Visitors who head south for a Key West vacation will notice when they first arrive, that unmistake feeling of familiarity. Key West is where the weary come to get a little peace of mind, which is probably why the eccentric and iconic American author Ernest Hemingway called this tiny island city home. The atmosphere here is warm and inviting, the scenery breathtaking, and the climate, well, let’s just say wild horses will have to drag you home. Despite it’s small size, you could easily spend days on end exploring it, and if you have the luxury of time, wandering aimlessly may be just what the doctor ordered. However, for those on a bit of a time crunch, you want to see as much of the island as you can within the window of time you have. With all the uber touristy attractions, there are more that aren’t as busy yet just as important to the history of the island. Here are some of the most underrated attractions on the island that are worth seeing:
Saint Mary Star of the Sea Church
Built upon limestone rock, the church is comprised of a concoction of limestone and crushed coral, taken from the local beaches. Originally built in 1851, the church has endured a century and a half of savage tropical storms. The original furnishings have also seen better days, with multiple termite attacks, hurricanes and time eating away at it. It all adds to the structures charm and iconism. The church site suffered a devastating fire in 1901, but has since been rebuilt. The ruins of what once was are marked by a beautiful plaque, and the grounds and Basilica are beautiful. This historical site is what a real Key West vacation is made of.
Catch a Show at the Red Barn Theater
Iconic and culturally essential to the Key West community, the beloved Red Barn Theater is a unique stop for Key West vacation seekers. This neat little theater space has its fair share of theater celebrities grace its stage. Former U.S. Poet Laureate, Richard Wilbur, worked alongside the Red Barn when he produced his Moliere translations. Children’s author Shel Silverstein has given the Red Barn free reign to produce several of his adult-oriented plays. The Red Barn has also seen the likes of Philip Burton, Terrence McNally and Jimmy Buffet visit.
Stroll Along the Historic Seaport at Key West Bight
We hope you brought a lot of memory cards, because Key West is photographer’s dream. Everywhere you look is a scene of splendor. Spectacular sunsets dazzle at the day’s end, azure skies and crystalline seas spark the imagination, and the Caribbean inspired architecture that is distinctly Key West is awe inspiring. The Seaport at Key West Bight may just be one of the highlights of your Key West vacation. The port itself is nearly 200 years old, and has historically served as a base for fishing boats, shipping vessels and other merchant ships. Today, you’ll find myriad yachts, small pleasure crafts and even the odd tall ship in port. Meander in and out of quaint shops, grab a bite on the boardwalk and enjoy the best views in key West.
Any Key West vacation will be wonderful, but for those looking for a truly authentic experience, get off the beaten path, and check out some of the Key West’s most iconic treasures.