. This house was his home beginning in 1931 and was a common place for him to visit even when it wasn't his permanent home for the rest of his life. It was built in 1851 and became the first home in Key West to have an in ground pool in the 1930s. One of the most well-known residents of the home was Hemingway's six-toed cat, and many of the descendants of that cat, who also have six toes, live there still. Now the home serves as a museum to honor Hemingway. You can tour the home for an in-depth history lesson, or it can be rented for events such as weddings.
A restaurant located just south of Mallory square in the Florida Keys, with one of the nation's southernmost breweries producing 3 original craft beers. The restaurant has an expansive outdoor space that is great for hosting weddings and its signature Crash Bar that serves drinks atop an aluminum plane wing. The menu features a bevy of traditionally-inspired dishes with a unique flare, and the restaurant hosts brunch every Sunday.
Florida Keys Brewing Company is located in Islamorada, Florida and is one of the largest craft breweries in the Florida Keys and the first in the upper keys. They feature a rotating 20-draft beer list with selections that not only epitomize Florida beer but also transcend every style. The brewery also boasts an expansive beer garden with sand traps to remind you that you're never far from the shore.
Fort East Martello was an incomplete Confederacy fort during the American Civil War that has since been restored and opened as a museum in 1950. Immerse yourself in the imaginative art of Stanley Papio and meet the infamously haunted Robert the Doll.
Gildea Contemporary Gallery is a gallery that collects great abstract and contemporary paintings and sculptures. Many of the artists are locals to Key West, but there are also many national and international artist featured.
Key West's Half Shell Raw Bar offers some of the freshest seafood you will find anywhere. It's the only restaurant in Key West that owns its Fish Market, so you know all of the ingredients are coming straight from the source. Here you can eat raw seafood to your heart's content right on the waterfront.
One of the smallest microbreweries in the country, hosting a variety of Florida breweries on their guest taps as well as a large selection of bottles from breweries across the country and around the world. Heartbreakers also features live, local musicians on the regular and allows an open mic format so as to allow artists from a range of talents to perform whatever they want, be it music, poetry, or even the occasional stand-up comic.
The world famous Hog's Breath Saloon is located in the heart of Old Town, hosting live musical performances with local and national bands. Enjoy the merry entertainment while indulging in a shot of the unique Key Lime Shooter made with real Key Limes!
A brewing company in Islamorada with a second location in Fort Pierce with a fairly large distribution radius for its size, reaching the majority of the state of Florida. With a lot of Florida-inspired brews filling their chalkboard menu, it is a great place to unwind and relax as the locals do in their homey taproom located right off of highway 1.
The Key West Aquarium is located in Key West's famous Mallory Square and is a fun attraction for people of all ages. Featuring a touch tank, shark feedings, stingray bay, alligators, jellyfish and more. The Key West Aquarium is committed to helping protect the endangered sea turtles. The Aquarium is associated with the Turtle Hospital and Florida Sea Turtle Stranding Network working to helping protect the endangered sea turtles and nursing and rehabilitation of injured sea turtles.
The Key West Art Center is the oldest gallery on the island of Key West. It was established in 1960 in a historic building in the Mallory Square area. Since then it has specialized in showcasing the best in local talent. It also plays host to events and art classes that anyone can attend.
The Key West Cemetery is a unique final resting place. Built on the ruined remains of the old cemetery destroy by the Great Havana Hurricane of 1846, the Key Cemetery is lined with a crowded jumble of grave and alabaster-white above ground vaults forming a miniature city of the dead.
Rum has been distilled illegally in Key West for generations, but it wasn't until recently that it became a legal enterprise. Key West First Legal Rum Distillery is a great place to try this island's favorite liquor. They have all kinds of fun specialty rums infused with local flavors such as key lime and creme brulee.
Come golfing in paradise at the Key West Golf Club on Stock Island. It has 18 unique holes on over 200 acres of land. The only caribbean gold course in the United States, here you will find a tropical wonderland complete with tangled mangroves and local wildlife.
The Key West Key Lime Pie Company is a bakery that focuses purely on making the perfect key lime pie. If trying their pie and other key lime treats isn't enough for you, you can attend a class and learn how to make the classic island treat yourself.
The Key West Lighthouse was opened in 1848 to help curb the shipwrecks that were always common in the area. When it opened it became one of the first lighthouses to have a female keeper. It closed in 1969 but remains as a museum and tourist attraction. Visitors can climb the 88 steps to the top and peruse the grounds to learn more about life in a lighthouse.
The Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum celebrates the era of the wreckers in Key West, a time in the 1800s when people made a living salvaging shipwrecks. During this time hundreds of ships were coming through Key West and there was about one wreck every week. Wreckers would wait to spot a wreck and race to be the first one to arrive at the wreck, and the one to take control of the spoils. Many people struck it rich in this career and helped make Key West the richest city in America. The museum displays the kinds of treasures wreckers might have found during that time and invites visitors to experience life as a wrecker.
The Key West Theater is a historic theater in Key West. It is located in a building that was originally the 1st Baptist Church of Key West built in 1848. It has had many lives since then as a dance club and concert venue. Now it hosts music, comedy, and many additional local events.
The Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden is the perfect place to experience the natural environment of the keys. It serves as an arboretum, botanical garden, wildlife refuge, and education center. As the only "frost-free" botanical garden in the US, it is the perfect place for many plants to flourish year-round.
The Key West Wildlife Center is a rescue center for the local wildlife of the keys. They rescue over 1400 wild birds each year in addition to a number of turtles, tortoises, and marine and land mammals. You can visit year round to learn about the work they do and to walk the nature trail where you can see animals in their natural habitat.
Leo’s Campground is a small family owned campground on Stock Island in Key West. It is pet friendly, kid friendly, and available for longtime stay. Around the property you will find tons of unique activities for the whole family like a giant chess set.
Louie's Backyard is an oceanfront fine dining restaurant in Key West. The beautiful space was once a Victorian style home converted into the restaurant in 1971. It focuses on fresh, local ingredients and made-to-order recipes including delicious local seafoods.
This scenic and ocean based area of Florida features 22 parks and beaches that comprise more than 100 acres from Stock Key to Key Largo. Beautiful beaches and a taste of historic Florida make Monroe County a great travel destination.
The Oldest House in South Florida is in Key West on the historic Duval Street. It was built in 1829 and has survived many disasters that nearby houses did not. Today it is a museum that shows visitors what life was like back then and how people lived on the islands.
Papa’s Pilar is a distillery inspired by the life of Ernest Hemingway, Key West's most famous former resident. It is named for Hemingway's boat, which took him on many great adventures. Here you will find delicious rum inspired by global flavors.
"The Hottest Spot on the Island", Peppers of Key West sells their huge inventory of hot sauce to people all over the world, but the original store still thrills visitors to Key West 7 days a week. They have everything a hot sauce lover could ever want including a tasting bar, so don't miss it on your next trip.
Port of Key West offers deepwater port activities of Cruise Ships and Navy vessels and includes cruise berths at Mallory Square, the Navy’s Outer Mole Pier, and the privately owned Pier B at the Weston Resort and is one of the nations busiest ferry port.
The Red Barn Theatre is a historic theater in Key West. It was built as a barn in 1829 and began a new life as a theatre in the 40s. Today it is still an important cultural landmark and puts on many plays and musicals each year.
Roof Top Cafe is one of Key West's highest-rated restaurants. Enjoy the island-style food in an intimate outdoor setting on a rooftop near Mallory Square. They also have an award winning wine list and full bar with signature cocktails.
Sandy’s Cafe is an authentic Cuban cafe that serves "the original Cuban sandwich" in Key West. It has been owned and operated by the same Cuban family for over 30 years. Get your sandwich with a Cuban coffee at the shop, or get it delivered.
Santiago’s Bodega serves Spanish style fine wines, sangria, tapas, and dessert in a few locations throughout Florida. The original location was in Key West. It is named after a character from The Old Man and the Sea, written by Ernest Hemingway, who once called Key West home.
Sloppy Joe’s is a Key West staple. It has been serving the people of Key West since the repeal of prohibition 1933. It is still one of the best places to get a drink on the island with a taproom that features several Florida beers and a full bar.
The Custom House Museum is Key West's leading history museum. It began as Key West's customs office, postal service, and district courts after being built 1891. Now it is a great place to learn about the rich history of this beautiful island.
The Green Pineapple is a boutique and cafe that focuses on helping you master the art of living well. They sell yoga wear as well as other boutique clothing items. The cafe has healthy, organic meals and smoothies. You can also participate in yoga classes happening every day or get a treatment at their spa.
The Studios of Key West is an artistic space where local artists can rent studio space, show there work, and attend lectures and workshops. They bring the arts of all kinds to the public in the form of art shows and a concert series.
One of the largest breweries in the Florida Keys, overlooking the Key West Bight Marina. The brewery comes equipped with an extensive food menu with signature handcrafted sandwiches, a variety of sea and land entrees, and house made desserts. They brew many styles of beer and although none are their signature, they do all styles the right way.
Every cool city deserves a cool independent movie theater, and Tropic Cinema is that for Key West. It shows lots of the latest big hits, but also some old classics and some independent films. It also showcases local artists, with a gallery and a great space for events.
The Truman Little White House has had many purposes through history. It began as a naval station’s command headquarters in 1890 and remained so for decades. It is most famous as the winter White House of President Harry S. Truman. Today it serves as museum of presidential history and Key West's place in it.
Turtle Kraals is a taste of authentic Key West. It serves Caribbean style food with lots of seafood options and more. It has a unique waterfront atmosphere and delicious specialty cocktails. Another unique aspect of Turtle Kraals is the world-famous turtle races that happen here on week nights.