Key West Lighthouse
Florida Lighthouse Trail // Along the Buccaneer Trail
You would expect a lighthouse on Key West to break a few rules, and in the case of the Key West Lighthouse, you wouldn’t be disappointed. When the first lighthouse was destroyed by a hurricane in 1846, the new one was built inland to protect it from storms, making it more accessible than most lighthouses. Like other lighthouses, it had a series of keepers until it was decommissioned in 1969. But unlike most lighthouses, three of its keepers were women.
“It’s usually a very male-dominated profession,” according to Cori Convertito, curator and historian for the Key West Art & Historical Society. “That makes our lighthouse quite unique and distinct.”
Climb the 88 steps up the tower and prepare yourself for something really special. “We’re a small island, so the view from the top is pretty incredible,” Convertito adds. “You get to see pretty much all of Key West and probably the adjacent one or two keys, depending on how clear it is.”
The lighthouse and museum, which includes the fully restored keeper’s quarters, are open by day. By night, the flora-studded venue is available for special events such as weddings, proposals and private sunset experiences. The museum staff can customize small- or large-group events with wine or champagne, flowers, artisan cheese boards and photographers.
Just across the street from the lighthouse is the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum, where the famous novelist lived and wrote in the company of his six-toed cat, Snow White. Also nearby is the Tennessee Williams Museum, where the 20th-century playwright lived until his death in 1983.
A few blocks away, claim your bragging rights to having visited the southernmost point in the continental United States by taking a selfie at the Southernmost Point Buoy at the intersection of South and Whitehead streets.
History buffs will enjoy a tour of the Harry S. Truman Little White House, where the late president was known to retreat and entertain other notables of his day. For the best tour guide, word on the street is to ask for Dewey.
Take time to bask in the history, architecture and flavor of Key West. And don’t leave without indulging in a slice of the island’s famous Key lime pie.
Once Key West’s largest private estate, The Gardens Hotel is a rare meshing of quaint and luxurious. Choose from a cabin, a guest suite or a master suite, and be sure to take a leisurely stroll around the lush, expansive gardens.
Breakfast is provided | gardenshotel.com
Enjoy a meal in quirky Key West style at Blue Heaven, where the cats, chickens and imagination roam free. But you can take the food—with its focus on American, Caribbean and vegetarian specialties—seriously. Just leave room for what’s billed as the island’s best Key lime pie | blueheavenkw.com
Book a trolley tour of the island to make sure you don’t miss any of its magic. The tour’s 13 stops will take you to the lighthouse and other local attractions, shops and hotels | trolleytours.com