Mallory Square is in Key West, the famous, historic island and the southernmost point in the United States.
Key West is not a place that you can truly take in with just one day so Jennifer and I suggest staying here for a
minimum of three days! I’m not sure you can even “do it all” in three days but we’re going to try!
To state the obvious, this is a gorgeous area. It is an alive, vibrant, and yet very laid back town where life almost always seems to be in party mode.
There is a certain romance in the air combined with its natural beauty, knock your socks off sunsets, cultural diversity, art, museums, architecture, and tons of history– much of which is centered around Mallory Square.
The palm-lined streets boast Victorian homes, mansions adorned with wooden lacework known as “gingerbread”, and “Conch” houses built by the shipbuilder-carpenters of the 1800s.
For your frst day in Key West, our recommendation is to take a “hop-on & hop-off” trolley tour to see some of the major landmarks in Key West and decide where you want to spend more time the rest of your trip. You pick they up right in front of Mallory Square.
With the trolley tour, they’ll take you to a number of great spots and you don’t have to worry about finding parking. The one we did was about $50 for a day of unlimited rides and they stop at 13 different locations.
You can see some of the areas we enjoyed in Key West in a video we did here.
The trolley tour begins in Mallory Square, a waterfront plaza right on the Gulf that is just west of the northern end of Duval Street. During the day there are numerous shops and restaurants then at dusk the square transforms for amazing sunset views and the nightly Sunset Celebration.
The celebration is a street fair where visitors and locals gather and performers such as magicians, jugglers, clowns, local musicians, artists, and food vendors entertain which, taken as a whole, combines for an incredible cultural experience.
One of your first stops near Mallory Square should be the Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum. This museum recounts the history of the shipwrecking industry in Key West, which made it the richest city in the United States.
When there were shipwrecks, the wreckers (named because they responded to the wrecks) would go out to save the crew and salvage the cargo – of which they were awarded a percentage of. The museum has a combination of actors in period costumes as well as exhibits of artifacts and treasure from actual shipwrecks.
Climb to the top of the 65-foot observation tower to see great views of the surrounding area! Admission is $17 and hours are 9:40 am to 5 pm daily.
Also near Mallory Square sits Cayo Hueso y Habana, a nondescript red brick building on the site where thousands of refugees from Cuba arrived in Key West during the 19th century.
This must-see spot is brimming with Key West’s rich Cuban heritage! Inside you can watch Cuban cigars being hand-rolled in the cigar shop, listen to live salsa music, and grab a bite of spectacular Cuban cuisine at El Meson de Pepe.
A short walk away, on the corner of Greene and Whitehead St, is the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum. It doesn’t look like much from the outside but inside is an immense collection of historical artifacts and treasure recovered from sunken shipwrecks valued at more than $20 million!
After searching for 17 years, on July 20, 1985, Mel Fisher and his crew recovered a $450 million treasure from the wreck of the Nuestra Senora de Atocha off of Key West. The Spanish treasure ship had sunk in a hurricane in 1622, along with roughly 40 tons of gold and silver!
Exhibits include gold and silver bars, coins, and jewelry, as well as a full-size recreation of the undersea wreck. You’ll also see the armaments, supplies, and personal property of the crew from a fleet of ships from 1622 as well as other
memorabilia discovered during Fisher's expeditions.
Hours are 8:30am-5pm daily and admission is $16/person.
About a block further down from the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum, there’s a piece of America’s political and historical past. President Harry S. Truman’s Little White House.
It was built in the late 1800’s and served as the naval station’s command headquarters during the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II.
However in 1946 it became Truman’s escape and winter retreat during post-World War II reconstruction.
Truman ended up having such a deep affection for Key West that he spent a total of 175 days here during his administration and as a result the Little White House became an arena for political meetings including development of the Marshall Plan.
Today you can visit and take a tour to learn more about Truman’s life on the island and the history of the Little White House.
Hours are 9 am-5 pm daily with tours leaving every 20 minutes and admission is $23/person.
Go two blocks inland from the Little White House and you’ll find the bustling, world-famous Duval Street, in Old Town Key West. You're no longer in Mallory Square but its so close you shouldn't miss it! You'll hear the parties!
The ambiance of walking down Duval Street feels like being in New Orleans. There’s live music everywhere, interesting little shops, art galleries, outdoor bars, and restaurants. Grab a slice of Key Lime Pie at Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe and enjoy a margarita at Jimmy Buffet’s original Margaritaville!
Take a step back in time and visit the iconic Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum while you’re here. It's located at
907 Whitehead Street.
Ernest Hemingway lived here from 1931 to 1961 and wrote many of his acclaimed novels including To Have and To Have Not. Many of Hemingway’s characters and storylines were linked to Key West.
There are many mementos and personal effects of Hemingway’s around the house and garden and his presence
can still be felt in his studio. All around are a very visible and living link to the past in the descendants of Hemingway’s cat Snow White, a white six-toed cat given to him by a ship’s captain. The house is now home to her offspring with about 40-50 six-toed cats running around.
The Museum is open from 9 am-5 pm daily with guided tours every 15 minutes, admission is $15/person.
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